While was flipping through my copy of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours to look at the recipe for "Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops," I also noticed the recipe for "World Peace Cookies." I have heard about this cookie before. It was one of the offerings at Dorie's recent Cookiebar pop-up store, and I know that it's enormously popular -- but for some reason I've never tried making them before.
The world peace cookies are salty chocolate sablés with chocolate chunks. The recipe originally comes from Pierre Hermé, and was also included in one of Greenspan's earlier books (Paris Sweets) under the name "Korova Cookies." Greenspan notes that she renamed the cookies after one of her neighbors who tried the cookies became "convinced that a daily dose of Pierre's cookies is all that is needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness."
To make the cookie dough, you cream butter with granulated sugar and brown sugar, add fleur de sel and vanilla, and then mix in sifted dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda). After the dry ingredients are incorporated, you stir in bittersweet chocolate chunks, form the dough into logs, and refrigerate the dough for at least three hours.
I refrigerated my dough for 24 hours, and was able to make half-inch thick slices as directed without any difficulty (no cracking or crumbling). These cookies flattened slightly and spread during baking, which is a good thing, because the fat slices straight from the chilled log were not terribly attractive.
This cookie is really, really good. It has the sandy texture typical of a sablé and an intense chocolate flavor with a strong salty accent. I used chopped 70% Lindt chocolate bars for the chunks, so the overall flavor was markedly bittersweet. Dorie recommends eating these cookies at room temperature (as opposed to warm) because of the greater textural contrast between the chocolate chunks and the crumbly cookie; I totally agree. I don't really understand why the salt is so pronounced (the recipe is written to yield three dozen cookies, although I made mine slightly larger than suggested and got two dozen three-inch diameter cookies) but only includes 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel. But, as Greenspan points out, these cookies are most memorable because they're salty. "Not just a little salty, but remarkably and sensationally salty. It's the salt... that surprises, delights and makes the chocolate flavors in the cookies seem preternaturally profound."
There certainly is something profound about the complex flavor of this cookie -- the salt heightens the chocolate flavor and turns this cookie into something quite special. I can't claim to have achieved world peace, but I absolutely believe that these cookies have the power to transport the eater to a place of contented bliss, even if that fleeting elation lasts only for a few bites.
Previous Post: "It Must Be Those Darn McDonald's Commercials: the Chocolate Sah-BLAY," July 26, 2009.