Friday, June 22, 2007

What Goes Around Comes Around

I don't know if Mrs. Fields Cookies are global, but in the US, the cheerful little red booth with white polka dots, wafting a powerful aroma of baking cookies is a mainstay of malls. I heard a story of how Debbie Fields got her start. As a teenager, she had a friend who was anorexic. Every day Debbie would come home frome school and bake cookies to take to her friend in an attempt to lure her into eating them. With all that practice, her cookies got better and better until someone suggested she should open up a shop and sell them. From her first shop she ended up with a chain of cookie shops and a line of spin-off products, all because she cared about her friend and wanted to help her. I don't know if the story is true, but I like it.

One of the great things about baking a lot is that my kitchen overflows with treats. And rather than wolf it all down and feel ill and waddle like a hippopotamus, I pass a lot of it along. I send cookies with my daughter when she's meeting up with friends. I take baked goods to friends and neighbors. My chiropractor is always delighted with the packet of treats I bring to my appointments. Yesterday at a doctor's office I was greeted with, "You're the cookie lady!"

I say this, not to toot my own horn about how generous I am. Looked at cynically, you could even say I'm very selfish because I want the fun of baking without the calories on my own thighs. But whatever the motivation is, the result is wonderful. When I share my kitchen bounty, something good always splashes back on me. I love the happy squeals when I take a plate of blog fodder to a friend's house. The tree overhanging the property line is somehow less of an issue if banana bread is involved. And my chiropractor never has his eye on the clock when he's happily munching a cookie.

So, with this in mind, I share World Peace Cookies. They are from my favorite cookbook, Baking, and this is the recipe that convinced me that I needed to own this wonderful book. Dorie Greenspan says that they were given the name World Peace Cookies by a neighbor who, upon tasting one, said that if everyone in the world had one a day, there would be world peace.

These are amazing cookies. Simple to make, impossible to resist. The secret ingredient is sea salt. I used the Celtic Sea Salt my sweetie gave me for Mother's Day. The large, delicate crystals lurk in the cookie, giving a surprising crunch and the tingle of delicate salt against chocolate.

One note: I have my mini chips stored in a plastic bag in a bin with other chocolate products in plastic bags. One of those other bags contains white chocolate mint wafers. Only recently did I discover that the mint is so strong it seeped out of it's bag and contaminated all the neighboring bags. (Note to self: store mint-flavored items in separate closet!) This adds a very subtle, but not unpleasant mint taste to my cookies.

Try these wonderful cookies and spread a little love in your world.

World Peace Cookies

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick plus 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp fleur de sel or 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips (mint flavored, optional)

1- Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

2- In a large mixing bowl beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugars, salt, and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes more.

3- Turn the mixer off and add the dry ingredients. Cover the mixer with a pouring shield or drape a kitchen towel over it to protect your kitchen from flying flour. Pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time, Once the flour on the surface of the dough is incorporated, remove the towel and continue mixing at low speed for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough. Work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added. It's OK for the dough to look a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

4- Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you've frozen the dough, you needn't defrost it before baking - just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

5- To bake; Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 324 deg. F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

6- Using a sharp, thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. Don't worry if they crack as you cut them, just moosh them back together . Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between them.

7- Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes. They won't be firm or look done, but that's just right. Place the baking sheet on a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm. You can serve them then, or let them reach room temperature.

Note: Since my cookie jar had another species of cookie in it already, I stored these in a plastic tub on the counter with a kitchen towel over them. In our humid weather they absorbed moisture and became almost fudgy-moussey, while still being sandy. I liked them that way, too, and a contractor that was over thought they were a-maz-ing.


WokandSpoon said...

It's interesting to see that the secret ingredient to these cookies is sea salt!

Anyway, you are my cookie queen! The photos are lovely. I love the eye (and mouth) "candy" ;-)

Anne said...

I made this cookies before (although they did not turn out as gorgeous as yours) nevertheless they were sooo delicious :)

Jerry said...

I know the look and smiles of freshly baked goods. It is warming to the heart. You've left me with too many recipes to make this week girlie. Where am I going to find the time?

The Cooking Ninja said...

hmm...interesting recipe. I'll definitely try it. :)

eatme_delicious said...

I love cookies and I love your blog. :) And I like your philosophy about sharing your baking with all the people in your life!

Anh said...

I love reading your post and admiring your soft & elegant photo... Everything is so comfortable here.

These cookies are so beautiful! I love the way you described them. :)

Kelly-Jane said...

I have these on my (four page!) list from Baking to try. They look delicious :) and I was intrigued by the name too.

Love the story about the cookie seller, I wonder if the frined who was being baked for recovered.

I have a friend who calls giving away lovely baked foods 'random feeding' of friends! I like to give aw well.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Wok and Spoon - Thanks so much. I will wear the tiara proudly.

Anne - I'm always surprised at how easy they are because they taste so good.

Jerry - Find the time to bake? Hmm, for me it's more like finding the time to do laundry or wash the dishes.

Cooking Ninja - It's worth it!

Eat Me Delicious - Thanks for stopping by and leaving such kind words.

Anh - Oh, you are so sweet! Thank you.

Kelly-Jane - Isn't Baking awesome? I have yet to have a recipe from there fail me.

WokandSpoon said...

Hello again. I used your oatmeal raisin cookie recipe but with cranberries instead and the cookies came out fantastic! Thanks for the recipe and the tips!

Melinda said...

Hello Lynn, These look like cookies I need to take to work.
I've done all the heavy hinting for Dorie's Baking book as a birthday present...but have to wait till the end of July. All the things you make from it look so good!

DianneM said...

I went out and bought all the ingredients today and found out I bought too much chocolate?!?! I was at the store and found a big pound size block of semi-sweet chocolate and I told my five year old, "Maybe that is too much chocolate." Another shopper passed by and said, "There is no such thing as too much chocolate!" I love these cookies.

I forgot they were minty. Have you always made them with mint?

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Wok and Spoon - Yeah! I'm so proud of you.

Melinda- I'm an end of July baby, too! I hope you get Baking with a bow on it. And a bag of sea salt on the side. :-)

Dianne- Too much chocolate? What were you thinking? I don't remember if the chips were mint tainted the first time I made them.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Lynn, I made these cookies months ago and they were sinfully delicious!
Yours look so much more beautiful, a person who received something like this is the luckiest pal in the world!

Violet said...

Those cookies look great, and I will probably make them in the near future for my family.
I don't know if that story is true, but I find it horrible! As someone who is currently suffering from anorexia and has been for over a year, for a friend to bring me cookies would be an awful experience. The temptation and resistance, not wanting to be found out and not wanting to hurt the friends feelings... sounds like an ugly cocktail of emotions. I do find it quite entertaining that lots of people find it a heartwarming story when it would have caused the poor girl so much grief.

Just thought I'd contribute my two cents, sorry if it seemed rude.
Oh, and I know it seems weird for an anorexic to be trolling food blogs and cooking. But the strange thing about the disease is that you often develop a baking obsession, but never eat the products.