Sunday, October 5, 2008

Kumbaya


After a recent dinner with our very good friends Monica & Chris (during which we gently ribbed AudioDad over his workplace skillfulness in team building), I knew it was a sign for me to try a recipe I've been curious about and that had been all the talk on the Chow message boards- Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies. Basically, they're a dark chocolate cookie with sea salt. People raved about them during the last holiday season as they're a fairly easy slice and bake recipe, great to have on hand in the freezer. While I used sea salt- more commonly available in grocery stores- the recipe actually calls for fleur de sel. And the extra expense ($26 for 7oz. at Dean & DeLuca) of this specialty salt is supposedly worth it (I'll pick some up on my next visit to Williams-Sonoma or Dean & DeLuca to try it.)
As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been fine-tuning this recipe over the last month. The first batch was nice- a sandy-textured, deep chocolate French sable. In my second batch, I decided to add espresso powder and chocolate extract for a more complex flavor. I also added more salt. But unlike the first batch, this one spread more, making a thinner, crisper cookie. In hunting around my piles of recipes, it turns out I had the original Pierre Herme chocolate-chocolate chip cookie recipe tucked away- the one that the World Peace cookie was based upon. So I used it, incorporating the changes I made with the second batch, and now I've got a cookie I really like. It's definitely a cookie for grown-up tastes, but be sure to have a cold glass of milk handy!

Chocolate-Espresso Sables with Sea Salt
2 2/3 c. flour
2/3 c. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (I used Droste)
2 tsp. baking soda
2 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened (I used a European-style butter, but it didn't seem to make a difference)
1 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 heaping tbsp. espresso powder
2 tsp. fine sea salt (2 1/2 tsp. if you use fleur de sel)
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. chocolate extract
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used a 9.75 oz. Scharffenberger semisweet bar- using a serrated knife gives you a finer chop with chocolate shavings, so the chilled log will be easier to slice)

Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda into a medium bowl. In another bowl, cream the butter then beat in the sugars, espresso powder, sea salt, and extracts. Mix in the dry ingredients (the dough will be slightly crumbly), then mix in the chocolate. Divide the dough into 3 batches and shape into logs about 1 1/2-inch thick (about the diameter of a small can of tomato paste). I also dust my board with a little bit of cocoa to keep the dough from sticking. Wrap the logs in plastic or waxed paper and chill a couple of hours until firm.
When you're ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the dough logs about 3/8-inch thick (not too thinly, unless you prefer them crisper) and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes. Since these don't spread much, you can get another row of cookies (20 total) on the sheet. Cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

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