To purchase a copy of the book:
Wednesday, December 7
French Pastry School
226 W. Jackson Blvd.
Floriole Cafe and Bakery
1220 W. Webster Avenue
World Peace Cookies
The original recipe for these cookies was given to me by my friend, Pierre Herme, the wonderful Parisian pastry chef. In the cookies’ first incarnation, they were called Sables Chocolats, or chocolate shortbread. In their second, the one in which chopped chocolate was added to the sweet/salty dough, they were dubbed Sables Korova and were served at the Paris restaurant of the same name. Finally, a neighbor of mine gave them the name they truly deserve: World Peace Cookies. He was convinced that if everyone in the world could have these cookies, there would be planetary peace. I hope he’s right. What I know for sure is that everyone who has these cookies smiles and smiles are pretty powerful.
Makes about 36 cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 Tablespoons (11 Tablespoons; 5 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chip-size bits, or an equal amount of storebought chocolate mini-chips
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together and keep close at hand. Working in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it is soft and creamy. (If you’d like, you can make the dough by hand using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.) Add both sugars, the salt and the vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated – the dough may look crumbly, but that’s fine. For the best texture, you want to work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate. Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface, divide it in half, gather it together and, working with one half at a time, shape the dough into a log that is 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or for up to 3 days.
Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Have two lined baking sheets at hand. Working with a sharp thin-bladed knife, slice rounds that are 1/2 – inch thick. (The rounds often crack as you’re cutting them – don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto the cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets leaving about 1 inch of spread space between each round and slide one of the sheets into the oven. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes – they won’t look done nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature. Repeat with the second sheet of cookies.
Storing: The dough can be made ahead and either chilled or frozen. In fact, if you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking – let it warm just enough so that you can slice the rounds; bake the cookies 1 minute longer. Packed airtight, baked cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 2 months.
French Vanilla Sablés
Makes approximately 30 cookies
2 sticks (16 Tablespoons; 8 ounces; 226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into chunks
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (30 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling
Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, both sugars and the salt on medium speed for about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. The mixture should be smooth, but not fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and, one by one, beat in the yolks followed by the vanilla. Turn off the mixer, pour in the flour all at once and pulse the mixer until the risk of flying flour has passed. With the machine on low, mix just until the flour disappears into the dough. Give the dough a couple of turns with a sturdy flexible spatula. Turn the dough out onto the counter, divide it in half, gather each piece into a ball and shape into a disk. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough 1/4-inch thick between sheets of parchment. Slide the parchment-sandwiched dough onto a baking sheet (you can stack the slabs of dough) and freeze for at least 1 hour or refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Wrapped airtight, the dough can be frozen for up to 2 months or refrigerated for up to 2 days.) When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter (or spray) the molds of a regular-size muffin tin (or use nonstick) – if you’ve got two tins, use both of them – and have a 2-inch cookie cutter at hand. Working with one sheet of dough at a time, peel away both sheets of paper (it’s hard to cut the dough otherwise); put the dough back on one sheet. Cut the dough and drop the rounds into the muffin tin. The rounds might not fill the muffin tins completely now, but they will once they bake. Save the scraps. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sanding sugar. Bake the cookies for 16 to 19 minutes, or until they feel firm to the touch and are golden brown around the rims. Transfer the muffin tin(s) to a rack and let the cookies rest for about 10 minutes before carefully lifting them out and onto the rack to cool to room temperature. Continue with the remainder of the dough. Gather the scraps together, re-roll, chill, cut and bake, always using cool tins.
Storing: The cookies will keep in a tin at room temperature for about 5 days. If you haven’t dusted the sablés with sugar, they can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months. Because the sugar will melt in the freezer, decorated cookies are not suitable for freezing.
Playing around: Slice and Bake Sablés. While these will be too higgledy-piggledy to turn into Jammers or anything else that’s structured, they’ll be delicious to enjoy any way you’d like. When the dough is mixed, divide it in half and shape each half into a log that’s about 9 inches long. Wrap the logs and freeze for at least 3 hours. When you’re ready to bake, slice the logs into cookies about 1/3-inch thick. Place them about 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets, sprinkle with sugar and bake one sheet at a time on the center rack of a 350-degrees-F oven for 17 to 20 minutes.
Playing Around: Ringed Sablés. If you have 2-inch baking rings, use the rings to cut out the rolled dough. Bake the dough – in the rings – on lined baking sheets just as you would the muffin-tin cookies. Leave the rings in place for at least 20 minutes before lifting them off, rinsing and re-using.
Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough
Makes about 80 cookies
1 pound (454 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (262 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups (544 grams) all-purpose flour
sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and blend in the egg whites, followed by the vanilla. The dough might curdle, but
it will smooth out with mixing and the addition of the flour. Still working on low speed, add the flour in 3 or 4 additions, beating only until it is almost incorporated each time before adding more; scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl a couple of times as you work and then continue to mix until the flour has disappeared into the dough.
The dough is ready to be divided, flavored (if needed) and scooped or rolled. See the recipes mentioned above for some suggestions.
Or, if you’d like to make plain cookies, divide the dough into quarters and shape each piece into a disk. Working with one disk at a time, place the dough between pieces of parchment paper and roll it to a thickness of ¼ inch. Slide the dough, still between the paper, onto a baking sheet — you can stack the slabs — and freeze for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Getting ready to bake: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Working with one disk at a time, peel away the paper on both sides of the dough and return the dough to one piece of paper. Use a 2-inch-diameter cookie cutter (choose your shape, and change the size, if you’d like, knowing that the yield will change with it) to cut out as many cookies as you can and place them on the lined baking sheets about 1½ inches apart. Gather the scraps together, then combine with scraps from the other pieces of dough, re-roll and chill before cutting and baking. If you’d like to sprinkle the cutouts with sanding sugar, now’s the time.
Bake the cookies for 19 to 21 minutes, rotating the sheets front to back and top to bottom after 10 minutes, or until they are golden around the edges and on the bottom. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring them to racks to cool completely.
Repeat with the remaining dough, using cool baking sheets.
Wrapped airtight, the rolled-out dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Cut and bake directly from the freezer. The baked cookies can be kept in a container at room temperature for about 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.