"Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me." I sang that as a kid, especially around Christmastime, and the older I get, the truer it is. Peace marches and public prayers for peace and the repeated proclamation that one wants world peace are wonderful in themselves. Then again, what kind of clown
What I want for Christmas is a smattering of peace within my own heart. It is so tempting to play back the dwindling year and count the ways I've failed: Didn't make as many paintings as I'd intended. Didn't sell as many paintings as I'd intended. Didn't eat healthily enough. Didn't exercise enough. Didn't pray enough. Fell behind in church attendance. Fell behind in bookkeeping. Spent too much money. Argued too much with my spouse over silly, inconsequential matters. Kept too quiet over more important matters.
But it's done. What good will it do to mourn these shortcomings now? It only eats up today, and today is what I've got. Today I'll listen to Joseph Rael's "Song of Peace." A friend of mine says that a group of people have been listening to it daily for several weeks. They will continue to listen until the dawn of 2008. It's one of those "let's attune our hearts to peace and see what happens" kind of things. Me, I'm game. I'll listen for that inner song of peace.
And I am most definitely game for making and eating World Peace Cookies. Dorie Greenspan in Baking: From My House to Yours (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), relates that her neighbor, upon eating these cookies, (the creation of legendary Parisian pastry chef/peacenik Pierre Herme), vowed that they were so completely satisfying on the most basic human level, that one cookie, consumed once a day, by each person inhabiting the planet, would result in world peace.
Know how they proclaim a worldwide ceasefire for a period of time on Christmas Day? What if they passed out cookies while they were at it?
WORLD PEACE COOKIES
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) 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 chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
3. Turn off the mixer. Pour in the dry ingredients, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don't be concerned if the dough looks 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 the logs 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.)
Getting Ready to Bake:
5. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
6. Using a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you're cutting them — don't be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.
7. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time 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.
Haven't tried the recipe yet. Flannery discovered it. She and I will be testing it later this week. We'll see if Monsieur Herme is Nobel Peace Prize material.