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FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE ALMOND COOKIES
Text excerpted from HOW TO BAKE EVERYTHING © 2016 by Mark Bittman. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
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.
Christmas Spice Cookies
When you start with something really good, it doesn't take much to make it better. And that's the story of this cookie. I started with my Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough, and then I added the spices that always make me think it's Christmas: cinnamon, ginger, cloves and allspice. The result is a cookie that's perfect with coffee or tea, mulled cider, mulled wine or a late-night cognac. The cookies are nice left plain or sprinkled with sanding sugar before baking, but I usually can't resist the allure of a spiral of melted white chocolate in the center or a faint brushstroke of chocolate across the top.
A word on batch size: This recipe uses one quarter of the Do-Almost- Anything Vanilla Dough. Make the full recipe of the dough then, if you'd like, you can double, triple or quadruple this cookie recipe or use the vanilla dough to make other cookies.
Makes about 18 cookies
For the Cookies
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of ground allspice
¼ recipe Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough; just made and still soft (see headnote)
For the Topping (optional)
Sanding sugar or ½ cup (85 grams) white chocolate chips
To make the cookies: Mix the spices together in a small bowl and, using a flexible spatula, blend them evenly into the dough. Gather the dough together and shape into a disk.
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 and freeze for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Peel away the paper on both sides of the dough and return it to one piece of paper. Using a 2-inch-diameter cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can. (You can use any size or shape cutter you like, just know that the yield will be different.) Place them on the lined baking sheet about 1½ inches apart. Gather the scraps together, re-roll them between paper and chill.
If you're using sanding sugar, sprinkle the tops of the cookies with it. Bake for 19 to 21 minutes, rotating the sheet after 10 minutes, or until the cookies feel firm to the touch. Transfer the sheet to a rack and let the cookies rest for 5 minutes before lifting them onto the rack to cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the rest of the dough, making sure your baking sheet is cool.
To make the glaze and finish the cookies (optional): If you want to give the cookies a spiral or swipe of white chocolate, melt the chocolate in a microwave or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. For the spiral, use a small pastry bag fitted with a tiny decorating tip or drizzle the chocolate off the tip of a small spoon. For the swipe, use a narrow pastry brush and only a little bit of chocolate and brush it across the cookie lightly. Refrigerate the cookies for about 20 minutes just to set the decoration.
The rolled-out dough can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. The cookies will keep in a covered container at room temperature for up to 1 week. They can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.