Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to be prepared and work to stay ahead of the holidays, it just doesn’t work out that way. I expected that this year, it would be easier for me to enjoy all the holiday baking, and yet with all my jobs, and a packed schedule, somehow, I fell behind. It’s not like I had a strict schedule to adhere to, but I did have a long list of baking that I wanted to enjoy pre-Christmas. My list included a gingerbread house, which I was aiming to build well before Chrismas Day. Every year, I make a gingerbread house with my mom, and every year, I somehow end up putting the pieces together on the 23rd or 24th of December, not the ideal time to be constructing a house. This year was going to be different!
|Gingerbread house from December 2008|
The last house that I put together was in December 2008 because, in 2009, I was too busy with my thesis to make one. In early December of this year, my mom and I settled on a Victorian house pattern. She did all the grunt-work, making the gingerbread dough, then rolling, cutting, and baking all the pieces using the templates. Of course, what we didn’t realize was that the templates we printed were made at different scales. So the measures were all off. We ended up with a pile of pieces that didn’t quite fit together. We debated on sawing off the extra inches from some of the baked pieces so that we could continue construction, but eventually we gave up on that because who has that kind of time and patience during the holidays? Not us! Plus, we only discovered this on the 23rd of December (never leave construction to the last day possible!).
|See how one wall is about half an inch taller than the other!|
In search of peace, after the gingerbread-house-2010 debacle, we switched to a recipe that we were sure would work: Dorie Greenspan’s famous World Peace Cookies, republished in Bon Appétit’s September 2010 issue (I think that she originally published them in her Paris Sweets cookbook). I made a few tweaks, using Dutch-processed cocoa instead of regular Fry’s cocoa, adding 1/2 tsp cardamom for a light citrus-spice note. Of course, given the kind of day I was having, I used 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter instead of 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons butter. I pretty much used double the butter that was called for. As I prepared the dough, I marveled at how rich these cookies would be, considering that the ratio of butter to flour in the cookie dough I made was pretty much one-to-one.
Needless to say that when it came time to bake the cookies, I quickly discovered that I had screwed up: the slices slowly melted into a chocolaty puddle of butter in the oven.
I knew right away what was wrong: my instincts were right to marvel at the quantity of butter. My mom and I quickly did some math, estimating how much of the cookie dough was left, and how much more flour/cocoa we needed to add to fix the recipe. With the right amounts of butter and flour in these cookies, we ended up with about 50 crisp, deeply chocolaty cookies, with a slight chewiness to their centers. I might up the cardamom amount next time because I felt the cookies could use a bit more of a cardamom-hit. By the way, the recipe published in Bon Appétit suggests to slice the logs of cookie dough into 1/2-inch thick cookies, but we found that 1/4-inch slices were a much better thickness.
*sigh of inner peace*
These cookies may not bring world peace, but they did provide much stress-relief during the holidays. Plus they satisfied my chocolate craving that came about with the gingerbread house disappointment. If you are in need of an intensely chocolaty cookie, these will definitely do the trick.
Dorie Greenspan's world peace cookies
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 11 tbsp unsalted butter 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons, room temperature
- 2/3 cup golden brown sugar packed
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 5 ounces chocolate I used 70% cacao chocolate, no pieces bigger than 1/3 inch, chopped
- Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, cardamom, and salt into medium bowl.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth but not fluffy.
- Add both sugars and vanilla. Beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add flour mixture. Beat until combined. The dough may appear a little crumbly, but when you squeeze a clump together in your hand, you will find that it comes together nicely.
- Add chopped chocolate; mix just to distribute (if dough doesn’t come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball).
- Divide dough in half. Place each half on sheet of plastic wrap. Form each into 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Wrap each in plastic; chill until firm, about 3 hours.
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/DeMarle-2406-Silpat-Nonstick-Silicone/dp/B0001RT42C?ie=UTF8&tag=kitch02-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969" rel="nofollow">Silpat</a> mats.
- Using a sharp knife (preferably not serrated), cut logs crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space rounds 1/2-inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), 11 to 12 minutes.
- Transfer to rack to cool.