My next door neighbor is one of my dearest friends, and we share many things, including a passion for baking. So, a couple of days ago she gave me my "birthday" present. (I am a firm believer that it is best to give the right gift whenever you find it rather than buy just anything just to give it by a certain date. This is why you have up to a year to give a wedding gift, right?) This gift was a book (for me, always a good choice), but not just any book, a cookbook, even better a baking book! Dorie Greenspan's gorgeous, gigantic volume, Baking, From My Home to Yours. This book could be a coffee table book, it is so big and beautiful.
Dorie (as I will call her, since her style of writing is so chatty that I feel we are friends and because I now know we will be spending A LOT of time together), won a James Beard award for this tome. Not only this, but she wrote the best-selling, Baking with Julia [Childs] among others. She claims to bake at home every day, and this book is for the home baker. It feels like Dorie is right there in my kitchen, explaining the story behind every recipe and giving step by step instructions. In the past few days I have read this cover to cover and plastered the book with sticky notes. I cannot wait to try each and every recipe in the book. (I am "back on the sauce." The wheat free/dairy free diet didn't seem to help so I am trying some other remedies to my tummy troubles and, in the meantime, am back to eating some wheat and dairy. )
Tonight we are going to a friend's 40th birthday party. This great guy is so appreciative of my baking skills every time he gets to sample something that I knew that I had to make something to bring to him for his big day. (Plus, let's face it, I relish every excuse to bake.) Because we are going out for dinner before the party, a cake didn't seem like a good idea because it might get destroyed sitting in the car. Cookies seemed eminently more transportable, and just more easy going.
There are so many great sounding and looking recipes in the book, but I decided to go with Dorie's "World Peace" cookies. Apparently these are famous cookies, the recipe from which came from Pierre Hermé in Paris and were dubbed with their current name when her neighbor said that they are all "that is needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness". Well, we could all use a little peace and happiness, some days more than others.
So, last night, after the kids went to bed and I was ready for some peace, I got started. Then, I almost got stopped before I began because I was down to my last 5 Tbsp of butter, but I found a stick hiding in the freezer. (Note to self: If you are going to be baking with Dorie, by butter by the truckload, oh and lots and lots of good quality chocolate!) Crisis averted, I made this dough quickly and easily, rolled it into logs and put it into the fridge. Wait! I forgot that I would have to refrigerate for hours before baking! And, here I was all geared up to have a tasty bite to eat!
Luckily MrRuckus was happily ensconced on the couch and not going anywhere, so I decided to proceed with another project from the book. Having only 2 Tbsp of butter left in the house (minus some truffle butter, but you can't really bake with that), I needed a recipe without butter. I know that earlier in the week, I was all about dairy free, but now I wanted a Dorie recipe that fit the bill. Soufflé! Hey, why not? I don't own a soufflé pan, but found a china serving bowl with straight sides and decided to use that. Following Dorie's directions, it was actually pretty easy, rose gorgeously in its vessel and tasted divine. I only wish that I had a sauce or melted ice cream to go on top, but I was quite pleased with my effort. It was crusty on top but rich and fudgey on the inside. It is supposed to still be very good leftover, but my rule is that I only have a little taste of whatever I make and then send it on its way, usually to work with MrRuckus.
Anyways, back to my World Peace-ers . . . I got back from the gym, put the Ladybug down for her nap, and turned on the oven. I was all prepared for the cookies to be difficult to slice and keep together, but mine sliced perfectly. Maybe the secret is having them in the fridge for 15 hours and not the 3 called for in the recipe?
I think that I made them smaller than I was supposed to, though I followed the measurements in the recipe with an actual measuring tape. The recipe says that it makes 36 cookies, but I ended up with 58, which is fine with me since at that size they are only 1 WW point each! True to Dorie's instructions, they do not look done when they come out, but should come out anyways.
Now cool, they have a rich, buttery, sandy crumb like shortbread. The chocolate is rich and deep. Plus, the little bit of fleur de sel with the chocolate adds just the right bit of sophistication and oomph! I am loving these cookies. Our friend is one lucky birthday boy! (Though he will not be getting all 58 since we have people here installing my new plantation shutters and I have promised them milk and cookies when they are done. That and my family should be able to have a few, right?)