world peace cookies

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a few days ago, a friend and I were grabbing ramen on a 60ºF rainy evening. and today, it’s the first snow. a few years ago, these wild swings in temperature were among the most concerning issues for me.

but lately, it seems that the world is careening into a new forms of chaos each day. I remember discussing the impending brexit vote with european friends back in the summer of 2015. we lightheartedly talked about how with the high barriers to leaving the eurozone, no country would actually ever do it.

but britain did vote to leave, and in november 2016, the nationalist, nativist movements that had captured the government of hungary, almost taken france, and driven brexit reared its head and placed in power president trump and his band of breitbart neo-conservatives.

since then, it seems that every day, there is new turmoil. currently, palestine has declared three days of rage following trump’s decision to recognize jerusalem as the capital of israel. north korea has made increasingly brazen strides in its military capabilities, catalonia’s independence referendum spurred a spanish government crackdown on the self-governed province, and germany’s government is at a standstill following failed coalition talks. in the meanwhile, southern california is literally in flames and the us senate may soon count a pedophile in its ranks, a man supported by the republican party despite highly credible allegations about his crimes against teenage girls.

it is exhausting to follow world events these days because each seems so significant, and yet the deluge is so quick and vicious, it is impossible to give each adequate attention. my fellow classmates and I often discuss our frustration about having to take a step back and observe for the next three years, and hope that the reasons that we chose to go back to school are not irreparably damaged by the time we graduate.

washington d.c. feels unusually quiet today. the falling snow, the muted sounds and colors of winter seem more calming than ever before. this morning, I rolled out some quick chocolate sablés, aptly named “world peace cookies” by dorie greenspan, for an upcoming christmas cookie exchange. and I took a walk through the admittedly wet snow (d.c. is still too warm for any snow to stick) and hoped for more peaceful days ahead.

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makes 28-36 cookies

170g (1 1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
28g (1/3 cup) unsweeted cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
155g (1 stick + 3 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
134g (2/3 cups) packed light brown sugar
50g (1/4) white sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
142 (5oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into irregular bits (I usually just use bittersweet chocolate chips because I’m lazy)

dorie greenspan. dorie’s cookies. new york: houghton mifflin harcourt publishing company, 2016.

1 sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together.
2 working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until soft, creamy, and homogenous (~3 minutes).*
3 beat in the salt and vanilla. turn off the mixer, add all the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to start the blending. when the risk of flying flour has passed, turn the mixer to low and beat until the dough forms big, moist curds. toss in the chocolate pieces and mix to incorporate.
4 turn the dough out onto a work surface and gather it together, kneading it if necessary to bring it together. (sometimes it comes together easily, and other times it’s a bit more crumbly – this is fine! just knead until it comes together.) divide the dough in half.
5 shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. wrap the logs in plastic wrap and freeze for at 2 hours, or refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
6 center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325ºF. line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
7 using a long, sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. (if the dough cracks, just press back together.) arrange the rounds on baking sheets, leaving ~2 inches between them.
8 bake for 12 minutes (do not open the oven during baking). transfer baking sheet to a cooling rack and let cookies rest until they are just warm/room temperature. cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days, or can be frozen, well-wrapped, for up to 2 months.

*I’ve made this recipe with a hand mixer and stand mixer and both turned out well, though the stand mixer consistently results in a smoother, less grainy cookie.

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tahini chocolate chip cookies

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on a recent ski trip, I met a lovely girl, holly, from sydney, australia. the best part of our time together was our rides on the lift because 1. I got to rest(!); 2. holly, like all australians I’ve ever met, was friendly, well-traveled, and had a whole arsenal of interesting stories; and 3. I just enjoyed listening to her aussie drawl.

I’ve always been intrigued by accents – it’s so strange how the minute someone begins talking, you know whether or not they have an accent, and if you’re especially worldly, you know exactly where their accent is from. and yet, when you talk, your cadences, your pronunciation, your slang all sound completely normal.

people have told me I sound like an american tv show. like I over-pronounce all my vowels and consonants. they tell me that american english sounds like people trying too hard to speak english. to me, new zealand english is clipped, fast, full of dropped sounds. some london accents sound posh and elegant, like how I wish I spoke english, others sound like the “t” and the “r” sounds just don’t exist. actually, in a lot of accents, it seems like the “r” sound disappears. it almost makes me feel like us americans are doing english wrong.

while riding on the lift, holly and I shared a chocolate chip cliff bar with our fellow lift mate, a marathoner from london. while we chatted, I began to think that food and accents actually are quite similar. there are so many variations on the same dish – take chocolate chip cookies, for example. christina tosi of momofuku milk bar throws pretzels and potato chips into hers; jacques torres lets his sit for at least 24 hours before baking. they’re all recognizable as a chocolate chip cookie, yet all clearly distinct.

then, by serendipity, one of my favorite dessert bloggers posted a lovely new spin on a chocolate chip cookie that I just had to try. I’ve had a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe for a while now, but this recipe really might be my new favorite. in fact, it is so good, tahini may replace peanut butter as my new favorite condiment. and I ate peanut butter sandwiches for lunch every school day in high school. what can I say, I eat like an american tv show too.

choc tahini cookie 1

makes 12 cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup tahini
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (>60% cocoa; I use ghirardelli 70% cocoa chips)
flaky salt

molly yeh. salted tahini chocolate chip cookies. my name is yeh. 6 jan 2016. accessed 16 jan 2015.

1 in a bowl, cream the butter*, tahini, and sugar until light and fluffy, ~5 minutes. add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, then continue mixing for another 5 minutes. (I mixed by hand with a spatula, but you can also use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.)
2 sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. using a spatula, fold flour mixture to butter mixture until just combined. fold in chocolate chips.
3 line a baking sheet with parchment paper. using a 2-oz ice cream scoop, scoop 12 dough balls (I just used the standard-size one I have at home and it worked fine.) wrap baking sheet with plastic wrap and place in freezer for at least 12 hours (do not skip!). (if you don’t have enough room in your freezer, you can put them in the fridge until hard enough to move them to a plastic gallon bag without getting squished.) cookie dough can be frozen for up to 6 months.
4 preheat oven to 325ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or save the parchment paper from before and reuse). space the cookie balls at least 3-in apart to allow for spreading. bake for 13-16 minutes, until just golden brown around the edges. they will still look fairly unbaked in the middle. sprinkle with flaky salt immediately after they come out of the oven. allow to cool for ~20 minutes on the baking sheet (the center will set and finish baking).

*if your butter is not room temperature, melt a bit of it at a time and mix with the butter until it becomes a creamy consistency.