Whenever something bad happens to someone I love, my first reaction is to bake. Not just any recipe, though. When I need to lift someone’s spirits or bring them a spark of joy, I always make Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace Cookies.
For many bakers (including plenty of those at King Arthur!) these cookies are legendary. “These are the chocolate-on-chocolate cookies of your wildest dreams,” raves my colleague PJ Hamel, a fellow World Peace Cookie enthusiast.
So when we flipped through Dorie’s new cookbook, Baking with Dorie, and saw she was debuting a new 2.0 version of her classic cookie, we were thrilled. I’m not ashamed to say I let out an audible yell.
The origins of this cookie legend
As Dorie recounts to me, the original recipe for World Peace Cookies dates back decades, to when her friend, Parisian pastry chef Pierre Hermé, gave her his recipe for chocolate sablés. “And it was perfect,” she remembers.
After testing and translating the recipe for American kitchens, she renamed them World Peace Cookies when her neighbor suggested the name. From there, they became a beloved staple in many a baker’s kitchen, made around the world and tweaked to individual tastes throughout the years. “If I knew this was going to happen, or I knew how to make things that would have this kind of effect, I’d do it more often,” says Dorie. “But this is kind of magical.”
What makes them special
With a name like “World Peace Cookies,” these have to be good. And they are, almost surprisingly so given their fairly straightforward ingredients. “I remember being excited at how such a simple list of ingredients could come together to create such an astonishingly tasty cookie,” recalls PJ.
They start with creamed butter and sugar (including brown sugar for additional depth of flavor), then flour, cocoa powder, and a dose of salt are added to form a crumbly dough studded with chopped chocolate. The dough is rolled into a log, chilled, then sliced into thick rounds to bake.
Overall, nothing about this recipe jumps out as particularly groundbreaking, but the resulting cookies are so good you won’t be able to stop thinking about them. They’re deeply chocolaty, rich without being decadent, and more flavorful than sweet. They have a sandy, buttery texture, though it’s more soft than shortbread, with a slight chew thanks in part to the brown sugar.
These cookies make you appreciate the hallmark of a truly great recipe: simple, straightforward, and practical, with a result that’s way more than the sum of its parts. Dorie and I both agree that, against all odds, they really are worthy of such a lofty name.
So was it really necessary to mess with perfection?
Why Dorie decided to update an icon
As she explains to me, Dorie occasionally experimented with tweaks to the recipe throughout the years, trying everything from peanut butter chips to mint. But in the end, “There’s no point in changing what’s perfect,” she says. And she left the World Peace Cookies untouched.
So when her friend Charlotte Druckman approached Dorie about developing a new version for her book Women on Food, Dorie’s first reaction was no. “And I thought I meant it,” she says. But the idea nagged at her, and she found herself thinking about how she could make this cookie, familiar to bakers everywhere, surprising. “Then,” she says, “I got really excited about it.”
Building off Charlotte’s work, Dorie started brainstorming ingredients and flavors that represented the qualities she admired in women, including “rye flour for groundedness; cocoa nibs to represent strength; pepper for a touch of unpredictability; and raspberries for sharpness and verve,” as she writes in the accompanying headnotes in her book.
In the end, “These ingredients in this combination were worthy,” Dorie says. “Worthy of being part of the World Peace Cookie.”
Dorie says that developing a 2.0 version has since freed her to start playing around with the recipe in her kitchen. So can we expect a 3.0 version anytime soon? While she’s not making any promises, “The door is open,” she says coyly.
For now, we can bake and enjoy her World Peace Cookies 2.0 while we wait for a new 3.0 twist to come.
Cover photo from Baking with Dorie.