Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Korova Cookies

Musings on the East Coast

I'm back from the East Coast.  I thought I would love the East Coast.  I hated the East Coast.

Well I can't really say hate- that is much too harsh of an adjective to describe my overall experience with both Boston and New York.  I will say though that I can with one hundred percent confidence proclaim that my heart prefers life on the West Coast, where I can careen along the highway in my car everyday while belting out Taylor Swift's latest teeny bopper hit.  I'm not too sure how well the locals of Manhattan would respond to an Asian Kid singing T-Swizzle on the subway during rush hour. 

Please don't get me wrong however.  While a large part of the pleasure I experienced did have to do with the fact I had the opportunity to volunteer at numerous organizations, some of the people in fact, were genuinely nice!  The diversity of a big city will forever enrapture my heart, and rarely (if at all) will you be able to strike up a two hour conversation with a seasoned world traveler at a coffee shop in Orange County like I was able to in Boston.  

But as a sheltered West Coast baby from Orange County, where it's considered winter when the mercury falls below the 60 degree mark, I definitely was out of my natural element.  The sad reality is that I arrived to the East Coast with the ubiquitous, candy-coated, and in all sense of the word fucked up version of what East Coast city life would be like.  I speak from experience- the Devil Wears Prada is not in any way, shape, or form an accurate portrayal of East Coast life.  Instead of taking my pre-envisioned, dazzling stroll down 5th Avenue where I would then leisurely ice skate amongst the twinkling glow of Rockefeller Center, I was instead met with and the smell of cigarettes, littered streets, and the constant struggle of navigating the sidewalk amongst the constant hoards of other pedestrians, frantically darting around like a paranoid schizophrenic. 

I heard stories about the fast paced lifestyle, but it was another thing to actually experience what I had heard about so much.  Never have I jay-walked with so much reckless abandon in my life, where instead of slowing down, taxis and wealthy drivers of the Mercedes S-Class instead sped up through intersections, causing people in the crosswalk to casually jump out of the way as if saving your life was as normal and involuntary as blinking your eye.  I was practically jogging in order to keep up with the normal walking pace of everyone else, and for someone with an absolutely horrid sense of direction, navigating the subway was like asking Honey Boo Boo to work a quantum physics problem.  What was an even harder obstacle to overcome was realizing how introverted people came off in day to day life.  Eye contact was met with a dart to the pavement, holding open a door is equivalent to becoming invisible, and a ride on the subway is 20 minutes of the most awkward silence possible.  But then again, who is a random kid from Southern California to paint an accurate portrayal of the East Coast?  While I loved expanding my horizons this winter break, I am more than happy to be back on my own couch.

Boston Common

Fenway Park

Boston Chowda Company, Quincy Market

Quincy Market

Quincy Market

Madison Square Park, New York

Eataly, Manhattan, New York

23rd Street Subway Station, New York

Eataly, Manhattan, New York

Eataly, Manhattan, New York

Chelsea Market, Manhattan, New York

Eataly, Manhattan, New York

Chelsea Market, Manhattan, New York

You've probably heard of these famous little gems.  Colloquially known as Dorie Greenspan's celebrated World Peace Cookies, I can say with confidence that these fall on my list of top ten cookies.  Just don't do what I did and forget the baking soda, or else you wind up with something that is thin, chewy, and crispy (which isn't bad at all) versus something thicker and substantial.

I have to admit, I felt like I was committing a mortal, sacrilegious sin of epic proportions by subtly changing what most would consider a perfect cookie, but I respectfully think you would like this winter variation.  A word to the weak though- this is a seriously chocolatey cookie.  With such a high ratio of cocoa that is consequently elevated by brown sugar, coffee, cinnamon, and chocolate chips, I don't think of World Peace when I eat these, but instead a chocolatey apocalypse, broken up by the tart zing of cranberries. 

One Year Ago: Peppermint Ice Blended Mocha, Eggs Benedict

Christmas Korova Cookies

adapted from Dorie Greenspan via Smitten Kitchen


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of instant coffee powder
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 vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
3/4 cup of dried cranberries

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and cinnamon together.

Working with a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the coffee powder, both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

Pour in the flour mixture, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and cranberries and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about one inch between them.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time 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.

1 comment:

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