FRENCH CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD COOKIES WITH FLEUR DE SEL

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Pierre Hermé’s sablés au chocolat et à la fleur de sel, also referred to by some as World Peace Cookies, are undoubtedly one of the best chocolate chip cookies ever created.

I stumbled on this recipe when I was looking for a new chocolate cookie recipe. When I found this recipe and realized the author was Dorie Greenspan, I knew the cookie would have to be a winner. (BTW, if you have never tried any of her recipes, you are missing out on the real thing. This woman is a genius, and everything I have tried of hers has been over the top delicious.) Another reason this cookie (sablé) recipe caught my eye was the list of simple ingredients and the ease of preparation. (BTW, sablé is simply the French name for round shortbread cookies.) But back to why I knew I had to try this recipe.

This is how Dorie referred to these cookies in her write-up: “I once said I thought these cookies, the brainchild of the Parisian pastry chef Pierre Hermé, were as important a culinary breakthrough as Toll House cookies, and I’ve never thought better of the statement. These butter-rich, sandy-textured slice-and-bake cookies* are members of the sablé family. But, unlike classic sablés, they are midnight dark — there’s cocoa in the dough — and packed with chunks of hand-chopped bittersweet chocolate**. Perhaps most memorably, they’re salty. Not just a little salty, but remarkably and sensationally salty. It’s the salt — Pierre uses fleur de sel, a moist, off-white sea salt — that surprises, delights and makes the chocolate flavors in the cookies seem preternaturally profound.” She continues, “When I included these in Paris Sweets, they were called Korova Cookies and they instantly won fans, among them my neighbor Richard Gold, who gave them their new name. Richard is convinced that a daily dose of Pierre’s cookies is all that is needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness.”

So to borrow the immortal words of Jimmy Durante when he signed off after each of his television shows with “good night Mrs. Calabash wherever you are” – good night Mr. Gold wherever you are! I truly believe you had it right when you said these cookies could ensure happiness. I know they have brought a lot of happiness to the people who have tried them at my home. As far as planetary peace, well they have never made it out of this house, so I can’t attest to how the rest of the planet would react. But if I were a betting woman, I would bet my 1962 edition of Betty Crocker’s Cook Book, that even aliens would change course for one of these heavenly delights.

*I changed the recipe to make them “scoop” cookies

**I changed the recipe to use semi-sweet mini chocolate chips for ease, convenience, and expense

  • ½ c. (1 stick) plus 3 T. unsalted butter, room temperature (11 T. in all)
  • 2/3 c. packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ c. granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. fleur de sel or ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1¼ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • generous ¾ c. mini chocolate chips

With an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla extract; beat for 2 minutes more. Whisk the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together in a separate bowl. Add to the butter mixture and slowly mix for about 30 seconds or just until the flour disappears into the dough. (The dough will look a bit crumbly.) Add the chocolate chips and mix only to incorporate. Don’t over mix.

Drop by your smallest ice cream scoop onto parchment paper lined baking sheets at least 1-inch apart. (If you don’t own a small ice cream scoop***, use a scant tablespoon of dough.) Lightly press the top of each cookie with the bottom of a glass to make sure the top of the cookie is flat rather than round. Bake the cookies in a pre-heated 325 degree oven from 12-14 minutes or until they start to crack on the surface. They probably won’t look totally done, or feel done, but for this recipe – they are done! Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

***If you don’t own any ice cream scoops for use in baking cookies, making muffins, you name it (even scooping ice cream), now is the time to get thee to a kitchen shop. Buy several sizes. They will just save you so much time.

Please note: This dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Please let me know if you like this recipe. Thanks