Today is World Peace Day!
On any day, if I hear someone say, “World Peace,” my immediate, almost Pavlovian reaction is to say: Cookies! If you know the cookies, then you’ll understand- you might even be another person who jumps up with glee and shouts the same thing. Here, a short history of how it all started.
In 2002, when my book PARIS SWEETS came out – it was a book about 17 patisseries in the city that’s my part-time home – people at signings would often ask what recipe they should try first. My answer was always the same: Turn to page 6, start with the Korovas.
The recipe for Korova Cookies was from Pierre Hermé, then and now a very famous pastry chef in France. The cookies were simple, but their flavor and texture were haunting. The dough was mixed quickly and then shaped into logs – think American slice-and-bake icebox cookies. Their texture was sandy like shortbread, or sablés, the cookie they were modeled on. But part of what made them so unusual was that, while they were characteristically melt-in-your-mouth and sandy, they were also a bit chewy. The slight chewiness, unusual in a sablé, came from the addition of brown sugar, also unusual – Pierre said he had American chocolate chip cookies in mind when he created the Korovas.
The cookies were profoundly chocolaty, made with cocoa, but studded with chunks of bittersweet chocolate. And they were salty. When Pierre gave me the recipe, now more than 20 years ago, I was surprised by the saltiness. Today, we’ve come to expect a perceivable amount of salt in our sweets, but back then, it was revelatory. As was the lesson he taught me: When you’re baking, think about salt the same way you think about it when you’re cooking – it’s a seasoning!
A few years later, when I was working on BAKING FROM MY HOME TO YOURS and almost finished with the manuscript, I ran into a neighbor in the elevator, who said, “You know those chocolate cookies with the funny name? In our house we call them World Peace Cookies because,” now wait for it: If everyone had these cookies there would be peace throughout the world. In that instant, I knew I had to include the cookie recipe with its new, perfect name in my new book. And I did.
Ten years later, when I was working on DORIE’S COOKIES, the question of whether or not to include the recipe again came up. Con: I’d already published the recipe. Pro: I had a chapter in the book about the cookies that Joshua Greenspan, my son, and I made for our long-gone company, Beurre & Sel, and the World Peace Cookies were a bestseller. Also, while the recipe hadn’t changed, I had more to say about how to make it. The Pros won, the recipe was included and then, at almost the last minute, the publisher chose to put the WPC on the book’s cover.
Just to wrap up its publishing history – it has a longer bibliography than a lot of bestselling authors – I had decided that I wouldn’t include it in my newest book, BAKING WITH DORIE. After all, when you Google World Peace Cookies, you get 428,000,000 references!!!!!!! and I thought that’s enough. But, in the five years between COOKIES and this new book, I’d created a WPC Version 2.0 (something I said I’d never do and something that I’m delighted to have done – wait until you see it!) and I wanted to share it. And so, the original WPC wriggled into the book kind of like a sweet PS to the newest cookie.
Alas, over the nearly two decades that the cookie has been in the world, it hasn’t brought peace. But it has brought happiness. Here are just a few of the many joyous instances:
ooo Shortly after the recipe was published with its new, brilliant name, a chapter of Grandmothers for Peace in southern California contacted me asking if I was okay with them handing out a cookie and the recipe to anyone who promised to bake their own batch of cookies and share them. Yes. Yes. Yes. And I only just learned (thank you Google) that a group of Grandmothers for Peace from Nevada sent a box of the cookies to President Bush.
ooo When I was in Chicago a few years ago, the podcaster and blogger Gloria Piantek turned up at a book signing with a box of cookies. I recognized them by their look – they were certainly WPCs – but Gloria called them Around-the-World Peace Cookies and when I talked to her, I understood why: She’d incorporated an ingredient from every continent on the globe. It was an ingenious way to be inclusive.
ooo The remarkable illustrator, Jessie Kanelos Weiner, who lives in Paris (take a look at her latest project), was inspired by my idea of pairing cookies and kindness – I did this a while ago, but as I write these words, I’m thinking it might be time for more Cookies + Kindness – and so she made this lovely watercolor - see the WPC at the bottom, near the left?
ooo And I just learned that Tess Taft Edge and a group of women from Clinton, CT are decorating 12 Christmas trees for an online auction to start in October (I’ll post the link when the auction goes live). Each tree will raise money for a specific charity and each charity will get 100% of the proceeds. I was thrilled when I was told that there will be a World Peace Tree with 1,000 handmade origami Peace Cranes and World Peace Cookies, too.
That the World Peace Cookie has taken on a life of its own is extraordinary and wonderful. It’s created so many stories, all of them filled with goodness. If you have a World Peace Cookie story – or a story about world peace – today is a good day to share it with us.
If you were one of the 428 million stories about the cookie on Google, pipe up!
And if you or someone you know has never tasted a World Peace Cookie … BAKE!
I’ve got something sweet for you on Friday – see you then.