The Untold Truth Of World Peace Cookies

Have you ever heard of World Peace cookies? It's a lofty name for a little dessert, isn't it? These chocolate-y shortbread cookies took the internet — and home kitchens — by storm in the early aughts. That's when baker, The New York Times recipe columnist, and cookbook author Dorie Greenspan published the recipe for these addictive bites, first in a 2002 cookbook and later in a 2006 tome (via Dorie Greenspan). A basic shortbread cookie deepened with cocoa powder and shot through with chopped bittersweet chocolate, World Peace cookies apparently got their name when Greenspan's neighbor told the baker that a daily ration of the dessert would be all that's needed to ensure world peace (via Food52).

Although these cookies reached their apex years ago, they're still worth getting to know — and more than worth baking up and scarfing down at home. Let's take a look at the story behind World Peace cookies.

Who is Dorie Greenspan?

A beloved figure in her adoptive city of Paris and around the world, Greenspan was born in Brooklyn "before it was hip and groovy," and went on to become an obsessive home baker (via Dorie Greenspan). While in graduate school earning a doctorate in gerontology (the study of aging), Greenspan's husband Michael encouraged her to quit her studies and get a job in a restaurant. She did, and was subsequently fired for changing a recipe; Greenspan then tried working in a bakery but quit shortly thereafter (via the CT Examiner). 

Over time, Greenspan got her foot in the door at several magazines, publishing recipes in Food & Wine, Elle, and others. In 1991, she published her first recipe collection, "Sweet Times: Simple Desserts for Every Occasion." To date, Greenspan has published 13 cookbooks — with another one on the way this fall — and has been awarded five James Beard awards (via Dorie Greenspan).

World Peace cookies are born

According to Greenspan's website, World Peace cookies were born sometime before the new millennium, when acclaimed French pastry chef Pierre Hermé developed them for Korova, a Paris restaurant which has since shuttered. At the time, according to Greenspan, the recipe was considered "revolutionary" for its combination of American and French techniques.

Inspired by American chocolate chip cookies, World Peace cookies includes brown sugar — an ingredient rarely used in French baking — but basically adheres to the French cookie technique of sablés, or shortbread. The cookie was also unusual at the time for its finish of a generous sprinkling of sea salt, a sweet-savory combo that was still a new and exciting concept. "While we take salt in a cookie for granted now, sprinkling cookie-tops with flake salt and adding more than a pinch of salt to just about every cookie, it was startling then and still so appealing," Greenspan writes on her website.

The ascent to fame of World Peace cookies

In 2002, according to her website, Greenspan published the recipe for "Korova Cookies" in "Paris Sweets," one of her earlier cookbooks. After the incident during which her neighbor renamed them World Peace cookies, Greenspan published the recipe again under its new moniker in her 2006 cookbook "Baking: From My Home to Yours." The internet started to take notice, with articles and adaptations appearing on beloved food blog Smitten Kitchen and diehard foodie discussion board Chowhound as early as 2007. 

Over the years, World Peace cookies have been endlessly discussed and dissected on such high-profile outlets as Food52, The Splendid Table, Leite's Culinaria, and more. Additionally, according to Greenspan's website, "millions" of home bakers have pulled trays of the cookies from their ovens. Luckily, this viral recipe is easy to make at home, as long as you've got some baking staples on hand. Let's take a look at how.

How to make World Peace cookies at home

World Peace cookies are a slice-and-bake cookie, the type made out of a fairly stiff dough which you roll into a log, chill, then slice into rounds before baking (via Food52). To make them, you'll start by sifting cocoa, flour, and baking soda into a bowl. Then, in your mixer, you'll cream a stick of softened butter with both granulated and light brown sugars, vanilla extract, and sea salt. 

The next step is to run the mixer slowly as you carefully mix the dry ingredients into the wet, and mix just enough for everything to combine into a sticky dough. Then you'll stir in chopped bittersweet chocolate or mini chocolate chips, tip the dough out onto a length of plastic wrap, and roll it into a log before chilling it in the fridge for at least an hour. Finally, you'll slice the cookies into thick rounds before baking them in a 325-degree oven.

Variations of World Peace cookies

There's no doubt that World Peace cookies are a crowd-pleaser. Crisp like a shortbread cookie but slightly chewy thanks to the addition of brown sugar, the cookies taste deeply chocolate-y as a result of a one-two punch of cocoa powder and chopped bittersweet chocolate (via Food52). Additionally, thanks to a generously salted dough as well as a topper of flakey sea salt, the cookies are never overly sweet, meaning they'll suit a wide range of palates. 

That being said, it's super fun to adapt these cookies, something home cooks have taken to with abandon, judging by articles, recipes, and discussion boards. A Chowhound thread recommends adding a tablespoon of finely ground espresso for a caffeinated take on World Peace, while the blog Helvetic Kitchen makes the daring suggestion of swapping some of the bittersweet chocolate out for crumbled toffee. Perhaps the most indulgent adaptation we've seen comes from some of Smitten Kitchen blogger Deb Perelman's commenters, who slapped vanilla ice cream between two cookies for drool-worthy ice cream sandwiches. If those can't bring about World Peace, we're not sure what can.