Sunday, February 14, 2010

Korova Cookies, aka World Peace Cookies (gluten-free)

I don't usually do that much gluten-free baking. But for world peace, I make an exception.

Recently the lovely blog Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef posted something of a road map of the journey you take in gluten-free baking (and gluten-free living). Living gluten-free is about learning the ins and outs of a whole new palette of starches. And it's a hefty palette -- different gluten-free starches have different properties, so if you want something that binds, aerates, flakes, and all that good stuff, you're going to have to combine a variety of ingredients and techniques. I don't have too much experience with the gluten-free pantry pantheon, so when I want to bake for gluten-free friends, I usually turn to tried-and-true recipes, and follow them exactly.

But last week, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef threw down the gauntlet. Well, the friendly, collaborative sort of gauntlet. After an uncharacteristically spectacular recipe failure, they solicited feedback in developing a gluten-free version of Korova Cookies, also known as World Peace Cookies. Their version turned into a melty mess on the cookie sheet, and so they asked for thoughts, comments and suggestions as to how to come up with a dough that more closely resembled its inspiration.

The cookies in question are a chocolatey-salty version of buttery sablés. These French cookies are so named for their sandy texture, sort of like a crumbly shortbread. In this version, developed by the failsafe Dorie Greenspan, they're given a shot of cocoa powder, some chopped chocolate and a hefty dose of salt, and according to her neighbor they might just be the secret to world peace. Who could say no?

As any gluten-free baker knows, developing a crumbly texture isn't usually much of a problem. I turned to the somewhat nubbly rice flour as the main ingredient, with some tapioca starch and sorghum along too, and a teensy bit of xanthan gum to bind (this ingredient can be found at most health food stores, but can also be easily obtained from any of your gluten-free friends in exchange for the promise of cookies). Gluten-free sablés need a bit of structure to stand up to all that butter, but not at the expense of their crumbly short texture. I turned to egg yolks, removed from their more structurally-solid whites. I also swapped out some of the butter for an ingredient that may seem strange: hard-boiled egg yolks.

I first saw hard-boiled yolks used in a strawberry shortcake recipe last summer, and it turns out that they're not all that uncommon, and are even used in some traditional sablé recipes. They lend a delicious richness, but without the water content and binding properties of raw yolks, or the melting potential of butter. I was aiming to try a few variations, but after a spectacular cookie disaster of my own (more on that later), I was pretty cookied out, and just made the one. But the gluten-free gods seem to have smiled, because it was indeed the one. Chocolatey and salty (in a way that seems to deepen the chocolate flavor), with a delicate texture. World peace to follow? We can only hope.

Korova Cookies (aka World Peace Cookies), gluten-free

adapted from the
World Peace Cookies in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours, inspired and informed by Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

yields ~28 cookies

1/2 cup rice flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp coarse salt (fleur de sel if you've got it, kosher salt if you're me), or a heaping 1/4 tsp regular salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 hard-boiled egg yolks
2 raw egg yolks
1/2 cup chopped chocolate, or 3/4 cup mini chips (if using the latter, chop a few up into scraps, to get those little bits that will melt into the batter and make it all the better)

Sift together the rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, cocoa powder, baking soda, and xanthan gum. Set aside.

In a mixer, cream together the butter with the brown sugar and sugar until they're light and fluffy. Add the salt, vanilla, and crumble in the hard-boiled egg yolks. If you're mixing by hand, you may want to pass the yolks through a seive to make sure they are broken up into small pieces, but with a mixer and the granular sugar, you should be fine. Mix another minute or two, until the mixture is well-combined and fluffy. Add the raw yolks, and stir until just combined.

Add your dry ingredients, mixing until they are completely incorporated. Mix in the chopped chocolate until it is evenly dispersed. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap or waxed or parchment paper (or, if you're me, a cut-open plastic bag because you don't seem to have either of the other items). Take half the dough, shape it into a chubby sausage with a 1 1/2" diameter, and wrap it tightly in your covering of choice. Repeat with the remaining dough. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat your oven to 325 degrees farenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats, if you've got them (or else just grease them well and hope for the best).

Take out one of your dough tubes, and slice the cookies into hefty 1/4" discs (I might have been closer to 1/3"). Set the rounds of dough onto one of the prepared sheets, leaving a few inches between (they will spread). Bake 12 minutes -- the cookies should be set enough to have something of a crust, but they will not be close to being firm or done. Remove, and let cool on the sheets. Repeat with remaining disc. The cookies will remain slightly soft when warm, but firm up upon cooling. They're delicious either way.


  1. These look great! We're not gluten-free at my house, but I'm developing a small infatuation for how GF recipes work... I'm considering stocking a GF baking pantry so I can try some of these things, and these cookies would likely be a good place to start!

  2. World Peace Cookies look so good. I've been wanting to make some. Great job turning the recipe into GF!

  3. Oh, my! I'll say these are World Peace Cookies. Well done. And hard-boiled eggs? Now you have me very curious. I have heard of people adding hard-boiled egg yolks to chocolate chip cookies, and unappealing as it sounds, I imagine the richness it contributes. I am interested in giving it a try.

    Also; beautifully written post.

  4. Aw, thanks all! I had heard about using cooked yolks before, but hadn't experimented with them until I got this prompt. And man, in this case it most definitely works. I ended up leaving the batch with my gluten-free former housemate, because I could not resist. At all.

  5. Those look delicious! I am putting them on my list of to-dos. Thanks for taking up the challenge!

  6. Thank you so much for posting these! I'm gluten free and found you by way of Shauna. Your technique intrigued me--so I made these last night and baked them today. Fab! The salt is perfect. I might even sprinkle a smidge on top next time. It really makes the cookie. And I cannot get over how tidy and pretty these are. An excellent texture for a GF cookie.

  7. Hi Deena, Thank you so much for these, I made them sugar free, and half of the batch with raw cacao. Seeing the hard boiled egg comment on Shauna's site absolutely peaked my curiosity. Oh my goodness were they amazing, I fully understand the "world peace" naming. Thanks again!

  8. Ann & Sweatpea: So nice to hear that this recipe worked for you! I was worried that my results might have just been a delicious fluke, but others seem to be having good success. And they are indeed "tidy" - perfect word to describe these cookies. They could pass for standard pastry counter cookies anywhere.