Most of the time, I feel pretty socially awkward. I stumble with the right words during introductions and make lame jokes. I laugh nervously and question how likeable I am. I forget names. I forget my own name sometimes, for that matter. But over time, I’ve learned a great way to earn a little introductory grace and peace of mind: bring baked goods.
Accompanying a friend to a complete stranger’s birthday party? Bring cookies. Meeting your partner’s family for the first time? French apple tart. Forgot Shayna’s name and accidentally addressed her as Paul? Whoah… Banana-nut muffin. They’ll remember you for the tasty treats, and all social misgivings will fall away. If a bag-o-cookies can’t sway their opinion, there are always other friends to be had on the road to diabetes.
Sometimes it seems that nothing trumps the simple, old-school things that we come to know and love over time.
I could run my mouth for days about things like pistachio chiffon cake with rosewater mousse and red currant jelly, but it seems there’s always someone out there who’s eyes will glaze over after a few syllables of detail and say “Can’t I just have a regular cookie?”
Well, uh, yes. Yes, you can.
So, here’s to the simplicity of old-fashioned comforts and how they bring us together. Those of you with nut allergies, please forgive me. We’ve got cookies in store for you.
The bake time noted below is for softer, chewier cookies. If you want them nice and crispy, just increase the bake time by about 3-5 minutes. Of course, your oven’s temperament will affect the bake time, so watch your first batch closely, just so you know you’ve got your timing right.
(Recipe adapted from Food Gal http://www.foodgal.com/2009/05/man-happy-cookies/)
CHEWY PB COOKIES:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter
*Optional: 2 cups coarsely chopped, good dark chocolate to mix in or press into the tops of the cookies. Your choice.
-sift or whisk flour, salt and baking soda together in a bowl.
-in a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
-add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl between additions, then add vanilla and peanut butter. mix well and scrape bowl again to ensure everything is well mixed
-slowly add your dry ingredients, until well-incorporated into dough. If you’re adding chocolate, add it now.
-use a 1″ cookie scoop to portion dough onto a plate or tray covered with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Chill dough in fridge or freezer for one hour. (By pre-scooping and freezing your dough, you can bake off as many cookies as you wish, at any point. I usually bulk-batch my dough and am able to bake off a couple whenever my sweet tooth speaks up. That’s thinking ahead.)
-bake on silpat or parchment-lined cookie sheet, spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. Traditionally, PB cookies get the fork cross-hatch pattern before baking (perhaps to ward off those with nut allergies?). I’m lazy so I just use a kitchen mallet to flatten my cookies and add a pleasing lattice-like pattern.
-Bake at 325 for 12-15 minutes, turning the tray halfway through to ensure even baking.
-burn mouth sampling first cookie, hot and gooey delicious, from the oven. Transfer remaining cookies to a wire rack to cool.