Sometimes a cookie is just a cookie. But sometimes it’s a euphemism or an allegory or a therapy session. Or a little of each.
There is a lot of emphasis placed on beginnings and endings in life. The first day of school, then graduation. A wedding, your 50th anniversary. Birth, death. “Call me Ishmael,” what the heck was Peter Jackson thinking?
A beginning can set the tone, and an ending can ruin a perfectly lovely story. If the start is rocky, it may never progress any farther. But that wide expanse in the middle sometimes gets overlooked.
My friend came over the other day for lunch and possibly an afternoon outing. It had been a rough week, but after lunch she asked what we should do. Find a yoga class, go for a walk, something else? I looked at her for a minute and said, “Maybe we should stay in and bake something.” She agreed.
We decided on cookies. After flipping through my giant cookie cookbook and debating the pros, cons, and ingredient lists of several options, we got to work.
The beginning was a stressful week. The end was cookies. But the middle was time to focus, relax, and create something delicious. Shaping the cookies was soothing, somehow, and while the cookies baked they filled the kitchen with that amazing chocolate smell that tells you better than a timer that they’re almost ready. While we waited for that we had a chance to unload our stress and worries, and then chased it with the sugary fruits of our labor.
Oh, did I mention the peanut butter? That didn’t hurt, either.
Magic in the Middle Cookies
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
We substituted crunchy peanut butter for creamy, and a mix of whole wheat pastry flour (2/3) and bread flour (1/3) for all-purpose. Verdict? Awesome.
1 1/2 cups (6.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1.5 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar, plus extra for dipping
1/2 cup (4 ounces) brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup | 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup (2.4 ounces) peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup (7.15 ounces) peanut butter
3/4 cup (3 ounces) powdered sugar
1.) Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.
2.) In a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and peanut butter. Add granulated and brown sugars and cream until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and egg, then add dry ingredients and mix well.
3.) Preheat oven to 375F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir together peanut butter and powdered sugar until smooth for the filling. Roll the filling into 26 balls approximately one inch in diameter.
4.) Pour about 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar into a small bowl. To assemble the cookies: Scoop out cookie dough with a tablespoon. Flatten it into a disk and place a ball of filling in the center. Wrap dough around filling, press closed, and roll to create a smooth ball. Dip the top of the ball into the sugar and place, sugar side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Space cookies about 2 inches apart. Use a drinking glass or flat-bottomed measuring cup to flatten each cookie to about 1/2″ thickness.
5.) Bake cookies at 375F for 7-9 minutes until set. Cookies will crack slightly on top. Let cool 2 minutes on baking sheet then remove to a wire rack.
Where have you found magic in the middle?
Never miss a recipe: Subscribe via RSS feed or you can follow me on Twitter.
Comments? Leave them below or email me.