Having missed my true calling as the elf up at the North Pole in charge of baking the entire world’s Christmas cookies, I especially enjoy baking for bake sales. Someone only need say “bake sale,” and I am off and running, and every year at Christmastime, our church’s Mission Committee holds such a sale. Jim is on the Committee, and has traveled to New Orleans after Katrina, and just this year, to Haiti, to help clear rubble at a hospital. Bake sales help fund these enterprises. I comb through my cookie recipe files looking for cookies that taste delicious, but which can hold up to being transported to church in a snow storm, if need be. This year I settled on baking Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies, Butterscotch Shortbread, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies, brownies, and Cinnamon Tea Cakes. I assembled Christmas cookie containers, and boxes for transporting the cookies, checked my ingredients, popped in a cd of Christmas music, and jumped in. At this point, Jim knows to avoid the kitchen, and this hold true as long
as I emerge occasionally with “sample” for him to try. This year’s version of chocolate chip cookies purported to be “the best,” so testing was critical! The Butterscotch Cookies were also something new. They required that I roll out the dough to a rectangle exactly 9 x 6″ in size and cut the dough into 1-1/2″ squares, and while I’m not usually enthusiastic about any baking that requires a ruler, these turned out nicely. As I baked, our cat Rocket jumped up to his basket, which is on top of the kitchen cabinet, and from which he supervises operations.
As it turned out, the chocolate chip cookies were as delicious as any chocolate chip cookie, but not more delicious, the brownies fudgy, and the shortbread crisp. I packed every up, knew a satisfying moment viewing the assembled goodies, and took them to Church the next morning. For moment, I felt bereft, my elf hat drooping, but then I remembered a dinner coming up at Church, the Third Tuesday Dinner, where a free meal is provided to all who show up–there was a call out for Christmas goodies. I cheered up. Here is the recipe for the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies, which comes from “Big, Soft, Chewy Cookies,” by Jill Van Cleave. This is one of my favorite cookie cookbooks, and I very much recommend it–the recipes are easy and everything turns out.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar until fluffy and smooth. Add egg and vanilla and blend. Separately, mix flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Add to creamed mixture, then add chocolate chips. I use a 2-ounce ice cream scoop to measure and form the dough, packing it down and leveling with a knife, before releasing the dough. Drop dough two inches apart onto a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake about 18 minutes.