“Cupid, draw back your bow! And let your arrow go-ohhhh! Straight to my lover’s heart for me, for me-eeeee-eee!” Erhem. Pardon me. I never can resist an opportunity to belt out Sam Cooke, especially when the day calls for a soundtrack that name-checks that chubby little archery-happy cherub who gets his kicks from knocking poor souls stupid with lurve. Now
Though I’ve never quite been one of those people who secretly love to dig a spoon down into a container of peanut butter and savor it just like that, I do have a very soft spot in my heart for this uniquely American spread. And sometimes there is simply nothing that hits the spot more than a warm, almost-falling-apart peanut butter cookie—crusty with sugar on the outside and gooey tender on the inside, topped with those kitschy but oh-so necessary crosshatches—and a tall glass of ice cold milk.
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a simple, buttery, tender sugar cookie. And no bakery can replicate the pure perfection of these delicate, flaky cookies. Flavorful and sweet from the addition of both vanilla and almond extracts, a little bit soft and a little bit crunchy from the decorating sugar on top, these are a cinch to whip up. But you don’t have to tell your sweetheart that. Place a cooled stack of these cookies in a celophane bag and tie with a ribbon to present to your loved one (or your girlfriends if you’re boycotting Valentine’s Day this year — it happens, and it doesn’t mean that you should be deprived of cookies this good and so addictive that yours truly recently downed eight in the course of a single evening… in the name of research, of course.)
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Last night some friends came over to the house to grill an ambitious collection of meats purchased on an outing to Nashville’s new but already acclaimed Porter Road Butcher. Since the “menfolk” were rather preoccupied with the prodigiously sized pork chops and angsting over the charcoal situation to make sure their selection of gourmet sausages were crisped to perfection, it seemed clear pretty quickly that the dessert portion of this meal was going to be entirely overlooked if I didn’t do something about it. Reb suggested, in the way that men have which they seem to think — for reasons that neither I nor any other girl can discern — is very sly, that I whip up some kind of portable, un-fussy dessert. I returned his conspiratorial gaze and praised him for his foresight. “I’ve got it under control,” I whispered, and immediately began assembling ingredients for the ultimate portable dessert: the cookie. I mixed up some chocolate chip walnut cookies but thought the occasion — a festive but casual gathering on a fine autumn evening — really called for two varieties, so I squinted into the pantry and culled a few baggies and jars as my mind began to formulate a mix of chewy, spicy, nutty and sweet. Thus, the cranberry walnut spice cookie was born. The resulting cookies are crisp around the edges but — when removed from the oven while still soft and allowed to kind of “deflate” on the pan for a few minutes — delightfully chewy inside. The ginger gives them a hint of the flavor that I, for one, associate with molasses cookies; which, for as long as I can remember, have been a cherished family tradition associated with this season. These cookies, studded with golden raisins, tart dried cranberries and walnuts — which you could toast in the oven at 350° on an ungreased baking sheet for 10 minutes if you wanted to afford your cookies even more depth of flavor — are easy to mix up and have a surprisingly spicy taste. Besides, the smell as they bake will fill your kitchen and home with a wonderful buttery, brown-sugary aroma that will be sure to get you in the Thanksgiving spirit!
Despite living very near the home of the very delightful RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival in Bell Buckle, Tennessee (click here for my tips on visiting Bell Buckle) I had yet to ever actually sample a Moon Pie or any sandwich cookie for that matter. After making these spectacular little morsels of faintly spiced, tender cookie and a delicate smear of cream cheese, I am champing at the bit to make more sandwich cookies: every combination I can think of! I may have to invest in my own treadmill to work off the consequences of my (very important) research, but I think when cookies taste like these, it’s well worth it. Plus, they just look so darn cute stacked up on a cake plate. Make these the next time you invite friends over for a movie viewing, or, y’know, anytime.