Monday, January 31, 2011

The best kind of trickery

Last week felt incredibly long. Like a terrible stretch of desert in the Sahara with no water for days. By water, I mean respite. By respite I mean a moment to slump and just be for a few moments. Birthday parties, meetings, dance classes, snow storms, office supply runs, oh my! By the time 4 pm Friday rolled around, I said fugghedabouit and signed off the VPN early. H and I had plans at my childhood friend B's apartment. B also has a precious angel of a daughter, L, who is five. Pizza and movie night with gals, small and large= TGIF.

H and I didn't want to come empty-handed, and I didn't think the Hairspray and Mama Mia! DVDs were enough of a hostess gift, so I took the trinity out of the fridge- butter, eggs and chocolate- to come to room temperature during the day. H wanted to make fairy cakes (no surprise there), but I wanted to make cookies. Here, I was being selfish: I didn't want to make kids' cookies. No sugar cookies with frosting or plain old Toll houses tonight. I wanted deep, dark, molasses-y flavor, oatmeal that was cooked until lacy and crisp, shards of midnight, bittersweet chocolate. I was looking for sophistication. So, I kind of tricked my daughter into baking MY version of oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies under the guise that she loves peanut butter and chocolate and oatmeal (she just doesn't like it all mixed together, but she didn't question me). I think this was a white lie, the kind parents tell their children when they need them to do something or to soften a blow. I didn't care at that point. With the week I had, these cookies would be my medicine, my elixir, and my little H would never begrudge me that.

The wholesome oatmeal, the dark chocolate, the unsweetened peanut butter: all these ingredients fool my weary mind to think these would make fine breakfast treats Saturday morning. Delectable Trickery indeed.

The pizza B made was delicious, the apps she put out for just us thoughtful and appreciated, and her sea salt Lindt bars very tasty. It was a great night with great friends. B's daughter tried a cookie, and handed it back after a few bites. Nevermind, whippersnappers. More for us sophisticated old birds...

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I started with a Martha Stewart recipe and tweaked it slightly. I love Martha, but her portions tend to be larger than life. I am not feeding a softball team. I also wanted to up the flavor factor, so subs all around. Using my KitchenAid to do the dirty work, I really creamed the sugar and butter for a long time, to achieve a nice airy quality despite the dense whole grains. I also beat the eggs for about 2 minutes to assist with lightness and crispness of the cookie.

1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all natural unsweetened peanut butter
1 Valrhona 85% dark chocolate bar, chopped into small bits

Stir together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Put sugar, butter, and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Beat for about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add oat mixture, and mix until just combined. Mix in chocolate. Cover and let sit in fridge for at least 1 hour but not more than 24 hrs.

When ready, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out 1 inch balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool. Will store for several days, if you don't eat them all first. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies. Doubles easily.

Free to use chocolate chips in lieu of sharded chocolate bars. You may also want to add some sort of nut- peanuts?- if you want a stronger peanut flavor. This is is very subtle. Also, all-purpose flour is fine too. Don't feel like you can make drop cookies immediately. The resting bit in the fridge is something I gleaned from a NYT article a few years ago on "aging" dough. If you have never done it, I urge you to try it! It's supposed to help the eggs break down and be absorbed by the flour and grains. The orginal article had some suggestions for up to 36 hrs, but I found the best results were somewhere between 6-12 hrs.

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