Cookies You’ll Want to Bake Even When You Don’t Feel Like Baking
I love to bake.
I bake when I’m happy. I bake when I need to relax. I bake when I’m frustrated. I bake when I’m sad.
With just one exception.
Last year, when my Dad passed away on President’s Day, I stopped baking for months. It took awhile for me to even realize I hadn’t taken out my baking books like usual, leafed through recipes, stirred up cookie dough in a big mixing bowl, and baked spoonfuls of it on sheets in the oven with eager anticipation.
But when you’re numb, when your heart is broken, and your eyes still well with salty tears at every little memory, it’s hard to muster the strength to make anything in life sweet.
So for months, I didn’t bake. Didn’t even notice I wasn’t baking. Until one day, I started to miss it. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to do it, because I realized that every time I used to bake, I’d always share some with my Dad. It didn’t matter if it was cookies or muffins or brownies or fruit galettes or coffeecakes, I’d always save some for him. It didn’t matter that he lived an hour away. I’d just wrap some up carefully and store it safely in the freezer until I went to visit him and my Mom.
By far, my Dad and I had the biggest sweet tooths in the family. We both never met a chocolate bonbon we didn’t like. My Dad was known to enjoy a piece of pie before dinner, even if dinner was only an hour away. He thought of it as his version of an appetizer. And in the last years of his life and my Mom’s life, he kept a freezer full of ice cream — a ritualistic treat he would dish out for the two of them almost every night for dessert.
Months went by until I realized this cloistered, non-baking life was crazy. My Dad wouldn’t want me to act this way. And though he was physically gone, his spirit still was there, and probably wondering why the heck nothing sweet, warm, and sugary was coming out of my kitchen oven anymore.
So I started baking again. And I realized how much I had missed it. I think of my Dad often now when I’m trying out new baked goods recipes, such as this cookie one. I think he would have liked this one. His tastes were simple. He appreciated things that were done well. That’s what this cookie is all about: It’s a classic, beloved peanut butter cookie, only it’s just a bit more intense in flavor from the welcome additions of not only peanut butter chips, but dry-roasted salted peanuts, as well.
I may not be able to share them with my Dad anymore. But now I do the next best thing: I share them with you.
Triple Play Peanut Butter Cookies
(makes about 6 dozen)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups peanut butter, creamy or chunky
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups chopped, dry-roasted salted peanuts
1 1/3 cups peanut butter chips or chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugars, peanut butter, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour, peanuts, and chips.
Drop dough by tablespoonful onto prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies for 14 minutes, until they’re set and brown around the edges. Remove them from oven and cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
From The King Arthur Cookie Companion (Countrymen Press)
That’s when the ones we love become immortal – when we do what we loved to share with them. I raise a glass of milk to Dad with those peanut butter cookies!
Carolyn, what a lovely memory — thank you for sharing it with us. Recipe, too (great images). Best, R
This is such a poignant story. You really conveyed the special relationship you had with your dad and one of the ways you shared your love with him! You have such a special gift in your writing and I’m sure your dad is still proud of you!!
I so enjoy your blog and never miss it!!! Thank you for continuing to entertain and teach us.
Thank you for all the sweet comments. You guys are the best! And I’m sure my Dad is smiling at what you all said.
Your story brought tears to my eyes. Now, I not only want to bake your cookies, but I want to bring a batch to my parents and spend some time with them.
So happy that you’re continuing writing thru your blog, and thru other venues. The Merc lost a true gem.
Christine, you are so very kind. Thank you for the wonderful comments. I hope your parents enjoy the cookies. If anything, my own personal experience in losing both my parents within two months’ time last year really taught me how precious time truly is. It’s a gift to be able to share moments with those you love to create memories that last forever.
My Jewish and Italian friends tell me that Chinese parents have nothing on theirs for brandishing guilt and food in hefty doses! But since I’m Chinese, I can’t speak to their experience. I do know that one time my mom made me so mad that I threatened “never to eat your food ever again” – the worst threat I could ever conjure up! My husband, a Caucasian, just laughed because he eats only to live, and thinks we’re ridiculous to do otherwise. Yet even he acknowleges that jook, dim sum, and cookies are not just that: They are a cross-generational language that we speak fluently when Chinese and English are insufficient.
Carolyn – you are so intelligent, eloquent, and charming; I hope you find the wider audience that you deserve.
Ooooh, wouldn’t that be a contest! Who lays on the most guilt — Jewish, Italian, or Chinese parents? Maybe it would be a three-way tie?? Hah! But at least all three feed you well; that’s for sure!
Ahhh, there you go again with those precious memories…just as I was starting to miss my Mom, I stumble over your article and lo and behold, there’s your warming and most tender memories. That’s the relationship I’ve shared with my parent, and am now trying to creates with my boys. I’ve picked up gardeing from my Mom as well. My boys appreciate the food connection, but I hope the calming effects of gardening reaches them in the future.
You’ve done well, your parents must have been very proud!