In a move that sounds very jet-sett-y and interesting, I am reporting to you from a flight home from New York. Five minutes ago I realized that superstar pastry chef Sherry Yard is seated two rows behind me and I’m trying not to freak out about it. It’s probably a good thing that I’ve lost my voice and sound like a raptor when I try to speak, because it’s the only thing that’s keeping me from flapping back to 7D and stuttering my undying love for her like a crazy person.
Anyway, I’ve just spent a whirlwind couple of days in the city, running around in Super Fly Business Lady Shoes, for back-to-back meetings in the kind of sensationally-designed buildings that require you to show I.D. and have your photo taken upon entering, presumably so you can study said photo before your meeting and evaluate how nervous you look on the outside.
There were fancy rooms and cushy chairs and executives and lovely, fresh-faced young people who offered water and coffee before I could even take off my coat. (That coat, by the way, was not nearly warm enough for New York in late February, but hot dang, did it ever look terrific with my Super Fly Business Lady Shoes. Priorities.)
It was the kind of explosive trip that didn’t make room for much play, but did allow for a lot of focused work without tiny people clinging to my jeans. It reminded me that even though I spend most of my days in San Francisco balancing work and family and sometimes feeling like maybe I’m not doing either particularly well, I’ve been building my own thing brick by brick all along the way, whether I realized it in the moment or not. It also reminded me of a post I wrote a while back for creative crazed moms just like me, where I talked about how I’m a big believer in the phrase start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. Because that’s really the only way most of us with psychotic lives full of kids and messes and dreams and limited free time can operate. And you really never know where the small steps can lead.
Obviously, it’s not the sexiest, express-elevator approach to hitting those big goals. For instance, this particular elevator I’ve been riding in for a while now is very loud and has peanut butter smeared on the buttons and I have to stop at every other floor because there’s always someone in here who needs to go to the bathroom or wants milk or a snack, and I’ve forgotten to throw granola bars in my bag. Again. But eventually I’ll get to put on some makeup and we’ll get to the top floor. God willing, we’ll get to the top floor.
And when we get there, and I emerge, straightening my clothes, smushing on lipgloss, and swapping my Chucks for my Super Fly Business Lady Shoes, I’ll have a story to tell. A richer story than if I’d ridden the express elevator in my breezy, childless 20s, when both my jeans and life experience were smaller. I’m already better equipped to blend my old life with my new life to create something decidedly more interesting and delicious. (In my old life, I also wore tank tops with exposed bra straps a la Carrie Bradshaw, so…there’s that.)
Which brings me to the kind of segue about which food writers dream: these cookies. these cookies that bring together a little bit of the conventional supermarket brown sugar we’re used to using in baking, and then bump up the flavor and irresistible chew factor with a river of honey in the mix. And then we make things even more crave-worthy with a hit of salt and honey-roasted peanuts. I don’t see how this could not go well.
When Real Sweet comes out in just a couple weeks (!!) you’ll find recipes similar to this in its pages (though for a less-refined Real Sweet-style take, swap out the regular brown sugar here for muscovado). Speaking of which, I can’t WAIT for you guys to see the new book. I finally got a hard copy a couple weeks ago, and it’s really a snapshot of modern baking–blending the old with the new, my background of old school, Midwestern baked comfort mixed with the California sensibility of my adult life and lots of natural, next-level ingredients. I’d venture to say that these are cookies with Super Fly Business Lady Shoes. Mmmm-hmmm.
Chewy Honeyed Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 2-3 dozen
No need to chop the peanuts here–you want them in the mix all nice and chunky. The mixer should break them up just enough. Light muscovado sugar can be found online, or in natural food stores. If you can’t find it, standard issue dark brown sugar from the supermarket is a fine stand-in.
4 tablespoons (2 ounces/57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 1/2 ounces/128 grams) well-stirred natural peanut butter (I like the salted chunky variety for extra crunch)
1/2 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) firmly packed light muscovado sugar, or dark brown sugar
1/3 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) honey
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces/192 grams) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces/150 grams) honey-roasted peanuts
Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, peanut butter, and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the honey and egg until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the flour mixture. When the batter is smooth, stir in the peanuts.
Using a tablespoon-sized scoop, portion the batter out onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake until just set, but still soft in the centers (you should be able to lift just the edges of the cookies off the sheet). Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
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