At this point in my life, in the eve of my thirties, I am at ease with being gay. I was raised in a loving household that quickly adapted to my unveiled truths and had the fortunate blessing of growing alongside a gay sister (another statistic for the genetic argument) in whom to confide. As I formed a vocabulary to express myself, friends and their mothers stood strong in ways that remain with me over a decade later and the relationships I've had have sculpted and defined me in gentle but dramatic ways for which I am deeply grateful.
There have been challenges but they've been very small comparatively, mostly in having to assert that my long hair and strong eye contact does not indicate what it might for other girls. Living in liberal towns and cities for most of my life, hate crimes and sad headlines have been far from me and I've existed with a blind faith that someday soon the scale of justice will tilt and we'll all stand on the same ground. Having just moved to a far-less liberal city and having more pride than ever (loving Amy is an honor I've never felt), I feel the sense of urgency mounting. Even though I've heard this song a dozen times, when it came on the radio yesterday, I burst into tears. I don't care what horse this message rides in on -- straight, gay, black or white -- it's one that we all need hammered into our heads and hearts: love is love is love is love and its variations are endless.
Endless variations. These cookies are ones to sink your mouth into -- that's what I like best about them: their chew. Sometimes cookies or other sweet treats dissolve too quickly in your mouth with the high content of fat and sugar. These portly dudes -- with their criss-cross fork pattern -- require time spent chewing, which is a total delight because the brown sugar smashing into the salt hit from the butter makes for an exciting battle. Eventually, the peanut butter comes barreling in with a commanding presence that lingers from both its nutty nature and its ability to stick to the roof of your mouth. Kinda like Macklemore.
Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from Alice Medrich
If you have luck or a drive regarding gluten-free baking -- go for it. My only absolution is that the chew will be different.
8T softened butter (Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter on this end)
1 c loosely packed brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped (pod discarded) or 1 t vanilla extract
1 1/4 c smooth salted natural peanut butter (Smuckers on this end, no added oils or sugars)
1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
In a bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high, beat the butter and brown sugar until smooth but not fluffy -- about a minute. Add the egg, vanilla bean seeds and peanut butter and continue to mix until just combined -- another 30 seconds.
With a wooden spoon, gently incorporate the sifted dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before baking.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325F. Pinch off golf ball sized pieces of dough, roll them into a ball, and press gently down with a fork -- twice at alternating 90 degree angles to get the criss cross pattern. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool completely on a rack, if you have one. These are especially marvelous in the later afternoon with any leftover morning coffee, peculiar as it might sound.
Yields: about one and a half dozen
Prep time: 15 minutes
Rest time: at least an hour
Bake time: 15 minutes