When in Doubt, Bake Cookies

They say that amongst the most stressful life-changing events are
1. Moving
2. Having a wedding
3. Becoming unemployed

Between now and August 30, I’m doing all three…which definitely puts me in the "seriously stressed" category. So what am I doing about it? Five words: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

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It’s not so much about the eating of the cookies—especially as I have a dress fitting this afternoon, cookies aren’t on the menu for me!—but more about the calming, meditative effect of baking the cookies. I love whipping the butter, sugar and eggs to a smooth, syrupy consistency; choosing my mix-ins and folding them into the dough; carefully measuring the cookies onto the sheet and arranging them in a tidy grid. It’s about restoring a sense of order in my otherwise crazy life.

So today’s ‘sense of order’ comes from a cookbook that I purchased solely based on looks: Chocolate Chocolate by Lisa Yockelson. It’s a big, pink book with gorgeous, full color photos and 500 pages of that most stress relieving of all substances, chocolate! I’ve actually not tried most of the recipes yet, but a flip through this beautiful book makes me want to remedy that—and soon!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies
(recipe courtesy of Chocolate Chocolate by Lisa Yockelson)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cups) butter
4 tablespoons shortening
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter (not all-natural— be sure to use the sugary stuff like Skippy)
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chunks (I used a mix of semi-sweet, bittersweet, and butterscotch chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Cream butter, shortening, sugars until smooth, then mix in eggs, vanilla and peanut butter. Fold in chunks. At this point I popped the dough into the freezer for about 20 minutes, just to firm it up and make it easier to work with. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and place 2-tablespoon size balls of dough onto the cookie sheet. Press tines of a fork in a crosshatch pattern (I forgot this step, myself!) and bake for about 12-14 minutes.

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