A Win of Omission: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
For me, baking is a form of therapy and meditation rolled into one. Since it’s a long weekend here in Ontario (Happy Victoria Day!); and since I’ve been assiduously following my Total Health course guidelines up until now; and since I’ve got scads of marking to finish before Monday–I decided to take a break. In other words, I decided to bake cookies. I found the recipe for Cozy Inside’s Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and prepared to adapt the general concept to a NAG-friendly alternative.
[Brief aside: It always astonishes me how acute (and also how "cute"--don't you just love their noses?) a dog's sense of smell can be (anywhere from 100 to 1 million times greater than humans', depending on whom you believe). No matter what the statistic, Our Girls are evidently both healthy in the realm of olfactory acuity. While I pondered my recipe, I unscrewed the jar of peanut butter, absent-mindedly scooping some into the measuring cup. Even before the PB hit the glass, I detected the patter of little paws as Elsie and Chaser sauntered nonchalantly into the room. "Um, Mum, it appears you are scooping peanut butter. Would any of that be directed, perchance, toward our Kongs?"]
After positioning The Girls in their usual spot just beyond the kitchen’s perimeter, I set about mixing my cookies. Maybe I was distracted by the canine audience in the peanut (butter) gallery; maybe I was preoccupied with the remaining assignments awaiting their grades; or maybe I took a subconscious cue from a fellow blogger who’s mentioned her propensity to overlook certain recipe instructions. . . but before I knew it, the cookies were mixed, they’d been popped in the oven and were baking. . .whatever the case, I was suddenly hit with the realization:
I’d omitted a MAJOR ingredient!
I mean, “Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies”–with NO OATMEAL? (Duh–Dude, it’s, like, the first word in the title!)
That got me thinking about lies. Lies, damn lies, and. . . biscuits. The cookies baked on; I waited, breath bated. Would my error end up a sin of omission–or a serendipitous oversight?
Well, I’m sure we’re all familiar with “little white lies” (To wit: “Oh, yes, your outfit is. . . really original” or “I’m so sorry to cancel at the last minute. . . must be that 24-hour stomach flu that’s going around. . . ” or “No, honey, I didn’t forget to pick up the milk on the way home, but my car was almost out of gas, so I decided to wait until tomorrow instead. . .”). Such behavior is often rationalized on the grounds that the recipient’s feelings are spared. Sorry, but I think that’s baloney (or, if you’re otherwise inclined, tofurkey):a lie is a lie.
But what about those lies of omission–just ”keeping mum”? When I was in my twenties, I knew someone who used this method with stellar results. If faced with an uncomfortable question, she simply avoided it and diverted attention to another topic, like a New York con man with a shell game. Alternately, she didn’t answer at all (in which case, technically, she never had to lie). Here’s an example:
Mother: Are you and your girlfriends going to a rave and taking drugs tonight?
Teen: Geez, Mom, look at what I’m wearing. Do I look like I’m going to a rave?
Mother: Well, um. . . [knits brow in confusion]. Well, have a good time, dear.
See how easy? Here’s a slightly more intricate prevarication:
Mother: Hmm. So you’re going to spend two weeks at your boyfriend’s apartment in Los Angeles. Well, you know how I feel about these things. . . are you going to sleep in the same bed with him?
Daughter: [rolling eyes and grimacing distastefully] Geez, Mom. The place has a hide-a-bed in the living room.
Mother: Um, well, okay. . . . [knits brow in confusion]. Well, have a good time, dear.
It’s like the little kid who breaks a vase while Mum is at work, then gingerly hides the shards behind the potted plant; weeks later, when Mum finally happens upon the shattered porcelain and erupts, “Why didn’t you TELL me about this?!!” the child can respond in all honesty: ”Well, you never asked. . . “
Since this recent cookie debacle, I may need to loosen my standards on the issue. I’ve discovered that sometimes, omission can be a good thing–particularly when it involves chocolate chips and peanut butter. Those cookies were stupendous. In fact, they are probably the best PB and chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had–and that’s no lie!
Just barely dry and crisp on the edges, soft, gooey and fudgy in the middle, they possessed the most delightfully intense peanut butter flavor. I loved the interplay of crunchy bits of peanut alongside the soft, melted chips in every bite. (And believe me, many bites were had by all around here). Luckily, I halved the recipe (one of the advantages of vegan baking–no eggs to “divide,” so splitting recipes is easy), or I might have eaten even more.
Earlier this afternoon, the HH returned from a long dog-walk, scrounging for a cookie. “Where are those cookies you baked yesterday?” he wondered.
“Um, there aren’t any left.”
“What–none left? But there were, like, six left over this morning! Where did they all go?”
“I thought you ate some,” I stammered.
“Well, I did, but. . . I mean, I. . . Hey, wait a sec. DID YOU FINISH ALL THOSE COOKIES??”
I rolled my eyes, and grimaced distastefully. “Now, really, HH. Do you honestly think I would eat six cookies in one day?”
“Well, um. . . ” [knits brow in confusion]. He wandered back into the kitchen, searching for something else to eat.
What? Don’t give me that look. Well, he didn’t ask. And I certainly wasn’t about to tell.
(“Mum, don’t worry, your secret is safe with us. Besides, six cookies in one day is nothing. . . we could eat an entire bag of dog cookies in one day, if only you’d let us. . . “)
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Because I have diverged from the original recipe so much and changed multiple ingredients, I feel comfortble printing this recipe here. Be warned: if you like the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, you will find these cookies irresistible. I’d recommend staring with a half recipe first, to test your resolve.
1/2 cup (125 ml.) crunchy all-natural peanut butter (the only ingredient should be organic peanuts)
1/2 cup (125 ml.) Sucanat
1/4 cup plain soymilk
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) pure maple syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) organic sunflower or other light-tasting oil
1/2 cup (125 ml.) dairy-free chocolate chips
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (155 ml. or about 90 g.) light spelt flour
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) baking powder
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) baking soda
1/4 tsp. (1.5 ml.) sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, Sucanat, maple syrup, soymilk, vanilla, and oil. Whisk vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon until quite smooth and no lumps (except for the bits of peanut) remain. Gently stir in the chocolate chips.
In a larger bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. The batter will seem too soft for cookies; this is as it should be.
Using a large scoop or 1/4 cup (60 ml.) measuring cup, drop mounds of the batter onto the cookie sheet about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) apart. The batter should be very soft, but firm enough that it doesn’t run on the cookie sheet.
Using the back of a spoon or your fingers, spread the batter out a bit so that the tops of the mounds are flat and each raw cookie is about 3/8″ (1 cm.) thick. Bake in preheated oven for 10-13 minutes, until tops are puffed and cracked, and edges are just beginning to brown. (The cookies will still be quite soft).
Allow to cool completely before removing from the cookies sheet (they will firm up as they cool). These are even better the next day, when the peanut butter flavor intensifies (no idea what they’d be like on day 3, as they didn’t last that long). Makes 12 large cookies.