Did I mention that I love to bake? Well, it bears repeating. It’s not just that you end up with something yummy to eat (ideally). It’s about the alchemy. You mix up some powders and liquids, and something ineffably you, and bake or refrigerate, and voila! The house is bathed in sweet aromas and anticipation. It’s about the creativity. You fiddle with the recipe or correct a mistake midstream. Or even follow the recipe slavishly. You’re MAKING something! So cool. Maybe you’re even learning about yourself and how you go about making something, how flexible you are, and how you deal with failure–and success. And baking is about expressing love. To family, friends, coworkers, and complete strangers at a bake sale or a soup kitchen. Cookies are my hands down favorite treat to make. At this time of year, I am especially prolific. I love sharing the cookie wealth at parties and meetings, but also at firehouses and homeless shelters. People’s surprised smiles–the best gift there is. When I ran into the house last week, hurrying to put a plate of cookies together for the hard-working disaster relief crew so far from home, I was glad again that I had already cranked up the cookie making. Fresh cookies at the ready. After I returned home from the cookie mission, I told my husband that the crew was about to finish up in the neighborhood. My husband lamented that we still had not disposed of the large tree sprawled across the front lawn after the October storm. Quickly mobilizing, my husband, my daughter and I rushed outside to pry, leverage, roll and cajole the unwieldy, very heavy tree down the hill to the curb. And who would be rounding the corner for a last sweep but the relief workers! Kismet. Or karma. When they saw it was I, they called out hearty thank yous. And the monitor fellow earnestly asked for my cookie recipe. Which I ran in and copied for him. And here it is for you (the original inspiration was in America Cooks, but I’ve modified that). These are so easy–and tasty. Enjoy! Chinese New Year Cookies:
1. In top of double saucepan, combine 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips with 1 cup peanut butter chips. Heat over hot (not boiling) water, and stir frequently till melted. (It’s really important not to let the chocolate get too hot or it will burn and be useless).
2. Remove the pan from heat and stir in 1 cup of salted peanuts and 1 3.5 ounce can of crunchy Chow Mein noodles. Make sure to coat the peanuts and noodles with the chocolate mixture.
3. Drop by teaspoonful (or tablespoonful for larger ones) on waxed paper and allow to cool.
NOTES from my experience: You can substitute 1 cup butterscotch bits for peanut butter bits (cookies will be sweeter). Also, you can increase the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter or butterscotch, and even increase the amount of noodles somewhat. But make sure there’s enough choc./p.b. to coat the dry ingredients. Also, I actually melt the chocolate and peanut butter bits in my Calphalon pan, but I keep the heat really low and stir constantly. Makes about 3-4 dozen depending on size spoon used.