I have a best friend. On here I call her Muffin.
Muffin has a history with illness; a much more storied, dangerous, and exacting one than mine. Our friendship began when our bodies were strong and our spirits unstoppable. We’re so thankful now that we were reckless, and lived dangerously and fully back then. Now we’re so careful, so precise, and so used to premeditating physical complications and energy black holes. This recipe is from her, and for her.
I’ve made these classic crinkly peanut butter cookies every holiday season for as long as I can remember. As a child, I’d help unwrap Hershey Kisses and plop them onto still-warm cookies that were made by the hundreds in my family home. For years they were (by far) my favorite out of the many on my mother’s holiday plate and, as an adult, friends request these more than any other from my own kitchen.
In order to “save my spoons” (see here and here for what that means), I’ve cut back on baking a lot in the past year or so. But this Christmas I was gifted with such kindness that I popped into the kitchen to make them as a “thank you” to someone who particularly enjoys them. Someone who has shown me not a passing bit of kindness, but one that is sustained and repeatedly generous. One that, especially during this beautiful but stressful time of the year, I’ve greatly appreciated. One that was folded into another kindness, and two very special people to thank with something sweet.
I guess it’s fitting that my 300th post features the most New Yorky of cookies; the Black and White cookie.
Much of this blog has focused on my living in New York: balancing random jobs as a performer, writer and baker; dragging standing mixers to the apartments of boyfriends past; working for a local gluten-free magazine or meeting famous chefs; and eventually refocusing my work to bake less and write more. Yes, these cookies are not an adaptation of a chef that I know or am working with, but they are quintessentially New York.
And insanely delicious.
Growing up, there were several cookies my mom would always make around the holidays: crispy chocolate-chip laden biscotti, delicately caramelized lace cookies filled with melted chocolate, little cups of gooey nut pastries, and these tiny bombs of buttery walnut cookies I only knew as Butter Balls.
When the gluten thing hit in my early teens, those were all off limits for years. Later, as my mom started experimenting with gluten-free flours by my side, she easily adapted some of her favorites so that I could enjoy them along with my family. To this day, her biscotti come out better than mine, even though she uses my flour blend to make them. Some things just need that extra bit of mom love, I guess.
But the walnut butter balls eluded me. Until now.
These are the best fu*king brownies I’ve ever made.
No joke, no lies. They’re definitely not the easiest brownies in my arsenal: definitely not as easy as the Divine Cocoa Brownies that are literally dubbed “the easiest brownies you will ever make”, nor as easy as using the Kitch+Table mix I adore, nor as easy as the booze-bursting Boyfriend Breakup Beer Brownies. They’re definitely easier than the Peppermint Patty Brownie Bars, though, but those are all Christmasy. And, while all of those brownie recipes (and I obviously adore brownies) are awesome; while they definitely fix a sweet tooth and are ready while the “I can’t believe he just broke up with me” snot is still running down your sister’s face; they’re not these brownies.
These brownies are the best. They come from Chef Johnny Iuzzini’s new book, Sugar Rush, on stands and digital clouds everywhere. And they’re my new favorites for when I have serious brownie people to impress.