When asked what you love about summer, there’s a vast repository of stock answers to choose from. And it’s not hard to appreciate the joys of extended sunlight, the feeling of warm sand between your toes, or the fact that tomatoes now taste exactly as they were meant to taste. But there are times when I revel, just a little bit, in feeling like a seasonal Grinch.
I’m ghostly pale, and require excessive amounts of sunscreen to make it alive through August. I hate to say it, but temperatures over 70 make me feel sluggish and grouchy, and I sweat rather easily. Worst of all is the office: the Arctic blast of the air conditioning, yes, but also the fact that most of the staff is vacation-bound and the workload light. There, I said it: I’d rather be kept busy at work, multitasking and problem-solving and all that good stuff. When you’re the resident Entry-Level Employee at Company X, your work is by definition less difficult and less time-sensitive, which is all fine and good until things get deathly quiet right around, oh, July or August. Don’t get me wrong! I really do enjoy catching up on New York Times articles and blog posts between the occasional paper-filing jobs. Just not until my eyes cross and I realize I’m barely halfway through the workday.
And, damnit, I enjoy turning my oven on! I like the occasional buttery, chocolatey dessert in the middle of a heatwave, even though cobblers and pies are the seasonal standards. Sure, I made these peanut-butter cookies for a Fourth of July picnic, which was stereotypically summery. We were all huddled around a cooler full of beer, eyes turned skyward and watching a fireworks show set to John Philip Sousa music. (Yes, really. And yes, it was a little bit weird.) In true Grinch form, though, I reserve the right to eat the rest of the stash while buried in the corner of my couch, overdosing on True Blood DVDs and getting seriously emotionally involved in this season of The Bachelorette. (Ali, pick Chris. Otherwise, I will never forgive you.)
I also reserve the right to go blueberry-picking this weekend and totally forget about my momentary aversion to heat, fruit desserts and light-hearted fun. Until then, there will be cookies.
Makes 24 cookies
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
– 1 3/4 cups flour
– 2 tsp. baking soda
– 1 tsp. salt
– 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
– 1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
– 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
– 2 large eggs
– 1 tsp. vanilla
– 1 cup creamy peanut butter
– 6 oz. milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1) In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
2) In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add each egg one at a time, beating until each is incorporated into batter. Add vanilla and peanut butter, stirring until combined.
3) Add flour to butter mixture in two batches, stirring until completely incorporated but taking care not to overbeat. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
4) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
5) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, or roll into similarly-sized spheres, leaving cookies at least 2 inches apart.
6) Sprinkle the tops of cookies with granulated sugar, then bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through. The edges of the cookies will just be turning golden brown.
7) Remove cookies from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer cookies to cool completely on a wire rack.
8) If storing your cookies at room temperature, enjoy them within 3 days. Happily, they freeze beautifully, too!