Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Peanut Butter Paisley Brownies and Chocolate Covered Cookies: The Last Cookies Before Christmas

It's the day before the day before Christmas, and all through the house, the scents of vanilla and sugar are wafting about. The oven is warm for cookies to bake, and I in my apron am wide awake.

Okay, that's enough of that rhyming business. I'm here to post about the last cookies of Christmas -- not some Tasha Tudor-illustrated bedtime story! That's not to say I don't enjoy the occasional trip down memory lane with The Polar Express or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but at the moment, I prefer eating my memories rather than reading them.

The two cookie bars I made yesterday for my family are two of my favorite recipes. My mother and I discovered the Peanut Butter Paisley Brownies a few years ago in her Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook. I still remember when we sat down at our family room table to sample the decadent bars. We moaned, groaned and immediately cut off two more bars to eat. Despite the rich ingredients -- two cups of sugar, chocolate syrup, chocolate chips (our addition) and peanut butter -- the treats do not provide too much of sugar shock. As such, it is terribly easy to eat two (or more) in a sitting. The combination of the ooey gooey syrup, slightly salty, peanut butter cookie batter, and chocolate chips makes for an irresistible dessert.

The second cookie I made is my mother's favorite - a chocolate-covered shortbread-type bar that is topped with toasted pecans. My grandma used to bake the bars for my mother, and a few years ago I took over that duty. While the recipe uses only a few basic ingredients, the process of making the cookie bottom takes time and patience. There is a lot of love that goes into each batch. There has to be -- I don't know that I'd endeavor to take on the recipe if I didn't love the recipient as much as I love my dear mother!

The effort is always worth it though, as is the case whenever I bake something for my family. There is something wonderfully satisfying about creating something special for the people I love most in the world. The careful measuring, the arm aches from mixing the batter to fluffy perfection, and the sticky hands are all a part of the joy of the season. Christmas wouldn't be the same without baking up a frenzy of frustration in the kitchen. It is a blessing to be able to fray away at my nerves for the blessing that is my family.

Chocolate Covered Cookies
From my Grandmother's Kitchen

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large Hershey milk chocolate bars
1/2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted

Mix together the butter, brown sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla. Fold in the flour. Spread batter on bottom of a standard-sized, greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, use a double broiler to melt the two chocolate bars. Spread over the cookie bottom and top with pecan pieces. Cut into squares while still warm.

Peanut Butter Paisley Brownies
From Great American Favorite Brand Name Cookbook


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Syrup

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl. Add sugar and brown sugar; beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; mix into peanut butter mixture, blending well. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread half of batter into prepared pan; spoon syrup over top. Carefully top with remaining batter; swirl with metal spatula or knife for marbled effect.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.


Heather said...

well look at that! ask and ye shall receive ;) you read my mind, diana! merry christmas!!

Diana said...

Merry Christmas Heather! :) I hope you are enjoying the time with your family and getting lots of yummy things to eat!

Esi said...

I know what you mean about the effort being worth it for your family! I hope you had a fabulous Christmas!! This brownie recipe is killing me!