My family makes three kinds of cookies every year at Christmas. There’s a dark chocolate mint brownie, a sugar cookie, and a chocolate chip peanut butter cookie. Ever since I’ve been small, I’ve asked my mom every year if I can help. For as long as I can remember, she’s let me get things for her—whisks, bowls, measuring cups. However, this year, even though I’m twelve, I don’t expect any more than a “Not this year, Lily. Maybe next year.”
But when, as she’s getting out the ingredients for the chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, I ask, “Can I do them this year, Mom?”
I’m surprised when she says, “Sure, Lily. You’ve helped me for a bunch of years. Do you think you could manage it?”
“Sure,” I say, thrilled. I’ve made muffins before, but never one of the Christmas cookies. She hands me the recipe, and under her watchful eye, I gather the ingredients and begin to mix them together. When I’m about halfway through, the phone rings. My mom picks it up, saying, “I’ll be on the phone for a little while. Finish mixing them and put them in the oven. I should be off the phone by the time they come out, but if not, let them cool and put them in some Ziploc bags and put them in the box with the rest of the cookies.”
Then, to the phone, she says, “Hello? Oh, hi, yeah, this isn’t a bad time…”
She walks up the stairs to talk in peace. I finish mixing most of the ingredients. The last ingredient is butter—I look at it for a moment, then shrug. Dad always substitutes oil for butter. I get out the oil and pour in the correct amount. Mixing them together, I accidently spill the chocolate chip bag a bit.
Oh well, I think. A few extra chocolate chips never hurt anybody. I set them on the cookie sheet in little balls and stick them in the preheated oven. By the time I’m done cleaning up the timer is beeping and I open the oven. The cookies look slightly…flatter…than usual, but I think nothing of it as I let them cool, then lay them in plastic bags and put them with the other Christmas cookies. A few minutes later, Mom comes back in.
“Done?” she says. “Good. It’s time the Christmas cookies were done, we’ve never been doing them on the twenty-third before.”
* * *
Now it is Christmas day, and we’re spending it, as always, at Aunt Lavinia’s with the rest of our family. Mom and I lay out the cookies on a large tray. She unloads our box and looks at me very, very hard.
“What did you do to the cookies?” she asks, rather angrily.
“I only traded the butter for oil like Dad always does,” I say, brushing my hair out of my face nervously.
“Not for cookies!” she said. She never fools around with recipes. I’m expecting more, but she just sighs.
“Oh well,” she says. “Too late to change them. They’ll have to do.”
About halfway through the night, Aunt Lavinia comes up to me and Mom, one of my cookies in her hand.
“These are the best you’ve ever made!” she says enthusiastically. “What did you do differently?”
Mom’s face breaks into a smile. “Ask Lily,” she says. “She’s the one who made them.”
Aunt Lavinia turns to me. “These are great,” she says. “You should make them again next year!”
Since then, I’ve always made the chocolate chip peanut butter cookies at Christmastime. Aunt Lavinia’s yet to be disappointed.
Note: “Christmas Cookies” is a fictional story! However, it was inspired by the following recipe.
Recipe makes approximately 36 cookies.
1 cup (200g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup (80ml) vegetable oil
¼ cup (60ml) milk
½ cup (55g) granulated sugar or honey
1 cup (200g) packed light brown sugar
1 cup (200g) peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (200g) chopped peanuts
1 cup (200g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350⁰F (175⁰C). Prepare your baking sheets with parchment paper or butter.
- Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set it aside.
- Cream oil, milk, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a mixer or with a whisk. Slowly add the eggs and vanilla, continuing to mix until they are incorporated. Then add the peanut butter to the wet ingredients and combine thoroughly.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring constantly, to make a soft dough.
- Stir the peanuts and chocolate chips into the cookie batter.
- Scoop tablespoons of dough onto sheet pans, leaving 2 inches between each cookie.
- Bake for about 12 minutes.
- Cool for about 2 minutes before removing from pan.