Long, long ago, in a state far far away, I wanted to be a ballerina. I'm not just talking prancing around the house in a tutu, although I went through that phase. I am talking taped, blistered toes, living in leotards, trying to vomit up dinner (never got the hang of that one, thankfully), and living at the ballet studio.
The goal of every young girl in tights was to be in the annual production of the Nutcracker. The process of getting there was a huge ordeal. The first step was the auditions. My first year I signed up and arrived, along with hundreds of other hopefuls with their mothers. I was assigned a number and had to wait, nervously, as groups of numbers were called. That group would disappear behind closed doors, reappearing 20 minutes later, a few girls with confident smiles on their faces, most looking depressed, and a few in tears. Then the next group would be called and the process repeated. This continued until my number was called.
I went with my assigned group into a seemingly vast room presided over by a terrifying woman with a stick, the ballet mistress. She told us to line up, then proceeded to teach a combination of steps. She showed us once, ran through it with us twice, and then we were to do the combination in small groups for her. Under pressure I just couldn't remember the sequence. I was going left when I should have been jumping, turning when I should have been going right, and generally tripping over my own feet.
Needless to say, I was one of the ones who left that day downcast. I was rejected for two years in a row.
My third year a fellow dancer, older and better than me, gave me some sage advice. After school, she said, go home and take a bath then eat a peanut butter sandwich. It would calm me and help me to focus. I did and it really worked. I got into the production as a toy soldier and loved it.
Ever since, I have been convinced of the soothing powers of peanut butter. When stressed out, a peanut butter sandwich, oozing with smooth, creamy goodness, makes me feel that all's right with the world. So when my husband asked for some cookies to take to an extremely stress-filled meeting at work, I made these delicious cookies, packed with peanut butter. How could life not look a little better when you're munching one of these babies?
Peanut Butter Cream-Filled Cookies
- adapted from Mrs. Fields' Best Ever Cookie Book
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup quick-cooking oats (not instant)
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 stick salted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) salted butter, softened
2 Tbsp half-and-half
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1- In a medium bowl, combine flour soda, cinnamon, and oats. Mix well with a wire whisk and set aside.
2- Cream sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl at medium speed with an electric mixer. Add egg and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until light and creamy. Add the flour-oat mixture, and blend at low speed until just combined. Do not overmix.
3- Separate dough into 2 balls, flatten them into disks and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap or a plastic bag. Chill for an hour.
4- Preheat oven to 325 deg. F.
5- On a floured board using a floured rolling pin, roll out one disk to 1/4" thickness. Cut cookies with a 2-inch round cookie cutter dipped in flour. (A fancy, fluted cutter is beautiful, but I don't own one). Repeat procedure with the second disk, reworking scraps until all the dough is used. Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheets 1/2 inch apart for 13 to 15 minutes or until bottoms turn light brown. Transfer immediately to a cool, flat surface with a spatula. This helps the cookies to stay moist on the underside as they cool.
6- When the cookies are cool, mix filling ingredients and spread 1 Tbsp of filling on the bottom side of a cookie. Top with another cookie so tops of the cookies are facing outward. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling.
I didn't measure the filling as I applied it to the cookies and I had some leftover. Tune in to my next post to see what I cleverly did with the leftovers!