The first gift to be picked up was gorgeous - shiny silver wrapping paper with a large, glittery silver bow. It was a work of art...that contained a rather lame ornament.
The last gift to be picked was mine. I am not a gifted wrapper and my poor little offering looked like a two year old had helped wrap it (which was probably the case). But, and I say this not to boast, my gift was the best. I had searched long and hard for just the right item for that group and there was a collective intake of envious breath as the last gift-picker revealed her treasure. Each of them had passed over the wonderful gift because of it's appearance.
The moral? Well, the obvious is the one about judging a book by its cover, but the one I'm going for here is that it's all about presentation. This is a lesson I struggle with all the time. I'm in such a hurry to be done that I rush the final step - presentation- and it's the presentation that sells. Whether it's food, clothes, or gifts, you buy with your eye before you reach for your wallet (or fork).
A friend of mine has an amazing gift for making things beautiful. She is the queen of wrapping and has frequently been told she should open up a business doing gift wrapping. But she always says no because it's a labor of love for her to find just the right wrap, just the right gift tag, just the right large ribbon, the right coordinating smaller ribbon, from which hangs the perfect charm.
She gave me a lesson in wrapping once and my packages improved in appearance, as long as I was willing to take the time.
She popped into my mind the other day when I was throwing together a batch of cookies. The son-in-law-to-be is back in town and I wanted to make his favorite cookies. Then I thought, with my friend in mind, why not take it up a notch and make them something special? So to his favorite chocolate and peanut butter cookie I added more chocolate. Then some peanut butter topping. Then a smooth chocolate ganache sliding over it all. The result? A fabulous cookie that was lifted from cookie jar status to first-to-go at the buffet table.
Perfect Presentation Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1-1/4 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Peanut Butter layer:
1-1/3 cups peanut butter
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz. chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1- Heat oven to 350 deg. F.
2 - Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
3- Beat butter and sugar in the large bowl of a mixer until it's fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in the chips.
4 - Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 minutes. Do not overbake; the cookies will puff up while baking and flatten while cooling.
5- Cool for two minutes on the cookie sheet then remove to a wire rack. Cool completely.
6- In a mixing bowl cream together the peanut butter and butter. Add the powdered sugar and blend until smooth.
7 - Top each cookie with 1/2 to 1 tsp of the peanut butter mixture, spreading it to 1/4-inch from the edge. If possible, place the cookies in the refrigerator to set while making the ganache.
8 - Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan till it's steamy but not boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let it sit for two minutes then stir till smooth. Top each cookie with ganache so that just a hint of the peanut butter shows.
Return the cookies to the refrigerator to set the ganache, at least two hours. Store the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.