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the new playground

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what my future kids. You know, the imaginary couple of rugrats you allow yourself to think about every now and then, particularly when you are stuck in a long, dragging meeting. If you knew me well, you’d know that this is very strange behavior for me. I am deathly afraid of children. Seriously, the mere thought of them sends me in to a panic.

I’m a great people-person, at least I should be. Hopefully, the 5 years working as a waitress, and getting my degree in Public Relations gave me the interpersonal skills needed to be a people-person. But when it comes to kids, I’m a wreck. This is my issue with kids: you can’t bullshit them. You know what I mean? They see right through you. Those big, intense eyes never waiver when they look at you and they call you out when they smell a fraud.

But lately, I’ve been thinking strange things. What if I had kids? What would that be like? Would I be a good mom? Or would I be the kind who ruins their lives? Even my friends think this new way of thinking is bizarre. But, when you go to therapy and work out all those childhood issues that they force you to deal with (thank god for Kleenex), you stop worrying about your biggest fear in life: becoming exactly like your parents. I think that’s a fear we all have, right? We know that they all did the best they could and love them no matter what, but we still tell ourselves that we will be different.
One thing is for sure: when I have kids, the kitchen will be our playground. When I was a kid, my mom was super busy all the time, juggling three jobs at once, and my dad was out of the picture so I spent a lot of time on my own, amusing myself. Since my mom hated baking and didn’t have time for it, I never got to experience the fun of making cookie dough from scratch or icing cupcakes. It wasn’t until I was 13 that I baked my own cake (Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake Box Mix) and al of a sudden, a whole new world opened up for me. Here I was allowed to play with my food, not just eat it. The kitchen became a place for creativity, and it didn’t require special equipment like paint brushes or musical instruments.

While I was making these peanut butter-filled sandwich cookies, I thought that it would be so much fun to share this experience with your kids. Letting them pour the ingredients in, form the cookies, spread the peanut butter filling. These might seem like brainless activities, but as a kid, nothing could be better than creating your own food. What kid wouldn’t love to smear peanut butter atop a cookie, smash it together, and take a big bite out of it? I’m an adult and I still think it’s awesome!

The best thing about these cookies is that they are pretty easy to make. The entire process takes a bit of time so plan on assembling the cookies during the weekend unless you have a long free afternoon. The cookie dough needs to chill for at least 30 minutes, but I prefer an hour. Once you roll the dough out and cut them in to shapes, they need to chill again before going in to the oven. And before you fill them, the cookies need to cool or else the filling will melt.

None of these steps are overly complicated and if you had an extra hand in the kitchen, I imagine it would make for a fun, creative activity. Let the kids cut them in to whatever shapes they desire, and allow them to mix the filling all together. The end product is better than any store-bought cookie, I promise. Keebler doesn’t got nothing on these little cookies! My mom devoured two of these heart cookies, declaring them highly addictive.

I’m relatively young and have a long way to go before I pop out any young’ins, but I like the possibility of having a family. That is, until my commitment-phobaholic ways come sweeping in and a panic attack ensues.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
Origin: Martha Stewart Baking Handbook
Yield: 15 to 20 sandwich cookies
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 30 minutes, or overnight

Ingredients:
● 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
● 1/2 cup granulated sugar
● 1/2 tsp. baking soda
● 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed in
● 1/4 tsp. salt
● 1 large egg
● 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
● 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
● 3/4 cups creamy peanut butter, all natural

Peanut Butter Filling:
● 6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
● 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter, all natural
● 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
● 3 tbsp heavy cream

Directions:
To make the cookies:
Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Mix together butter, peanut butter, and all sugars in an electric mixer on medium high speed until light and fluffy. About 2 – 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture until all combined. (Low speed).

Divide dough in half; roll out between two sheets of parchment paper to a 1/4-inch thickness. Stack on a baking sheet, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. (I left mine in a little longer, about 1 1/2 hours.)

Preheat the oven to 325℉. If the dough has been refrigerated overnight, let dough stand at room temperature to soften. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 1/4 thickness. Using a pizza cuter, cut dough into 2 1/2 by 1 inch rectangles. Using the floured tines of a fork, score the top of each cookie. Or you can use a cookie cutter like I did which works just as fine.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet (covered with butter or butter and flour etc). Place 1 1/2 inches apart, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until lightly golden around the edges and firm in the center for about 15 – 20 minutes. Let cookies cool completely before assembling, at least 30 minutes.

To make the filling:
Combine all ingredients in electric mixer and mix on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Use immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days.

To assemble cookie sandwiches:
Once the cookies are cooled spread 1 tablespoon of filling onto the flat sides of the cookies. Sandwich with the remaining cookies, keeping the flat sides down.

Printable recipe here.

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May 13, 2009 - 10:24 pm

snookydoodle - oh these cookies really look addictive. I like to bake with my three year old niece when I tell her if she wants to bake something her eyes open up with happiness :)

May 13, 2009 - 10:31 pm

Jodye - These cookies look like the perfect alternative to a plain old, unfrosted peanut butter cookie, because we all know that frosting can only make things infinitely better!

May 14, 2009 - 3:44 am

Caitlin - I’m right there with you on the kids thing. Terrifying to imagine having them, but sometimes it just happens. Luckily, I can just copy what my mom did – I had to knead the dough whenever she made bread :) Never was afraid of yeast because of that!

May 14, 2009 - 9:38 am

joythebaker - what a super sweet post. my good friend’s are about to have a kid… and holy hell does that scare the heck outta me. you’ll be a great mom when the time comes… for sure. i think playing around in the kitchen will be a big, happy part of that. hi amanda! you’re a dream boat!

May 14, 2009 - 2:23 pm

Irene - I love these cookies. Thinking of things like that makes the idea of having kids slightly less run-away-in-panic-screaming. Of course, then I think about teenage years and college tuition and, well, there’s that panic again. However, if they help you make cookies, it must be all worth it. :)

May 14, 2009 - 6:14 pm

Robin - You will be the *best* mom, Amanda, without a doubt. I love that your kitchen will be your playground. HUGS!

May 15, 2009 - 5:17 pm

Siri - those are some lovely looking cookies Amanda and I have a niece who is an year old. and what you said is so true – you can’t fiddle with them, they are pristine and can see through you!!! :)

Best,
Siri

May 16, 2009 - 12:13 am

Linda - Great post Amanda. When the time comes to have babies, you’ll know what to do!

x

May 17, 2009 - 7:50 am

Jess - I *love* that picture right above the recipe. Looks like those cookies are floating across a cloudy sky.

May 17, 2009 - 6:45 pm

howtoeatacupcake - I love your pictures!

May 18, 2009 - 3:09 am

syrie - Well when you do decide to have kids, they’ll be extremely well fed!

May 21, 2009 - 2:54 pm

cindy - i love this post! so many people are freaked out by kids…they can be intimidating in large groups! i’m a preschool teacher, so i got over that real quick. i like to handle them by giving them a popsicle (or cookie…) and busting out the art supplies :)

June 15, 2009 - 4:43 pm

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June 21, 2009 - 11:33 am

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