Anyone who knows me will tell you that, while I like to cook, it’s baking that holds my heart.
Pies, yeast breads, cakes, cookies, quick breads, custards, fruit crisps and pandowdies and slumps…you name it, I love it. In particular, I enjoy working with all forms of dough, whether it’s the airy flake of a perfect pie crust (I’m pleased to be the recipient of that recipe), the springy aliveness of yeast, or the soft creativity of cookies.
I like to believe that my affinity for baking came down to me from an ancestor. Edward Limbacher was a younger brother to my great-grandfather, Karl, and ran the Limbacher Bakery in St. Marys, Ohio. The bakery is long gone, I’m sorry to say (although I think there’s a picture or two tucked away somewhere), but Uncle Ed’s legacy lives on in me.
Dreary days (like today) really awaken the baking bug in me. Nothing quite soothes the soul on an overcast day than the smell of something luscious in the oven. Bread is good, if you’ve time to get through two raises, but when you’re in a crunch and want that almost instant gratification of comfort food, cookies are just the thing.
And what’s a cookie without chocolate chips?
What’s a chocolate chip cookie without peanut butter?
What’s a chocolate chip peanut butter cookie without a viking?
After my divorce in 1992, I moved back to my home area near Saratoga, New York to get my life figured out. In short order, I made friends with the couple that ran the science fiction bookstore, the young guy who owned the comic book shop, and the lovable lout who owned the Irish import store. Since all three stores were, for a time, inside the same plaza, visiting my new friends was easy-peasy.
In the course of all that hobnobbing, I was introduced to members of a Norse reenactment group who met weekly in the park for arms practice. Believe me, there’s nothing quite so fine as sitting outdoors on a beautiful day watching a bunch of well-honed young men beat the living snot out of each other.
One day, I decided that all their heroic efforts deserved some sort of refreshment, so I arrived with a huge box of cookies. To say that it was well-received is the understatement of the century. At one point, a young fighter named Conner turned to me with a cookie in each hand and one in his mouth. “Will you marry me?” he asked, spraying crumbs.
I declined, but took the compliment as it was intended.
At any rate, on behalf of Connor and in memory of those fine days in Congress Park, may I share:
CHOCOLATE CHIP VIKING MARRIAGE PROPOSAL COOKIES
2 and 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup UNSALTED butter, softened (2 sticks)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla (real, please, not artificial)
1/2 teaspoon water
1/2 package bittersweet chocolate chips (the darker the better, I think)
1/2 package peanut butter chips
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, mix flour, soda and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter with both sugars until smooth. Add vanilla and water and mix. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Add flour mixture and mix well. Add both kinds of chips and combine. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10-12 minutes and cool on wire rack. (This also works well if you bake it in a single large pan like a brownie. If you do it that way, be sure to serve them warm with vanilla ice cream melting over the top.)
Okay, that’s it! I’m headed to the kitchen!