Peanut Butter Cookies (V)

IMG_0149It’s about time that I made peanut butter cookies! I wracked my brain for ways to make this recipe “different,” but in the end, I decided that you can’t go wrong with a classic cookie. Since moving to Pittsburgh, I learned about a cookie tradition here that’s been cherished among residents for years: the Pittsburgh cookie table. Basically, at weddings,  guests bring trays of homemade cookies, and they’re all set out on a designated reception table. There are often hundreds of cookies–some families end up with so many that it’s even common to hire someone with the sole job of arranging all of them. Naturally, I fell in love with the idea when it was explained to me.

This summer, I have the privilege of being involved with not just one, but TWO weddings! And, though I’ll surely be baking something for each of them–I’m also going to be a bridesmaid in both! As someone who is a major fan of seeing people get married (movies included) but is single and hasn’t been to a wedding in at least ten years, this is ridiculously exciting for me. Earlier this morning, I finished ordering my second bridal party dress, so I have weddings on the brain. 

Getting married is huge for everyone involved–the couple themselves, parents, siblings, and, of course, friends. That’s where I’ll be fitting in this year; both weddings are those of my closest friends. One of the two is going to be back home in South Carolina, and it’s for my friend Bethany. We grew up dancing under the same instructor for nine years, and after sticking together through new studios and cities and general milestones of growing up, we’ve remained close even though we’re now states apart. We have that special kind of relationship where we can be too busy to get in touch for months, but then as soon as we get that one reuniting phone call or visit, it’s like we’ve never left. I’m thrilled to be a part of her celebration. IMG_0133

The other, happening in May, is for one of my roommates, Allie. We met through ballet when I moved to Pittsburgh, and from our first conversation (during which we realized we had a shocking number of similarities beyond our first name), I think we both knew we’d become incredibly close. The two of us have endured countless highs and lows of dance and adulthood and relationships together–our friendship is one of the most beloved parts of my life here, and I have no doubt I’ll cherish it forever. I’m very thankful I managed to get one year of living with her before she decided to get hitched!

Weddings are, in a way, massive parties. We look forward to them with the excitement of the fun celebration to come, especially through the process of picking flowers, colors, outfits, venues, and all the other elements that personalize the event.  The day itself, however, is steeped with the less shallow elements of beautiful ceremony and fellowship and lots of tears; but the deeper emotions are something I didn’t quite expect to experience before that awaited day arrived. Boy, was I wrong.IMG_0199

Allie tried on her dress for me and our roommate Annie this week. We’d only seen pictures until then. She’d been nervous to take it out of the bag for fear of something happening to it, and we’d waited for weeks in anticipation until she found the opportune time to show it off. The day finally arrived, and we heard her call to us from down the hall asking if we’d like to see it, to which we screamed “YES!!” in unison and proceeded to awkwardly stumble towards her voice. I helped her zip it up, and when she turned around, our jaws dropped. Allie is absolutely stunning, and the dress was simply perfect for her. Annie and I could barely formulate words through our wonderment.

I expected to fall in love with that moment, with the image of my beautiful best friend in her beautiful dress in Annie’s bathroom on Saturday afternoon. What I didn’t expect, though, and what nearly kept me from holding it together as we all stood there, were the memories that suddenly came flooding into my mind. Memories of our first year together, when we were both single and inordinately obsessed with ballet; of the nights we shared in her apartment watching movies but never paying attention because we’d talk through them every time; of holding each other and crying through some of the toughest battles we’ve faced in life. I looked at this woman, this gorgeous, mature, soon to be Mrs., and I remembered giggling next to her on the carpet of her living room and offering ideas as she nervously typed a text to some guy named Kenny she really liked. In three months, I realized, she’s going to put on this dress and marry that guy.

Needless to say, I was overwhelmed. How amazing is it that: over just a few years, the subject of sleepover girl talk evolved into a devoted, lifelong commitment! And, I was there to see it all, from the very beginning. Life is crazy. I’m so thankful for Allie and Bethany and weddings and spontaneous bathroom fashion shows and memories that–excuse my cliche–hit you like a ton of bricks. And all it took was a peek at that dress. I better start stocking up on the tissues now.

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Peanut Butter Cookies (V)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar (vegan if desired)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (vegan if desired)
  • 1 1/2 flax eggs (mix 1 TBSP + 1 1/2 tsp flax seed with 4 TBSP + 1 1/2 tsp water, and let it thicken in the fridge for at least 5 minutes)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven (see options below). Grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine peanut butter, shortening, and both sugars. Mix on low-medium speed until very smooth.
  3. Add in flax egg, and mix until incorporated.
  4. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Gradually add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture, mixing on low-medium speed after each addition until it is all incorporated.
  6. Roll dough into balls about the size of a heaping tablespoon, and place them a couple of inches apart on the cookie sheet. Press down on each of them gently with your palm to flatten them slightly.
  7. Using a fork, press twice into each cookie, forming crossed line pattern.
  8. Choose one of the following baking options! With vegan dough, there’s no fear of raw eggs 🙂
  9. Option 1 (for a fudgy, “under-baked” cookie): Bake at 375°F for about 6-7 minutes.
  10. Option 2 (for a classic cookie with crisp edges and a slightly soft center): Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes.
  11. Option 3 (for a cookie that’s very browned on the bottom/outside but soft/fudgy in the center): Bake at 450°F for about 6 minutes, keeping a close watch on the bottoms since they’ll burn easily.
  12. Allow to cool on a cooling rack, and enjoy!

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