Monday, August 25, 2008

Camoflague Cookies

A short while ago, I stumbled across a little blog called Operation Baking GALS. Well, it's not all that little, really -- it's been featured in a number of prominent media spots -- but it is a very sweet center of operations for a confederation of bakers determined to make a difference. A difference for whom? you ask. For United States deployed soldiers!

Here's the deal: baking bloggers unite under the banner of Operation Baking GALS to send cookies to our troops working overseas. Serving as a military police officer in Iraq or driving a tank through Afghanistan must be a pretty draining job in all respects -- mentally, physically, and emotionally. Add that to the fact that the living conditions are less than optimal and these soldiers are separated from their loved ones for vast stretches of time. Wouldn't it be a wonderful and surprising treat to receive a box of homemade cookies in the mail?

That's what a few blogging friends thought, and thus the Operation was born. This is their second round of camoflague-bound cookie orchestration. For this cycle, nine soldiers will be receiving boxes of cookies from a host of baking bloggers (or blogging bakers, take your pick). And . . . I'm one of them!

As I'm not normally a cookie baker -- you all know how I love my muffins and scones -- I searched for a recipe that was not too complex. Also, I needed a cookie that would travel well and hopefully arrive mostly in one piece and unmelted. I wasn't sure how chocolate chips would do with shipping, and I didn't know how bar cookies would keep. In the end, I settled upon a very simple flourless peanut butter cookie recipe. I made two batches -- one plain, and one with 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa mixed in. I shipped these dense but tasty treats off this morning. I hope they make my soldier and his friends smile!

Patriotic Peanut Butter Cookies

1 egg (I used 1/4 cup egg replacer)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter (I used smooth)
splash of vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a few baking sheets with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Place tablespoon-sized balls of dough on the cookie sheet, then flatten with a fork in a criss-cross pattern. For an extra kick, cover the fork tines with brown sugar before pressing the dough balls.

Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before removing to a rack to cool further. The cookies will be extremely delicate fresh from the oven, so try to avoid moving them/gobbling them up right away!

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King