Growing up, we were always the kids with a horse. Actually we were the kids with a horse and a pool, but this post is about the horse. When I was in late elementary school, I went through a phase where I really resented it. I felt like kids wanted to come over to pet or ride the horse, not play with me. I used to ride, but I despised the work associated with taking care of a horse, and finally one day my mom and I agreed that I would not ride anymore, but nor would I have to pitch muck out of the stable on a regular basis (excepting when my brother Chris and I fought of course–then we pitched together, in a truly Machiavellian punishment). In later years, I came to miss the feeling of galloping on a horse, the wind in my hair.
Peanut Butter as a young colt with my sister Josie.
And to bring it full circle, My father with Alex, feeding Peanut Butter when he was an old guy.
But not enough that I did anything about it. Instead our horse became a lovable outdoor pet. When I was really young, we had several horses, and several horses were born at our house. So when I say our horse, singular, I am referring to Peanut Butter, who was born at our house and who stayed when the others moved away–and who truthfully was a terrible ride anyway. The foal of Peanut (no I am not making that up), he came into the world a wobbly, bright palamino. He was the same age as my baby brother, he loved nearly anything sweet, beer and homemade bread, he escaped and came onto our back porch every chance he got, and he hated men. I am not sure if this was an innate preference or something that came about from disliking the farrier who came to clip his nails. At any rate, while he hid for any man, including men in our family, who called for him, he always came for us girls. My mom and my sister were closer to him, but he was a true family pet.
I am not sure that I appreciated him enough until I had kids. Suddenly what had annoyed me a child when dealing with my peers, was a wonderful thing as a mom. My kids always looked for him when we drove up to my parents’ home, shouting “Hello, Peanut Butter! We’ve come to visssss–itttt!” They went out to visit him with one or both of my parents, petting him and talking to him. They told our dogs at our house about visiting him.
Today (Wednesday, as I write this) after almost 30 years he was put down. He had “an abcess that went right up into the bone and could not be healed.” I am much more upset than I expected to be, truthfully. Whether it is because he reminds me of Loki is some weird way, or my childhood, or the loss for my kids, or even just sadness for my entire family, it’s been a glum day here. So to distract ourselves–after answering loads of weird questions (preschoolers!) about how to dispose of a horse’s body and just what do “cremation” and “rotting body” mean anyway?–the kids and I baked.
This cookie was the perfect antidote. It is not fancy or complicated, but it is craggy, rustic and very comforting. I found the base recipe in Salty Sweets, by Christie Matheson, but she actually based her recipe off of a cookie from the South End Formaggio Bakery, so after reading about how they made their Chocolate Salty Oaks Cookies, I made some changes to mine [Update March 2019: they do not seem to offer the cookie online anymore]. Plus I just don’t care for coconut–which both versions had but mine does not. So this cookie is for Peanut Butter, the horse with a serious sweet tooth for home baked goodies.
In keeping with my motivation for baking these cookies, I am sending them over to The Domestic Goddess‘s Sugar High Friday, where this month the theme is “Desserts You Turn To For Comfort”. I am seriously in need of comfort and this cookie seriously fit the bill, so these are a perfect match. This month it is hosted by A Merrier World, so head on over there for details and to see the round up in February.
2 cups (260 g) AP flour (I used King Arthur)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Scharffenberger natural; the bakery uses Valrhona)
2 t double dutch cocoa powder (this is to help darken the cookies, just sub regular if you do not have it)
1 t baking soda
1 t fine sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla
2 oz bittersweet (70%+) chocolate, melted and cooled (I used Scharffenberger)
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard 55% cacao)
high quality coarse salt of choice for sprinkling, I used a moist French grey sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside.
Sift the cocoa powder(s). Add to that the flour, baking soda and salt. Whisk thoroughly. Set aside.
Cream the butter, ading first the white sugar and ten the brown sugar. Then add the vanilla and cooled, melted chocolate. Cream until mixed thoroughly, scraping the sides down as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping the sides as needed. Stir in the flour mix (on the slowest speed if using a mixer), adding it in 3-4 additions. Then mix in the oats and chocolate chips.
Using an ice cream scoop or large dough disher, scoop the dough onto the cookie sheet. I put 6 cookies per sheet, for a total of 24 cookies. Gently and slightly flatten each cookie (they will not spread much in the oven). Sprinkle each cookie with salt. Bake for 12 minutes, until the tops begin to crack. Let cool on the cookie sheets, sprinkling a second time with salt if desired.