Side Dish: Smiley Faces (January 10, 2011)

Smiley Faces

When I was a kid I would sometimes “babysit” for the kids in my neighborhood. I put that in quotes because now, looking back, it seems kind of crazy that I was left in charge of kids that weren’t that much younger than me. OK I am probably exaggerating a little bit, but to me “babysitting” generally translated into “getting paid to watch Jeopardy!” Of course there was the one time the family dog jumped on the table and ate the two large pizzas the parents had left for us to eat, but things weren’t usually that exciting. (And since the pizza looked like cardboard, I think that dog did us a favor anyway…)

Being a young chef, I also used to occupy the kids I “babysat” (there are those quotes again!) with a recipe I called Babysitting cookies. Now I’m not comparing Kevin to a child, but he does love these cookies even today. So read into that what you will! ;) I have a private chuckle whenever he asks me to them (although he calls then “Smiley Face Cookies”).

As I write this now and think about the reality of finally becoming a Dad I’m struck by how much my life has changed since my babysitting days. Back then I would watch a kid for a few hours, feed them a bunch of sugar and then leave them with their parents and get paid for it all! I’m starting to think being a dad is going to be very, very different…

Well, at least I have these cookies.

BABYSITTING COOKIES (aka “Smiley Face Cookies”)
Makes 20 cookies

– 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
– ¾ teaspoon baking powder
– 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
– ¾ cup sugar, plus more for tops of the cookies
– 1 egg
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– ¾ cup smooth or chunky peanut butter
– About ½ cup chocolate chips

1.) Set a rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.

2.) Stir the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl and set aside. Beat the butter and ¾ cup sugar together in a medium bowl with a handheld mixer at high speed until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the peanut butter and beat until smooth. Stir in the dry ingredients just until no streaks of white remain.

3.) Using 2 tablespoons of the batter, form a ball and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Press with the bottom of a glass to form a 2 1/2 –inch circle. Repeat with the remaining dough, using two baking sheets if necessary. Make smiley faces using 1 chip for each eye and 4 chips for the smile, pressing the chips, point-side down, into the dough. Sprinkle sugar liberally over the tops. Bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove and cool completely before serving. The cookies can be served in an airtight container for up to 4 days.