An Unconventional Valentine

There is a negative thirty-six degree wind chill in Boston today.  It is Valentine’s Day.  In hopes of a nice meal, Brett and I have sacrificed three chickens for the preparation of a ramen broth from the sadistic souls at Momofuku.

In a peculiar development that speaks to the mental illness of my family, my brother—who lives in Virginia where it is a balmy fourteen degrees—is making the very same ramen.  Consequently, there was no discussion of our respective soup plans, nor was there collusion to use broth to fight the cold four hundred miles apart. 

We are simply cut from the same cloth of people who will spend, at minimum, ten ungodly hours hacking chickens and reducing steeped kombu.  Our lineage has the patience for such a task and the stupidity not to know better.

Momofuku ramen is a bitch, in the words of my brother. (Happy Valentine’s Day!)

Luckily, the people we attract—the depraved souls—find this activity somewhere along the spectrum of romance and gratuitous torment.

I do not have this recipe for you today.  You will never get the hours calculating the weight of deboned animal carcasses and rendered bacon fat back. One can only hope, for the good of humanity, there are but few humans capable of such idiocy outside the confines of a professional kitchen.

I do, however, have a very good cookie recipe for you, sane person.  One that should surprise and delight without bone cracking or blood or cursing, if done properly.

It uses only five ingredients and shamelessly declines flour, making the cookies needlessly—but deliciously—hip.  That they are gluten-free is not the point.  The point is that they are quite good and easy and suitable for your friends with celiac disease. 

The concept is fairly simple.  Take peanut butter (a winning beginning) and add brown sugar and eggs and three hundred and fifty degrees.  I thought about making them again and adding in cayenne and scraped vanilla bean seeds.  But I did not have the energy today.  You can imagine what babysitting a painfully slow simmering pot of chicken parts and pulverized mushrooms does to a person.

In essence, this recipe is about as far away as one can get from Momofuku ramen.  None of the ingredients require research, nor do you have to involve a calculator at any point in the process. (Odds are you probably have the necessary items in your pantry right now.)

There are, however, a few unifying factors worth mentioning.  Both recipes have New York origins—hailing from very popular city spaces—and are very good.

They are also both capable of heating up the joint.  Which is really the whole point on a day like today. 

Sea Salted Peanut Butter Cookies


1¾ cups (335 grams) packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1¾ cups (450 grams or one 16-ounce jar) of smooth peanut butter (see note)
Sea salt, for garnish


In a medium bowl, whisk together the light brown sugar and eggs until smooth.  Whisk in the vanilla extract and the peanut butter until everything becomes fully combined and turns lighter in color.  It will not be as thick as regular cookie dough.

Chill the dough in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This will help the dough set and scoop well. 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

When ready, take out the cookie dough.  If the edges of the dough look like they have frozen a bit, stir the dough again briefly.  Scoop out about 2 heaping tablespoons of dough per cookie, setting the mounds a couple inches apart.  (Having a scooper is helpful.)  You should be able to fit about 10 to 12 cookies per sheet. Sprinkle each mound lightly with sea salt.

Place one sheet of cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes.  This is the first one you will bake.  Place the other sheet of cookies in the fridge.  Set the oven to 350 degrees.

After 15 minutes, place the freezer sheet into the oven and place the fridge sheet into the freezer.  Keeping the cookies very cold will help them keep their shape better.

Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they turn golden at the edges.  The middles will still be slightly soft.  Let the cookies set for a minute or two on the hot sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Repeat with remaining cookies. 

Let cool completely before eating.  This will help the cookies properly set so that their edges are crisp and their centers are chewy.

Makes about 20 cookies

-I only tried this with regular (not natural) peanut butter. Processed peanut butter is alleged to yield a better shape.
-The longer you keep the scooped cookies chilled the longer their cooking time will be, so be flexible with their time in the oven, if necessary.

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