If I told you that this week I’ll board a plane to fly to two coasts and two countries — would you believe me? While powering on one’s jetpack and flashing one’s passport sounds very glamourous, very tra la la, would you believe that all I want is to be in a field making snow angles with reeds of grass? There was a time when I went up on a plane, into a car, through a valet, into a bar, slid into a bathroom, locked the stall and then. Her jeans were bejeweled, wheat hair all blunt cut and fragrant with lemons — the ticking is the bomb. She was the sort who squinted at things, always. This was before the waves, the dark sky, the ceviche on the beach. When I drew a line in the sand, dividing us in two.
We were driving to the sky, bar, that is, and I remembered eating a plate of cold, expensive rice and being very drunk. We got back into a car that took us to a boat that lead to a house where I saw my first Picasso. Everyone here travels by boat. Everyone, she said. The air was cold and dry and my face felt like crackling, like parchment, like air, and I remembered spilling red wine as I walked, as if it were a trail of breadcrumbs leading me home. Tomorrow we would dine at the country club on her father’s tab, and I laughed thinking this was no one’s country. Hours later we were on a boat, careening our way home when a flashlight blinded my eyes.
This was before I’d meet her sister who would overdose years later. But back then her body had become a projector churning out the same old movie. Reminding me of Julian in Less than Zero, who took off his sunglasses in a scene because he was playing sincere. I thought this was very glamourous, very tra la la, and I wanted to fall asleep, swathed in sand and palm trees. Back at her house we fanned pills on her bed, like finery.
In an air-conditioned mall I purchased shoes I couldn’t afford. I boarded a plane for New York wondering if I got what I had come for. I read Didion’s Play it as it Lays, and I started shaking, frightened of the white spaces.
Eleven years. Funny how time sorts things. Now I want the sky to be the sky and I no longer fear the white spaces. And since I’ll find myself on many planes this week, I decided to find the quiet this weekend. To seek out all that is calm and white. I’m baking up a storm, getting ready for London, Paris and Provence, and will scarf down copious amounts of these very tender and wonderful cookies.
INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Ambitious Kitchen, with modifications.
1⅓ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup peanut butter at room temperature (I used all natural creamy, unsalted)
¼ cup nutella
¾ cup coconut palm sugar
½ cup organic cane sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups chocolate chips
In a large bowl, sift and combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, cinnamon, and the salt. Set aside.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan. Continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning.
Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
With an electric mixer, mix the brown butter and peanut butter together until thoroughly blended. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Next beat in the egg, nutella and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Gently stir in the chocolate chips. Chill dough in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Once ready to bake, scoop tablespoon balls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets or baking sheets lined with parchment paper leaving extra room (1-2 inches) between cookies as they will spread when baked. Use a fork to lightly (very lightly!) indent dough with a criss-cross pattern. Sprinkle cookies generously with sea salt.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies begin to turn golden brown and crisp up around the edges. Do not overbake! Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes, then remove and place on cooling rack.