Christmas is Sweet
It's now fifteen days until Christmas. I've re-memorized every holiday song, Christian, Jewish and non-religious (Jewish holiday songs are my favorite). I've wrapped almost all my gifts. The tree is decorated, the Thanksgiving pounds have melted away, and all I have left is anticipation. And holiday baking.
This weekend, I'm attending a cookie exchange party hosted by the lovely and talented Stephanie Draven. I'm sure I'll bring something fabulous home with me but I'm even more sure everybody else will take something beyond fabulous home with them.
That something? My peanut butter cookies. Soon, I'll tell you all about them. First, though, I want to share a very different kind of Christmas cookie with you. That delectable treat is named Aya and he is the very best of everything gingerbread. (You should know in advance that Aya is not meant to be shared with the under-18 set and he does not leave crumbs in bed.)
From MORE THAN A MAN
(excerpt copyright 2010)
Except face to face was really face to chest. Her face, his lovely chest. Because she liked tall men, and she'd specified he should be tall. And oh. His chest. Noelle swallowed. She could clearly see the ridges beneath his shirt, spaced evenly apart. Piercings. Heat rushed to her cheeks. She raised her eyes to meet his, which were green and serious and, oh, Deity, intense as he watched her examine him.
Stupidly, grateful she managed to make her tongue work at all, she said, "I didn't know you were coming."
"I asked them not to notify you." His mouth tilted at one corner. He straightened and glanced past her into the house. "If you're not ready, I can go back and wait."
He could go back. She could shove all her haphazardly-strewn Christmas decorations into a closet and dial up cleaning service to scour the corners of the house and change the linens on her bed to something less feminine and frilly. Something that would match him. She could fix her hair and change into the leg-baring sheath she'd bought to wear January 6. But that would involve letting him out of her sight. Chest tight, Noelle shook her head once and stumbled back, making room for him.
She slapped the security panel and the door closed behind him. Spicy, fragrant heat enveloped her immediately, cinnamon and ginger and brown sugar. Something sharp beneath that, tickling her nose. Her stomach rumbled low, a murmur of approval and hunger. He heard it. One of his dark eyebrows arched and his half-smile teased into a full grin.
"Sounds like you're...hungry." He dropped his bag in the foyer. In the soft imitation natural light she preferred for her indoor fixtures, his complexion wasn't as dark as it had appeared when he stood outside. Instead, his skin was a rich ginger tan, sun-baked despite the weak sun this time of year.
Noelle kept walking backward, not quite sure what she should do or say. She'd done this twice before, but she had received advance warning. She'd had time to prepare. She'd known their names, for Deity's sake. Giving herself a mental shake, she planted her feet and met his eyes. "I don't know your name."
But you know his name. :)
Sadly, I am allergic to ginger so I can only enjoy the gingerbread from afar. I'll be nibbling the following Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever during my holiday reading. If your preferences run to peanut butter, too, you will need:
Tools & Ingredients
1 mini-muffin tin (like a regular muffin tin, only with 24 mini cups instead of 12 full-size cups)
1 bag of Reese's Miniatures (freeze these before you bake; if you're not in the United States, find chocolate-covered peanut butter cups)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I always increase by 50%...I love a very peanut-buttery peanut butter cookie)
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I sometimes use whole wheat)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
Combine butter, peanut butter, white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and peanut butter in one bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Add the flour mix to the peanut butter mix and stir to combine (a mixer works great, and I have been known to use a potato masher in the absence of any other tools).
Drop by tablespoons into your ungreased muffin tin and pop them in the oven, 8-10 minutes.
While cookies are baking, unwrap 24 frozen Reese's miniatures.
After you pull the cookies out of the oven, press a miniature down into the center of each cookie. The hot cookie dough should form a cup around the chocolate candy.
Using a spoon, gently lift each cookie from the muffin cups and place them on a wire rack to cool.
Repeat until you're out of cookie dough (or only have enough dough left to eat with a spoon, since there's no point in putting an entire muffin tin in the oven with only a quarter of the cups filled).
And that's it! You have the power to make the Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever.
I hope you'll think of me when you're enjoying these, not when you're suffering a cookie-binge hangover the next day! (Feel free to join me in a January 1 commitment to diet off the holiday cookie pounds.)
Emily Ryan-Davis writes books the same way she bakes cookies - without a great deal of forethought to whether she has the correct ingredients on hand. A lot of improvisation happens in her kitchen and at her keyboard. Read more about her books at Scorched Sheets, the site she shares with MORE THAN A MAN co-author Elise Logan.
MORE THAN A MAN is available at Amazon Kindle and Smashwords.