Val had appeared in the doorway at the worst possible time. He rubbed his eyes. “Are you okay, Mom?”
Diana wiped the tears from her eyes and replied with a bright, watery smile. “What are you doing awake?” Val, my Valentine. When he was born and placed into her arms, all she could see was her own beating heart.
“Waiting for Santa.”
“He won’t come if you’re awake, you know that.”
Val climbed onto the love seat and patted her cheeks with his chubby hands. “Are you okay?”
He scowled at the television where the news report was ending and shook his head like a sage old man. Diana reached over and hit the Power button. “A lot of sad news lately.” Her son collapsed beside her and she tucked him under the blanket that was wrapped over her legs.
Together, they watched the flickering lights of the tree in the corner. It cast a shadow on the ornaments he’d made in school this year and last year, his tiny baby thumbprint, the star made of popsicle sticks, his round, owlish face peeked out from the branches. Diana placed a hand on his head and said, “I have a few wishes for you.”
“I do.” She swallowed hard. “I wish for you to always have a loving heart. To ask questions. To not look away but to protect your heart so you can feel as much as you can and change as much as you can. I wish for you to know what you have and what others don’t have. I wish for you to seek out the whole story, all sides of it.” She smoothed the hair from his eyes. “I wish for you to remember that all anyone wants, anywhere, is just to be seen and heard and loved. And that where there isn’t much else you think you can do, you can listen and learn and love, in endless supply. I wish twinkle lights for you,” she whispered. “And quiet places to think. And long hugs when you need them. And big, heavy meals when you want them. And that you’re always able to sleep.”
“And warm cookies,” Val added as his eyes started to close.
“And warm cookies,” Diana said with a smile.
SKS Holiday Recipes
S’more Cookies | The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies | Snowball Cookies (Foodie.com) | Cookie in a Skillet | White Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies | Hot Cocoa Cookies | Shortbread Cookies Filled With Caramel | Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies | Bourbon Balls | Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies |Beurre and Sel Jammers | Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles | Nutella Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies | Turtle Tassies | Walnut Bombs | Whiskey Truffles | Caramel Corn with Bacon and Cashews | Apricot White Chocolate Biscotti | Homemade Peppermint Patties | Easy Buckeye Brownie Cookies (new!) | Nana’s Butter Cookies with Milk Jam (new!)
Notes: Cookie dough must be refrigerated for at least 3 hours or can be frozen up to 2 months; just add 1 minute to baking time.
1 and 1/4 Cups of all-purpose flour
1/3 Cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Teaspoon of baking soda
1 Stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 Cup of (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 Cup of sugar
1/4 Teaspoon of fine sea salt
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
5 Ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup of mini chocolate chips
1. In a bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa and baking soda together until well-combined.
2. Working with a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer in a large bowl) beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy for at least 4 minutes. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
3. Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour mixture, cover the stand mixer with a towel, and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. If there’s still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a few more times, if not, remove the towel.
4.Toss in the chocolate pieces and, on low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more or just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly.
5. Turn the dough onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (See Note)
6. Bake them! Place rack in center of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
7. Working with a sharp, thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (Deb’s note: the rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange on the baking sheets with one inch between them.
8. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm. Best served warm or at room temperature.