In keeping with my manifesto to immerse myself in the sensations of food this holiday season, I start simple. One of my most guilty pleasures is ice box cookies, a fantastically low-brow cookie made from graham crackers and chocolate frosting. The trick is to make the cookies in advance and then let them sit overnight in the fridge. Chilling makes the grahams soften and the icing harden, so when the cookie meets your mouth you get a firm texture that yields meltingly. It’s a bit like dipping graham crackers in milk, but not as soggy, and it’s fabulous: The sensual cook meets trailer trash.
Into the mixer goes two sticks of soften unsalted butter, some cocoa, powered sugar, vanilla and enough heavy cream to make the ingredients stick together. I watch the frosting fade from deep chocolate to warm toasted coffee bean, as I start and stop the mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowel. You want to icing slightly wet so it will soften the grahams even more, but careful not to make it runny or it will slide off your cookie. When the icing is light and fluffy as snow drifts, I unhook the bowel and pull out the graham crackers. I’d like to say I artfully apply carefully measured teaspoonfuls of frosting to the crackers and then squeeze them down and scrape the sides so that I have a cookie with even filling that’s fit for the cover of Bon Appétit, but I don’t. Instead I take immense pleasure in gobbing on icing right in the middle of each cookie (half a graham square) and then putting its top on. Onto a plate go the cookie & into the fridge for a bit of a winter’s nap.
Tomorrow, I will indulge myself, savoring the way each cookie bends and then splits softly, and the icing fills my mouth with the luxurious texture of butter and the piercing taste of chocolate. I guarantee I will smile.