Baking Smiles

By Fiona Parkes
Photography by Jote Khalsa

I love spending time in the kitchen. If I’m not working on homework or outside playing, you’ll probably find me there. While I like cooking all kinds of things, truly my favorite thing to do is to bake. Baking is a great skill to have. The feeling of accomplishment is pretty swell, and there is nothing like a good baking spree. I also get a definite sense of satisfaction when I finish a recipe that I have never made before.

Another reason I love to bake is because I can alter recipes and make them my own by substituting ingredients with different ones that I think will fit better. For example, one of the recipes that I frequently make is Triple Chocolate Cookies, and I’ve made it my own by including a touch of peppermint extract to add a layer to the depth of flavor.

I first got into baking because I love cooking and baking with my mom. She is a skilled chef and baker and introduced me to baking when I was very young. But I didn’t really fall in love with it until I was able to do a lot of the recipe prep on my own. About a year ago, though, my cousin showed me “baking sprees,” where you make several recipes in one baking session, and when you’re done, you have several batches to taste and share! At that point, there was no turning back. I’d fallen completely in love with baking and was hooked for life.

Of course, sometimes you need a little bit of motivation for baking—trust me, I get it. So my cousin and I frequently video chat with each other to exchange recipes and give feedback on the recipes that we’ve already made. When you need some extra motivation, talk to one of your fellow bakers and you might find yourself inspired.

Baking isn’t just about the sense of accomplishment and how the cookies taste, though. There is also the feeling of delight in making people happy. There is nothing like seeing someone smile when they taste what you’ve made for them. Count the times you have smiled because of a cookie…go ahead, count. That feeling sticks with you and makes you want to bake more.

Fiona Parkes lives in far south Austin. She loves cooking, baking,
stitching, singing and playing her guitar. She hopes to one day live
on a farm with many animals and grow her own food for cooking.



Triple Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Makes 18 to 20 large cookies

2¼ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. room temperature butter
1 c. packed brown sugar
½ c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
2 t. peppermint extract
½ c. cocoa powder
1 c. white chocolate chips
¾ c. bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt and set it aside. In another large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars until creamy. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, one at a time, thoroughly mixing before adding the next. Add the vanilla and peppermint, then beat in the cocoa powder until combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir until you have nice and thick dough. Mix in the chocolate chips—making sure that the chips are spread evenly through all of the dough. Use a ¼-cup measuring cup or an ice cream scoop to drop cookies about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet and bake for about 14 to 16 minutes. Let them cool for around 2 minutes then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and let them cool completely before eating.