Thursday, October 15, 2009

Which of These Cookies Is Not Like the Other?

That's right, it's the second one from the left in the top row. If you've ever made cookies at five in the morning so your husband could take some for lunch (while the coffee was still brewing and about fifteen minutes off from being in your belly), you may just understand how such screw-ups can happen.

Here's what the instruction read: "Bake until just set and beginning to crack... rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking."

Here's what my groggy brain read: "Bake until just set and beginning to crack... rotating halfway through baking."

I was like, "What? Okay, well, you're the boss, cookbook." But then I did one and thought to myself, "Uh... that doesn't look right." So I went back and read it again. Sure enough, no cookie-flipping involved... What the hell, groggy brain? Next time coffee will be my top priority.

If you read my posts often, you know that I invent my own recipes almost every day. But I also use cookbooks from time to time. I am still learning the chemistry of what makes a cookie dough different from a cake batter different from a quick bread different from... well, inadvertent quick bread pudding.

This morning's recipe for Upside-Down-No-Wait-Right-Side-Up Peanut Butter Cookies is adapted from the one for Peanut Blossom Cookies on page 180 of America's Best Lost Recipes: 121 Kitchen-Tested Heirloom Recipes Too Good to Forget.

The collection, from the editors of Cook's Country Magazine, focuses on vintage recipes that have been passed down through generations of cooks and bakers. I geek out over vintage stuff (clothes, boats, luggage, furniture... you name it), so I was thrilled when a casual acquaintance showed me the book, and even more thrilled when she said I could keep it. Thanks again, Helena, wherever you are!

Peanut Blossom Cookies are supposed to have Hershey's kisses on them as in the picture below, but I just used what I had... after all, five in the morning is no ideal time to shop unless you're willing to break a window and leave the grocer an IOU. Other changes include a slight peanut butter reduction and substitution of light brown sugar for dark brown sugar, neither of which I would recommend if you have the original ingredients on hand. I was also so pressed for time that I didn't process the peanuts with the flour the way it said to do. No opinion on that one... I like the whole peanuts, but then again I've never had it the other way, so who knows? And of course, being the salt fiend that I am when it comes to cookies, I swapped half the unsalted butter for salted. This I will always, always recommend for any baked good under the sun.



2 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 sticks butter (1 salted and 1 unsalted), softened
3/4 c. well-packed brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. peanut butter
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. roasted salted peanuts


Drink your coffee!!!!!

Preheat the oven to 350. Stir the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients except the peanuts and beat with an electric mixer. Stir in the peanuts.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place these 2 inches apart on a baking sheet (the book says to use parchment paper, but they don't stick, so it's a waste of parchment paper in my opinion). Bake 11-13 minutes. Makes 4 dozen small cookies.

The super-sweetest thing about America's Best Lost Recipes is not the recipes themselves, but the stories they use to introduce them. For instance, I didn't realize that the wave of popularity enjoyed by peanut butter cookies with kisses on top resulted from an entry in a recipe contest that ended up losing. The winner was some walnut cookie no one's ever heard of. Do you ever wonder what we'll find important years from now? Which of our recipes will still be around, and which ones will die out?

To fit the theme of the book, I've artificially antiquated all the pics in this post through the magic of iPhoto. Here's an interesting one:

I have no idea who Amanda is. Remember I said that a casual acquaintance gave me this book? Well, when I got it home and opened it, out slipped this card. I assume she'd used it as a bookmark. As previously mentioned, her name is Helena (not Amanda) so I concluded the card had been written from her rather than to her. I meant to give it back, but forgot a couple times, since we didn't each other that often. Now, as far as I know, she lives in Texas. And Amanda never got her card.

The envelope is still sealed. I've never looked inside. And probably never will. Why, I don't know. It's probably just a hella-belated birthday card. My seeing it would just barely, marginally, forgivably violate Helena's and Amanda's privacy. But every time I see that name, hand-scrawled in pencil, it stops me in my tracks. If the name weren't there, it would be different. I would open it in a heartbeat. Because of that name, I'm leaving it for future generations to find. Because of the name, a simple envelope has become a mystery. Maybe one day, as my unborn kid is opening this book, out it will slide. Maybe they'll open it immediately. Maybe they won't. Either way, they'll have a story to go with their recipes.

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.


Jhonny walker said...

cookies at 5 in the morning!!! all of them look great!! at that hour anything anyone makes already adds an element to it :)

no really they look super good.

the ungourmet said...

It was sweet of you to get up early to bake cookies for your sweetie! I'm definitely a bit groggy that early as well.

What willpower you have not opening that card! :D

MaryMoh said...

like u, I used to bake a lot in the early morning when it was all quiet & no one disturbed me. It's the time when I learned new recipes. But I don't do that these days. I would be blogging or reading. I made lots of baking mistakes.

Jessie said...

cookies at the wee hours of the morning that's hilarious but also very sweet of you! those cookies sure came out great though!

April Cavin said...

Cooking before coffee is something I try to avoid! Love the pic of your little 'flat top' cookie-- too funny.