Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cookie du Jour: Five -Star Peanut Butter

For 30 years, I kept and practiced my mom's peanut butter cookie recipe. And when my son started helping make cookies, he called it the  Fork Cookie recipe.  He loves the part where you use the fork to smash the dough ball and make lines in it.  I despise the part where you use the fork to cream the sugar with the rock hard butter you forgot to set out in enough time to bring to room temperature. (Okay, it is never going to be "light and fluffy" no matter what I do with this fork!) It is a recipe that calls for a lot of fat and white flour--whole grains don't substitute well. And it calls for a lot of time.  I love these cookies, don't get me wrong.  No other cookies compare to these when it comes to dunking them into a glass of cold milk.  However, they have become a special event cookie in my house.  And a special treat when we go to Grammy's.  In our house, however, we make a different peanut butter cookie.

Grandma Edie's Peanut Butter Cookies.  I found this recipe in an old church-ladies cookbook (created with a typewriter and a mimeograph machine, if you want to know what I mean by "old" in this case.) When I first joined my husband's family, his grandmother was approaching her 90th birthday. She had lost a lot of mobility and conversation skills by then. When we visited on Sundays, she sat in an easy chair by the window watching birds at her feeders. I remember her commenting on cardinals and junkos, her winter favorites. Family members would crowd their children around her, to immerse them in her fading countenance.

At the time, I had no children to present, so to pass the time I would wander through her house looking for clues to her lifestory. I often ended up sitting at her dining room table leafing through her cookbooks. There was one in particular she had used a lot, but I can't remember the title.  I just remember her simple system of rating the recipes she had tried.  A scale of one to five stars (presumably "edible" to "scrumptious.")  These peanut butter cookies had five stars and three ingredients.  How can you go wrong?

Although they are indeed scrumptious, I made them only a time or two and then moved on to other, more challenging endeavors. Until my niece gave us the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie compendium, complete with songs and recipes. This same recipe was included and I recognized it instantly as Grandma Edies's five star cookie. My son, the budding chef, couldn't wait to make them. The result was a perfect cookie for a kid.  Easy, fun to make, and enough protein to counteract the sugar. At least that's what I tell myself.

To make me feel even better about these cookies, I use fresh ground organic peanut butter, organic fair-trade, unprocessed sugar, and a fresh-from-the-farm, organic free range egg. I would not recommend any other substitutions, although I have been tempted to try part honey part sugar.  Technically, you should reduce other liquids when you do that and it really isn't possible in this recipe.

And honestly, the best part is that the kids can experience a great food success with this recipe without too much input from Mom.  Or that you can mix it up and have a tray in and out of the oven in under 20 minutes.

Grandma Edie's Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Combine and mix well. Form 24 balls. Evenly space on large cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.  Cool one minute on tray, then flatten slightly with the bottom of a cup or glass. Cool two more minutes then remove to cooling rack. 

Optional:  to make them a little fancier, I sometimes roll the raw dough balls in demerara sugar before baking. It gives them a little crisp and sparkle. However, my mom says it makes them a little too sweet. Try for yourself and decide. Stick with the basic recipe and you can't go wrong.

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