Michelle’s Salty Sweet Peanut Butter Cookies

The NY Times had a recipe for Salty-Sweet Peanut Butter Sandies for the holidays a few years ago. Frankly, it just wasn’t peanutty enough although the salty/sweet coating on top was awesome. Using crunchy peanut butter helped but that also meant dropping the sugar a little. They also weren’t crisp enough, so Michelle made several batches until we determined that baking them longer and flattening them a bit with the classic fork press made us a most excellent peanut butter cookie. 

Michelle's Salty Sweet Peanut Butter Cookies


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups crunchy peanut butter (I prefer Skippy Super Crunch)
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon flake salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter two baking sheets.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Add the peanut butter and eggs, and mix. Add the flour and salt and mix just until well combined, with no white flour showing.

Scoop 2 tablespoons dough onto prepared pans. Flatten with fork dipped in water to form a criss cross pattern. The cookies will not spread much or change shape when they bake, so they can be placed quite close together, but leave room for air circulation so they can brown. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoons sugar with 1 1/2 teaspoon flake salt. Sprinkle each cookie generously with sugar-salt mixture, being sure to get it into all the nooks and crannies.

Bake 15-17 minutes, until cookies are set and golden-brown. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes. Carefully lift or slide off baking sheets and cool the rest of the way on racks. Store in airtight containers.

Chocolate Mint Syrup

At the Spring plant sale of the New Orleans Herb Society, I picked up a small plant of chocolate mint. It has really taken off and I needed a perfect recipe in which to use some of it.

The chocolate mint is growing out of the pot!

I made the sauce to gild the lily of my Chocolate Oblivion Torte, which I made again this year for Michelle’s birthday. It can also be poured into warm milk for a great hot chocolate or heated back up and drizzled over ice cream.

Chocolate Mint Syrup

1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar
30 chocolate mint leaves, rinsed, patted dry, and torn into pieces

In a small saucepan, combine the cocoa powder and cold water, and whisk together until smooth. Add the sugar and torn mint leaves and place the saucepan over medium heat.

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to melt the sugar. As soon as the syrup begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. It will thicken and turn glossy.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

When the syrup has cooled to near room temperature, strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a clean jar. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

A gravy boat of chocolate mint sauce is what dreams are made of!

Ultimate Chocolate Pancakes

I was watching a cooking show with Anna Olson and she did chocolate pancakes as a dessert (with cinnamon peaches). With a little improvement, the recipe seemed like the perfect recipe to fix for a breakfast-in-bed meal for the birthday girl. With three kinds of chocolate (cocoa powder, bittersweet chips and cacao liquor), they are the ultimate in deliciousness.

Chocolate Pancakes

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ⅔ cup buttermilk at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon Creme de Cacao liquor
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl whisk buttermilk, melted butter, eggs and Creme de Cacao.

Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir just until combined. It should still have some lumps. Stir in chocolate chips.

Preheat a griddle over medium heat and butter generously. Test drip a small spoonful of batter into the pan. If it bubbles furiously, the pan is too hot. If it doesn’t appear to be cooking at all, the pan is not up to temperature yet.

Once you’ve achieved desired heat, ladle batter onto griddle and cook about 3 minutes. It is ready to flip when air bubbles rise to the surface and a peek under the edge shows it to be dry on the underside. Flip the pancake and cook for another 2 minutes.

Remove pancakes to a plate, cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

These go really well with bacon, as the salty bacon compliments the darkly rich pancake.

Fried Green Tomatoes Fannie Flagg Style

I’ve posted about frying green tomatoes before, but I recently reread Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and decided that this time I would use Fannie Flagg’s recipe from the back of the book (page 403).

Michelle picked the tomatoes from her garden, so they were particularly good.

Fried Green Tomatoes Fannie Flagg Style

1 medium green tomato per person
Salt
Pepper
Cornmeal
Bacon drippings

Slice tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick. Season each side with salt and pepper and then coat both sides with cornmeal. In a large skillet, heat enough bacon drippings to cover the bottom of the pan and fry tomatoes until lightly browned on both sides. If you don’t have bacon drippings (and, why not?), use vegetable shortening to fry them in.

As Fannie Flagg wrote, “You’ll think you died and gone to heaven!”

Quick Creamy Lemon Salt Pasta

I’m all for taking my time in cooking but sometimes you just want to eat. The cream sauce comes together in the time it takes to bring the pasta water to a boil and cook it, so you have a meal ready in less than 30 minutes.

I typically make double the amount of lemon salt I need (for recipes like these) and keep it in an airtight container. Also, when I grill chicken, I usually do more than just what is needed for dinner and pick the some of the meat off the bone and store it in the freezer in 1 cup measurements in zip top bags. This recipe used 1 cup of precooked chicken.

1 cup pasta (I used Farfalle – bowtie)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon salt
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup already cooked chicken (about 1 breast)

Bring salted water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente.

In a heavy skillet combine the cream, butter and salt. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat to low. Simmer for five to ten minutes or until sauce has thickened. Add in parsley. Pour over cooked pasta and add cheese and chicken and stir well. Serve once cheese is melted.

Recreating Sand Tarts

I can remember getting Charles Chips delivered when I was a kid. While the taste of the potato chips  have faded from memory, I still think on the Sand Tarts we would also order from them sometimes. Those cookies weren’t entirely a sugar cookie and weren’t shortbread either. Light, crisp and with a hint of cinnamon, they were a delicious after school snack. Today, you can buy a 1lb tin for $19.99 but I’m not going to spend that much for cookies, so I needed to recreate this recipe for myself.

After searching the web and talking to my Mom, I decided to use a melange of several recipes. Using both shortening and butter makes the cookies crisp but not too fragile. Having both granulated sugar and brown sugar adds a depth to the flavor. You can also put in some finely chopped, toasted pecans if you want a good cookie that is (to paraphrase Douglas Adams) almost, but not quite, entirely unlike sand tarts.

Sand Tarts

1/2 cup shortening
½ cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2  cup toasted pecans, chopped fine (optional)
Cinnamon Sugar (Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon) to sprinkle on top of cookies

Cream shortening and butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix just until medium-soft dough is formed. Do not over-mix. Chill for several hours (or as long as overnight) in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll out on floured surface as the sand tarts need to be thin to crisp up. Cut with cookie cutters into the shape of your choice. Brush tops with egg white, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Place 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes. Let cool on the pan for one minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I woke up this morning dreaming about stirring melted chocolate. It was very vivid and while that is better than waking up having the refrain from “Momma Tried” running through your head, it is still something that stays with you for a while after you get up.

I decided to go where my subconscious led me and made these chocolate, chocolate chip cookies. Basically, you melt 4 tablespoons of the butter with 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate. More chocolate is more better! They are crisp on the edges and chewy in the center – yummy!

My metal beastie stands guard over the cookies.

Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (two sticks), divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup toasted, chopped nuts, optional
flake salt for sprinkling, optional

Melt 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate with 4 tablespoons of the butter in a double boiler. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.

Beat remaining butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour in melted chocolate. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts, if using.

Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour to give the flour proteins and starches a chance to rest. While Jacques Torres would have you rest the dough 24 to 72 hours, I’m not wired to be able resist that kind of temptation. An hour is my max and it is still an effort to not to sneak out all the cookie dough during that time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove dough from the refrigerator and drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle lightly with flake salt, if desired.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are slightly firm in the center. Remove from the oven and cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.