Friday, March 23, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies - An Old Standby


I know peanuts have gotten a bad rap in the past few years, but for me and my generation, it was a rarity to be allergic to any kind of nuts.  Stewardesses (back when they were called that) used to serve them on airplanes before the main (and free) meal.

Peanut butter was a staple in most homes and continues today.  The lowly peanut butter and jelly sandwich is comfort food, giving the right of amount of sugar and salt to satisfy the after-school kid, the college student starving in the dorm or the mom who needs a pick me up.



I was looking for something sweet the other day and nothing appealed, so I went to the my recipes and looked for something easy to make.  Peanut Butter Cookies came to mind.  For one thing you probably have all the ingredients in your cabinets.

These are staples at my house

With these already available, I could bake cookies and have them ready before the schoolbus came in the afternoon.  My recipe is an old standby from the Betty Crocker Cookbook.

You use both white sugar and brown sugar.  When you decide to use brown sugar, invariably, it will be in one hard rock.  You can soften it by putting a slice of apple in a bag with the sugar.  This requires planning ahead and I was working on a spur of the moment need.  I often decide to bake on the spur of the moment and I didn't want to open a new box of brown sugar.  That would mean I'd have more than one opened container of brown sugar getting hard in the refrigerator.  My grandmother taught me to grate the sugar until I got the amount needed to complete the recipe.  In this case 1/2 cup.

So I grated it.  I could have taken out the food processor and whizzed it through there, but that would require the same amount of time.  And I can bring a little of my grandmother in the kitchen with me as I work. 




To the sugar mixture add the egg, oil, salt, soda, and baking powder.  I add my ingredients one at a time and mix or blend them.  It affords me the opportunity to smash any lumps that develop.  In the case of brown sugar, even when grated finely, the sugar tends to lump the moment you add a second ingredient to it.  However, the oil makes,it easier to work with.  

Add the flour a little at a time and blend it well.





The mixture will become smooth and shiny.


At this point it's time to wrap it in cellophane and let it sit in the refrigerator for two hours.  I hadn't thought of this, but I did it and at exactly two hours, I was ready to bake.

I rolled the dough, which is soft and oily into one inch balls.



 
Instead of placing these directly on the cookie sheet, I put them on the cellophane.  This allowed me to make all the balls.  Making only enough to fit on the cookie sheets you have or as many cookie sheets as will fit in your oven is like being in front of a traffic light.  You keep stopping and going.

I put them on the cookie sheet (two sheets will fit in my oven) and using a sugar-dipped fork, I crossed them in both directions, baked them for 8-10 minutes and put them on cooling racks.



We used to make them thicker, but my kids like the thin ones.  They tend to be softer.

At this point you just add a glass of cold milk and eat the warm morsels right out of the oven.





The yield was three dozen.  And they were heaped under the dome when the school bus arrived.




Here's the recipe

Peanut Butter Cookies

3/4 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 egg (slightly beaten)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt


Mix sugars, peanut butter, shortening, butter and egg in a large bowl.  Stir in remaining ingredients one at a time.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll dough into 1 to 1 1/4 inch balls.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Keep them about 3 inches apart to allow for spreading as they bake.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes.  Remove from cookie sheet to a wire rack.


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