Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Not dinner, just cookies

March 16, 2013
Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Recipe: Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies from Cook's Illustrated

Since I started blogging, every post has focused on the menu for a single dinner, most of them made at home and consumed on a Sunday.  But for this post I'm writing not about dinner but about cookies. Just cookies. I made these on a Saturday afternoon but since we didn't have the cookies as dessert for our Sunday dinner  they don't really fit into my dinner story.

I posted recently about pie being a milestone in my recovery from surgery, not that we had pie to celebrate but rather that I was finally allowed to leave my place on the couch, where I spent much of five weeks, and get back into the kitchen. French Chocolate Silk Pie was one of two things I was looking forward to making during those weeks on the couch. Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies was the other. Unlike the pie, I had never made these cookies before, but I had been wanting to make them since reading about them in Cook's Illustrated and watching Julia make them on the TV show.

Because they are sandwich cookies, they are take a little more work than, say, chocolate chip cookies. The dough is assembled quickly and easily with all of the mixing being done by hand. You then need to portion the cookies and press them down so they will come out thin and crispy. The portioning have gone more quickly if I had a #60 disher (like a small ice cream scoop) rather than using a measuring spoon and table knife. Forty cookies later you make the filling, easy to do, then assemble the cookies. Care must be taken when pressing the cookies together as they are crisp and with too much pressure they will break, though that's not a disaster. I ended up with 40 cookies (20 cookies when assembled) rather than 48, but using the same measuring spoon for the filling as for the cookies, I ended up with just the right amount of filling.

I'm curious why the recipe specifies raw peanuts which you then bring home and toast. Roasted peanuts are easier to find in the supermarket than raw peanuts; I felt fortunate to find a bag of raw Spanish peanuts. I asked about this on the America's Test Kitchen Facebook page but didn't really get an answer to my question. I have several theories of my own. It could be because you don't want salted peanuts and it is easier to find raw peanuts than unsalted roasted nuts. Or, perhaps there is a problem with the texture or flavor of the peanuts after baking if you start with nuts that have already been thoroughly cooked once. Experimentation would lead to an answer but I prefer to leave that to the Test Kitchen cooks and so will use raw peanuts, as they require, when making these cookies.

Whatever the reason, everyone likes these cookies. I enjoy the crisp wafers that snap when you bit in to them. The peanut flavor in both the wafers and the filling is great. The cookies are big enough and rich enough that I have never felt like eating more than one at a time. They are not overly sweet as many cookies can be and that is a nice feature.

The Test Kitchen has published a recipe for a milk chocolate filling which we will want to try soon. The peanut butter filling is made with peanut butter, butter, and confectioners' sugar, the milk chocolate filling is similar but substitutes milk chocolate for the butter. Peanuts and chocolate should be a winning combination. Our daughter has suggested using Nutella which would also be interesting to try.

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