Peanut Butter Cookies, Part I

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Mystical Cookie

The Mystical Cookie

My parents lived outside of Kansas City for a few years when I was in college, and my mom wasn’t so excited about moving there, but while she was there she learned how to make baskets (which she’s been doing for 20+ years now), and she learned how to make the best cookies in the history of the world. So it all turned out okay in the end.

The first time I flew out there to visit, we were driving home from the airport and my dad said, “Your mother has the best new cookie recipe … two Ritz crackers with peanut butter, covered in chocolate.” I thought they sounded okay, but not earth shaking.

Boy was I wrong.

These are the best cookies you have ever had. (If you like peanut butter and chocolate, that is–my brother doesn’t care much for chocolate, and my friend Ann doesn’t like peanut butter in cookies, so both of them are more or less indifferent to these. I know, those of you who’ve had them are shocked, but it’s true. Some people don’t love these cookies.)

There are people who have had these cookies once and, I am convinced, have remained friends with me for years simply in the hopes that they will one day get another one.

My mom would send them to me in college, and we started calling them the Mystical Cookies, because they’re so much better than you’d think they’d be if you just heard what’s in them. She sent them to me at the office when I worked in Princeton, and then I think she might have sent some to my boss after I left, because everyone was so sad they’d never get them again. I went back for a visit maybe five years after I’d left and was talking to someone I’d worked with and someone who had started working a year or two after I was gone. Trudy said, “How’s your mom? Does she still make those cookies?” And Sabrina said, “Oh! You’re the one whose mom makes the cookies!”

It’s nice to be famous for something.

I was visiting my folks last week and brought a few home with me, though I don’t think I managed to do justice to them in the picture. (I wanted to show the inside, so you can see how much peanut butter is in one, but none of the shots worked all that well.)

They’re not hard to make, but you need to get candy-coating chocolate. My mom uses Merckens chocolate wafers, which she gets in the bulk bins at Wegmans. There are light and dark versions, but I like a combination of the two (I think the light is too sweet, and the dark is not sweet enough). In Kansas, she used almond bark for the coating, but I don’t know if that’s available everywhere. I think you could also make chocolate coating out of chocolate chips (or possibly any chocolate?) by melting and adding vegetable oil or shortening. There’s also a recipe for chocolate candy coating in an old version of Joy of Cooking that calls for chocolate plus butter and paraffin (!). Haven’t tried that one. I think whatever chocolate you can get that will melt without separating and harden when cool would work.

For such a simple recipe, it feels sort of complicated to explain. On graduation weekend at college, my friend Debbie was talking to my mom. She said, “Oh! I have to get the recipe for those cookies! What kind of chocolate do you use?”

My mom goes into this very long explanation of almond bark and Kansas and Merckens wafers and Wegmans and candy coating and chocolate chips and vegetable oil. When she’s done, Debbie says, “So… if I want these cookies, I should just call and say, ‘Mrs. Currie, please send cookies.'”

And my mom says, “Well, yes, that would probably work best.”

So that’s what I usually do. Sadly, you’re all on your own, so here’s a recipe (such as it is).

[And please note, these are not healthy at all. At all. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.]

Peanut Butter-Ritz Cracker Cookies
(a.k.a. The Mystical Cookies)

  • Ritz or Hi-Ho crackers
  • Jif peanut butter (I haven’t tried healthy peanut butter; I suspect it wouldn’t be nearly as good)
  • Chocolate candy coating

Make the cracker and peanut butter sandwiches, using more peanut butter than you think you need. (I don’t think I’ve ever had one with too much peanut butter, but I’ve definitely made them with not enough.) Place on a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap on the counter or table.

Melt the chocolate. You can do it in a double boiler, but it works much better to use the microwave, because the chocolate gets hotter, stays hotter, and melts better. I don’t have a microwave, so when I make these, I usually go to someone else’s house.

Drop the sandwiches, one at a time, into the bowl of melted chocolate and, using a fork, stir around to coat thickly.

Remove the sandwich from the bowl of chocolate and place on the plastic wrap/waxed paper to cool.

When the coating is set, you can put in a tin or plastic bag. I think they taste best frozen, so I just keep the bag in the freezer and eat from there.

And I actually intended to write a completely different post about another peanut butter cookie recipe, but this is the post that came out, and now I need to go get some work done, so I’ll put the other recipe up later in the week.

12 Responses to “Peanut Butter Cookies, Part I”

  1. Amy Says:

    When I saw the title, “Peanut butter cookie” on my blog roll, I thought “eh” because I’m not crazy about peanut butter cookies, but when I clicked on my link to your site and saw the picture, I was like “oh yeah!”

    The recipe cracks me up. It’s not so much cooking as manufacturing. I really don’t like baking, so this sounds like fun.I don’t remember the last time I had a Ritz cracker, but I confess I love ’em. I was just reading about melting chocolate on the Prevention website – they claim chocolate is good for you, so maybe these cookies aren’t so “bad.”

    I can just imagine making these for Christmas. Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. Pat Says:

    I thought everyone knew about these! My kids and I would do this as a family project every year before Christmas. My daughter now has taken over the project and it has been said if shes not carrying these cookies shes not allowed in the house. I think they’re joking but knowing my brother and brother-in-law the way I do they may not be, lol!

  3. June Says:

    My sister-in-law dips Ritz crackers in melted chocolate–flavored with peppermint oil. They taste like Girl Scouts Thin Mint cookies! I could not believe it when she first told me how they are made.

  4. lessisenough Says:

    Holy cow, that sounds amazing. The Ritz crackers do taste totally different when covered in chocolate, I’m definitely going to try it with peppermint oil. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Fernando Says:

    Hi,

    Your cookies sound great, but Im one of those that dislike peanut butter. There is some cookie-like thing that its made in Argentina called “Alfajor” which is not the same, but looks alike. And a good alternative for the peanut butter issue could be milk candy (dulce de leche) wich is basically sweetened milk heated up until it looses much of the water in it. Tell your mother to try it, I bet she’ll like the alternative.

  6. dan Says:

    I made these once or twice back in high school at my parents house. Always turned out great. I should try making them again soon with my new favorite Ritz variety: Whole Wheat. Maybe try some natural peanut butter too, and refrigerate them before coating in chocolate.

    My mom used to make holiday confections (like buckeyes and such) with a chocolate coating by melting baking chocolate with some paraffin wax (which is perfectly edible) in a double boiler. I don’t know the proportions at all, but I always thought the chocolate came out just fine. Never would have known there was wax in there had I not seen her make them.

  7. sarah Says:

    Since I’m one who has actually eaten the Mystical Cookies, I’ll testify that I haven’t thought about them in a while and now I’m pretty sure I will not have a good night’s sleep until I hie myself out to get some chocolate and make some Mom Currie cookies!

    MMMM

    I was just telling someone about the “all the English majors are on the bed” incident recently.


  8. I picked up your blog through the publicity around the dollar a day diet. Bravo. Thanks for bringing attitude back to frugal & environmentally responsible eating! Your PB cookies are delicious and I had to write to share two more ideas. Try them with Nutello (chocolate hazelnut spread) inside and white chocolate outside.

    Also I have to tell you of a frugal cookie I invented last year: the Peanut Butter Bacon Cookie.
    I was planning to make some cookies with saved bacon fat (Bacon fat makes soft drop cookies really well– pour into a clean glass jar & refrigerate until using). I was getting ready to make PB cookies when I thought, you know, I like PB & bacon sandwiches, I bet bacon would be good in these too. They were great.

  9. lessisenough Says:

    This is so funny that you mention pb & bacon sandwiches, as I have a post I’ve been planning forever involving a sandwich with peanut butter and bacon. I need to make the sandwich so I can get pictures (it definitely has to be seen to be fully appreciated), but was just thinking about it last week, after having seen my grandmother, because the recipe initially came from some friends of hers. I can’t remember if I made this sandwich in college or just talked about it, but I think after that experience, I mostly stopped talking about it, as my housemates all thought it was the grossest thing they’d ever heard of. I may lose most of my readers when I post about it, but I’m willing to make that sacrifice for my art.

    And thanks for the Nutella suggestion! That sounds yummy…

  10. maija Says:

    This sounds so good, but I am sucker for anything chocolate-peanut butter especially with a little salt thrown in. It reminds me of the saltine/toffee cookies like this recipe:

    http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Saltine-Toffee-Cookies/Detail.aspx

    It’s basically saltine crackers with brown sugar & butter to make a caramel layer plus melted chocolate & nuts. So good!

  11. juliet Says:

    Hey Less-

    Cookies and look delish! Thought you could try it with biscuits and send a tin to Mark Boyle who is living without cash on zero dollars/pounds/euros in the UK .
    Check out this article http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/green-living-blog/2009/oct/28/live-without-money

  12. kathy Says:

    I make these cookies and have for years. I use vanilla almond bark to coat them. I make them during christmas and sprinkle them with red and green sugar. Everyone that tries them loves them.


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