Peanut Butter Cookies, Part I
Monday, October 12, 2009
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.