Sunday, August 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

Fear not! This IS a post about cookies. But I'm going to take you there the long way... the same way I got there. It started with planning the menu for a weeknight dinner with one other couple. The weather was supposed to be warm and sunny, and we knew we wanted to grill. I decided to go with the bright hot-weather-inspired flavors of India with this Tandoori-Style Grilled Chicken and this fabulous curried cauliflower salad. (Note about the salad, this time I used toasted almonds instead of curried cashews and golden raisins instead of apricots, and added a red potato to the roasting cauliflower. I also skipped the step of the glaze and just tossed everything with the dressing. It's just as good!)

Another given - based on the weather and our very-short nice-days season in Seattle - was that I would make ice cream. To carry the dinner theme through to dessert, I selected a ginger recipe. I left out the pieces of candied ginger, not for flavor reasons, but because I like my ice cream smooth. If I was eating it plain, I might have sprinkled a few crumbles on top, like they do at Molly Moon's on their outrageous ginger hot fudge sundae (ginger ice cream, hot fudge, and candied ginger sprinkles... three simple-enough sounding ingredients making for an undeniable explosion of delight.)

But hot fudge sundaes weren't quite the right dessert for this time, and even the most incredible ice creams can stand good cookie partner. This is where I started to get creative. There were a number of ideas percolating, with the initial seed (or is it spice!) of inspiration coming from the garam masala oatmeal cookies I made back in May. A google search for garam masala cookie brought me to a couple of different sites with basically this same recipe for a vegan cookie that sounded pretty good to me. The recipe struck me for the simple list of ingredients, and the fact that there was no egg (obviously, since it's vegan.) But the omission of a primary ingredient found in most cookies reminded me of one of my favorite cookie recipes... C&H Unbelievable Peanut Butter Cookies which draw special attention to the fact that the recipe has no flour. A lot of curry sauces have peanut butter in them, so it was a short leap from there to think about morphing these two recipes into one for a garam masala-peanut butter cookie.

You could certainly just stir in some garam masala powder to your favorite  peanut butter cookie recipe, and I did with my 4-ingredient C&H recipe. YUM! But I also played around with ingredients to make a cookie and a shortbread. The shortbread was probably a bit more work then either of the cookies, but were super-good and fun for something a little different. The cookies are deliciously crunchy, and I love how the spice just gives it an exotic undertown without really being a stand-out flavor of its own. Besides revelling in the addictive nature of the sugary crunchiness, I also had the glory of creating my own recipe based on the ideas that came together from these various blog postings. I'm sure you will love them as much as I do, or maybe you'll feel brave enough to a little shot of spice innovation to your own favorite recipes.

Ovum-free peanut butter-garam masala cookies.

Notch-Up Peanut Butter Cookies 1/2 c butter
1/4 c peanut butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1 c flour
1 1/2 T granulated sugar
1/2 t baking soda
2 t garam masala
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt

Whisk together flour, soda, spices, and salt. Cream butter, peanut butter and sugars until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients and beat until well-blended. Stir in vanilla. Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes until golden. Allow to cool on sheet for 2-3 minutes to set, then remove to rack and cool completely.

Peanut Butter Shortbread(note: the ingredients here are the same as above, just with the proportion of butter and peanut butter swapped!)
1/2 cup peanut butter (not "all natural")
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 t garam masala
1 cup flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon

Cream butter, sugar, peanut butter. Stir in vanilla. Sift together flour, garam masala, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda, then add mixture to peanut butter mixture. It will be crumbly. Pat into a round and wrap in plastic wrap. Refridgerate at least two hours. Divide in half and pat dough into a 9" pie plate. Prick over with fork. Bake at 375 for 16-18 minutes, until golden and set. Cut into wedges or slices while hot, and allow to cool before removing from pan.

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