The 30-year cookie
Like many other little boys, this one likes action movies, amusement parks and peanut butter cookies. He always wears baseball caps, and you can divine what he had for lunch by interpreting spots on his T-shirt. He’s a charming, typical little boy. Except this little boy is Petey, my 54-year-old husband.
Every Christmas my mom makes a large variety of cookies. Her sugar cookies are favorites of The Kid and me. But she makes special batches for family members.
She makes oatmeal raisin for my dad and white chocolate macadamia for my brother. For Petey, she makes peanut butter. Her recipe for them is basically chocolate chip cookie dough, with peanut butter chips swapped in.
He eats them by the dozen.
Lately, DaisyCakes (401 A Foster St.) has been making a from-scratch Nutter Butter cookie. Two large pb cookies sandwiching peanut butter buttercream.
Petey inhales ’em.
Almost as long as we’ve been married, I’ve tinkered with pb cookie recipes. There are an infinite number of them. Good, bad, and meh.
This past Easter, the bunny brought us Reese's Pieces. I decided that I was finally going to make Petey’s perfect peanut butter cookie. I started the research.
What I wanted was a dough full of peanut butter, studded with the pieces. I found a recipe online and started my experimentation.
I wanted a bit a vanilla flavor, and to really amp up the nutty taste.
So I added vanilla powder to the dry ingredients. I try to keep a jar of Nielsen-Massey’s on hand. It’s a blond colored, powdered, slightly sweetened vanilla that will spike a dish with flavor without darkening or adding moisture. I pick it up at Whole Foods. Most gourmet shops have it, and it’s available online.
Then to increase the nuttiness quotient I added two bags of salted peanuts (the snack size, like you get in a gas station), and a teaspoon of butter pecan extract. I know a pecan isn’t a peanut, but it does add a subtle hint of nut (and it smells amazing).
Then as a last touch, I roll the portioned dough in granulated sugar. I always throw my empty vanilla pods into my sugar canister, so my sugar is vaguely vanilla scented.
For all the permutations, poor old Petey was my guinea pig. But like he says, “Even a so-so peanut butter cookie is still a peanut butter cookie.”
So I don’t think he minded too much. Although he probably got a bit tired of being debriefed on each batch like he’d just returned from a mission to Mars.
The last ones I made him are as close to the ultimate peanut butter cookie as I could accomplish. Even not being a big fan, I don’t think they’re half bad.
Petey’s 30 Year Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup softened butter
1¼ cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon butter pecan flavoring
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla powder
1 15oz bag Reese’s Pieces
2 1.8oz bags salted peanuts
Sugar, for dusting cookies
Cream together butter, peanut butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and flavoring.
In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla flavor. Stir into wet ingredients.
Stir in Reese’s Pieces and peanuts.
Scoop out with medium scoop, refrigerate for at least an hour, or freeze for later baking.
When ready to bake put sugar in a bowl and roll dough in it, covering completely. Place on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 8 minutes, then spin cookie sheet front to back, and with a spatula sprayed with cooking spray, flatten cookies to about 1/2 inch thick, and if desired, sprinkle tops with a bit more sugar. Bake for 7 minutes more, or until golden-brown around the edges.
Cool for 8-10 minutes on cooling rack before handling. Do not over-bake.
Makes about 3 dozen, depending on size.
You know, I truly appreciate and enjoy the little boy inside my Petey. Besides, I’m still waiting for that card to show up in the mail to let me know that I’m an actual grown-up.
Thanks for your time.
Debbie Matthews lives, writes and cooks in Durham. Her email address is email@example.com.