In the world of nuts, peanuts get treated like Rodney Dangerfield. Think about that cutting expression: “I got it for peanuts.” Put a bowl of mixed nuts on the table and do people forage for the peanuts or the cashews? The peanuts are the last to go.
And now we have the whole allergy thing. Walk down a street eating a bag of peanuts in Tribeca and mothers start to scream. “Keep that away from my baby,” they shout as they bundle off their little ones. When did eating a peanut become equivalent to spraying anthrax?
What is the source of this peanut prejudice? Below the surface is there peanut envy?
I think one cause of the problem is the peanut butter cookie. I like them, don’t get me wrong, but there are obvious problems. The flavor is often too intense, a monotone assault on your tongue. They often are too big, too dry, and, yes, crumbly. At the first bite, there immediately are cookie fragments. You don’t dare bring one to bed at night to comfort you while reading. You risk having your spouse mutter “divorce” as they roll over, crunch the crumbs, and awaken.
Peanut rehabilitation must begin with a better peanut butter cookie. One that is subtle, one that does not disintegrate in your mouth, or threaten your marriage.
Here is that recipe, from Cookie Time by Marilyn Miller Wasbotten. Published in 1992, the book is out of print but available on Amazon. I found my forgotten copy while hunting my bookshelves for something entirely else. Instantly I recalled the wonderful recipes Cookie Time contains.
I wanted something for Suzen. Not that I had sinned, but occasionally I will fashion a treat that is not chocolate just to make her feel wanted. She likes peanut butter. She loves dried fruit: dates and figs and .. Well, things I normally do not put in cookies. This recipe is one for Suzi: peanut butter AND dried dates.
It’s delicious. The batter is sensational. Yes, you should taste all cookie batter because over time you will develop an instinct for knowing if the cookies to come out of the oven are going to be good or great. You can seriously tell from the batter. This batter has a mild peanut flavor and an incredible silky smoothness. So do the baked cookies which are delicately soft and do not crumble.
This recipe has several secrets compared to the “standard” peanut butter recipe. A little less peanut butter, a little more regular butter. An extra egg. Double the usual flour. And, most importantly, milk. All these changes together create a lovely cookie.
I did make this with the dried dates. You could, certainly, add chocolate chips or nuts. Pecans would be delicious here.
Please help restore the peanut to its rightful place. Bake and enjoy.
Lucy’s Date [and Peanut Butter] Delights
½ cup shortening or butter
¾ cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup dates, chopped
2 cups flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
Cream the shortening or butter, peanut butter, and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and dates.
Mix dry ingredients. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk. Blend well.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets [or lined with parchment paper]/
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.
[Brian notes: baking these is a bit tricky. At 12 minutes you may be under baking, and at 15 they may be too hard and approaching the crumbly state you want to avoid. So monitor them carefully.]
Source: Cookie Time Marilyn Miller Wasbotten