Tag Archives: cookies

Book review: Stir, by Jessica Fechtor

I made a batch of these chocolate cookies yesterday afternoon. I love this recipe — see my modifications at the end of this post — because it’s very simple and you don’t need to measure ingredients particularly accurately, but the result is a cookie with a deep flavour and a texture that’s heading on for brownie-like. Basically, this is the double-choc cookie recipe that will ~*change your life*~.

I’ve been on a bit of a “the girl who brings cookies” kick recently, which is not an identity I’m entirely comfortable with (I’d rather bring my rapier wit, y’know?) but I am enjoying getting back into baking after spending Spring going “urgggh, I’m too tired and cooking is hard and complicated.” And creaming butter and sugar by hand feels approximately like exercise so this is all about healthful living, right?

Actually, part of what prodded me to get back behind the mixing bowl was reading Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor, which is a book I’d love to read the proposal for because the concept is that it’s a combination food memoir (ok fair enough…) slash (wait for it…) recovery-from-a-brain-aneurysm memoir. Continue reading

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Peanut butter cookies

How to make peanut butter cookies (with bonus story!)

Stop and think about what you’re doing right now. Would it be better with a peanut butter cookie? Yes, yes it probably would. These are my current go-to bickies, and they’ve got at least 3 things going for them:

  1. They’re very easy to make.
  2. They’re gluten free without being kinda gross, in fact they’re amazing, all chewy and peanut-y and sweet and a bit salty.
  3. They’re completely unheard of in Italy, so you can bring a tin of them to a get-together and not worry about competing with anyone’s grandmother’s traditional recipe.

Step by step (the recipe is closely based on this one, but with added cinnamon and without the salt):

  1. Obtain peanut butter. If you’re in Italy, this is the hardest step. The big supermarkets are often a decent bet, though I’ve been surprised by both Crai and Carrefour Express supermarkets sometimes. Try near the Nutella (don’t get distracted and buy Nutella instead of peanut butter…) or possibly the ‘foreign food’ shelf. If you’re in Torino, the Pam supermarket in Lingotto sells a jar that’s big enough for 2 batches of these cookies. The brand is called “Save” and it’s pretty nasty peanut butter for eating (as you would imagine from the name — does “save” ever bode well for food?) but it’s fine for baking with.
  2. Everything is measured by volume not weight. If you don’t have measuring cups, 1 cup is 250 ml, so a drinking glass is probably about the right size. Depending on your peanut butter jar, that might well be about 1 cup.
  3. Cream together 1 cup peanut butter with 1 cup sugar. You want to mix them so that all the peanut butter has sugar in it, and all the sugar has peanut butter on it.
  4. Add 1 beaten egg, 1 teaspon vanilla, a decent shake of ground cinnamon. I’ve never measured how much cinnamon I use, sorry to be vague! You want enough so the cookies taste vaguely American, without overpowering the peanut butter.
  5. At this point, the dough will probably be quite sticky. I suggest you pop it in the fridge for a while, it will noticeably improve the texture of the final product and make it easier to form the cookies without getting sticky goop all over your hands.
  6. The time the dough needs in the fridge is about how long it takes to heat the oven to 180C, so turn it on now.
  7. To form the cookies, make 1.5-2cm diameter balls, and flatten them. Do some fancy criss-cross pattern with a fork, if you like, but I just squoosh them down with my fingers.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  9. DON’T TRY TO TAKE THE BISCUITS OFF THE TRAY UNTIL THEY’VE COOLED. They will fall apart! Wait until they’re cool enough to touch. I have made this mistake multiple times. It does result in a lot of broken cookies which I have to eat myself because I couldn’t possibly serve them to other people. Ahem.
  10. There is no Step 10, so let me tell you a story about going to the supermarket to buy eggs the last time I made these biscuits:I’m waiting in line at the checkout, when suddenly the old lady in front of me spins around, exclaiming and waving her hands as if she’d seen a rat or something. Turns out, she’d spotted the woman behind me, wearing sandals. In October. Wouldn’t she be cold?! How could she not be wearing socks and shoes?At this point, she’s on a roll with being dramatically appalled about things. Look at the batteries! 8.40 euro! That’s [I don’t remember how many] lire! For batteries! I murmur something polite about ‘yes that does seem expensive’.So we get talking, which is mostly her talking and me trying to keep up: Where am I from, it’s obviously not Italy? Australia?  Really? Her father spent 2 years in New Zealand! What on earth am I doing in Italy? A scientist? Oh madonna! She clutches my arm in mock horror. What do I think of Torino? I like it? Good. But it’s not like it used to be, back in the days of Fiat, it was such a more elegant city. She’s 91, she says.And she thinks my name is ‘uhzoe’, because I subconciously hesitated when she asked me. Oh deary me.