Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Santa Came Early This Year...'Cuz I'm Real Good!

'Tis the Season for holiday baking, and I'm getting all jazzed up and geared up for it. (Happy Hanukkah, by the way, to all my Jewish readers!) In anticipation of all the cookies and cakes and goodies soon to come, I put in a special request to Santa (or perhaps it was the Hanukkah Armadillo?) to stop by my house early, as I had a desperate need. Behold Exhibit A:

Is that TRAGIC or what? Yes, those were my very first Silpats that I bought, oh, about a decade ago, I think. They were burned and frayed, with small to huge holes in them. And recently, my dear roommate tried to clean one of them with some sort of solvent, and the chemical smell never did come out, which imparted a weird taste to anything baked on it. So I decided it was time to lay those old workhorses to rest and acquire some new ones. And LOOKIE!

Is there any greater joy to a cook than new Silpats? Well, perhaps All-Clad, but Santa works his magic on a budget at my house! Speaking of price, back in the day, Silpats (and Exopats and the like) cost about $25 apiece for the half-sheet size. Of course, they lasted forever (a decade for me anyway). But still, fifty bucks for two of them is pretty steep, though I really didn't want cheapo knock-offs. To my delight, I found that they are now going for about ten dollars apiece on amazon or from ebay sellers. With the money I saved, now I can buy new half-sheet pans, as mine have seen better days, too. Tee hee.

For the Silpats' maiden voyage, I made some excellent peanut butter cookies to take to trivia tonight. They are from a recipe that I found on my buddy Anna's Cookie Madness site, and they are delicious. And I only amended the recipe slightly. First, instead of using commercial peanut butter, I ground my own in the food processor to give the cookies a fresh peanutty taste. This is a tip I learned from my friend Lee Ann's husband, Steve, who is a fine cook and an all-around Renaissance man! Secondly, I used lightly salted and roasted peanuts from Trader Joe's (instead of dry roasted because it's what I had around), and instead of chocolate or peanut butter chips, I used teeny little peanut butter cups, also from Trader Joe's. Oh, and I added a teaspoon of vanilla because it seemed wrong not to!

These cookies are really good--tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. Just make sure not to overbake them. The recipe says fourteen minutes, but I'd check them at twelve. Once they are golden around the edges--even if they seem a wee bit underdone in the middle--take them out and let them set up on the tray as they cool for five minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Finally, the next time I make these (and oh yes, there will be a next time!), I might reduce the sugar from two cups to a total of one and a half. These were a bit on the sweet side for my tastes, but you make them and decide for yourself. The recipe yields between three and four dozen good-sized cookies, so feel free to halve or quarter it. However, I simply refrigerated the dough and baked a dozen off at a time over a few days. That way, we always had warm, fresh cookies, and I think the texture was a bit better after chilling, too.

Triple Play Peanut Butter Cookies
(Source: www.cookiemadness.net)

1 cup butter, very soft
1 cup dark brown sugar (I used light because I ran out of dark, and I might reduce this to 3/4 C)
1 cup sugar (again, I would reduce this to 3/4 C)
1 1/4 cups peanut butter (I made mine fresh from peanuts ground in the food processor)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
2 eggs
2 2/3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups chopped dry roasted salted peanuts (I used lightly salted/regular roasted)
1 1/3 cups peanut butter chips or chocolate chips (I used TJ's mini peanut butter cups)

Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment (or SILPATS!).

Cream butter, sugars, peanut butter, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs one at a time. Stir in the flour, nuts, and chips.

Drop by tablespoon (I used my trusty cookie scoop) onto prepared sheets. Bake for (12-)14 minutes, until set and golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven and cool on pan 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool.


Randi said...

How funny, I almost made these same cookies since I have tons of mini pb cups left over from halloween( bought for 1/2 price on Nov 1st). I bought 400 sheets of parchment paper from a seller on ebay and Its so great, it was cheap too. With shipping, I paid 28.00. She sells in lots of 200 for 9.99 plus 8.95 shipping. I hardly ever use my silpat anymore.

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Tartelette said...

Man! I had never seen Silpats get owrn out like that!!! Amazing! Glad Santa came early because the cookies look great!