Not that I was even looking for it, but I’ve stumbled upon the most American of all desserts. And it’s not a lattice topped apple pie. And it’s not a red velvet cake topped with blueberry stars and strawberry stripes. And, although it seems like it would be a very promising contender, it’s not a banana split.
No. The most American of all desserts is a simple, honest cookie. Truth be told, it’s a simple, honest cookie with lots and lots of fat. But really now, what’s a cookie without a lot of fat? That’s right, a cookie that we do not want to eat.
I’d been feeling the occasional urge for a peanut butter cookie over the past month or so. Just as soon as the last one of these was eaten up, really. And so I ran to REMA 1000, the horrible, horrible grocery store down the block that was originally given its name because it had (my, oh my!) a whole “1,000” items on its shelves. It’s a national chain in Norway and a terribly disappointing place for a spoiled American to shop when she’s used to such luxury items as garlic that hasn’t already started to sprout and cheddar cheese. But it does sell the essentials, things like milk and toilet paper and even today’s grocery item, crunchy peanut butter, so it’s not all bad.
But back to the cookies (and America!)...
Peanut butter cookies with salted peanuts and chunks of milk chocolate. Americana in three-inch cylinder form. Is there any way to shorten that name? Old Glory cookies? Lady Liberty biscuits? No, biscuits would make them British. Regardless of what they should be called, they’re American through-and-through. How do I know this? Because, although many other nations now stock their grocery shelves with jars of peanut butter, no where else do children grow up with the ingrained notion that peanut butter is what you eat on a daily basis. Peanut butter is what you’re supposed to keep stocked in your car during the winter along with a shovel, long underwear, and Sorrel boots. Peanut butter is what gives a person energy, goes fantastic with jelly and jam, and can make one mean cookie.
I’m in love with these cookies. They aren't just your basic peanut butter cookie- they're kicked up a notch with whole, salted peanuts and chunks of chopped, good quality milk chocolate. They’re so deep in peanuty flavor, crisp (yet not too crumbly), and require only one thing when you eat them (none of that proper knife and fork crap that the Europeans are so hung up on- wink, wink), milk. A tall glass of cold milk- that’s all you need to complement a plate of these darlings. But a side of patriotism wouldn’t hurt if you’ve got some on hand.
Pure Americana- Peanut Butter Cookies
Ekte Amerikanske peanøttsmørkaker
*makes about 2 1/2 dozen 3” (7 cm) cookies
1 1/2 cups (200 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 oz./115 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (9 oz./250 g) chunky peanut butter at room temperature (I normally like natural peanut butter, but think the cheaper kinds with added oil, like Jif or Skippy works better here).
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1/2 cup (120 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (2.5 oz/75 g) shelled salted peanuts
1/2 cup (about 3.5 oz/100 g) pieces of coarsely chopped milk chocolate
1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
2. In a separate large bowl with a wooden spoon, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanuts and chopped chocolate pieces.
3. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crisss-cross pattern but do not overly flatten cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, removing when they are just barely turning brown- careful not to overbake!
4. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely. Store in an air tight container for up to one week.