Shortly after Christmas I received a heavy parcel in the post all the way from California. It contained scanned and bound copies of my grandmother’s handwritten cookery notebooks kindly copied and posted by my step-father (who, although he was born and raised on the East Coast of Canada now calls the warmer climes of western USA his home). What a treasure these papers are. It’s wonderful to see my grandmother’s handwriting after all these years (she passed away when I was only sixteen) and to relive her cooking journey through them – it’s priceless.
I’ve been working my way through the recipes one by one, jotting my own notes next to hers (which is ok since they’re only scanned copies!) and there are some rather bizarre recipes contained within those pages! I think most of them date from the 1960’s through to the 1990’s, but some could be even older. Some ingredients I can’t buy here in the UK (like graham crackers and Chipits) and I notice a distinct lack of butter in the ingredients lists. Shortening (white vegetable fat for my UK readers) is a common fat substitute. The recipe instructions aren’t always clear or even complete, so I am testing my own cooking abilities by filling in the blanks. I hope to share many of these recipes with you once they’ve passed my family taste test first!
The first recipe I’ve made from these treasured pages which has generated a resounding, lip-smacking Yes! from my entire family is this peanut butter cookie recipe. I’ve slightly adapted the original recipe by adding a whole peanut on the top (and converting to UK measures), but other than that this is my grandmothers. Does anyone else in North America remember the peanut butter sold in teddy bear shaped glass jars? When you opened the lid there was always a whole peanut sitting on the top. I think placing a peanut on the top of these cookies was inspired by that childhood memory.
Peanut butter is quite different now than what I remember as a child. Maybe it’s because there is more emphasis on healthy eating and reduced sugar. Now, and I insist for maximum flavour you try and do this yourself, you should use peanut butter with a very short ingredients list: ideally just peanuts! My favourite is the Whole Earth smooth original peanut butter (which also includes palm oil and a pinch of sea salt) but under no circumstances should sugar be on the ingredients list.
These cookies are incredibly more-ish. I ate far too many of them and only just managed to salvage enough for the children’s lunchboxes before they all disappeared! There is just the right amount of chew and crunch and they’re wicked with a big glass of ice cold milk.
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) solid white vegetable fat – ie: Crisco (US) or Cookeen (UK)
- 140 grams (1/2 cup) peanut butter
- 225 grams (1 cup) light brown muscovado sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 225 grams (1.5 cups) plain flour, sifted
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- whole peanuts, to decorate
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Approximately 3.5 dozen