Friday, March 30, 2012

Peanut Cookie Brittle

You’ve probably eaten scads of peanut butter cookies in your time. Peanut butter is such an American staple and when it comes to cookies, from school cafeterias to coffee shops to our own kitchens, we’ve all had our fair share of those crispy sandy cookies with the identifying crosshatch on top.

This is a great little cookie from Maida Heatter, one of our most beloved pastry cookbook authors and member of the James Beard Foundation Hall of Fame. These are not made with peanut butter but rather just four simple ingredients that bake into plain crispy, crumbly, buttery cookies riddled with roasted salted peanuts. They are simply addictive due to their simplicity of flavor and wonderful brittle texture.

This is probably one of the easiest cookies you’ll ever make. Cream some butter and sugar, add some flour and chopped peanuts. Press the dough into a flat sheet on a pan and bake. No rolling or cutting or piping or chilling. By the time you’ve cleaned up your kitchen, they’re done. Presto!

Bench notes:

- It's important to note that Maida Heatter sifts her flour and then measures.
- To enhance their deliciousness, add 1/2 t – 3/4 t salt, a teaspoon of vanilla or a pinch of chile powder. Or substitute honey roasted peanuts and sprinkle salt on the top.
- Although the recipe recommends using an ungreased pan, I used parchment with a bit of an overhang to make it easy to remove.
- If you don’t have the right size pan, use a baking sheet and just pat the dough out to the correct proportions, shoring up the edges so they don’t burn. The cookie puffs up a bit but does not spread much, so it works fine.
- Cut these while still warm using a sharp chef’s knife. Or you can just cool completely and break into pieces like peanut brittle. Store in an airtight container.

Peanut Brittle Bars
adapted from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen pieces

8 oz (2 sticks) butter @ room temperature
1 C sugar
2 C sifted flour
1 cup roasted and salted peanuts, divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Coarsely chop peanuts and divide into two 1/2 cup portions.

Cream butter and sugar until light, about 2 –3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Lower speed and gradually add flour. When just about fully combined, stir in 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts and mix.

Turn the dough onto an ungreased 15” x 10” jellyroll pan [I used parchment]. Lightly flour your fingertips and press out the dough into a thin layer. Sprinkle remaining peanuts onto the dough and press to secure. If necessary, cover with a piece of wax paper or parchment and use a rolling pin to press the peanuts into the dough.

Bake for 23 - 25 minutes until golden brown, rotating the sheet about halfway through. Cool cookies in the pan for about 10 minutes and then remove to a flat surface and slice into portions.


The Devil's Food Advocate said...

One of the many things I love about your blog is the beautiful simplicity of it; by that I mean no gimmicks, no political ads (ugh), just perfectly impeccable food. Thank you again for the inspiration!

pastry studio said...

Thank you so much for that wonderful compliment. I could say the very same thing about your blog. I do find beauty in simplicity and I like the natural beauty of the pastry and desserts on these pages to speak for themselves. It's so much fun just trying to capture their inherent gorgeousness in the photographs.

Bryan said...

i've really been enjoying the simple prep of many of your cookies lately!
it's nice to press the dough in a pan and be done with it.
these little nuggets here are great. i added half pine nuts to the peanuts for another flavor.

i think i like this cookie more than real brittle because of the cookie matrix.
and using the higher amount of salt in the dough works really well here with the sweetness.
or next time, i'd even try salted butter.
thanks for another good one!

Barbara said...

Isn't Maida Heatter a treasure? I've never made these particular cookies, but will put a note on the page.

Anonymous said...

These coookies are very quick and easy and they taste great! Thanks for highlighting another wonderful recipe. Eileen

pastry studio said...

Thanks so much for your comments, dear readers!

Bryan, love the addition of pine nuts. I think hazelnuts would also be luscious.

Barbara, Maida Heatter is a treasure to be mined, for sure.

Eileen, I just love the simplicity of these cookies. No need to fuss about having to search several stores for ingredients, although that can sometimes be fun, too!