San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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December 9th, 2008
Recipe Corner: A simple peanut butter cookie

By ALYSSA KINKAID
Mercury Food Writer

One of the childcare facilities I worked at used to get huge metal drums full of government issued “surplus” peanut butter. This is peanut butter that the government would buy from farmers and manufacturers to steady the market, relieve surpluses and provide food for the armed services and the poor. Many of you may remember the surplus cheese and peanut butter that was regularly distributed during the Reagan Era.

In fact, in 2003 the government passed along $242 million worth of donated surplus commodities to food banks. By 2007, the figure dropped to $59 million. If you want to do something for the hungry this Christmas, donate a couple of bags of groceries to your local food bank. They’ll appreciate it. When times are tough, they’re very, very tough for food shelves. The Hays County Area Food Bank is located at 220 Herndon St. in San Marcos. Call (512) 392-8300 to find out what’s needed.

The surplus peanut butter was very tasty and the kids ate it until it was coming out of their ears. They could hardly look at the stuff because of all the grilled peanut butter sandwiches and peanut butter flavored oatmeal and the rest of the many (often goofy) variations I tried.

I was desperate to come up with ways to use it all economically. Supplies were always short in the kitchen, but we didn’t need much to make a very delicious peanut butter cookie.

I don’t know who came up with this recipe, but I got it from a fellow worker at the orphanage. When I made a batch, I was flabbergasted that a recipe lacking flour could make a substantial cookie, but it does. I’ll admit, sometimes I throw a couple of tablespoons of flour into the mixture, because if I haven’t made them for a while, my skepticism overwhelms me. The flour doesn’t hurt the cookies, but it isn’t needed. In the pictured cookies I made yesterday, I admit, I added the two tablespoons of flour. Old prejudices die hard. In my defense, the flour does allow you to pick up the dough more easily.

I pass along this recipe because it is easy for children to make, although the oven temperature is very hot and the cookies are fragile until they’ve cooled. They must be gently removed from the pan with a spatula, so keep that in mind if you are making them with your kids. Because of the oil in the peanut butter, these cookies can burn quickly. It’s better to err on the side of under-done-ness. If you feel they are too under done, just put them in the fridge for an hour, and they’ll be quite good. If they do burn, you’ll be amazed at how tasty they still are, so don’t despair if they get a tiny bit dark.

These cookies are surprisingly luscious.

Mississippi Hall Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:
1 egg
1 cup of peanut butter (any style)
1 cup of sugar
(Optional: two tablespoons of flour)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients together until it is dough like. Make little balls from the dough and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Use a fork to flatten the balls and make the traditional criss-cross pattern. Bake for seven to nine minutes, keeping a sharp eye on them so they don’t burn. When you take the sheet out of the oven, let the cookies rest just a moment before carefully removing them with a spatula. I sometimes put a couple of chocolate chips on the tops of the cookies before they cool.

This recipe makes about 30 medium-sized cookies.

I’d tell you how to store them but, frankly, I’ve never had any left to store, save for a few that end up in the refrigerator that the “cookie fairies” make disappear pretty rapidly. I imagine the cookies freeze well if wrapped properly. They also make a rich sandwich cookie with a dab of jelly between them.

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