Monday, March 21, 2011

The Tale of the Pan-Fried Peanut Butter Cookies

Now kids I want to tell you a little story, The Tale of the Pan-Fried Peanut Butter Cookies.

It all started one evening in March. There once was a good and kind Queen who wanted nothing more than for her children to have fresh nourishing whole foods to eat. The Queen loved her King, but he often times brought the Princes candy to eat that the Queen did not approve of. But the Queen loved her King and decided not to press the issue. One evening the King brought home Reese’s Pieces. The oldest Prince was enchanted. But the Queen was annoyed. The following day the Queen told the Prince that together she would make a healthy(er) version of the peanut buttery treats.

The next Saturday, while the littlest prince napped, the Queen went to her kitchen to make the peanut butter confection. But confectioner’s sugar has been highly processed. So the Queen thought she would try sucanat sugar. The consistency of confectioner’s sugar was the key to fudge and frosting’s texture, and so she thought to put a cup of the sucanat sugar into the food processor and blend for 2 minutes. The oldest Prince was on hand to help with the first few steps.
The sugary dust swirled around her food processor, making the Queen excited and hopeful about success. But when she opened the lid to the processor, she found nothing but a cloud of dust and a cup of largely unchanged sucanat sugar. The Queen and the Prince tasted the sugar. It was kind of chewy, not crunchy like it had looked. Perhaps if peanut butter was added, then the sugar and the peanut butter would form a paste? She thought she’d give it a try.

Fairway had had a sale on peanut butter that day, so the monetary investment was not so great. But stirring the peanut butter was difficult. Most of the oil from the jar was stirred into the butter in the top half of the jar, and that was exactly what ended up in the Queen’s food processor, 1 cup of peanut butter. She ran it again.

The food processor yielded a paste, not even remotely thick. More like thick peanut butter than fudge. She and the Prince tasted. It tasted good. But ugh. It was very very grainy because of the sucanat. Perhaps a half a cup of regular organic sugar would do the trick. Nope. The paste became slightly thicker, but not like a candy, still spreadable.

Then the oldest Prince went out to run errands with the King, leaving the Queen alone to ponder her situation. She had a sweet nut paste that tasted good. And that paste was the base of peanut butter cookies. However her oven had been broken since nearly a week earlier. A repairman had come to the house just a few hours prior to this event. He had been unable to fix the oven, and the part required was temporarily out of stock. So the Queen would have no way to bake the cookies. Microwave? She knew that one cook use the microwave for use other than reheating coffee and defrosting meat, but she didn’t want to use the microwave. Then the Queen spied the tagine that she had purchased on a recent trip to Morocco. A tagine is like and oven, no? The Queen thought this was an excellent idea! But she was far too scared to put the tagine directly on the fire of her burner. Instead she rigged up a fancy double boiler looking thing. She set the double boiler on high and set about to make the cookies.
To the sweet paste the Queen added ¾ cup of whole wheat flour and two eggs. Only when she added the second egg, most of the white slipped out and landed on the counter top. Drats! When she attempted to clean up the egg white, PLOP, it landed on the floor. Now have you ever tried to clean up egg white off of a floor? Well, the Queen had not and the process was so frustrating that she began looking for hidden cameras which were undoubtedly capturing her every move for the amusement of others.
When the floor had been cleaned, the Queen added in 2 tablespoons of butter (because it seemed like the thing to do) and ran the food processor and the dough came together. It finally looked like dough. He checked the tagine. It was warming up, nothing hot yet, but it was getting there. She began to make small tablespoon sized balls and then flattening them into cookies. She placed several into the heated tagine. Only, about 10 minutes later, the cookies hadn’t done much. She decided that the double boiler idea wasn’t working too well. She placed the tagine directly on the flame and let it get hot. Unfortunately the Queen had been storing some dried rose petals in the tagine for the last several months and as it heated up, the thing stunk like dried roses.

*Sniff Sniff* Not 4 minutes later the Queen smelled that the cookies were burning. She uncovered the tagine and found THIS!! This flame was too hot. So she pitched this batch and washed out the tagine to remove most of the burned bits. She tried the tagine again on low. This time she watched the cookies more closely. After a little while she flipped the cookies. They were slightly burned, but still good.

But, she decided, this approach was not working. She decided to try a frying pan. Yes, a frying pan would give her more control, even heat, the whole nine. So she heated up a little coconut oil-just in case there wasn’t enough fat in the dough already. She placed in a few cookies and started frying them. This kind of worked! They browned. And if she kept the heat low the cookies could continue to cook and maybe look normal. She tasted one. The sugar still tasted pretty granular, and the whole thing was really went like a spoonful of peanut butter, rather than bready like a cookie. Oh well, not her finest kitchen moment, but edible nonetheless. She finished up the batch and set the cookies into the fridge to harden up as all the peanut oil, butter and now coconut oil had gotten very soft through the cooking process.
There are a couple of morals to this story. First off, Kings if you are just dying to spoil your princes and princesses with candy, can you do it less often, or choose items that don’t involve food dyes, like regular non candy-coated chocolate? Secondly, sucanat and rapadura are not the same thing as I might have alluded to on this site previously. They are very similar but sucanat seems more wet and chewy whereas rapadura or Rapunzel sugar is crunchy. Still, I look forward to experimenting with sucanat, as now I have a 2 pound bag of it in my cabinet. Thirdly, sugar burns. It actually burns a lot faster than say, onions and garlic. Not having pan fried that many cookies, the Queen wasn’t aware of this miracle. It took her a little off guard. Also, your family will still eat even marginal desserts because they contain delicious sugar, so don’t sweat a poor outcome. Your creation will not go to waste.
The last moral is really the best--Fact is usually better than fiction!

1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful story. :) Have you ever made "no-bake" cookies? I don't think it would be very hard to tweak that recipe enough to make it wholesome... and if you don't have an oven...