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Cookie Rookie Column: Dipping into a treat too sweet to pass up

Cookies include honey and peanut butter flavoring

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Peanut Butter Drop cookies have a great mix of honey and peanut butter flavor.

I have featured several family heirloom dessert recipes in this column, and for this month’s recipe I’m dipping into a treat from my wife Chelsey’s family vault.

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Chelsey did some good old-fashioned dessert detective work to pick out the recipe. She thumbed through the cookie pages of her late grandmother Barbara Banks’ copy of the 1968 edition of the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook until she found a page stained during a baking session. She then sent her dad a picture of the page and asked what he remembered most from his mother’s kitchen.

Two recipes caught his eye, Coconut Oat Drops and Peanut Butter Drop Cookies. We opted to make the latter for this go-around, partly because I featured a coconut-based treat in March with some Chocolate Coconut Bars and partly because I can’t recall coming across many cookies with a whole cup of honey in the ingredients. It simply sounded too sweet to pass up.

My handy-dandy stand mixer got pulled off the shelf for this one, and it really made the process a breeze. I’m slowly becoming more comfortable cranking up the speed when it’s called for – but remain wary, because the thing sounds like it’s going to take flight.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Cookie Rookie production without a few moments of instruction pondering. What does “light and fluffy” really mean, anyway? I can’t tell you. It’s something you just have to feel, I guess.

While I’m on recipe quibbles, this one did kind of go off the rails at the end. First off, it says to “Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets.” Teaspoonfuls? Really?

I used a normal kitchen spoon for the first batches and it produced normal sized cookies. For kicks, we did a few sheets of the mini-cookies as well. As you can imagine, they’re pretty small. One reviewer at the office noted they liked the big ones better than the small ones – because they’re bigger. I’m inclined to agree. Food for thought: Did folks back in 1968 make tiny cookies?

More recipe gripes: The first batch of normal-sized cookies suffered from burnt bottoms after 11 minutes in the oven. The original recipe called for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees. After a couple batches we adjusted to 9 minutes at 350 degrees. Your mileage may vary, but don’t be like me and let the first batch get scorched – keep an eye on them!

Out of the oven the cookies were incredibly light and fluffy, but after they cooled off overnight in a sealed container they seemed way denser. The peanut butter and honey combination was a taste winner. These cookies won’t win any beauty contests, but they’re easy to make with a bit of a unique flavor. We’ll definitely make them again for a Banks family event and will probably give the Coconut Oat Drops a try in the future as well.

Chris Yucus can be contacted at (815) 220-6934 or lifestyle@newstrib.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NT_ChrisYucus

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Chris Yucus is the NewsTribune Lifestyle Editor. A member of the NewsTribune editorial team since 2011, Chris previously worked as a sports writer and staff photographer for the paper. He can be contacted at lifestyle@newstrib.com.

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