Sunday, March 8, 2020

A Cautious Love of Nut Cookies...

The days that I make nut-based cookies are known (affectionately) in my kitchen as "Poison Days."  That's because my little cousins (and a large handful of my friends) have a nut allergy.  From the very first iteration of the Cookie Party, I've taken allergens very seriously.  I bake all of my nut cookies on designated days to avoid cross-contamination, I use separate equipment wherever possible, and I put any shared equipment through the dishwasher overnight (after a thorough hand-washing as well) before making any non-nut cookie.  It also makes the sourcing of my ingredients more complicated - every single item gets checked for allergen notices, and those that don't contain clear information need to be checked online.  I also store nut cookies separately from the rest, in a different part of my apartment, and I serve them in a different area as well.  My fear of ever being the cause of any pain for my cousins motivates me to be as vigilant as I possibly can.  Finally, I also try to limit the number of nut cookies on the menu, often only serving 6 or so (out of around 30 total recipes), so a nut cookie really needs to be special to earn a slot.  In recent years, I've also added gluten-free and vegan cookies to the mix, and I do my best to make sure that every Cookie Party guest can find something delicious to make them smile.  It takes a little extra planning, but it feels so good to see someone discover a new favorite dessert.

All of that said, I do recognize that a good peanut butter cookie can be a heavenly experience.  The first peanut butter cookie on the menu today is plain, old-fashioned Peanut Butter Kisses - the recipe is adapted from the recipe that's printed on the back of large bags of Hershey's Kisses.  Next up after that is a Peanut Butter Compost Cookie that comes to the Cookie Party courtesy of Chef Ralph Tamborra, a master dessert chef and gingerbread wizard who I met during my time at Google.  This recipe is a joy to make - these cookies are soft and crumbly and nearly impossible to mess up, and it also happens to be the only recipe I've ever used that's already scaled up to Cookie Party levels.  After that come Pistachio Cherry Meltaways (a perennial favorite) and a newcomer this year, Dolci di Noci (a crispy, chewy walnut cookie that has only three ingredients!).

After that, every surface, dish, and piece of baking equipment gets scrubbed thoroughly before any other cookies can be made.

PB Kisses

PB Compost Cookies

Dolci di Noci

Pistachio Cherry Meltaways
(I swear it's not mint chocolate chip ice cream!)

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