BAN #249: Wedding cookies

31 August 2020   Issue #249

[Spiral Galaxy M81 image credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona]

Subscribers are both sophisticated and creamy smooth.

What’s Cookin’?

It’s a newsletter. Of course there will be recipes.

My wife is an amazing cook. Moreover, she’s an amazing baker. Her cookies are killer.

What makes us both laugh, though, is that one of the best cookies she makes isn’t baked. It’s barely even a cookie by the standard definition. When I tell you what it is, you will likely shake your head and lost some trust in me. But I’m here to tell you, these cookies are fantastic. Life-changing.

We call them wedding cookies, because someone in the small town in Kansas where we got married brought them to ours. They are simple and unassuming, and one they ain’t is sophisticated.

What they are, is: Peanut butter Ritz™ cracker cookies.

Trust me here. This is how you make them.

Generalized Ingredients (specifics below):

            A sleeve of Ritz™ crackers

            Peanut Butter

            White chocolate

            Crisco (optional but helpful)

(Prep time: Who knows? Not long. Stop worrying. Nothing before matters until you eat one.)

1) You need creamy peanut butter. Whatever brand you want is fine. We’ve tried this with chunky PB (my preference for sammiches) but it doesn’t work. Gotta be smooth.

2) Ritz™ crackers are next. You can use the reduced fat kind if you like, but that’s spitting in the ocean. Also, they don’t taste as good in the finished cookie, and if you’re eating a cookie like this in the first place it’s time to fully own it.

[A properly loaded and oriented dollop of PB on the Ritz™ cracker. Note the flat sides of the crackers are facing out. Credit: Marcella Setter]

3) Spread a small amount of the PB onto the rounded side of a cracker, enough to make a layer maybe two or three millimeters thick. Doesn’t take much. Then take another cracker and slap it onto the first one’s PB layer, rounded side in. That way both crackers have their flat sides facing outwards. This makes it marginally easier for the next step in the process, but also makes them a little cleaner looking, too. We usually make a few dozen at a time.

[Pro tip: The PB should not get all the way to the edge of the Ritz™ cracker. Give it some breathing room. Credit: Marcella Setter]

4) Take a cookie pan or two and place wax paper to cover the bottom. You won’t be cooking anything with it; it’s for the cookies to cool and um, congeal.

5) Get yourself some inaptly named almond bark ­— this is really just vanilla flavored white chocolate (also inaptly named). You can find this stuff at almost any grocery store, but here’s the weird thing: Don’t get the fancy stuff. Whatever garbage brand your local megastore has will actually make the best cookie. Fancy white chocolate just doesn’t work here.

[Professionally chopped white chocolate. Credit: Marcella Setter]

Break off a few chunks, then chop them up with a sharp knife on a cutting board to get smaller pieces. To melt them, put it in a glass bowl and microwave 15 – 20 seconds at a time, stirring between each zapping to make sure it doesn’t get overheated. Once it stirs easily and smoothly, you’re good. Don’t overheat it!

Take a small amount of Crisco™ or other shortening (but we use Crisco™), like maybe a teaspoon, and stir it into the melted goo. This makes it a bit thinner and helps it coat, and also gives a lovely sheen to the cookie.

[The proper technique to dip a toon — I mean cookie! Credit: Marcella Setter]

5) Using tongs or a fork, dip the cracker sandwich into the melted glop, making sure to cover the whole thing. Let the excess run off, then put the cookie onto the wax paper prepped earlier. You’ll probably get little runners of bark here and there, but who cares.

[Gorgeous. Credit: Marcella Setter]

6) Repeat until done. Let the cookies cool for a while, so the melted bark gets solid again.

[A pan of down home heaven. Credit: Marcella Setter]

7) This step is crucial: Eat them. Make surprised yummy noises.

8) This step is also crucial, even more than the other one: Don’t eat too many of them. You’ll regret being born. But oh, what a journey!

These cookies are ridiculously good, especially given how simple they are. I find I can eat maybe three before my stomach tells me that’s enough. Your kilometerage may vary.

We’ve tried variations on these, but it never works. Crunchy peanut butter? No. Adding jam, like a PBJ? No. Milk Chocolate instead of white? Weirdly, no. The flavors don’t mix well at all. Everything we try to improve them makes them worse, so we stopped trying.

We make these cookies every Christmas to send to a few friends and relatives, and we always hear back how good they are.

So give them a shot. And hey, if you do find a variation that works for you, let me know! We’re always interested in at least seeing what’s what.

Enjoy, and you’re welcome.

Blog Jam

What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI

[Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, which may sport the largest extant impact feature known. From Wednesday’s article. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Emily Lakdawalla]

Monday 3 August, 2020: No, two approaching near-Earth asteroids won’t hit us. 2020, cool your jets.

Tuesday 4 August, 2020: Was the Sun once part of a binary star system?

Wednesday 5 August, 2020: The biggest crater known was from an asteroid that made the dinosaur killer look like a pebble

Thursday 6 August, 2020: The dance of Neptune's water sprite moons

Friday 7 August, 2020: Going deep on colliding galaxies

Et alia

You can email me at thebadastronomer@gmail.com (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!