I was ten years old when I ate my first homemade cookie. It was a peanut butter crisscross cookie, a recipe taken from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I found it so delicious (hence virtually ruining any type of “commercial” cookie for me) that I wanted to learn how to make it so that I wouldn’t be dependent on someone else for a homemade cookie fix.
It was a good thing my mother was supportive, even if she herself did not bake (or cook at that time). My very first oven was a (crummy) toaster oven. It really wasn’t suited to baking cookies but it worked, and for the ten-year-old me, it was the world’s greatest oven! After much begging (read: pangungulit), I got the recipe and after a little more begging, my mother agreed to buy me the ingredients I needed.
I will never forget my first batch of ingredients – Skippy Peanut Butter (crunchy variant), Queensland butter – the one in the red tin, McCormick vanilla, Gold Medal flour, Arm and Hammer baking soda. My very first batch of cookies were uneven with a couple burnt ones, but they were the best! All my siblings proclaimed it so! I got the best praise (at least for me at that time) from my family: “Masarap! Gawa ka pa.” (Delicious, make some more.)
Anyway, my mother finally bought me a copy of the Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Cookie cookbook. We got it for Php49.95 (it was 1980!!!) at the Avenida branch of National Bookstore.
Here is the original recipe:
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
Cream together peanut butter, butter and sugars. Add egg, mix well; then mix in vanilla. Combine soda, salt and flour. Add the four mixture slowly into creamed mixture (over low/low-medium setting on the hand mixer). Chill for 30 to 60 minutes. Form into balls and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Mark crisscross pattern on top with a fork. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 9-12 minutes, or until cookies’ edges have lightly browned.
After many years of baking this cookie, I have tweaked it and fine-tuned it to my personal taste. My final version has crunchy (as opposed to the creamy) peanut butter and a handful of coarsely chopped roasted peanuts. And, instead of 1/2 cup each granulated and brown sugar, I use a scant cup of brown sugar.
It was the start of a life-long love affair with baking.