Some food, some drink.
The Name Says it All: Chocolate-Dipped Ass-Kicking Peanut Cookies.
Chile and chocolate is one of those combinations that's hard to get until you've tried it; but once you have, you tend to find yourself looking for reasons to work it into any recipe that lends itself to the flavor profile. The back of a jumbo can of Ass-Kicking Peanuts features a recipe for peanut cookies that I took the opportunity to try for myself; however not before I made some adjustments, including the addition of a shot of Bourbon Whiskey, and a dip thru a pool of molten semi-sweet chocolate. The combination of habanero-spiked peanuts and sweet, creamy chocolate is a tug-of-war for the tastebuds that leaves you wondering "what just happened there?" as you reach for another cookie!
I truly am a sucker for a recipe printed on a label package. And why shouldn't I be? I mean if you're trying to market your product, wouldn't it make sense to showcase a real gem of a recipe on the can? Have you ever tried "Ass-Kicking Peanuts"? I discovered them while at a family social, and they have since earned a permanent spot next to the wasabi and Sriracha peas in my beer-worthy collection of spicy and salty snacks stored in the pantry. In most cases I never do much more than eat them out of the can or use them to spike an unsuspecting bowl of Chex mix; but the cookie recipe on the back of the label had been staring me in the face ever since I got my hot little mitts on that can of goobers. As it was, it was just about time for another office potluck, and as I'd already earned the office trust with a fine bowl of peach ice cream on a prior occasion, I figured that I had earned the right to throw everyone a bit of a curve ball this time out.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
Preheat oven to 375F. Cream brown sugar, butter, shortening, cinnamon and salt in a stand mixer for 2 minutes on medium. Add bourbon and eggs, and continue to mix on medium for another 2 minutes to integrate. Move the mixer speed to stir add baking soda and spoon in the flour, stopping to scrap the bowl as needed. Once the dough is properly mixed, stir in the goobers. Spoon cookie scoop-sized portions onto a Silpat or parchment-lined cookie sheet spacing each cookie 2 inches from its kin. Flatten with the bottom of a glass or a dimpled meat pounder, then bake 8-10 minutess or until the edges of the cookies are just beginning to brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to free up your pan fro the next batch.
In a double boiler setup or using your microwave according to your manufacturer's directions, melt the bag of chocolate chips and dip each cookie halfway into the chocolate. Return the cookies to a Silpat or parchment-lined surface to allow the chocolate to set up.
It's pretty much stinkin' impossible for me to do a recipe as written. I just can't do it. That said we should probably start the observations here with the changes I made so y'all aren't scratching your heads wondering why things here look different than what the Ass-Kickin' folks have printed on the can:
- I'm a big fan of a shortening and butter blend in my chocolate chip cookies, and it seems to work well here too. It's the best kind of insurance against inconsistency in baking from batch to batch, as the shortening stays stable at room temperature, allowing the butter to add its mojo without fear of the cookie spreading too much. That said, If you are looking for something vegan, I reckon coconut oil in lieu of butter would be pretty darn tasty.
- Anywho, we didn't go vegan here, and as we're using the the butter with all that brown sugar, this recipe begged for Bourbon whiskey. So, out came the vanilla, and a full shot of Evan Williams went in its stead.
- The seasoning mix on the peanuts boasts of habanero chile, and it's immediately apparent that there's an onion and garlic thing going on as well. This sort of thing could really take the flavor of the cookie South in a hurry if not properly mitigated. The first thing that came to my mind as a balance ensurer is cinnamon. To some, it may sound a little odd, but to anyone whose spent time using garam masala, I think you're picking up what I'm putting down here (and If you don't believe me, see for yourself).
- Regarding procedure, the recipe called for pressing the cookies down with a glass dipped in sugar between presses. I toyed with that idea and instead opted for my ol' reliable meat pounder instead. So much more consistent than the fork method folks associate with a traditional peanut butter cookie.
- The biggest change to the flavor profile of this cookie is without a doubt the addition of the half dip in chocolate. Semisweet chips are more than sufficient for this recipe. I like the double boiler setup for this, but a microwave will do fine as well. The main thing here is to keep the water out of the melted chocolate and to never over cook it. Either of those things will cause the chocolate to seize up faster than an engine without oil, and there's really no coming back from that.
- If I had to pick just one thing as key to ensuring cookie consistency, it'd have to be my trusty cookie scoop. Portioning is key; not only in size but in shape as well and a good cookie scoop makes that happen every time. For you fans of larger cookies, I'm really not much help here. Oh sure you can buy a bigger scoop, but you're also going to have to adjust baking times and temperatures, so I'd just expect to lose up to half the batch the first time out while your adjustments are made.
Take these to your office potluck, and you're gonna know directly who got into the desserts before chow time. The chocolate dip begs to be eaten first, and serves as a dark cloak of deception that delays the burn of the peanuts. Are these cookies spicy? You bet. Despite the name on the can of peanuts, the cookies as a complete package are just spicy enough; and for those of you not yet indoctrinated into the cult of chile and chocolate, there's plenty of precedence for this combination and you could do a lot worse than this here cookie recipe to test the waters with spicy-sweet baked goods.
I won't pull any punches for the changes that I've made to someone else's recipe. The chocolate was necessary; and while the Bourbon probably wasn't, I like how barrel-aged hooch plays with butter and brown sugar. If I was gonna get in the way-back machine and make one change, I think I'd wanna pulse at least half the peanuts in a food processor to even out the overall consistency of the cookie. Regardless, I've not lost my resolve to try me the next recipe that catches my eye on the side of some packaging.