Paste and Sand: The Peanut Butter Cookie Disaster

Let’s start with the ending. The ending looks like this:


This is Nancy Silverton’s “Not Nutter Butter.” It is supposed to resemble a Nutter Butter but taste better. As you can see, it looks nothing like a Nutter Butter. And as for taste, I think Liz said it best when she said: “I think I’m going to throw up.” Lisa refused to eat one. And Kevan, who came over to try a cookie, took a bite and put it down and politely asked for water.

I contend that eating this cookie without a glass of water nearby would kill you. The title of this post is “paste and sand” and that’s being nice. Just looking at these cookies on my counter makes me choke. How did something that looked so delicious on the page come out so terrible?

I mean look—it begins with the toasting of rolled oats with a stick of butter and a vanilla bean:


How does a recipe that starts with such promise turn out so bad?

The answer may lie in the remaining ingredients, or lack thereof. It’s more butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar and flour. Notice anything missing? Anything like eggs or melted butter or any form of liquid? That’s because there is none. And then you add the toasted oats. And the mixture is a huge mass of crumbles. Nancy says it’s supposed to work itself into a ball, but it never did. We made little crumbly balls and put them on the cookie sheet and baked them and they came out like this:


And they were so dry, but the dryness was tasty, but still very dry.

Then Lisa and Liz made the peanut butter filling. It consisted of peanut butter, powdered sugar and salt. They spread them on the cookies and made little Not Nutter Butter sandwiches:


They look happy and excited but those expressions mask their inner Aristotelian feelings of pity and fear. Putting peanut butter icing on a dry cookie is like picking a scab or, to quote Billy Crystal in the Princess Bride: “Giving yourself a paper cut and pouring lemon juice on it.”

These cookies were awful. Don’t make them.

[PS: Why do I keep making Nancy Silverton recipes if they keep coming out so badly? I must stop. Those books must be retired. She’s dead to me now… do you hear me? Dead!]

8 thoughts on “Paste and Sand: The Peanut Butter Cookie Disaster”

  1. The best p.b. cookie recipe is in Joy of Cooking. Sandy, rich, yummy.

    Two recipes from the ‘Pastries from La Brea Bakery’ book that are really really yummy and absolutely work are the ‘Capezzana Tiny Olive Oil Cakes’, (best eaten the day they are made or you should probrably freeze them cause they are not nearly as good the next day) and ‘swedish ginger wafers’ though I leave out the almond extract as it makes them taste bitter if you let them sit for a day for some reason and i use allspice insted of cloves cause i like it better. But extremely yummy, best gingersnap type cookie i’ve ever had.

    oh, and the ‘Savory Brioche Pockets’ are like knishes only softer and richer and yummier.

  2. Vanilla beans are so unbelieveably expensive near me that I can’t even imagine using one. I would feel way too much guilt. Do you have some secret bean dealer who’s giving you a great price? Share your vanilla secret please, sir!

  3. Don’t feel bad. The same thing happened to me over the holidays with a marinade for sea bass. All the promise in the world only to be coupled with all the dissapointment as well.

  4. I once had such a craving for peanut butter that I made my own. Indeed, here in France you have trouble finding authentic american PB and I did not want to ride into town and look for the tiny supermarket that sells it at a ridiculously high price. So I took some unsalted peanuts, some vegetable oil and some sugar and mixed it. Then I added some vanilla flavor, some flour, one egg and some butter and it made a cookie dough.

  5. Brian,

    I bought my vanilla beans at Whole Foods. Usually, they sell a single vanilla bean in a glass jar for like $6 or $7 which is indeed quite expensive. Then, lately, I’ve noticed a small narrower jar made by the Madagascar Vanilla people who make that really good vanilla extract. It costs $9 and comes with 2 vanilla beans. So that’s a good way to go.

    [Incidentally, when I bought these vanilla beans a few weeks ago, I broke a jar and the glass shattered and 2 vanilla beans fell to the floor. A lady came with a broom and swept them up into a dustpan and went to throw them away. I wanted to be like, “Wait! Don’t throw those away! Do you know how much they cost?” But I thought that might be tacky.]

  6. It wouldn’t have been tacky – there’s the “5-something rule” to use, of course. (Something being seconds if you’re normal, and minutes if you’re adventurous or… me)

    For $4.50 a bean, definitely worth washing off and using. :-)

  7. Marietta Giorno-Koehler

    I’m looking for the peanut butter cookie receipt from the Joy of Cooking Cookbook – I have the book but for some reason I tore it out and can’t find it and it is absolutely the best recipe there is for peanut butter cookes. Can someone send it to my email address above?

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