This past weekend, Anna and I ran a pop-up café at the Crux Craft Fair, which is a brilliantly run annual fair promoting great quality handmade crafts. Do I have any pictures of it to show you? No. We were so busy cooking that it wasn’t until 4:00 on Sunday (an hour before the entire shebang ended) that Anna and I were able to get out of the kitchen to see everything on display.
This is the fourth year we have run the café at the fair, so we knew this would be pretty much how it went. What we didn’t know was that, despite Met Office warnings of high winds and gales and pelting rain, people would be flocking to the fair and we would be so busy that we started to run out of things by Saturday night – with all of Sunday yet to go!
Luckily, we had a brilliant crew who managed the crowds with smiles and efficiency, while Anna and I fretted in the kitchen about how much we might have to bake on Saturday night.
In the end, we opted to let the baked goods run down, reasoning that despite some things being sold out, there was still a lot of variety in what was left. (Plus, we were exhausted and really just wanted a large gin and bed!) Anyway, “it’s better to go home with no leftovers” was our final parting thought that day.
Still, neither of us could bear the thought that there wasn’t enough on offer, so the next morning, Anna was busy making mince pies, while I took the easy option: these cookies.
I’ll admit that when I first saw a version of this recipe, touted as a 3-ingredient cookie, I gave it a miss. How good could it be, with no flour or butter, this recipe whose sole claim to fame was its lack of ingredients? Even the accolades of guru blogger Deb Perelman could not convince me that these were worth trying.
But now – for the second time in this past week – I needed a cookie that was fast, delicious, and as a bonus could satisfy a couple of different special diets.
The first time (at the college), I made these with peanut butter, and if you decide to do that, you will find that the cookie batter – with a good amount of whipping from a stand mixer – remains stiff enough to keep its dome shape on the way to the oven. They even (as in the picture above) swell a bit and you get what I find are appealing little cracks across the surface.
The second time, at the craft fair, I made them with tahini, and the dough got promisingly stiff but then settled back down into itself. This makes for a cookie that is not flat but much more gently domed, a shape similar to the arc of the horizon over the sea. And if that comparison seems a little lofty, well, you haven’t tasted this cookie yet!
Light, chewy, moist, sweet, and salty, this cookie satisfies all the requirements of a thoroughly enjoyable snack. And dare I say, because it has a good amount of essential fats from the peanut butter (or tahini), not to mention protein from the eggs, it’s practically health food!
Easiest Cookies Ever
based on a recipe posted by Smitten Kitchen
makes about 30 cookies
The only special equipment you’ll need for this recipe is a stand mixer. You could whisk the ingredients by hand, but as you get to the end of the mixing, it will be very difficult and you probably won’t be able to continue to the point where the dough becomes stiff enough to hold its shape well. To counter this, Perelman recommends…erm.. crappy peanut butter, but I wouldn’t. I found that all natural peanut butter with no added oil or sugar was perfect, as long as you keep the mixer running until the batter stiffens. Because really, if you have to use inferior ingredients to get an effect, what is it that you are trying to achieve?
That said, you definitely won’t get a good dough that will hold its shape if you use tahini, which is looser in texture than peanut butter to begin with. But it won’t matter because you will still get a superior tasting cookie, just a flatter one.
- 335g light brown sugar
- 2 large or 3 medium eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 450g tahini or peanut butter
Beat the eggs and the sugar until the mixture is light. Beat in the vanilla. Now beat in the peanut butter or tahini. Let the mixer run on high for 3-5 minutes, until the batter is stiff (in the case of the peanut butter) or just slightly stiffer than cold molasses (in the case of the tahini).
Using a scoop, a teaspoon, or your hands (see how flexible this recipe is?) form the batter roughly into balls and drop onto a parchment-lined baking tray, about 2cm apart. (The tahini cookies will spread, the peanut butter ones will not, but they still need a little breathing room!)
Bake at 170C for 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned around the edges and firm-ish on top. Take out of the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray.
One final note: both times I made these, I had the idea of drizzling the cooled cookies with chocolate. You could do that, and I think they would be great; but based on the comments of people who have had both the peanut butter and the tahini versions plain, you might be over-egging the pudding. If you do decide to go wild, let me know how it is.