At Sunday’s Austin Cookie Takedown at Shangri-La, our trio of judges got to taste cookies with all kinds of unusual ingredients: from the typically atypical like pretzels and rum to the totally weird, such as Bhot Jolokia, aka ghost peppers, and Doritos.
But Claire Reinhold’s super crispy butter crisps stood out. Reinhold, who had drawn a sign indicating her cookies had a special ingredient, didn’t bother making attendees try to guess because there’s no way they’d guess anyway.
"Potato flakes" she said, showing off a box of instant mashed potatoes that she’d been hiding under the table.
The key to her grandmother’s special holiday cookie turned out to be an inexpensive ingredient that many American cooks would have kept in their pantries during the middle of the 20th century, one that comes in handy when you’re trying to stretch other sometimes more expensive ingredients, like shredded coconut.
Reinhold’s cookie ended up taking second place in the competition, and I’m still hoping to snag the winning recipe, a spiced rum cookie from Madison Laroche, to share here. (Other favorites included these "present" cookies, which literally had a present — M&M’s — inside, and Uncle Bill’s super soft ginger cookies, which won the people’s choice award.)
But in the meantime, here’s Reinhold’s grandmother’s recipe, which like many from the era, is short on details but long on charm.
Grammie’s Butter Crisps
Austinite Claire Reinhold says of her grandmother’s recipe: "It’s nearly impossible to mess these suckers up…I did it the traditional way: Creaming the butter, sugar, then adding egg, then the vanilla, but just creaming them all together seemed to work for her."
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1 cups instant mashed potato flakes 1 cup coconut
Cream first five ingredients. Mix together the rest and add it to the wet ingredients. Shape dough into small balls and bake at 375 for 10 minutes, rotating once.