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Food Matters: Weeknight peanut butter cookies hold a few surprises; Food for Black Thought symposium starts Friday

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com
These peanut butter chocolate chip cookies from “Tate’s Bake Shop: Baking For Friends” include a hint of Biscoff spread, but you could easily replace a scoop of the peanut butter with Nutella, too.

COOKING AT HOME

Last week, I wanted to bring something sweet to a little get-together with some family friends, but I only had a short window after work and before we were supposed to arrive for dinner.

Tate’s Bake Shop: Baking For Friends” (Tates Bake Shop, $24.95) from noted Southampton, N.Y., baker Kathleen King had just landed on my desk, so I flipped through and randomly picked out some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Wanting to put my own spin on the cookies, I replaced some of the peanut butter with Biscoff spread, a creamy version of the yummy “airplane cookies” that came out last year, and used coconut oil instead of shortening.

I always, always take cookies out of the oven 30 seconds after I should have, so they were a little more crispy and crumbly than I wanted them to be. But they were still better than the crumble-apart-in-your-hand peanut butter cookies I so often see. Plus, they have chocolate chips in them, which are always a good addition. (The host of the dinner party graciously said they were “the best cookies she’d ever had.” I’m happy to take flattery, even if I know it to be untrue.)

Next time, I might try a scoop of Nutella instead of (or perhaps in addition to) Biscoff, but I’m definitely adding this to my “recipes to keep” folder.

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup vegetable shortening or coconut oil

1 tsp. baking soda

1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup smooth peanut butter

4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) salted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) chocolate chips

Position the oven racks in the top third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter and shortening with an electric mixer set on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg, followed by the egg yolk and vanilla. Add the peanut butter and mix well. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the flour mixture, just until combined. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into 30 walnut-sized balls. Arrange about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Using a dinner fork, press an X into the top of each cookie, flattening it to about half of its original thickness. Refrigerate the remaining dough balls on a plate while you bake the first batch.

Bake, rotating the positions of the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking, until the cookies are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough balls, using cooled baking sheets. Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

— From “Tate’s Bake Shop: Baking For Friends” (Tate’s Bake Shop, $24.95)

LOCAL GRANTS

The recently formed Austin Food & Wine Alliance will distribute $20,000 in grants this year to chefs; farmers; makers of wine, spirits and beer; and food-focused non-profits. The non-profit group, which will distribute the cash grants based on “culinary innovation and community giveback” is accepting applications through Oct. 19.

The alliance was founded earlier this year to “foster education, awareness and innovation in the Central Texas food and wine community.” The non-profit is the designated beneficiary of the new Austin Food & Wine Festival, which debuted in April.

The alliance will award three grants, one for $10,000 and two for $5,000. A private panel of “prominent culinary professionals and community members” will choose the winners, who will be notified no later than Nov. 30. The alliance will have an awards ceremony on Dec. 12 at the AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center. More information and grant applications can be found at AustinFoodWineAlliance.org/grants.

“Because of amazing community support, we are thrilled to be able to give this sizable amount of funding for grants to benefit and highlight the talent, craftsmanship and innovativeness of the Austin culinary community,” Cathy Cochran-Lewis, president of the alliance, said. “Rewarding innovation and community support in the culinary field is unique and fully represents the fearlessness and cutting-edge philosophy of Austin and its food and wine influencers.”

— Matthew Odam

FOODWAYS

What does soul food in the 21st century look like? How has Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative impacted young people of color in America? How are community gardens in low-income areas improving access to fresh fruits and vegetables? On Friday and Saturday, noted speakers, food activists and scholars will discuss these issues and more at the Food for Black Thought symposium at the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas and the George Washington Carver Cultural Center, 1165 Angelina St. Speakers include restrauteur Hoover Alexander, UT faculty members Kevin Thomas and Naya Jones, culinary historian Toni Tipton-Martin and Rutgers University associate professor Naa Oyo Kwate, who studies the intersection of race, gender and health. For a full schedule and more information, search “Food for Black Thought” on Facebook or go to utexas.edu/cola/centers/cwgs/ and click on the “Events” tab on the left side of the page. All the events during the symposium are free and open to the public.

SEASONAL BEER

I love Oktoberfest season. So many great brews to help us welcome in the cooler weather. I’ve seen many of the local crop out on taps and on shelves at the grocery store. Shiner, Samuel Adams and Left Hand Brewing recently sent over samples of their Oktoberfests to sound the alert that the beers are now available in stores as well. I sampled all three at the same time, so I could compare each one within the context of the others.

The Shiner Oktoberfest, with its biscuity smell, was only lightly sweet and had a slightly bitter mid-palate twang, while the Samuel Adams seasonal ale had the biggest body with flavors such as dry walnut, apricot, brown sugar and caramel. The sweetness only increased as the beer started to warm up; too sweet for me, in fact. I like the Left Hand best. Honey aroma, with floral elements reminiscent of honeysuckle or hibiscus. A nice clean, balanced beer with a silky mouthfeel, much less chewy than the Shiner.

— Emma Janzen