When I was in the 4th grade, my lunch table mates had a habit of taking the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that their mothers had lovingly prepared, (trimmed of crusts, devoid of frights like gloppy grape jelly) opening them up, arranging some potato chips over the filling and smooshing the sides back together again before eating them. I don’t have a single other school lunch memory to draw from. I don’t remember if I ever ate a Sloppy Joe, if my school district considered pizza a vegetable, or whether my mother packed apples or cheesy poofs (likely the former, drat) in my lunchbox; I also can’t remember the name of a single person at that table. But I have a have a crystalline impression, unmarred by time (and, frankly, the current brand of early senility that has caused me to need 20-odd minutes to recall the word “unmarred”), of the odd delight that was those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; I remember their crunch and I remember how they tasted.
How they tasted was phenomenal. I’ve tried to explain this potato chip in a sea of sweet, rich ingredients to people for years and they, as you might expect, look at me like I’ve done lost my mind (nothing new, really). My husband, a guy who loves salt the way most people love chocolate, doesn’t restrain himself from looking grossed out when I bring it up. But I know the truth: they are wrong, the potato chips are right.
And now, I have further ammo; ammo in the form of a cookie. Here, you don’t have to apologize for hiding the potato chip, it’s right there, in the title, and sprinkled on the top, like the very best sea salt crunch. This is no time to feign interest in being a grown-up. These are like potato chip sandies or shortbread; the texture is crisp, the flavor is butter, vanilla, pecans and, you know, a little something-something. They’d be amazing dipped in chocolate, alas, I ran out of time. And I’d like to think that somewhere out there, that office mate of mine from a few years ago who would crumble potato chips inside her tuna sandwich when she thought I wasn’t looking, knows these are for freaks just like us.
One year ago: Roast Chicken with Dijon Sauce [Apparently, late January = favorite chicken recipes, with this in first place and this week’s Buttermilk Roast Chicken currently in second.]
Two years ago: Mixed Citrus Salad with Feta and Mint, Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes and New York Deli Rye Bread
Three years ago: Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake, Chicken Milanese and an Escarole Salad and Flaky Blood Orange Tart with Salted Caramel
Four years ago: Leek and Swiss Chard Tart and Key Lime Cheesecake
Five years ago: Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans
Potato Chip Cookies
Adapted from Emeril
Shockingly, we actually felt that these cookies needed more salt; just a smidge. Sounds crazy, right? If you’re using an extra-salty brand of potato chips, you might not find this necessary but I used Cape Cod, which is pretty salty, and felt that the salt in a crushed half cup was insufficient in the cookie batter.
I’ve included two “finish” options — one is the potato-and-sea-salt flakes you see on my cookies and the other is the chocolate dip I wished I had time for. I was thinking of these as an either/or finish, but I see no reason why both cannot be use. That said, I’m pretty sure the chocolate would steal the show.
Remaining weights to come! (I left my notes at home and am away this weekend.)
1 cup (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt (optional, see note above)
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans
1/2 cup finely crushed potato chips
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
Potato chip salt finish (optional)
1 tablespoon crushed potato chips
1 1/2 teaspoons flaked sea salt
Chocolate dip finish (optional)
4 ounces (115 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon butter, canola oil or vegetable shortening
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar until lightly and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and table salt, if using, until smooth. Add the pecans, 1/2 cup crushed potato chips and flour together and mix until just combined.
Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Scoop a tablespoon-sized mound of dough and form it into a small ball with the palms of your hands. Roll the ball in the remaining sugar until coated. Place on prepared baking sheet and using the bottom of a drinking glass (or, in my case, a kitchen tool I’m unhealthily obsessed with) to slightly flatten the cookies. Cookies only need to be an inch apart; they only spread a little. Sprinkle with a few flakes of the potato chip salt, if using. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake cookies until lightly golden at the edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer to cool on a wire rack.
If dipping in chocolate, melt chocolate with butter, oil or shortening in a double boiler or in short bursts in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Dip half of each fully cooled cookie in the chocolate, and let dry and harden on a wire rack.