In my humble opinion, libraries are the heart of a community. Maybe I think this way because I’m a frequent user, but every time I visit the small library in Davison, Michigan, it is bustling with activity. On any given day, you can find a storyteller surrounded by kids, folks at the computer terminals surfing the internet, others are in a quiet corner reading a book, and still more are combing the shelves for no-cost-to-check-out dvd’s. The Davison Area Public Library is a relaxing place to pass the time, with super, friendly staff where I’m always greeted with a smile and a warm “hello.”
A few weeks ago, I was checking out my latest stash of cookbooks, including the cookbook, Just Desserts, by Paula Deen. The young man working the counter commented, “I wish Paula Deen was my grandma.” We chuckled and agreed that she is undoubtedly a fantastic baker and an awesome Southern cook. Then and there, I made a promise to myself to bake a dessert for the library staff.
I’m no Paula Deen, but I’m pretty good at putting a dessert together. I told the young man about my dessert blog and warned him I would be back with a dessert…all he had to do was let me take a picture of him eating the first bite. I could see the skepticism on his face, but he warily agreed to my terms.
Armed with a basket of PB&J Cookies with Honey-Roasted Peanuts and my camera, I returned a week later. Paula Deen’s-wanna-be-grandson was behind the counter, as was the librarian who orders the cookbooks for the library, plus another young man who was waiting on patrons. This was my lucky day! I had plenty of cookies, I just hoped the cookies would be so delicious that they’d want to have seconds!
I heard crunching, I heard “yums”…the cookies were getting good reviews! Jonathan, Paula Deen’s wanna-be-grandson, told me they were delicious, between bites. Zack was eating a cookie, while checking out patrons, and Mary said that she hadn’t eaten any dessert since she was twenty years old. A moment later, she was munching on a cookie “it is soooo good!” I was pleased, not only did they like the cookies, but they seemed to like the jam in the center. It was my homemade jam that I made a month earlier. The cookies were a hit!
It was nice to finally put names to faces and I made three new friends that day. I’m sure there are crazy days, boring days, and days that make it worthwhile to work in a library and I’m sure that Mary, Jonathan, and Zack have a hundred stories about the neighborhood characters that frequent the library. Now they can add me, number 101. Libraries are about community. Visit your library and help make it the hub of your community and make friends with the staff, they’re there to help you, even to taste-test PB&J Cookies with Honey-Roasted Peanuts!
PB&J Cookies with Honey-Roasted Peanuts is another delicious recipe from Rebecca Rather’s, The Pastry Queen cookbook. Rebecca uses a thick jam on these cookies because it is less likely to melt into the cookie. Any flavor you like is fine. (I used raspberry jam that I made myself. The recipe is on the November 4th post of my blog).
PB&J Cookies with Honey-Roasted Peanuts
This cookie recipe yields 6 ½ dozen cookies.
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups smooth peanut butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 cup honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
¾ cup jam, jelly, or fruit spread
Preheat the oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats, or grease generously with butter or cooking spray. Using a micxer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter in a large bowl on medium speed about 1 minute, until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat about 30 seconds, until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt on low speed until thoroughly combined. Stir in the peanuts. (The dough will be soft.)
Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week. They’ll keep for 1 month in the freezer if tightly wrapped in foil or plastic wrap.
Tip: To make giant cookies, use a scoop with a 2 ½-inch diameter. Use a small scoop or tablespoon to make an indentation and fill it with about 1 tablespoon of jam per cookie. Bake the cookies 3 to 4 minutes longer than recommended for the standard size. You’ll end up with about 4 dozen cookies.