Captain America on moderation

I thought this post would be timely given last weekend’s Comicon.

The cookie: Peanut butter cookies (scroll to the bottom of the post for the recipe)

The speakers: John, aka Captain America, Rhea aka Black Widow, and Gianni aka Batman

The story:

Me: I had to ask: why are you dressed up like a superhero?

John: It was Superhero Day at my daughter Rhea’s school, McGilvra Elementary in Madison Park. She was Black Widow, but her spider has since fallen off. My son Gianni is Batman.

Me: So the parents got to come and dress up, too?

John: Well, no. I think several of the teachers dressed up as well, but we were just feeling… enthusiastic. It all started with Rhea’s 6th birthday party. She had a superhero theme, so the kids dressed up in capes and jumped around on the trampoline.

Me: Ah. What did the missus dress up as?

John: She did not. But today Batman and I had to fight some bad guys at home. They dropped a bomb on the house and blew it up. Then we had to make a shield. It’s a very important part of the costume, especially if you’re Captain America. Right, G?

Gianni: *touches John’s shield, which consists of a metal trashcan lid painted red, white, and blue* Dad, this is dry now!

John: This is dry now, I know!

Gianni: *looks at the red paint on his fingers and licks it*

Me: You probably shouldn’t lick that; it’s paint. Hopefully it’s non-toxic.

John: He’s allergic to peanut butter cookies so he’ll have to give his to Rhea. Are you allergic to paint, too, Gianni?

Gianni: No.

Me: People have eaten worse things. My parents played with mercury and they’re still kicking, right?

John: Mercury, paint… All things in moderation.

Note how John strategically dodged explaining why he, specifically, chose to dress up in such a spirited manner.

Rhea enjoys her cookie.

Maybe I’d have a six-pack like Gianni if I were allergic to peanut butter cookies, too.

The recipe: Peanut Butter Cookies adapted from Pithy and Cleaver

Makes 18-24 cookies, depending on your preference of big-ass cookie or dainty cookie.

I’ve been playing with PB cookies for a while now, and this version adds cinnamon and masala, although I’ll continue to tweak the amounts until I achieve that elusive thing I call perfection. The cinnamon adds an earthy richness, and the masala a nutty subtleness that you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s not overpowering. Think “hint of Mumbai,” not “peanut butter samosa sandwich.” Future incarnations will involve graham flour (I want a chewier cookie) and browned butter. Because if you’re going to use butter, why not brown it?

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus a few generous pinches
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup chunky peanut butter at room temperature (I used this brand I picked up at Walgreens)
3/4 cup sugar minus 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon (I used Indonesian, purchased at World Spice in Seattle)

1/2 teaspoon garam masala (also purchased at World Spice)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, masala, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl (or in an electric mixer) beat the butter and peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and continue beating until fully combined. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla extract, and beat well. Add half the flour mixture, fold in, then the rest of the flour, and beat until no white pockets remain. 

Drop teaspoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving a few inches of space between drops for expansion. Using a fork dipped in flour, lightly indent with a criss-cross pattern, but do not smash the cookie completely flat. Bake for 10 minutes. Do not overbake—use an offset spatula to gently lift the edge of the cookie. The underside should be a golden brown.

Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets one minute, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.


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