BY SAMANTHA SENEVIRATNE
If your love of cookies tends to hover around the savory end of the spectrum, then this crunchy, salty, cayenne-spiked approach to the classic peanut-butter cookie is the one for you. Samantha Seneviratne, author of The New Sugar & Spice and The Joys of Baking, took inspiration from Hot Mix—a favorite Indian childhood snack made from peanuts, raisins, and crunchy noodles. For pure, unadulterated peanut flavor and texture, she recommends a natural peanut butter like Smucker’s.
MAKES ABOUT 2 DOZEN COOKIES
1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1⁄4 teaspoons kosher salt
3⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1⁄3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for pressing
1⁄2 cup packed light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter, stirred well
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3⁄4 cup roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cayenne, and baking soda. In a large bowl, stir the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until creamy.
2. Stir in the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the peanuts.
3. Scoop the dough into 2-tablespoon balls and place them on the prepared sheets at least 2 inches apart. Using a fork dipped in sugar, gently press a crisscross pattern in the top of each cookie, flattening it out to a 2-inch circle.
4. Bake until the cookies are light brown around the edges and on the bottom, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the sheets on racks, then move them to the racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the freezer for 1 month.