One surprising thing to know about roasted unsalted peanuts:
Peanuts are not nuts. Really, they're not. They are legumes (like beans or peas) grown on a trailing bush, which explains why they often are called groundnuts. Roasted unsalted peanuts (I buy mine at Trader Joe's) come peeled and ready to use, often after a quick chop with a heavy chef's knife or Chinese cleaver, or ready to eat right from the package. If you're planning to cook or bake with peanuts, never ever buy salted nuts, which are far too salty for anything except eating with a cold beer at your side.
Because peanuts are not nuts, people allergic to tree nuts sometimes can tolerate peanuts. People with peanut allergies, however, need to be especially vigilant, as many foods are processed in plants that also process peanuts, and while some products contain advisory labeling, the US Food and Drug Administration does not require it.
Both. Peanuts add crunch to noodle dishes and cake batters alike.
In the cupboard, in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. The oil in peanuts will cause them to turn rancid if not stored properly. If you're not going to use them right away, peanuts will be happy in the freezer for up to one year.
Sweet and salty peanut chocolate chunk cookies
The words "quick" and "baking", when used together, are music to my bake-o-phobic ears. This recipe, from Cooking Light Quick Baking, a magazine special on newsstands now, took just minutes to make, and everyone who's tasted the cookies (which I made twice in the past week) has taken just minutes to consume the entire batch. Though peanuts and chocolate are a classic combination, it's the sea salt that takes these cookies to a whole new place. If you prefer cashews, pecans or macadamias, feel free to substitute for the peanuts. Makes 18-30 cookies.
1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with Silpats (silicone mats) or parchment paper, and set aside.
Place nuts in a small baking pan, and set in the oven for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven, and let cool while you keep working. (I lined my small pan with aluminum foil, and removed the foil with the nuts so they'd cool more quickly out of the pan.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.
In the bowl of a Kitchenaid-type stand mixer, beat the sugars and butter at medium speed until well blended (2 minutes). Add vanilla and egg, and beat on low speed until well blended. On low speed, stir in the flour mixture, peanuts, chocolate chips and sea salt.
Drop dough by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets, or use a disher (an ince cream scoop with a release). Depending on the size of the spoon or disher, you'll get 18-30 cookies. (I used a teaspoon, which made 24 cookies.)
Bake for 11 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool cookies on the pans for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
More peanut recipes, sweet and savory:
Tofu with peanut sauce, from The Perfect Pantry
Kartoom croquettes, from The Perfect Pantry
Mulligatawny soup with chicken, from Soup Chick
Roasted eggplant with chiles, peanuts and mint, from Recipegirl.com
Tin roof ice cream, from Brown Eyed Baker
Cabbage and lime salad with roasted peanuts, from Smitten Kitchen
African tomato and peanut soup with sweet potato and chickpeas, from Cookin' Canuck
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