September has always been one of my favourite months of the year. I know, the long lazy summer holidays are over, giving way to mellow early autumnal gradually shortening days.
It is “back to school” for many – new beginnings. I remember that feeling well – rows of brand new pencils, pristine exercise books and squeaky clean shiny shoes. Translated, these days – September is still about new beginnings and when I most want to replace my entire winter wardrobe – no doubt a hangover from those days!
Anyway, a much cheaper option is to whiz up a batch of these cookies – a perfect addition to any lunchbox, late summer picnic, a September country ramble or with a weekend cuppa. The saltiness of the peanuts and the sweet/sour cherries makes them a hit with everyone.
TIP: Replace the cherries with chocolate chips or small pieces of chocolate. Remember cookies and biscuits will harden and continue to slightly cook off when removed from the oven.
Another of my September occupations is to ramble across the fields in search of sun ripened blackberries. Turn it into to crumbles, cakes and jellies or simply enjoy a bowlful with a dollop of yoghurt for breakfast. If you aren’t near a blackberry bush or don’t have the time then they are, of course, available in the supermarket. For a 5 minute delicious pudding make a white chocolate sauce – break up a bar of good white chocolate with an equal amount of double cream into a small bowl. Melt over gently simmering water (ensuring bowl doesn’t touch the water). Pour into a jug and serve warm with a bowl of blackberries and maybe a few shortbreads. Sublime!
Recipe for peanut butter and sour cherry cookies
One of the best biscuit recipes I know to pack up and take on a picnic, as the salty peanut butter combined with the sweet cherries makes them a hit with all ages. Substitute the same amount of chocolate chips for the cherries, if you prefer.
100g unsalted butter, softened, in pieces, plus more for the trays (optional)
170g light muscovado sugar
200g crunchy peanut butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g dried sour cherries, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and lightly butter two baking trays, or line with baking parchment.
Using a food mixer (or a large bowl and a hand-held electric whisk), whisk together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the peanut butter and egg. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt, then add the vanilla and cherries. Mix together (but do not over-mix), until just combined to a soft dough.
Using a tablespoon, divide the mixture between the baking trays and flatten each biscuit with the tines of a fork. The mixture will spread a little, so space them out well. Bake in the preheated oven for 10–12 minutes, or until just colouring around the edges. The cookies will continue to harden as they cool, so it is really important not to over-bake.
Leave on the trays for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. These will keep in an airtight container for a few days.
Recipe from SEASONAL BAKING by Fiona Cairns, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson £25
© Fiona Cairns