A Chip On Your Shoulder...

Now that we are almost a whole month into 2013, I feel like I've been making decent strides towards working on my New Year's resolutions. For January, I feel like I've made a good-faith effort to get out of the house by checking out the Zoo Lights, seeing the Maharaja exhibit at the Field, and trekking downtown to see the Snow Days Festival. Not bad for the dead of winter, eh?

Though I'm not quite ready to tackle Grandma's caramel recipe yet, there was one thing left on my to-do list that I had not yet started to chip away at: trying more cookie recipes. And I knew just which one I wanted to go for first -- a shortbread-type cookie featuring potato chips in a salty-sweet mash-up, from Smitten Kitchen. It had been calling to me from my baking board on Pinterest, and there was finally a deal on potato chips at the store. It appeared that the time had come for these cookies, right under the wire for January.

God knows what must go throw Justin's mind when I take on an unusual project like this. When he saw the chips going into the grocery cart, he said, "Chips? Yay!" When he wandered into the kitchen while I was baking, he said, "Having a little snack while you bake?" These were all rational assumptions, and I didn't feel a need to tell him he was off-base.

Which is why, when I handed him a freshly-baked cookie, he had no idea there were potato chips inside, despite the fact that they were crumbled on top as a garnish. When I asked him to guess the secret ingredient, he suggested nuts, which were in fact in the cookies, but not exactly the response I was going for, and I finally had to shed light on the matter. Apparently, potato chips aren't such an oddball addition to sweets after all, in fact, they barely stand out.

Don't get me wrong, both of us liked the cookies, and I enjoyed the extra crunch provided by the chips. However, I think the potato chips put me in the wrong frame of mind to really fall In love with this recipe. I was ready for something saltier, and at the end of the day, thinking about chips just made me want to sit down with a bag and go to town on the chips themselves.

In my opinion, baked goods should be an indulgence unto themselves, not leave you jonesing for another snack. I guess it's a good thing that I have all year to find more contenders for this year's Cookie Bonanza!

Potato Chip Cookies
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt (optional, see note above)
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans
1/2 cup finely crushed potato chips
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour

Potato chip salt finish (optional)
1 tablespoon crushed potato chips
1 1/2 teaspoons flaked sea salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar until lightly and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and table salt, if using, until smooth. Add the pecans, 1/2 cup crushed potato chips and flour together and mix until just combined.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Scoop a tablespoon-sized mound of dough and form it into a small ball with the palms of your hands. Roll the ball in the remaining sugar until coated. Place on prepared baking sheet and using the bottom of a drinking glass to slightly flatten the cookies. Cookies only need to be an inch apart; they only spread a little. Sprinkle with a few flakes of the potato chip salt, if using. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake cookies until lightly golden at the edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer to cool on a wire rack.

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