When I think of my favorite cookies, I always fall back on the classics – chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies and even oatmeal cookies. And when I feel the need to bake for my colleagues at work, I often use a recipe for one of these cookies. But in flipping through my well-worn copy of Dorie Greenspan‘s Baking: From My Home to Yours, I discovered that my favorite baking goddess has a recipe that combines all three of those classic cookies. She calls it the Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipster. It’s like the holy trinity of classic cookies – clearly I had to make this recipe.

The recipe comes together like a normal drop cookie. The butters (both the peanut and the normal kind) are creamed with sugar and the rest of the wet ingredients. The oatmeal and the rest of the dry stuff is added in later along with the chocolate chunks. The dough will be a bit on the sticky side, so I agree with Dorie‘s recommendation to chill it for a few hours (if you have the time). The dough will set up quite nicely and be much easier to work with.

So here’s the part where I confess – I made a mistake with this cookie. I didn’t even realize it until the last of the cookies were in the oven and I was tasting the warm cookies for the first time. They were good – chewy and flavorful – but something was off. And as I looked at my countertop of ingredients, which I had not yet put away, I realized that salt was not among them. I left out an ingredient that I am fanatical about adding into baked goods – I left out the salt. Gasp.

If you are not a big baker, then leaving out a 1/4 t. of salt in a cookie may not seem like a big deal. But the salt helps complete the cookie. It makes the flavors of the cookie – the peanut butter, the chocolate, the spices and, most importantly, the sugars – all work in harmony. You don’t taste salt in the cookie – but you taste it if it isn’t there. So as I looked at the dozens of freshly baked warm cookies that I was going to surprise my co-workers with, I was disheartened. Until, that is, I decided to experiment. I grabbed some fine sea salt and lightly sprinkled a bit over the tops of the cookies. Because the cookies were still warm, the salt stuck, like little crystals on top of the cookie. And as for how it tasted – it tasted perfect. Because I used sea salt there wasn’t an overpowering saltiness, and just a tiny sprinkle allowed the salt to do its work. Now I would not advise anyone to make this mistake on purpose – best to add the salt right into the batter – but know that some baking mistakes are fixable. And my co-workers didn’t notice a thing – in fact the words “best cookies ever” were heard more than once. So I managed not to ruin the holy trinity of classic cookie – not to mention retaining my baking reputation with the ever important colleagues.

Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipster

From Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients:

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup AP flour

1 t. baking soda

2 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 t. salt

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter – soft

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 t. vanilla

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped into chunks or 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together oats, flour, baking soda, spices and salt.

In a stand mixer beat butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating fully after each addition, then add the vanilla. Reduce the mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only till blended. Add in the chips. If you have time, chill the dough for 2 hours or up to 1 day.

Drop rounded tablespoon of dough 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mats.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes. Take out the cookies when they are gold and just firm around the edges

So one of my many, many vices are pistachio nuts. Give me a bag of pistachios while watching a movie or sitting around a campfire and I will demolish those nuts, without even a thought as to the fact that I will inevitably have sore fingers and broken nails. The answer to this heartache (or finger ache) is, of course, shelled pistachio nuts – which I didn’t even realize existed until this week. But beware of the shelled pistachio nut – it looks so naked and shriveled without its shell, but it truly is a dangerous thing. If you take these nuts into your home, you will discover that when you don’t have to take the time to shell them, you will unavoidably eat half your pistachios, and realize that if you eat any more that recipe for pistachio shortbread cookies you’ve been waiting weeks to try will have to be put on hold once again. Not that this happened to me, of course, I have more will power than that….

On to the pistachio shortbread cookies. Other than pistachio ice cream, I have never had a sweet treat that featured the pistachio, which seems odd given that pecans, almonds and cashews show up in just about every other dessert these days. Martha Stewart’s recipe seemed pretty easy to follow. I didn’t have sanding sugar, as her recipe suggested, so I just pulsed regular sugar in the food processor a few times, and that seemed to do the trick. I also chose to go with the circle-shaped cookie cutter – instead of Martha’s recommended fluted square – but then I like to take risks.

Now here’s where Martha failed me – in her recipe she says to bake the cookies at 350 for 18 minutes. Now I’m not a novice baker, so I realized 18 minutes was a long time for cookies, especially ones that are rolled to 1/8 inch thick. So I simply set the timer for 15 minutes and checked back then – but I’m apparently not expert enough to know that even 15 minutes was way too long. The first tray of cookies came out dark brown and crispy – basically not good. So after cursing Martha to high heaven, I put the next tray in for 9 minutes and kept checking until the edges were golden brown at 11 minutes. This tray came out perfect: tender and delicate and tasting of pistachios. So if you try this recipe – which I do recommend – remember, unless you want to get unreasonably mad at Martha Stewart, bake at 350 for 11 minutes. You, your sanity and your stomach, will thank me.

Pistachio Shortbread

Makes 48 Cookies (or 32 if you burn a tray)

Ingredients

1/2 cup shelled pistachios

1/4 cup fine sanding sugar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large egg yolks

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor, grind pistachios until fine but not powdery. Divide ground pistachios equally between sanding sugar and flour; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add vanilla and salt, and beat for 1 minute. Add yolks one at a time, and beat until evenly combined. Add flour and pistachio mixture, and mix until just combined. Remove dough, and form into a 4-by-6-inch rectangle; wrap in plastic, and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (French nonstick baking mats) or parchment paper, and set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 1/8-inch thickness. Brush dough with the egg white to moisten. Cover evenly with pistachio-sanding-sugar mixture. Lightly press mixture into dough with the rolling pin. Using a 1 1/2-inch fluted square cookie cutter, cut cookies as close as possible to avoid waste. Place on prepared baking sheets.

Bake until edges are just lightly golden, about 11 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.