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Since I was a little girl, my grandmother would always bring over cookies and pies at least twice a month when she wasn’t jet-setting around the world. While she couldn’t cook very well, she was a good baker. Czech Kolacky and Rohlicky, Plum Dumplings, Pumpkin pies and Bohemian Rye Bread were a staple in our house, until one day she brought over this curious cookie that her sister Betty made – the Potato Chip Cookie.
Before Grandma told us what they were, I thought they were just a different type of peanut butter cookie. It sort of tasted and looked like one, but had kind of a crunch to it too. How could potato chips keep their crunch in a cookie dough? These little one-bite wonders were amazing and “no one could eat just one,” and soon became part of our regular Christmas cookie menu. So, my first Christmas in Los Angeles, I decided to make as many of the cookies on my mothers list as possible, but ran into an issue when it came to these little gems – you can’t find Jays Potato Chips on the West Coast!
For those of you not from the Midwest, Jays Potato Chips was a Chicago company established in 1927 that also sold popcorn and pretzels. The chips were sold in a box which contained two twin packs, and the recipe called for one of the packs. Unfortunately, we never bothered to measure how much was in a pack.
So I bought a couple of Big Grab bags of Lay’s Potato Chips and mixed the ingredients together until it came time to add the potato chips. I smashed one Big Grab bag and added it to the batter, checking to see if the consistency was the same as with one twin pack, and it was. I also found that if you take a Ziploc sandwich bag and just fill it to the top until you can just seal it, that is also the correct amount of potato chips. You can use any method you want to crush the chips, rolling pin or by hand, but just remember to let out the air from the bag first; otherwise, the bag will explode all over your kitchen.
The original recipe calls for margarine, but I usually bake with butter. Since butter is firmer than margarine, you do have to let the butter come to room temperature before you mix the batter. This time, however, I decided to bake with Country Crock Plant Butter, because one of my coworkers is vegan. Surprisingly, it does have the same consistency as butter, so if you choose to use plant butter, you should also let it sit at room temperature for at least half an hour before creaming it with the sugar. This recipe calls for a whole pound of butter, so once you make the dough, you may want to divide it into smaller batches and keep it in the refrigerator to keep the butter from melting.
The recipe also calls for chopped walnuts. Adding chopped nuts will make the dough a little bit more chunky. I found that I prefer to do a rough grind on the nuts instead. I usually use walnuts, but any nut will do. I usually just use whatever nuts I have on hand. This time I used pecans, but you could also use hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts.
As I have spoken in my previous posts, I use a melon baller when making cookies and this does help you get through the dough faster, but you will get a slightly larger two-bite cookie than the original recipe produced. As you can see, it just says to roll the dough into a small ball and doesn’t indicate how much dough. By trial and error, I came to the conclusion that if you use 1/2 teaspoon of dough, the recipe will produce the expected 225 one-bite cookies.
Potato Chip Cookies
- 1 pound butter or margarine
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 pack crushed potato chips, (Big Grab of Lays Potato Chips)
- 3/4 cup ground walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream sugar with butter or margarine until fluffy.
- Add vanilla and mix.
- Gradually add the flour and mix.
- Add the ground nuts and crushed potato chips and mix thoroughly.
- Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
- Form small balls and place about an inch apart.
- Press balls with a fork, making a crosshatch as you do when making peanut butter cookies. (Remember to have a bowl of water standing by to dip your fork into, so the dough doesn’t stick to the fork.)
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, until you see the dough just starting to brown. You don’t want the top of the cookie to brown.
- Try using pecans, hazelnuts, or almonds instead of walnuts.
- Try substituting peanut butter for 1/4 of the butter and ground peanuts for the ground walnuts.