Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.
If you’re not into creaming sugar and butter, mixing in flour, or even turning on the oven, these cookies are for you. At least as long as you’re OK with using some of ultra-processed, industrial ingredients that have been linked to chronic diseases and a higher risk of early death. But hey, they’re cookies.
It’s not news that we should avoid industrial foods in favor of the minimally processed stuff, but my personal approach is that as long as they’re not a significant part of what I eat, I’ll indulge occasionally. And since I’m helpless when it comes to these cookies, I just don’t make them very often.
Their origins are lost among the faded newspaper clippings and dog-eared index cards of my mom’s recipe collection. Nan has always baked sweet things, and more than 40 years ago she self-published a cookbook called 25 Recipes From a 30 Year Collection of a Cookie Pusher that included all of her favorites. These have always been mine, and while I’ve been eating them for more than 50 years I only recently made them myself. When I asked mom about Lotus Porter, she didn’t know anything about her but said that’s what she’d always called the cookies.
I thought I’d try upgrading the ingredients for my first batch, so I used slightly less-processed cereal and natural peanut butter, but the cookies weren’t nearly as good. There’s a reason why we love industrial foods: Corporations spend millions of dollars to make them taste delicious. They also engineer the sugar, fat and salt content so ultra-processed foods are addictive. Cookie Pusher, indeed.
Lotus Porter’s Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup sugar
1 cup Karo brand dark corn syrup*
2 cups chunky peanut butter (Skippy or Jif, please, and a 24-ounce jar is close enough to 2 cups)
4 cups corn flakes (maybe not as important, but just get Kellogg’s to be safe)
*Karo corn syrup isn’t the high-fructose corn syrup used in lots of industrial food, but is basic sugar, sucrose, spit into glucose and fructose using an acid, and the dark stuff includes molasses for more flavor.
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons milk
Combine the sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, transfer to a large bowl, and mix in the peanut butter, then add the corn flakes.
Use a spoon or your fingers to form walnut-sized balls. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper while you make the frosting. (Or press the mix into a square baking dish, let them harden for an hour, then cut into squares.)
Melt the butter and chocolate in a small pan on the stove (or microwave in 30 second intervals). Mix in the powdered sugar (a fine mesh screen eliminates clumps and makes it easier) and milk. If you don’t have a piping bag, cut a 1/8-inch hole in the corner of a sandwich bag, add the frosting, and pipe a small dab on each cookie. This makes about 3 dozen cookies; try not to eat them all.