Cooking with the (Silent) Stars: Sidney Drew’s Peanut Cookies

Welcome back! I am cooking my way through the 1929 Photoplay cookbook (recipes of the stars!) and you are invited to tag along. (I have listed all the recipes I have tested on this dedicated page. Check back often.) Today, we will be testing a recipe from an actor who delighted audiences with his sophisticated humor, Sidney Drew.

This recipe is not from the Photoplay cookbook but rather from a 1916 book designed to raise funds for the Actor’s Fund and the Red Cross. This would be at the height of Drew’s popularity. Sadly, he passed away in 1919.

Sidney Drew was half of a comedy duo that co-starred his wife, Lucille. Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew specialized in light comedies that relied on eccentric characters rather than violent slapstick. If you think that 1910s comedy was all Keystone Cops and pratfalls, you will be very pleasantly surprised by the witty films of the Drews.

Drew’s other claim to fame is that he was the uncle of the famous Barrymore siblings, John, Lionel and Ethel. Acting was in his blood but Drew was his own man and built his own career around playing zany man-babies.

It should also be noted that the Drews enjoyed a true partnership. Mrs. Sidney Drew (her preferred professional name) co-produced, co-wrote and co-directed many of their pictures.

foxtrot-finesse-help

So, we know that Sidney Drew was a talented man on the stage but how does he fare in the kitchen? It’s time to taste his recipe for peanut cookies and judge for ourselves.

(You never know if these recipes were actually prepared by the stars who claim them but I like to think that Sidney would whip up a batch of cookies while he and Lucille were writing their newest comedy.)

The Recipe

sidney-drew-cookies

First, I must give Drew credit for a well-written recipe. The directions are clear, concise and easy to follow. As always with vintage recipes, I used all-purpose flour and set my oven to 350 degrees. The lemon juice was freshly squeezed and my baking powder was just a regular brand, nothing fancy (I use Clabber Girl).

Dough pre-peanut
Dough pre-peanut

For the peanuts, I used roasted cocktail nuts. They were salted but I also used unsalted butter so I think everything balanced out. Using roasted nuts is  very important as they add quite a bit of flavor and a nice toastiness. The peanuts were ground using a basic hand grinder at the coarse setting as I like a lot of texture in peanut-flavored baked goods.

Nice coarse grind
Nice coarse grind

The recipe was definitely designed with couples in mind. It produced about ten cookies that were two inches in diameter. Perfect for two or three people to enjoy as a light dessert but definitely not for a crowd.

Dough post-peanut
Dough post-peanut

I baked the cookies at 350 degrees for about 14 minutes. I think I could have left them in for a minute or two as they are on the pale side but there is nothing worse than a burnt cookie. Better safe than sorry.

Onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.
Onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.

Taste Test Video

Score: 4 out of 5. These cookies are so delicious! While peanut butter cookies tend to be heavy and intensely flavored, these peanut cookies are light as a feather and have a lovely, delicate flavor. These are the sort of cookies you can enjoy with a quality cup of green tea and not worry about them overwhelming.

Oooo!
Oooo!
That is a nice cookie.
That is a nice cookie.

The cookies are also quite low on the sweetness scale, making them ideal for people who prefer deserts that do not give them instant diabetes. (Hey, I’m not judging. I can sugar binge with the best of ’em.)

Also, these cookies are extremely versatile. Since the main flavor is provided by the nuts, bakers can easily substitute walnuts, pecans, etc. and come out with a very different cookie. (I would be careful about using almonds as they tend to be pretty hard and we don’t want people breaking their teeth.)

I will say that these cookies are not quite five-star because they are missing just a tiny touch of oomph. I think that could be provided by a glaze or icing. I would be cautious about using chocolate or caramel as these flavor could overwhelm the cookie and destroy the very delicateness that makes it special. Maybe a light caramel drizzle? That could be very nice and pretty too.

Still tasty as-is.
Still tasty as-is.
Beatrix Potter plate optional but recommended.
Beatrix Potter plate optional but recommended.

That being said, these cookies were gone within minutes and all my tasters proclaimed them to be excellent. (I never have trouble finding tasters for vintage baked goods. Entrees are another matter.) This recipe is perfect for couples or parents who just want to give their kids a few cookies and not end up with a huge stack o’ sugary treats. It’s also ideal as a minor cheat for people watching their intake of sweets but who still want a small indulgence. Larger families and people baking for a party will need to expand the recipe but doubling and tripling baked goods recipes is waaaaaay over my head so proceed with caution. (But if you are able to double it successfully, pass a link on to me and I will be sure to send people your way.)

6 Replies to “Cooking with the (Silent) Stars: Sidney Drew’s Peanut Cookies”

  1. Nice. I think a semi-sweet chocolate would do well on or in those cookies as an alternate recipe. Or perhaps a light brush of honey on top to balance the salt out. Still, I’d make these because as soon as I saw “cocktail peanuts”, I got a Pavlovian reaction going. My poor keyboard… ;D

    1. I would be very careful with chocolate as it may overwhelm the delicate flavor. If you do use it, I would say the liiiiightest drizzle. A light maple glaze might also be good, especially with walnuts or pecans in the recipe.

  2. These look fantabulous!! Count me among those who hate cloying cookies — either the baked or the human kind.

    And thank you for your usual thoroughness and recommendations on filling in the gaps in this recipe — what temperature, what kind of peanuts, etc. I’m definitely trying these… 🙂

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