These Peanut Butter Cookies Have a Special Twist (Spoiler: It’s Shrimp!)

Let me set the scene for you. I have family visiting. I'm making dinner. I offer them some caramels leftover from cookies I made a few weeks before. They trust me, of course. They know that I would never offer them something secretly surprising and unusual for my own amusement (wrong), so they each eat a caramel. I watch, amused, as they try to place the flavor. It's a caramel, but there's something else there. A source of umami that is deeper, richer...shrimpier than an average caramel. Surprise! It's shrimp!

More specifically, these caramels feature a Philippine condiment called ginisang bagoong - a spicy sauteed shrimp paste. They pair wonderfully with peanut butter cookies rolled in annatto sugar. You can find the recipe for Kare Kare Cookies in Abi Balingit's Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed along with other unique flavor combinations. 

Consider also the corn and coconut pairing in the Maja Blanca Bars. In this recipe you par bake a sweet, cakelike cornbread, layer it with coconut pudding not unlike haupia and dust with freeze-dried corn powder for an extra hit of corn. As a native Hoosier, opens a new window, an appreciation of corn is my birthright so this is a dream dessert, really.

Other Mayumu highlights include the Adobo Chocolate Chip Cookies which were a viral hit last year and mix pink peppercorns with a transcendent bay leaf infused brown butter. Also not to be missed are the shortbread cookies glazed with mix of calamansi, lime zest and a touch of fish sauce. These can also be found among the archives of the author's blog, The Dusky Kitchen, opens a new window

There are also plenty of recipes involving that most Instagram-able of purple tubers - ube. From the Halo Halo Baked Alaska featured on the cover that I will never have the patience to make to the much easier Ube Cheesecake Bars with Sesame Cracker Crust. If you're an ube person Mayumu is not to be missed on that basis alone. Balingit offers three options for ube halaya, opens a new window including one that makes use of ube pillows, one of my household's favorite snacks. I get mine at Hong Phat Market in Lacey when they have them (they don't last long). 

And, yes, I included photos of everything but the cookies mentioned in the title. They were all eaten before I remembered, and I'm sorry. Anyway, you can see them here, opens a new window or make them yourself when you check out Mayumu and experiment with other creative bakes that highlight Filipino flavors. Enjoy!