Chick-O-Stick Cookies

If you've never tasted a Chick-O-Stick, a venerable candy by the venerable small Atkinson Candy Company in Texas, you might view this stuff with some suspicion. Neon orange and kind of, well, hairy looking from the toasted coconut the Chick-O-Sticks are rolled in, these are not lookers, snack-wise. They used to be even weirder-looking: When the candy was first made, around the time of the Great Depression, it was known as "Chicken Bones" and shaped like a drumstick. I'm drooling here!

Despite the creepy look of the candy, the flavor is unbeatable: crisp orange peanut brittle (something like the inside of a Butterfinger, but better) with striations of peanut butter, and toasted coconut encasing the whole thing. It's salty, crispy, buttery, and so powerfully flavorful that you wonder why this candy's not a national favorite like the (weakly flavored, flaccid, waxy) Snickers. Chick-O-Sticks are rather hard to find; they're almost never on grocery store checkout candy racks, and they tend to languish with the "old-fashioned candy" displays. Out here in California where I live, they're almost unknown, so I've been looking for an approximation that I could make in my own kitchen for some time.

Attempts to make peanut butter–coconut brittle were failures; Atkinson has some kind of magic process or machinery that produces brittle with a very different texture than I could manage at home. But a few weeks of playing around with peanut butter cookie recipes yielded pay dirt: perhaps the easiest cookies I have ever made, with a pure coconut-peanut flavor that's singingly reminiscent of Chick-O-Sticks. The recipe contains just four ingredients. Other recipes, which incorporated ingredients like butter and flour, detracted from that massive peanut-coconut punch that I was looking for. My recipe for Ridiculously Easy Peanut/Coconut Cookies is everything I hoped it would be, coming on strong with the peanut butter first, and finishing with a haunting coconut aftertaste.