Check into who invented the ice cream sundae, and boy oh boy, are you in for a ride. Towns from New England through the Midwest claim ownership, and well, yeah… good luck with that. There is one exception, and that’s the Tin Roof Sundae. Originally called a Black & White, this legendary treat came to life in 1916, at Potter Drug in Potter Nebraska. Harold Dean ‘Pinky’ Thayer, son of the owner and Pharmacist, worked the soda counter and came up with the Tin Roof, named either for the ceiling in the drug store, or the roof on the stable across the street, depending on who’s story you buy.
The building and business are there to this day, (now called Potter Sundry), and they still make the Tin Roof Sundae. The original version was constructed from vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate syrup, chocolate ice cream topped with marshmallow syrup, and the whole thing topped with a healthy dose of Spanish peanuts. That recipe, more or less, got quite popular, and was adopted by ice cream makers all around the country – It’s a combo I happen to love. Every version I’ve tried or researched is vanilla ice cream with chocolate fudge and Spanish peanuts. Fact is, though, it’s not easy to find up here where we live, so if I want it, I make it, which I’m totally OK with. Fresh ice cream, (from Jersey cows), with vanilla bean, good chocolate chunks, and nice crisp peanuts? Hell yes, please.
That got me thinking about a cookie by the same name. I poked around online to see what was out there, and here’s the fact – There were a few recipes – or so it appeared at first glance. But after digging in, it became glaringly obvious that what we really had was one recipe, widely copied and occasionally modified – That was a chocolate based cookie, with peanuts – but blasphemy of blasphemies, these things were made with Chex cereal, covered in chocolate, (actually, cocoa powder), topped with peanuts – FRIGGIN’ CHEX CEREAL, people! Yes, there were pretty pictures, and a bunch of folks claiming to have come up with the recipe, but ya know what? It was all the same thing, made with cereal, cocoa powder, and regular peanuts. To me, that’s simply appalling – a serious wrong that needs righting.
Again, every version of the ice cream I’ve ever seen or eaten is vanilla, with chocolate or fudge, and Spanish peanuts, and that’s what a namesake cookie needs to be – so that’s what I did. The cookie I ended up with has roughly three times the usual amount of vanilla used for a chocolate chip cookie – that flavor note is dominant, which is exactly what I was after – A vanilla ice cream analog. I used an organic, high end vanilla bean paste, instead of just seeds (or plain extract), and I think that’s critical in the final product – this also impacts the texture a bit, making things notable more tender.
Fresh, skin on, salted Spanish peanuts and good quality chocolate round things out. I’ll say for the record that I’ve done several batches of these now, and they are seriously good stuff. The one twist I went to for my final version requires extra work, but is absolutely worth it if you’re pulling out all the stops for a holiday cookie – I made chocolate covered Spanish peanuts.
When I decided to do that, I did some thinking about what kind of chocolate to use. In the end run, I just stayed with melted Ghirardelli semi-sweet chips – They’re made to maintain their shape and form when baked, and that’s what I wanted here – Peanuts covered in chocolate that would stay that way when baked into a cookie. I melted the chips in a double boiler, and laid out a baking pan with a silicone sheet, (parchment would work just fine too.) When the chocolate was nice and liquid, I added nuts and mixed them in until there was no obvious excess of chocolate, (as in, I didn’t exactly measure). Just a bag of chips and enough peanuts to make the mix correct – It’s not like any excess is going to survive for very long anyway, right?
I poured that mix onto the baking sheet, and then smoothed it all down to a single layer of peanuts with a pastry knife. I let the mix cool for about 15 minutes, then transferred it to the fridge so that it could get nice and hard. After an hour or so, I pulled the stuff and broke it up by hand, not being super particular about size – One of the things I didn’t like in earlier batches was seeing chocolate chips in there – I thought it should be more random and chunky, like the chocolate is in the namesake ice cream. I ended up with nice chunks of chocolaty peanuts and a great look. All that aside, you can certainly do this recipe with chip and peanuts if you’re short on time or patience, so go that road if need be.
Urban’s Genuine Tin Roof Sundae Cookies
380 grams All Purpose Flour (3 Cups)
230 grams Unsalted Butter (2 sticks)
200 grams Bakers Sugar (1 Cup)
150 Grams Spanish Peanuts (1 Cup, and probably more like 1.5 Cups if you go for the chocolate covered option)
340 grams semi-sweet Chocolate chunks (12 ounce bag)
2 large Eggs
15 grams fresh Vanilla Bean or paste (1 Tablespoon)
4 grams Baking Soda (1 teaspoon)
4 grams fine Salt (1/2 teaspoon)
Preheat oven to 350° F and set a rack in the lower middle position.
Have your eggs and butter at room temperature before proceeding.
Run flour, baking soda, and salt through a sifter or single mesh strainer, into a large mixing bowl.
For the lions share of the process, a stand mixer is preferred, but if you don’t have one, you can hand whisk – Just be forewarned, it’s going to be a bit of a workout.
In a stand mixer bowl set up with a paddle, add the butter and mix on low until it’s smooth and even – about 2 minutes.
Stop the mixer, and use a spatula to scrape the butter down from the bowl sides and paddle.
Add the sugar and mix on low until the blend is smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
Again, stop the mixer, and use a spatula to scrape the creamed mixture down from the bowl sides and paddle.
Add an egg and the vanilla paste to the creamed mixture and mix on low until fully incorporated – No more than 30 seconds. Repeat the process with the second egg, and again, 30 seconds tops – You don’t want to over-beat the eggs.
With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture, and mix until fully incorporated – Stop as soon as that’s achieved.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, add chocolate and peanuts, and incorporate with a spatula until evenly mixed.
Scoop heaping soup spoons of batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone. Leave a couple of inched between each – You should be able to get a dozen on there, no problem.
Bake for 7 minutes, then rotate the sheet 180° and bake for 7 minutes more.
Pull from oven and carefully slide parchment onto a cooling rack.
Bake single sheets of cookies at a time.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before attacking, and 20 minutes before putting them into an air tight storage container.