I love Hot Mix, the ubiquitous (in South Asian cupboards at least) spicy and salty snack made with a mix of peanuts, raisins, and crunchy noodles. On a recent trip to Kalustyan's, the New York spice and specialty food haven, I noticed that Hot Mix is only one of the dozens of spicy snack mixes they carry. There was a whole wall dedicated to the stuff, which is significant when you think of the cost of Manhattan real estate. It got me thinking. How can I put that flavor into a cookie? So I came up with these. If you like a classic peanut butter cookie, you'll love this upgraded version. The extra salt and cayenne cover the whole spectrum of cravings. The recipe uses natural peanut butter without added sugar--it has a more delicious, purer peanut flavor. My favorites are Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter and Cream-Nut. Be sure to stir the jar well to distribute the oil evenly before you scoop it into the measuring cup.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cayenne, and baking soda. In a large bowl, stir the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Stir in the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the peanuts.
Scoop the dough into 2-tablespoon balls and place on the prepared sheets at least 2 inches apart. Using a fork dipped in sugar, gently press a crisscross pattern in the top of each cookie, flattening it out to a 2-inch circle.
Bake until the cookies are light brown around the edges and on the bottom, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the sheets on racks, then move them to the racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the freezer for 1 month.