The Ultimate Peanut Butter Cookie

August 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

  

This is a gooey, sweet, slightly salty, and chewy peanut butter cookie. It is perfection. The beauty of this one is that it stands up to a day or two after baking quite wonderfully- which works well when you need to carry it across the country (I was in Muskoka last week- my girlfriend Alex warned me the cabin did not have a functioning oven! So in my suitcase went two batches of cookies, a loaf of banana bread, and two layers of chocolate cake for her banana-ice cream cake).

Truly though, the best way to eat any cookie is warm out of the oven. When I make cookies, I’ll bake a sheet or two and save a third ‘roll’ of dough in the freezer for perfect cookie opportunities/emergencies*. Is there anything better than warm, gooey cookies, a cold glass of milk, a group of good friends, and a few guitars? I think not.

This recipe is from the Magnolia Bakery in New York, further adapted by Smitten Kitchen. The only modification I make is that if you have a good, not too salty sea salt, add a sprinkle to the top of the cookie. If you’re using a block of chocolate, it’s also nice to add a nice chunked piece somewhere on the top of every cookie before baking- that way, everyone feels like they are getting a special, extra-chocolatey cookie.

What I’ve learned from my lovely former roommate Janene is that to go from good to exceptional baked goods, the quality of ingredients really matters. When you’re making peanut butter cookies, counter intuitively it’s better to use mostly the Kraft/Skippy variety of peanut butter, as it doesn’t separate and keeps the cookies together better. Sometimes I’ll do a ratio of crunchy all natural with the commercial variety- but I always keep the majority to the Kraft stuff. For chocolate, you’ll pay more, but good quality dark chocolate from the bulk section of Whole Foods is really, terribly delicious.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Adapted from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened (they suggest unsalted butter- but I really don’t notice a difference)
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature (use Kraft or Skippy- it won’t separate)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks)

For sprinkling: 1 tablespoon white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter chips and chocolate chips. Roll dough into rounded teaspoonfuls and drop into the remaining sugar, then place on baking sheets (ungreased or with either parchment paper).

Lightly flatten the cookies. You can be traditional and use a fork for a criss-cross pattern, or a small offset spatula to keep it smooth on top, or a cheese grater for a neat almost polka-dot finish. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes- do not overbake! You want them to be a bit soft to the touch still when they are in the oven – they may appear to be underdone, but they are not.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then carefully remove to a rack to cool completely. (If you’e using parchment, you can just air-lift the whole batch. Ta-da!)

Keep in an airtight container if you manage not to eat the whole batch. Good luck.

*To keep some cookie dough in the freezer- set out a decent sized piece of saran wrap, and create a ‘log’ of cookie dough similar to what you might see if you buy the Pillsbury cookies from the grocery store. Wrap and freeze- when you’re ready to use, simply cut rounds, place them on parchment on a baking sheet, and cook right away. Warm cookies at your finger tips!

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Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Apple Cookies

March 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

“These are really good, even for your standards!” -my brother

Sometimes it feels like it’s a struggle of good claudia on one shoulder and bad claudia on the other in the kitchen at around 8pm most nights. I know I should be eating mostly vegetables and lean protein (eat food, not much, mostly plants- thank you, Michael Pollan), but all I really want to do is bake something delicious, eat and share.

These cookies are nice medium ground. And this cookbook helps- Perfect Light Desserts by Nick Malgieri and David Joachim. Delicious desserts made from real ingredients that are under 300 calories- totally doable. Just don’t tell anyone they are healthy-  I swear it makes you eat twice as much.

Ingredients

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce*

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups rolled oats (aka oatmeal- I use a mix of whatever I’ve got to keep things interesting)

1/2 cup dark raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt

Beat the softened butter and white sugar together. Beat in brown sugar, and then the egg. Beat in applesauce and vanilla.

Stir in the flour, then oats, then raisins, one at a time (everyone gets a turn!)

Drop the dough onto a baking sheet with parchment

Bake for 10-12 minutes, so they are no longer shiny on the top but still moist and soft. If you’re baking two pans at a time, rotate them halfway way through to keep em guessing. They may look a little underdone- take them out anyway. It’ll keep them chewy in the middle.

Transfer to a baking sheet to cool (you can do this on the parchment and save the energy).  Store for a few days on the counter or put them in the freezer.

*I have used store-bought applesauce in these cookies a few times, but when I went to make them last night, I couldn’t find any. Not to be deterred, I peeled and cut up an apple then microwaved it for a few minutes. I mashed it up with a fork and threw it in the batter. So much tastier and really, who buys applesauce in the first place?

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