I’ve considered resurrecting this blog numerous times over the past couple or so years, but blogging is a lot of work. Developing recipes is even more so. This recipe for peanut butter cookies finally changed my mind during a time when I have very little energy or motivation — it’s that good.
I get to cheat a bit, though, since the recipe is already developed for me. I’ve just created my variation of it. (Yes, I do realize that most recipes are just evolutions of recipes that came before them. But a lot of the savoury cooking I do doesn’t involve measuring, so the difficult part of recipe development for me is turning what I’m cooking into something that someone else can replicate. We’ll see if I get around to doing much of that.) Recipe built upon the shoulders of this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Big differences are that mine are less sweet and are larger.
I’m also being a bit lazy with the photography in that I’m probably only going to shoot with my smartphone for the bulk of these posts.
Makes 26 cookies that are roughly 3.5″ wide.
Notes: I strongly recommend weighing your main ingredients when baking, as flour in particular can vary too much when measured out in cups and that can drastically change the outcome of your baked goods.
Also, pretty much all bakers of peanut butter cookies recommend using the conventional, homogenized peanut butter (such as Kraft in Canada or Jif in the US) because natural peanut butter is too difficult to mix properly for baking and you end up with the wrong ratios of oils to mass. I’d rather use natural peanut butter so I might have to see about finding ways to experiment with this later on. In the meantime, I used Kraft for this recipe and use locally roasted peanut butter for other cooking.
165 grams (1 1/4 cups) all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
255 grams (1 cup) smooth peanut butter, room temp
150 grams (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
145 grams (1/2 cup firmly packed) brown sugar – I usually have dark brown or demerara in the house, so that’s what I use
1 large egg, room temp
1 tablespoon milk (or milk substitute, or even water works fine to be honest)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (170 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips (Note: I’ve also made this with half chocolate chips, half chopped roasted/salted peanuts and it was less sweet and bit more salty and had a nice bit of extra crunch and I quite loved them like that.)
Extra white sugar for rolling the dough balls in
Flaked salt for topping the cookies (I used Maldon)
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a bowl, weigh out the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt. Mix well with a fork or whisk. Note for the curious: the reason you do this is to prevent a clump of baking soda or baking powder ending up in a single bite of your food. I have had this happen to me more than once and it is rather gross. You also want those ingredients evenly distributed so they do their jobs well.
In another bowl, beat the peanut butter and butter until the colours blend into a nice light tan-ish and it’s lighter or fluffier from the added air. (I meant to take a photo of this whole mixing part but failed you all. I will try to remember next time and update this post later.)
Add the white sugar and brown sugar and beat until smooth. Next, add the egg, milk (or substitute), and vanilla. Mix well.
Add your flour mixture and mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated. It’s a very soft dough, so don’t be worried about that if you’ve taken my advice and weighed your ingredients. (If you ignored me and used measuring cups instead, you’re on your own out in the wilds. Best of luck. But a tip: when I’m uncertain how a new cookie recipe is going to turn out, I do a test bake of a couple cookies in case I need to adjust the recipe.)
Stir in the chocolate chips (and peanuts if using).
Put the extra sugar in a small bowl big enough to roll cookies in. Scoop out dough into roughly golf ball sized balls. This will be tricky since it’s such soft dough, but I believe in you. (At this point, if you are a patient person who can’t deal with the softness, you can opt to put the dough in the fridge to stiffen up and follow the fridge instructions at the bottom of this post. Meanwhile, the rest of us who want cookies NOW can continue on with the instructions.)
Roll the dough balls in sugar and place on baking sheets. I like to use parchment paper on my baking sheets, you might prefer a silpat, or something else (maybe a greased baking sheet… what are the kids using these days?). Give them room to spread.
Flatten ever so slightly and sprinkle some of the flaked salt on top. Bake for about 15 minutes, depending on whether you made your dough balls the same size as mine. The key here is to take them out when the edges are just done, the cookies are cracking but still puffy and domed. You want them to not be done in the centre because they will continue to cook a bit after you take them out. This is the secret to cookies that have a nice chew in the middle. I should note, however, that one sheet of these I accidentally left in for extra minutes and they were still super wonderful. So, there’s that. These cookies want you to love them.
At this point you have the option to let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet or slide them off to cool faster on a rack or counter. The cookies are very delicate at this stage, so I leave it up to you. They will cook a bit more on the cookie sheet (but still be VERY delicious). I tend to be a bit reckless and if a cookie breaks in the process of me doing this, I just shove it back together, figuring the gooey centre will glue it back as it cools. I grab one side of the parchment while holding the sheet with an oven mitt, and slide the whole parchment over onto a cooling rack. This deflates the cookies and enhances the crackle effect, gets them cooling faster and also gets my baking sheet cooling faster so I can get the next round of cookies ready for the oven. (You could also use a spatula/turner to gently transfer the cookies one at a time, if you are a patient, graceful person — which I am not.)
I haven’t tried storing these in a sealed container. I just stacked them on a plate and left them on the counter for us to grab one whenever we wandered into the kitchen to refill our water glasses (hydration is important!) or whatever we were doing. They didn’t last long…
Fridge dough: If you’ve put your dough in the fridge (either because you didn’t like working with the super soft dough or because like me you started a batch of cookie dough one evening while doing something else and then forgot about it and your partner found it and put it in the fridge on your behalf) and now you’ve got hard cookie dough to work with, what I’ve found works well is to bake it at 335F for 16 minutes (golf ball-ish size).
Freezer dough balls: I made up a batch and froze them, flattening them a bit more than usual. Baking them at 325F for 19 minutes has worked great for me thus far.