Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sometimes you feel like a nut: Peanut Butter Cookies

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I fully admit, I am a huge lover of peanut butter. I was (er, am) that kid who eats peanut butter straight off the spoon--don't worry, I don't double dip. Towers of Ritz crackers with the peanut butter smooshed between them, toast where the peanut butter starts to liquify a little bit from the heat and the texture mixing of the crisp and the gooey is just... mmm.
I'm sorry, where was I?
Oh right, peanut butter. I hadn't baked something in quote a while, especially something new. And as fun as it would be for this blog to turn into "and then I made Dorie Greenspan's Katharine Hepburn brownies again" (I totally did over the weekend, they continue to blow my mind and my taste buds) I thought I'd push my comfort zone. Any pushing of a comfort zone that involves peanut butter is okay by me. Also, my younger sister weighed in one what I should make and thanks to her, the peanut butter cookies went from pretty awesome to OMG delicious.

Recipe details after the jump!

Peanut Butter Cookies
from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: from My Home to Yours... mostly
Time: 2 hours? Maybe? I had the crazy idea to start making these at 9pm on Monday night, so perhaps at an earlier hour it would go faster.
Makes: 40 cookies. Yes, seriously, 40 cookies. At least. Share with your friends, or bake hungry.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups Reese's Pieces (ie peanut butter candies the size of M&Ms. OMG GENIUS)
**Before starting: turn on oven to 350 degrees. Find all your ingredients (GOT YOUR MIS EN PLACE?). Find your cookie sheets and parchment paper (or silicone baking mats, which I yearn for). If you have an awesome sister like I do, you can put the peanut butter in one of those plunger measuring cups because you got one for Christmas. Makes me feel like Julia Child, though I did not do the voice... which totally takes me back to being a little kid and the time my older siblings were making English Muffin pizzas as if they were Julia Child. Probably was funnier when I was six, but still makes me smile. Heave the stand mixer off the fridge (sheesh, it's heavy). Put on awesome apron because you know how you get when flour's involved.
If you're smart like I wasn't, pour about 1/4 of a cup of white sugar (fancy if you've got it, but any kind will work) into a small bowl for later.
Ready? Ok.
Stir dry ingredients. Put butter in stand mixer and beat until creamy. Add peanut butter and mix until mostly combined. Add sugar, do same. Add eggs one at a time, mixing briefly after each egg. Slowly (with mixer still running) pour "flour mixture" into bowl. After combined, turn off mixer. Using a spatula or wide spoon, carefully stir in Reese's in smaller amounts, trying to get it evenly combined. You can fix this when forming the cookies if it becomes all lumped together, don't worry.

The dough is very sticky and wet, don't freak out. Using either a leveled tablespoon or an eyeballed amount plucked from the bowl, roll the cookie into a ball. Remember that sugar in the small bowl? It's go time. Drop the pb cookie ball in the sugar and roll it around until it's covered (i.e. no longer sticky). You can then put the cookies on the tray (with at least an inch of space between) and either make "classic" peanut butter cookies by flattening first one way then the other with a fork (to make those cutesy crosshatches that we all recall from our childhoods) or simply leave them there for a more rustic drop cookie effect. The choice is yours! (In my case, the choice was my sister's--apparently she is anti-crosshatching and so while I have about 10 cookies that have the hatches, the rest are nicely rounded and actually stay a little moister, so it's up to you.)Bake on some greased/parchment paper covered/Silpat shod cookie sheets for 12 minutes* rotating trays (top to bottom, back to front), let "rest" on tray for 1 minute, then cool on rack.
*The book says 12 minutes (so, 6 before you do the whole rotation, which might not be necessary if your oven is evenly heated, but I always feel a little badass when I do it, so there you go). Clearly, thermodynamics was against me because I had to cook these for 17 minutes (which is 8 1/2 before you switch them, for those of you counting along at home). You want them to be the slightest bit colored but still highly soft. The minute on the tray helps harden them up.
After the cookies are cooled, store in a container (or gallon sized Ziploc if you're me) and try not to eat them all at once.The cookies turned out deliciously, crumbly and soft and the Reese's Pieces melted enough to infuse all the peanut butter flavor into the cookies even stronger and mmmm...

My next goal is to make something gluten-free, because a handful of teachers at my new job can't eat gluten and I don't want them to feel left out when I bring in the food I bake.
Any help, guys? I'd especially love recipes that were low on the "800 different kinds of flour and xanthum gum" spectrum.

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