Friday, June 18, 2010

Peanut & chocolate chip peanut butter cookies

TGIF!  So many things to be happy about today: day #3 and end of week #1 of the running in the morning experiment went very well.  Though I was up late baking (shocking, no?) and got an hour less of sleep than normal, I was out pounding the pavement by 6:07.  It's amazing what a lower level of humidity can do for your body during exercise-- I didn't break a real sweat until the last half mile or so, woo!  And, it's Friday, which means I'm heading to Maryland for a weekend family gathering at my aunt and uncle's cabin at the Potomac river for some boating, crab cakes, grilling, crab cakes and general good times.  Did I mention the crab cakes?

The cookies I was up late baking last night are for said gathering, but were made solely with my dear ol' dad in mind.  My dad is a peanut butter nut (pun absolutely intended).  For as long as I can remember, my mom has had to hide the peanut butter from my dad in order to keep some for our lunch sandwiches or make it last longer than a week.  And, to no avail, she'd come into the kitchen to discover the jar out, with a butter knife stuck inside and a nearby pack of Saltines, proof that some munching was taking place behind her back.  Shortly thereafter, my sweet but frustrated mother would grumble under her breath, seal and put the peanut butter away, knowing that it was a waste and she'd once again find it out a few hours later.  (True story -- Matt raids my cabinets and eats peanut butter by the spoonful almost every visit to my apartment.  Coincidence?  I think not.)  Dad would be happy to know that I've been on a bit of a peanut butter binge lately.

So when my aunt asked me to bake something sweet for this weekend, I was happy to help.  Yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting are an official dessert reserved for after dinner, but I also like to make something sweet for nibbling throughout the day.  After all, flying high on tree swings and waterskiing can be utterly exhausting :)  This power protein (hey, relatively speaking) cookie comes from Magnolia Bakery's cookbook.  (You know, that cupcake haunt in New York City for which people wait hours in line.)  Many different cooks tried and loved this recipe, and even promised to make you forget all about the (in my opinion) overhyped cupcakes, I couldn't waste a second more without taking action.

These are for you, Dad :)  They are crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and bursting with peanut butter flavor and a tiny chocolate hint on the side.  I can't wait to see how long these last with my peanut butter crazy family (oh yes, Dad got it from his mom).  Especially knowing how hard it was not to throw back about 10 on my own and simply pack them away for the enjoyment of others.  Torture, thy new name is sharing my peanut butter cookies.

Very Peanut Butter Cookies
(adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook)
-makes about 3 dozen cookies

A few notes: I did a little experimenting with this recipe.  First, the suggested size of rounded teaspoonfuls was just too small for my liking (and would've had me baking well past the witching hour), so I adjusted to rounded tablespoonfuls and the baking time accordingly.  The original calls for chunky peanut butter, but I only had smooth.  I did, however, have salted peanuts on hand, so I added 1/3 cup of peanuts, chopped, to half of the dough.  While the peanut-laden cookies tasted great, the dough was a little too crumbly and made rolling into balls a little difficult.  So, I'd skip the chopped nuts in the future.  I also used coarse sanding sugar for half of the cookies and simple granulated sugar for the other.  The sanding sugar added a nice crunch and made the cookies sparkle a bit, but I think it took away from the greatness of the cookie itself.  Again, granulated sugar is perfectly fine.  Finally, I used normal size semi-sweet chocolate chips because it's what was available, but might invest in mini chips for future use.  The cookies are so small that tinier chips could help the dough stay together.  Again, not crucial since the flavor is the same.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature (I used smooth)
3/4 cup granulated sugar + 2 Tablespoons for sprinkling
1/2 cup 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 semi-sweet chocolate chips (regular or mini)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper for later use.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt; set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter and butter on medium high speed until smooth and fluffy.  Add both sugars and beat until uniform.  Add the egg and mix until evenly incorporated.  Add the milk and vanilla and mix until just combined.  Slowly add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly.  Stir in the chopped peanuts (if using), peanut butter and chocolate chips.

Place remaining tablespoons of sugar in a small bow.  Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls into the sugar, roll until lightly coated, and place onto cookie sheets, leaving about 3 inches between cookies.  With the bottom of a something small and flat (i.e. a metal measuring cup), slightly flatten cookie.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes until edges are starting to brown.  Don't fret if they don't look done -- don't overbake and remove sheet to cooling rack for 1 minute.  Remove cookies to cool completely on rack.


Remember dads of all kinds this weekend!  Are you doing anything special for your pops?  Happy Father's Day!

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