The Perfect Peanut Butter Cookie (with Chocolate of course)

If you know me (either in real life or through this blog) you’ll know that I take perfecting a particular thing very seriously. Most notably, I worked on my chocolate chip cookie for about three or four years until I got it right.   I was obsessed with creating the perfect chocolate sheet cake for birthday parties (and celebrations) for about the same until I discovered an author who mostly cracked the code.   For the longest time I have not been able to settle on a peanut butter cookie recipe, but using DuckDuckGo I found “Chelsea’s Messy Apron” and this recipe, which is everything, as the kids say.  Did I leave it alone?  No, because I’m obsessed with tweaking.  Also, the recipe called for smooth peanut butter, which I’m against, even it makes the cookie worse (it doesn’t).  Also, every time I make a cookie or cake now, I have to add three types of vanilla: vanilla powder, vanilla bean powder and vanilla extract (liquid).
The reviews for this cookie in my house have been unparalleled:  “Top five of all time” and “The best cookie you’ve ever made.”  Sure, the Coronavirus has us all sheltering in place, but you can’t ignore your public.
Ingredients
  • 2-2/3 cup white all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1/16 tsp vanilla bean powder
  • 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, nearly melted  
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup Teddie creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup Teddie crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 
  • Semi-sweet chocolate for drizzle
Instructions:
  1. Fit your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Add both sugars and combine. Melt your butter mostly all the way in a microwave.  Add it to the sugars in a stand mixer and combine.
  2. Add  both peanut butters, almond extract, and vanilla extract and mix.  Add eggs, one at a time.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients: sifted flour, baking soda, salt, vanilla and vanilla bean powder.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix to combine: don’t OVERMIX.
  5. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Set your oven to 325 degrees—this is a low temp, short-cook cookie recipe.
  7. Using a the 1 inch scoop, place balls onto parchment paper your cookie sheet. Don’t crowd, you’ll have to make multiple batches.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, remove and keep on cookie sheet for 5 minutes.
  9. Once cool, melt chocolate (probably using your microwave) I like Ghiradelli melting wafers, but you can use any semi-sweet chocolate you have.  Drizzle over cookies and serve.

Anatomy of a Perfect Chocolate Cookie

So I was asked to make ‘chocolate chocolate cookies’ and quickly found that there are as many variations on that as there are on chocolate chip cookies, including with and without flour (both good). I finally found one I loved at the website Crispy Waffle (love that name). Making it a few times consecutively I found that the author’s conclusion that milk chocolate was resulting in a cookie that was too sweet was not my experience. The dutch cocoa and bittersweet chocolate did result in a dark cookie that I liked, but using semi-sweet chocolate chips made them edgy and almost bitter. So I went back to milk chocolate chips, and being a vanilla addict, I was compelled to make it a triple-chocolate/triple-vanilla cookie, by adding more vanilla extract (tablespoon instead of a teaspoon) as well as two other kinds of vanilla (vanilla powder and the seeds of a vanilla bean). To retain and amplify my chocolate flavor, I added a teaspoon of Dave’s Coffee Syrup, which is a favorite addition to nearly any chocolate thing I make. Now in danger of being too smooth, I found a final topping of sea salt kept the cookie well-balanced.

Also, perhaps due to the addition of more liquid (coffee syrup, vanilla)  I found I needed 15 minutes to get the right soft, chewy texture at 325 degrees. At 13 minutes the cookies barely set up and were living in the dangerous limbo between cookie dough and cookie. I’m not saying my oven is properly calibrated, so you’ll have to experiment for yourself if you want something more akin to a brownie-lava like thing or soft and chewy cookie.

Cookie Name Still Under Development: Cookie Cube, Triple-Triple? makes about 20 cookies using a 1 and 1/3 scoop

  • 4-5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I have a big block so this is at best an estimate).
  • 1 stick sweetened (unsalted) butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp of Dave’s Coffee Syrup (or you can substitute actual coffee)
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • Seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • heavy 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch of flaky sea salt for the top
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the flour, cocoa powder, vanilla powder, baking soda, chocolate chips and salt. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter and 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate together. I did this in a microwave, so yes, I’m a hack.
  4. Mix the chocolate and butter until it combines—from a greasy wet mess to something dark, brown and satin-y.
  5. When cool, add the vanilla and coffee (or coffee syrup). Whisk thoroughly.
  6. In your stand mixer, combine the eggs and sugar and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  
  7. Add the chocolate/coffee/vanilla mixture until well combined.
  8. Add the flour and stir by hand.  Maybe one or two “pulse” mixes to ensure everything is well mixed. Don’t OVERMIX!
  9. I used the 1 1/3 scoops which I found gave me about 20 cookies. If you use a smaller scoop you’ll likely need to adjust the time in the oven, too. 
  10. Bake for 15 minutes.   Cookies are best ‘underbaked’ so they are chewy.  When you take them out of your oven, depending on their condition, yo might want them to cool on the cookie sheet (more cooking) or remove them.  Again, it’s a personal choice. Everyone in my house wants to eat them as soon as they can be picked up (about five minutes). 

Gluten-free Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

GF Oatmeal Craisin CookiesI am continually challenged to bake things so that I may serve a constituency that may be have issues with meat products and/or wheat products, so I am always looking to solve the ‘this is good but not as good as the meat/wheat version.”  If we are going to bake something, it’s going to have to be the best version of whatever it is.  So it is with Oatmeal cookies, that I have been working on for two years already.  I use the King Arthur measure-for-measure gluten free flour, which I think is a revelation for baking, if you are baking for someone who is simply looking to live gluten-free.  For someone with a serious gluten allergy (etc.) special care needs to be taken with all of your tools, ingredients and even you.   That’s challenging, so take this recipe with a grain of gluten.

INGREDIENTS

  • 18 tablespoons softened butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2-1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1.5 cups craisins, soaked in vanilla-water*
  • 3 cups quaker oats, ground in the cuisinart
  • vanilla powder/vanilla paste to taste (optional)
  • maple syrup for basting

 

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat oven to 375°F.
  • In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.
  • Add eggs and vanilla; beat well; until no longer gritty
  • Combine all dry ingredients: gluten-free flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt oats and craisins; mix briefly by hand to combine (and maybe one or two seconds using your stand mixer)
  • Use a 1.5 scoop and make big cookies.
  • Bake at 375 for 10 minutes and finish at 350 for 5-10 minutes.  (Depends on if you want really soft or crispy cookies, and the size you scooped them at)
  • Remove from oven, and after about two minutes, baste with maple syrup.

 

 

Ginger Cookies, Three Ways

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Delicious, crinkled ginger three ways cookies.

A good friend of mine had hipped me to my winning ginger snap/molasses spice cookie recipe and for me, that meant the end of tweaking.  Even though I am a chronic recipe tinkerer, when something gets high marks, is asked for repeatedly, I leave it alone.  Until another good friend suggested that there was a cookie of equal, if not greater merit by the Canyon Ranch called Triple Ginger Cookies.  I made it and though I must say it was a very, very, very good cookie, I was missing some of the flavors from the other cookie that I loved, namely cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.   So just for fun, I added them in to see whether or not it would make it better.  It did.  Know what else made it better? Full-fat cream cheese (the original recipe calls for low-fat cream cheese, which is gross).

Of course, playing with ingredients and fat means adjusting the baking time.  The original recipe calls for a 9 minute baking time, but I found using small balls (1 inch scoop as a go-by), I needed about 16 minutes to get these to the right texture.   Now that’s a subjective matter based on whether or not you like them pudding-soft or or teeth-breakingly crisp, or somewhere in between.
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter
  • ⅔ cream cheese
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ⅓ cup black strap molasses
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp himalayan sea salt
  • ¾ cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger root
  • ½ cup minced crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 cup sugar, for rolling.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar on low speed with an electric mixer. Add egg yolk and molasses and mix on low until just combined.
  3. Combine dry ingredients, whisk thoroughly.
  4. Add to wet ingredients.
  5. Mix briefly by hand, and a brief mix with the stand mixer (I find this is necessary).
  6. If possible, wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or over night.
  7. Using your hands or smallest scoop, create balls.
  8. Dip and roll in sugar.
  9. Add to a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
  10. Bake for about 15 minutes.  Cookies should have a crinkled look and be relatively flat.
  11. Cool for five minutes and serve.