Do you ever get cravings for an absolutely trash food? You know it’s bad for you; you even know that it doesn’t taste very good. You know it’s been mass-produced and pumped full of preservatives and artificial flavors. But you don’t care. Sometimes, that’s exactly what you need.
There’s a brand of cookie ( I won’t say which) that I love, even though it’s the worst. Their peanut butter cookies are perhaps my greatest weakness. I was standing in front of a vending machine at school yesterday, hoping to find them amongst the chips and breath mints, salivating at the mere though of these cookies. But they weren’t there. I had to settle for some pretzels and spend the rest of my day craving these soft, caramel-dye-no.7-tinged peanut butter(ish) cookies.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, the second I got home I decided to try to make my own. But would it be the same? Actually, they were way better. I think I’m just going to always keep a batch of these on hand in case of bad days, paper deadlines, and minor (or major) accomplishments.
A girl’s gotta motivate herself somehow…
Perfect PB Cookies
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter*
3/4 Cup peanut butter**
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
3/4 Cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
*You’ll notice I never specify whether the butter I use is salted or unsalted. I do this because (and I know every pastry chef ever will kill me for saying this) it doesn’t really matter. Salt actually helps to bring out the sweetness in any pastry. If I have only salted butter in my refrigerator, I’m not going to run out and buy unsalted. The difference in taste is minimal. If you’re really worried about salt content, by all means stick with unsalted butter, or just keep tasting your dough mixture as you add salt little by little. I usually buy unsalted butter for both cooking and baking, but I’ve made many delicious treats using salted butter.
** As far as peanut butter is concerned, I prefer smooth. I know a lot of folks who make their cookies with chunky peanut butter. Whatever floats your boat, Man.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Cream the butter, peanut butter, and both sugars until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until everything is well combined.
Sift the flours and baking soda together. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix until everything is just combined.
Spoon balls of your dough into the cookie sheet. If you prefer smaller cookies, spoon the dough out 2 Tbsp at a time. I like my cookies a little bigger so I do more than that. Keep in mind that the larger you make your cookies, the fewer you will have (unless you double the recipe… who knows? You might really like these).
Using the back of a fork, press down on the dough, flattening it slightly. I like to make a little crosshatch design on my cookies by pressing the fork into the dough in two different directions.
Pop these peanutty puppies into the oven for 28-20 minutes. I worry about my cookies baking evenly in my oven, so I rotate the cookie sheet about halfway through baking. Some people’s ovens are much better at cooking things evenly, I have not always been so lucky.
Once your cookies are golden brown, take them out of the oven and let them cool.
That’s it! I will admit I strayed from a lot of the traditional PB cookie recipes I’ve seen. After experimenting with those chocolate chip cookies I made a while back, I realized that I like the consistency whole wheat flour, and an increased amount of brown sugar add to cookies. So I opted for more brown sugar than granulated and decided togo 50/50 on the whole wheat and all purpose flours. I think half the fun of baking is experimenting. I make sure I know the basic proportions of a recipe (how much sugar, hoe much flour, etc.) before I start tweaking things. You could easily make these cookies gluten free by using gluten free all purpose flour, or make them vegan by using ground flax meal and water as an egg substitute and coconut oil instead of butter. Keep in mind that when you’re baking with coconut oil you should use about 3/4 of the amount the original recipe calls for. I’d love to see and hear about your take on this classic recipe.