Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Platters" of Peanut Butter Cookies

Song Pairing:
Only You by The Platters
A classic love song for a peanut butter cookie?  When it's the "only" recipe I've ever really enjoyed, then YES!  A love as single-hearted and devoted as mine is for this particular concoction deserves a melody as timeless and true.  My daughter had me second-guessing - thinking that maybe I Only Have Eyes For You by The Flamingos might be the better choice, with all the do wop she bops.  I considered changing for just a moment.  But, then, I listened to The Platters one more time and knew for sure.  When I eat this cookie, I want to throw back my head and howl out "you're my dream come true - my one and only yoooouuuuu!"

A peanut butter cookie was about the only cookie I was known to say "no" to growing up.  Well, that and anything with nasty orange marmalade in or on it.  Peanut butter cookies were too dense, too "in your face," and always too dry.  It was the dry part that was the kicker.  Even with a glass of milk, they just sucked up all the moisture and didn't leave anything behind to give you that refreshing feeling you're looking for after a treat of milk and cookies.  Even today, I will often refuse an offer of this particular cookie.  If I didn't make it, using my trusty recipe, I'm simply not interested.

I found this recipe through a friend, waaaay back in the 80's.  My friend had me and my little ones over for a play date and she had just baked a batch of these.  I tried to politely refuse but she guaranteed me that these were the best ever.  She said something like, "You know how peanut butter cookies usually are dry and really dense and "in your face?"  Well, these aren't!  I promise!"  It's like she read my mind!  I didn't want to be rude so I tried one.  And she was right!  The initial lightly crisp exterior was wrapped around a light and airy, yet creamy peanut butter center.  I was so shocked that I had to eat another!  Without any milk!  And then I snuck a few more into our diaper bag for the drive home!  Ok - so she gave them to me - but, best of all, she gave me the recipe, too.

And you ask, "What's the big difference about this recipe?"  I'm pretty sure it's because it's made with some of this:

Powdered sugar!  Genius!

This would account for the "melt-in-your-mouth" sensation.

Even the dough is fluffy!  I always scoop my cookie dough with ice cream scoops to keep portions even.  This allows for even baking as well as avoids the "their cookie is bigger than mine" dilemma all parents just love!  For large man-size cookies I use a #12 scoop.  For regular-size cookies I use a #24 scoop.  

They look so cute! 

Don't forget to mark them!

But today I had an idea come into my head so I left some of them without the fork marks.

Why do I have them so close together?  Because after I scoop them I freeze them.  If I'll be baking them that day I'll just put them in the refrigerator to chill well.  But most often I scoop and freeze.  You just need to be sure to wrap them well.  After they're frozen I can take them off the tray and pop them into gallon-sized freezer bags.  I find that this really helps the cookies keep their shape.  It doesn't take long before they're ready to bake when you pull them out of the freezer - about as long as it takes the oven to warm up.

And this is the idea I had for the ones I didn't mark with the fork - chocolate hash marks!!  I just melted some chocolate in the microwave quickly, stirring every 15 seconds.  I put it in a disposable piping bag, snipped off the end and crossed away!  A few minutes of "time out" in the fridge set the chocolate up nicely and - as you can see - they were ready to sample!  "Only yooouuuu!  Can make this world seem right!"  Love the peanut butter/chocolate combo!

The recipe calls for shortening.  I conducted an experiment last week and made two batches - one with the shortening and one with butter.  My daughter was Team Butter while my husband was Team Shortening - it was a tie.  So I called a neighbor guy to come over and give his vote.  He approached it like a pro - tasting, smelling, touching.  He wasn't told which was which to make it a true scientific project.  He signed with Team Butter!  It's good to have such helpful neighbors, right?  Thanks, Jordan!

Personally, I was shocked to find myself weighing in on Team Shortening's side.  It had just a bit more crunch on the outside which I found very pleasant.  You decide for yourself which one you like! 

Peanut Butter Cookies
Printable Recipe Cards
1 c. shortening or butter or a little of both! (215 g)
1 c. peanut butter (258 g)
1 c. sugar (200 g)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar (180 g)
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 c. flour (250 g)
2 t. baking soda
1 t. kosher salt

In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening (butter) with the sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the peanut butter and mix until well combined.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.  Add the vanilla and mix.

In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk well.  Add the dry ingredients all at once to the wet ingredients and mix on low just until combined.  Do not over mix. 

Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and scoop out cookies, keeping about 1/2 inch between.  With your hand, gently press each portion slightly.  Mark with fork tines, giving them a criss-cross pattern.  Wrap with plastic and freeze.

Preheat oven to 350 and pull cookies from freezer and place on parchment lined trays, spacing about 2 1/2 inches apart.  Bake for 6 minutes, turn, and bake 6 minutes more.  These are soft so let them sit on the sheet tray for at least 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 32 regular sized cookies.

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