Friday, November 24, 2006

Peanut Butter Cookies

I am not from the creative cake and cookie bakers. Although I can bake from a recipe with the best of them, I find baking to be a somewhat arduous task, closer to a science experiment than to creative cooking. Having said that, I do tweak other people's recipes somewhat, usually in terms of length of time cooked. And I like cookies.

One of my favorite general cook books is David Waltuck's Staff Meals. Mr. Waltuck, the chef and proprietor of the restaurant Chanterelle, has made an excellent cookbook not of the delicate dishes that he cooks for customers but rather of the "family meal" served to staff before the dinner rush at the restaurant. The book is full of recipes and ideas of dishes that can be made ahead of time, in quantity. Its a great cookbook for "party" cooking.

The book contains an excellent recipe for peanut butter cookies. I have a minimally modified version of this recipe that produces excellent cookies in less than 1 hour. The only problem I have had is that the dough is extremely difficult to mix if you don't have a large electric mixer. Using a combination of a small electric mixer and your hands works well, and the result is quite tasty.


Electric hand mixer (you can use a Kitchen Aid type mixer if you have one)
Greased wooden spoon to mix dough
3 non-stick cookie sheets (yes, three) or you will have to the cookies make them in batches
Very large mixing bowl

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1 jar creamy butter (I only like Skippy, but feel free to make your own choice)
3 cups all purpose flower


Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees, butter two sheets lightly with a bit of the two sticks of butter. Place butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl and cream together until fluffy. Add salt and baking soda and mix well to combine. Add peanut butter and mix well. Use the electric mixer or it will be difficult to combine ingredients. Add the flour a bit at a time. Even if you are using an electric hand mixer, the dough is so thick you may actually have to use your hands to finish mixing it. Roll dough into one inch balls and place on greased cookie sheets. There should be 12 balls per sheet. Use a fork and push down the balls a bit (at 90 degree angle) to give cross hatch pattern. Try not to smash the dough, which is not particularly pliant and will break. Cook until lightly brown, which usually takes about 20 minutes. I would check the cookies often, as I have noticed that little things such as the type of cookie sheet and oven rack position make a large difference. The bottoms should be just a bit brown and the tops almost unchanged. Remove as soon as cool. Makes about 36 cookies.


CindyH said...

If I may make a suggestion based on my years of making peanut butter cookies: I would change the smooth peanut butter to chunky and add a generous cup of peanut butter chips to your batter. The downfall of most peanut butter cookie recipes is that the cookies do not taste sufficiently like peanut butter. Tweaking your recipe as I've suggested will help a lot.

Ira.B said...

An excellent tip. I will be sure to try the chunky, although, interestingly, I live in a household of peanut likers, not lovers.