Saturday, April 01, 2006

Peanut Butter Cookies

I used to make these cookies before Jack was diagnosed with peanut allergy. These are wonderful cookies. I used to bake them in a convection oven but a conventional oven is what the recipe calls for.

2 1/2 unbleached all-purpoase flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (this amount will depend on the type of PB you use)
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened but still firm
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup extra crunchy peanut butter (if you use unsalted natural, increase salt to 1 tsp. If you use salted PB, keep salt as is)
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup roasted salted peanuts, ground to resemble breadcrumbs

1. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth and creamy. Add sugar, beat until light and fluffy, about three minutes, stopping to scrape down bowl as necessary. Don't skimp on time in this step. Make sure the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the peanut butter until fully incorporated, then the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Gently stir in the dry ingredients. Add ground peanuts and stir until incorporated.

2. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least three hours to overnight. If you bake them without chilling, the dough will spread more during baking resulting in a thinner cookie. You can do this, but if you have the time, chill them for best results.

3. Adjust the oven rack to low center position. Preheat to 350 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment.

4. Working with a generous 2 tablespoons each time, roll dough into 2-inch balls. Place ball on the parchment-lined cookie sheet, leaving 2 1/2 inches between them. (This is a critical thing in cookie making. It is better to have few cookies on a sheet and do a few baking batches than to crowd them.)

5. If you want to form the characteristic criss-cross found on peanut butter cookies, go ahead. Dip the fork in a glass of water between presses. Don't press too much. Avoid flattening the cookies too much.

6. Bake until the cookies are puffed anad slightly brown along edges and the bottoms are golden brown, 12 - 13 minutes, turning baking sheet in oven halfway through baking. Cool until set, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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