Thursday, September 01, 2005

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Source: Cook's Illustrated's The New Best Recipe

Bringing the butter, peanut butter, and eggs to room temperature makes it easier to blend the ingredients. Be sure to grind the peanuts, since whole, and even chopped peanuts tend to slip out of the dough. If using unsalted butter, increase salt to 1 teaspoon. Keep finished cookies refrigerated in airtight container. To restore just-baked chewiness, wrap a cookie in a sheet of paper towel and microwave for approximately 25 seconds. Cool before serving. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks), salted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup extra-crunchy peanut butter , preferably Jif (I used creamy)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup roasted salted peanuts , ground in food processor to resemble bread crumbs, about 14 pulses (about 1 cup, packed) (since these were not going to be a drop cookie, I skipped this part)
(1 -ounce package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures)

After testing scores of recipes, we finally got real peanut flavor and a non-sandy texture.

1. Adjust oven rack to low center position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

2. In bowl of electric mixer or by hand, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes with electric mixer, stopping to scrape down bowl as necessary. Beat in peanut butter until fully incorporated, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Gently stir dry ingredients into peanut butter mixture. Add ground peanuts; stir gently until just incorporated.

3. Working with 2 tablespoons dough at a time (see illustration 1 below), roll into large balls, placing them 2 inches apart on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Following illustration 2, press each dough ball with back of dinner fork dipped in cold water to make crisscross design. Bake until cookies are puffed and slightly brown along edges, but not top, 10 to 12 minutes (they will not look fully baked). Cool cookies on cookie sheet until set, about 4 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 7 days. (See directions below for turning these into peanut butter cup cookies.)

My notes: Normally I make the peanut butter cookie recipe out of Joy of Cooking, but my cookbook is misplaced (possibly in storage) because of the move, so I tried a recipe out The New Best Recipe from Cook's Illustrated. I liked this recipe quite well, but it seemed strong on the vanilla. It may have been that we didn't mix it thoroughly enough - some cookies tasted quite strongly of vanilla while others did not. I also missed the part about using salted butter, so my cookies probably could have used more salt.

To turn these into Peanut Butter Cup Cookies: Form smallish balls out of the dough and place into a mini muffin pan. Take a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and gently press into the middle of each ball. Bake at 350ยบ for about 10-12 minutes, until very lightly browned. Be careful not to put too much dough into each cup - the cookies will puff up over the muffin tin and create a large rim. The rims can be very delicate and break off if they are too large.

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