Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

img_8162On the recommendation of a friend—”What’s your favorite cookie?” “Peanut Butter.” “Done.”—I gave this particular recipe a try. These are easy enough to make, if a little time consuming (the dough requires chilling for 3+ hours). However, while researching a time-tested recipe, I found it curious that all of them involved using a fork to press a criss-cross pattern into the cookie dough. After a little digging and a whole litany of unsatisfactory explanations, I found there’s no real reason why a fork is used. Sure, flattening the cookie dough makes for more even baking, but the same result can be achieved using the heel of your hand or a cookie shovel. So, chalk it up to “that’s just how it’s done” (and the Pillsbury’s influence in the baking world in the 1930s).

However, one unexpected result of this inexplicable tradition is that the criss-cross pattern makes it easier for those with peanut allergies to identify this as a potentially life-threatening treat. EpiPens are pretty expensive these days, in case you haven’t heard.

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INGREDIENTS (ever so slightly modified from Simply Recipes)

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 egg

DIRECTIONS (Makes about 2 dozen cookies)

  1. In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. Using a stand up mixer (or a hand one that doesn’t suck) set on medium, beat butter until smadoove and creamy.
  3. Add sugars and beat for an additional 2 – 3 minutes. You made need to scrape the sides of the bowl.*
  4. Add the peanut butter and egg and mix until fully incorporated. Again, bowl scraping may be required.*
  5. Drop the mixer speed down to low and add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for 3+ hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Shape dough into 1 and 1/4 balls and place on baking sheet about 3 inches a part.
  9. Using a clean fork, flatten each cookie…leaving you with the requisite criss cross pattern. You may need to clean the fork after flattening 2 or 3 cookies.
  10. Bake for 15 – 17 minutes until edges begin to brown slightly.
  11. Remove from oven and allow to sit on baking sheet for 2 – 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to fully cool.
  12. Remain unsatisfied with the reason people continue to give for why a fork is used to flatten these.

*If you don’t have one of these bowl craping biddies for your stand-up mixer, I can’t recommend it enough.

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Cowboy Cookies

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I have absolutely no idea how I discovered cowboy cookies (probably too much time on Pinterest), but I’m thrilled that I did. Old and busted? Regular chocolate chip cookies. New hotness? These things.

They’re your basic chocolate chip cookie with cinnamon, unsweetened coconut, and old fashioned oats thrown in (pecans too, if you’re into that type of thing). They’re chewy with the right amount of crunch and just a hint of cinnamon. No clue why the word “cowboy” is associated with them—pretty sure that coconuts aren’t at home on the range—but don’t let that stop you from giving these a try. Be forewarned, though: This recipe makes giant cookies (even when I halved the original directions) and requires a big ass bowl to mix all the ingredients.

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INGREDIENTS (taken from the NY Times, ’cause I’m classy as all get out)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 cups chopped pecans (optional, these things are already big enough)

DIRECTIONS (makes 4 dozen giant cookies)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a larger mixing bowl (seriously, I have a 6 quart stand-up biddy and it still wasn’t big enough to keep some of the dough from winding up on my counter), cream together butter and sugars. I used my stand-up mixer. Use a hand mixer if that suits ya.
  4. Add in eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition.
  5. Add vanilla.
  6. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  7. Mix in chocolate chips, oats, coconut, and pecans (if you’re going that route) until evenly distributed.
  8. Make 2 tablespoon balls of dough and place 12 of them about ’em 3″ apart on your prepared cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for 17 – 20 minutes until the edges begin to brown. Rotate halfway through to ensure even cooking.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to sit on the baking sheet for 5 – 7 minutes before moving to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  11. Marvel at how effin’ big these things are and then realize that the original recipe called for the cookies to be twice this size!
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Cheesecake Brownie Bites

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Not exactly re-inventing the wheel here, but whatever, man. People dig ’em and I’m nothing if not a populist. Besides, I used eggs from Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett, so these are basically farm-to-table. Anyway, there’s really not much to these. It’s your basic brownie recipe combined with your basic cream cheese filling recipe to make a pretty looking (and tasty) little snack. I did, however, include a picture of cute dog, so let the page views commence!

INGREDIENTS

Brownies (this recipe, halved and without the browning of the butter)

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Cheesecake filling (from my dome, son!)

  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk

IMG_7968DIRECTIONS (makes 36)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare a couple of 18-count mini muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In the large bowl, use a hand mixer to cream butter and sugar.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the vanilla and mix some mo’.
  5. Add the cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking soda and mix until just combined (like 2 minutes, tops).* Set aside.
  6. Clean off your hand mixer’s mixing things (do they have a name?).
  7. In a separate bowl, use a hand mixer on medium/medium low and beat cream cheese, sugar, and egg yolk until creamy (about 2 – 3 minutes).
  8. Put that cream cheese business in a piping bag!
  9. Fill each muffin cup with 1 tablespoon of brownie mix, about halfway.
  10. Pipe a teaspoon-sized dollop of the cream cheese mixture in the center of each brownie batter-filled muffin cup.
  11. Use a toothpick to swirl the cream cheese and make it look pretty.
  12. Bake for 17 – 20 minutes.
  13. Allow the brownies to cool for 5 – 7 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish the job.
  14. Fool your dog into thinking you’re going to give her one, but, in reality, you’re really just using her to take a picture because people on Instagram like dogs.

*Generally, I’m a fan of whisking together dry ingredients before adding them to the wet ones, but I was being lazy. And this is not exactly haute cuisine here.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cookies

IMG_7592This is basically a continuation of the chocolate and peanut butter cup effort from a few weeks back. One can never have too  many recipes utilizing this combo in one’s quiver. What’s a little surprising, though, is just how few decent lookin’ versions of this particular cookie can be found in Googleland. Generally, a search turns up dozens of variations that are at least visually appealing (no idea about taste, mind you). This is a weird exception.

I did come across one—unsurprisingly, the first result in Google Images—that was easy on the eyes (aesthetically pleasing, for all you philosophy fans). Tweaked the ingredients ever so slightly and the directions a little more so and ended up with this. So, there you it. “It” being a pretty mundane story about the process of creating a cookie that lives up to the impossible standards of beauty our culture forces upon us.

Enjoy!

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INGREDIENTS (slightly modified from No Empty Chairs)

Peanut Butter Dough

  • 1 + 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Dough

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 + 1/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

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DIRECTIONS (makes 48 cookies)

Peanut Butter Dough

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Using a stand mixer on medium, cream the butter, sugars, and peanut butter—about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. You’ll most likely need to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  4. Drop the mixer speed down to low and slowly add flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Place dough in another bowl and while you clean the one for your stand mixer. Unless you have a second one, but that would be weird.

Chocolate Dough

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Using a stand mixer set on medium, cream the butter and sugars.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl, son!
  4. Drop the mixer speed to low and slowly (cocoa powder has a tendency to go everywhere…you’ve been warned) add the flour mixture until just combined.

Assembly/Baking

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Divide each dough into four equal portions and roll into logs about 1′ long.
  3. Gently press one peanut butter log into a chocolate log and give it a good twist. Fold that log in half and re-roll it into yet another log about 1′ long.
  4. Cut the log into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls.
  5. Place balls of dough onto baking sheet (make sure the most visually appealing part faces up) about 2 inches apart. Give ’em a little smush.
  6. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes, rotating halfway through (some nice cracks will form).
  7. Remove from oven and allow to sit on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to completely cool.
  8. Repeat steps 3 – 7 for remaining logs of dough.
  9. Giggle at the words “logs,” “balls,” and “cracks” because you’re a child.

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Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_7485Once again, I found myself with a bunch of rotten bananas. Having already made a few different muffins as well as a few different breads with the blackened potassium bombs I should probably just buy less of, I figured I’d try something a little different…cookies! Believe it or not, there aren’t many banana nut cookie recipes out there. They’re either super healthy (I have no idea what “spelt” is, but it sure as shit doesn’t belong in a cookie), not too easy on the eyes, or made with some lame ingredient (one recipe actually called for a box of banana nut muffin mix).

The only recipe I did like called for banana pudding mix for the flavoring, but that wouldn’t solve my rotten fruit problem. So, like any good one-time college vegan would, I substituted banana for the eggs (allowing me to drop the pudding mix in the process). I’m usually not one to tinker too terribly much when it comes to recipes, but I’m glad I made this change. These little biddies turned out better than expected. They’re a wonderful balance of chewy, chocolaty, walnutty, and banana-y…and they’re not too shabby lookin’ either. Maybe it’s just the Fiestaware. Whatever, man.

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INGREDIENTS (modified from Sneaks and Sweets)

  • 2 + 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 overly ripe bananas, mashed to shit
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (chunks might work better, visually speaking)
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

IMG_7479DIRECTIONS (makes 24 – 30 cookies)

  1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Using a stand up mixer on medium, cream together butter and sugars.
  3. Add vanilla and mashed-to-shit bananas and mix until fully incorporated.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
  5. Drop the speed of your stand mixer to low and add the chocolate chips (or chunks) and crushed walnuts until evenly distributed throughout batter.
  6. Cover and refrigerate dough for 1 – 2 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Roll 1 + 1/2″ balls of dough and arrange 12 of them about 2″ apart on your baking sheet. Give ’em a smoosh.
  9. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  10. Remove from oven and let sit for on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to completely cool. They’ll look “puffed up” initially. Don’t worry, they’ll settle. Also, even when they’re fully cooled, they’re still going to be soft…like you were in high school.
  11. Store in a air tight container under the pretense you’re not going eat these by yourself as you watch reruns of Smallville on Hulu.
  12. Somebody saaaaaaave meeeeeeee!
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Reese’s* Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

IMG_7318Show me someone who doesn’t like Reese’s* Peanut Butter Cups and I’ll show you a damn liar. Or someone who mistakenly thinks that being contrarian for the sake of it is somehow not annoying. Or hates puppies. There are very few absolutes in life. Reese’s* Peanut Butter Cups being awesome is one of them.

So…yeah…why not stick ’em in peanut butter cookies? There’s really no good reason not to. Better yet, why not make those cookies bite-sized? Being half the size means you can eat four times as many. Guilt free snacking, son!

That math may be somewhat questionable, but this recipe is anything but. The most difficult part is waiting for them to finish cooling. Arranging them on a serving dish in such a way that it doesn’t look like you’ve eaten a third of them before your guests have arrived is a close second.

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INGREDIENTS (coming at ya’ from AllRecipes.com)

  • 1 + 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 32 – 40 miniature Reese’s* peanut butter cups, unwrapped and frozen

DIRECTIONS (makes 32 – 40 cookies)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set side.
  3. Cream butter, peanut butter, white sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. This is easy to work with, so no need to break out the stand up mixer. A hand one will do.
  4. Add egg, vanilla extract, and whole milk and mix until fully combined.
  5. Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
  6. Cover and chill dough for approximately 1 hour (optional)
  7. Roll dough into 1″ balls and place into an ungreased mini muffin pan.†
  8. Bake for 8 minutes, remove from oven, and immediately press a peanut butter cup in the center of each cookie.
  9. Allow to completely cool before carefully removing from pan.
  10. Hide them from your mom because her weight loss is going really well and you don’t want to be the one responsible for her falling off the wagon (into a plate of cookies). I actually had to slap her hand away. True story.

† Ideally, you’ll have two of these as this recipe yields roughly 32 – 40 cookies. One pan just ain’t enough. However, if you’re normal and don’t have a pair of ’em lying around, you’ll have to wait for the first batch to cool (approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour) before finishing up.

* There’s not enough money in the budget to stave off a lawsuit from a multinational company’s sue-happy trademark lawyers. Let’s just pretend these were made with Generic Peanut Butter Cups™.

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