Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

When it comes to cookies, the powers that be in my house seem to be a bit picky.  There are very few recipes that get nominated for repeats.  I can probably count them on one hand.  My mom’s peanut butter cookies are in the top 5  for requests (chocolate chip, shortbread, ginger cookies and my latest macaroons make the short list as well).
These peanut butter ones are perfect-- creamy, tender, just the right crispy on the outside, with a soft middle that melts in your mouth.  In  my early days of baking, I tried a dozen or so recipes, and never came close to  this one that I grew up with.  I finally caved and called my mom, and she very kindly dictated the recipe to me over the phone.  She isn’t quite sure of its original source, she thought maybe from a jar of peanut butter long ago, we may never know. If anyone does recognize this recipe, please do tell, I would love to give credit where credit is due. Until then, my mom gets all the praise!) We do know, however, that it is a recipe not to mess with (kind of like my chocolate chip cookies, that after a memorable blunder, will NEVER mess with again!)   And, it is easy peasy to put together.
As for peanut butter, I always use Kraft Original Smooth Peanut Butter.  I am sure other peanut butters would work just as well, maybe even a crunchy version...(I happen to be married to a peanut butter snob though, Kraft Smooth is my hubbie's favourite, and the word crunchy does not appear on his label!) Anyhoo, use your favourite peanut butter, it just should have a nice creamy consistency. 
This recipe makes a large batch of cookies, which is never a problem here, but I am sure you could freeze either the dough, or the cookies after they have been baked (or send your leftovers here, I am sure I could come up with a couple of kids to polish them off for you.....)

Moms’ Peanut Butter Cookies

½ cup butter softened (2 sticks)
1 ½ cups peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (I leave this out if my butter is salted)

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachments, cream together the butter, peanut butter, eggs, vanilla and sugars. 

Let it mix for a few minutes on medium speed to get it nicely combined, and looks like this:

Turn off mixer, and add in the flour, baking soda and salt (if using).  With mixer on low, stir to just incorporate the dry ingredients.

Finish mixing by hand, taking care not to mix too much, over mixing = tough cookies!

Depending on the stickiness, you may need to chill the dough for an hour or so.  I have used the dough right away numerous times, and other times have had to chill it.  If you can roll it into a ball right away, skip the chilling.  I am thinking the difference may be the moisture content of the butter?  If you need to chill it, cover the top of the dough with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for about an hour.

(or, if it is nice and chilly out, place outside your back door, like this!)

Roll the dough, chilled or not, into 1 inch(ish) balls and place 2 inches apart on your ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet.  They do spread, so do not crowd your pan!

Dip a fork in sugar,

and slightly flatten balls of dough, leaving the fork impression in the top of each cookie.  Dip the fork in the sugar each time to prevent the fork from sticking.

Bake in 350 degree oven** for 11-13 minutes, or until the cookies are JUST starting to brown on the outer edges. 

Let cookies hang out on pan for about 5 minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Makes about 75 cookies.

**I recently invested in an oven thermometer, and when my oven is set to 350 degrees, the thermometer inside reads closer to 375 degrees.  Use your judgement and raise the temp if your first pan of cookies takes longer than 13 minutes to start to brown at the edges.

Yes, that is a rare January sunbeam shining on my cookies!

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