Monday, September 03, 2012

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

This is a great version of classic peanut cookies (with the mandatory criss cross, of course). You get a hint of crunch from chunky peanut butter, but otherwise they are tender, moist and very peanut buttery.

I modified the recipe from Flour by Joanne Chang. Her recipe makes huge, bakery-size cookies, but with this halved version you'll get about 32 tablespoon-sized ones. I also tweaked the amount of peanut butter slightly to keep this in line with other versions of the classic PB cookie.

Another thing I did that was not in Joanne Chang's recipe was to roll the balls of cookie dough in granulated sugar. This didn't add much in the way of texture (although it would if you wanted to try rolling them in turbinado, or another coarse sugar), but it did add a sandy layer of sweetness. I would say that step is optional. I also like a peanut butter cookie loaded with mix-ins, but when I want the classic, I think I'll be sticking to this version.

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang
Classic PB cookies require classic peanut butter. In other words, don't use the "natural" type, even if it says something like "no stir." I like Jif chunky, but smooth peanut butter will work too.

Makes 32 cookies

1/2 cup (114 grams) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, plus additional 1/4 cup for rolling dough (optional)
1/2 cup (110 grams) packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (192 grams) chunky peanut butter
1 1/3 cups (188 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (you can also use a handheld electric mixer and beat for about 8 minutes), scraping down bowl as needed. Add egg and vanilla and beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes. Add peanut butter and beat on medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, 2 to 3 minutes.

With mixer on low speed, slowly add flour mixture and beat just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F and add remaining 1/4 cup sugar to a small bowl, if using. Scoop dough in slightly rounded tablespoons, roll into a ball and roll in sugar. Place on ungreased nonstick baking sheet (I used insulated baking sheets) about 2 inches apart. Gently flatten cookies by pressing with a fork to make a criss cross pattern. Bake in the center of the oven, 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are very light golden brown at the edges, 8 to 9 minutes, rotating sheet about halfway through. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. To store for longer than 24 hours, wrap tightly and freeze; defrost at room temperature.