When you first bite into this cookie fresh from the oven (a chef must taste her creations after all), you will quickly, unavoidably, become addicted to these soft, sugar-coated morsels and find reason after reason to make them (a co-workers birthday, a Friday night treat for surviving the work week, your oven has been feeling neglected lately and you don’t want to disappoint it, etc.). Oh, the list goes on.
Of course, for the die-hard peanut butter experience, you can certainly omit the chocolate chips, but even my husband, the die-hard peanut butter fanatic, admitted the chocolate chunks added a little…something. Now, go pour yourself a tall glass of cold milk and make these cookies.
Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook via Smitten Kitchen
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, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (for sprinkling) sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter chips. Place sprinkling sugar on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crissscross pattern (I used the back of a palette knife to keep it smooth on top), but do not overly flatten cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.
Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
While browsing through Food & Wine’s December issue, I read Cindy Mushet’s recipe for Vanilla Crescents and thought, Can they really be this easy? I headed to the kitchen to find out. You don’t need to plan on making these cookies – just make them. It’s likely that you already have all the ingredients anyway, and it won’t take more than an hour out of your day.
For a more polished look, I gave them a final dusting of powdered sugar through a sifter. I also made them slightly larger than suggested because I was afraid they would be too small (Do you see a pattern here?). However, they do plump up a bit in the oven, so if you stick to the recipe you’ll get the 3-dozen crescents it mentions.
Recipe courtesy Cindy Mushet
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350° and position one rack in the upper third and one in the lower third. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with 1/2 cup of the confectioners’ sugar until pale white, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour and salt and beat at low speed just until combined.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll level tablespoons of the dough into 3-inch ropes. Taper the ends slightly and form the ropes into crescents. Carefully transfer the crescents to the baking sheets, about 1/2 inch apart.
4. Bake the crescents for 22 to 24 minutes, until the bottoms are golden and the tops are pale blond; shift the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through for even baking. Transfer the baking sheets to racks and let the cookies cool for 10 minutes.
5. Fill a small bowl with confectioners’ sugar. While the cookies are still warm, coat them in the sugar and transfer to a clean sheet of parchment paper to cool slightly. Roll the cooled cookies in the sugar again and let cool completely.
One word: Yum! I love classic Oreo cookies, but making them yourself, resulting in a slightly soft chocolate wafer with creamy filling, is even more spectacular. Plus it’s very impressive. We’ve all seen Oreo’s, but when you offer unsuspecting loved ones this homemade version, no one will be able to say no, and they’ll really enjoy this unique version of one of their favorite childhood cookies.
A few notes on baking: The cookies will look small on your baking sheet. Out of fear, I used heaping teaspoons for my first batch, but they will spread out to the perfect size while baking, so trust the recipe and go with the teaspoon. To flatten, I moistened the bottom of my tablespoon and gently pressed the dough down. Then I used my fingers to gently form a more perfect circle.
Retro Desserts, Wayne Brachman via Smitten Kitchen
Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies
For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg
For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees.
2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.
I like to make Snickerdoodles every year because I can’t resist the combination of cinnamon, sugar, and soft dough. These make great gifts for neighbors or co-workers, or you can keep them all to yourself and curl up with a great movie and a glass of milk.
Recipe courtesy Food Network Kitchens Cookbook
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking sods
½ teaspoon fine salt
½ cup shortening
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
With a handheld or standing mixer, beat together the shortening and butter. Add the 1 ½ cups sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture slowly and blend until smooth.
In a small bowl, mix the 3 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon. Roll the dough, by hand, into 1 ½-inch balls. Roll each ball into the cinnamon sugar and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass, flatten each ball into disks. Bake until light brown but still moist in the center, about 12 minutes. Cool on a rack.