Baking & Dessert

By Lindsay Hunt | February 9, 2011

Photo: Lindsay Hunt

During my study abroad program in France, I missed only a few American staples.  In a gastronomic center of the world with a stock of baguette, cheese, and Kinder Buenos, I ate excessively and contentedly throughout the year.

In the crux of one particularly low-point, which I now blame on the crossroads of being 16 and being homesick, I made a list in my diary of all the things I missed about the States.  Mexican food was important, and I missed really good cheeseburgers.  What I missed most of all, which occurred twice on the list: Peanut Butter.

My generous mother shipped 32 ounce tubs of Skippy to me in France, and I hoarded them as if it were gold-nut butter, instead of peanut butter.  With religious regularity, I slathered two pieces of toast with a ration of peanut butter and let it melt onto the hot slices of bread.  I crunched and munched my way to school, forgetting my teenage angst for ten minutes, and revelling in the dripping peanut glory.

Now, almost 8 years later, I have eschewed over-processed peanut butter containing high-fructose corn syrup for natural almond butter.  My morning toast is still delicious, but it doesn’t inspire a hoarding of rations or a ravenous morning meal.  The one place I don’t skimp with peanut butter?  Peanut Butter Cookies.

This recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks combines my favorite breakfast ingredient with my favorite food category: desserts.  The nutty, savory flavor of peanut butter is punctuated by sweet milk chocolate and chopped peanuts.

Of course, I probably shouldn’t eat these for breakfast, but when I have a nostalgic treat like these sitting around, I start my day with a peanut butter-based breakfast, and imagine I’m in France again.

from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 oz good milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanuts

Directions

1. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. The mixture will look light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and peanut butter and beat until just incorporated.

3. Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.

4. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart. With the palm of your hand, very gently press each cooking down so it forms a tall disk shape. Do not press to hard and do not press it down flat.

7. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with granulated sugar and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the tops of the cookies just begin to brown.

8. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the individual cookies to the rack to cool completely (although they are delicious warm).

The cookies can be stored, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.

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