Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ultimate Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

Saturdays at the ‘school’ I work at are always hectic, teachers are speeding about from class to class with breaks spent trying to clear huge stacks of marking piles. The other day I was desperate for a snack and was stretched for time and quickly snatched up some peanut butter Oreos for an energy booster without realizing it.

I hate(d) peanut butter. The smell was ghastly and reminded me of brown puke. Nutella, peanut butter and Speculoos are delicious and popular in the United States, but my childhood breakfasts consisted of half boiled eggs seasoned with soya sauce and pepper, porridge and my absolute favourite – buttered toast and Chin Mee Chin kaya. (hands down the best in Singapore!)

So perhaps my time was due as I crunched into the sugary, chemically laden cookie, SOMETHING MAGICAL HAPPENED. The beauty of peanut butter and chocolate finally dawned on me and I literally ( YES, LITERALLY) stopped in my tracks to stare at the other single cookie in my hand, albeit in wide eyed amazement. Also much to the amusement of other teachers who were dashing to their classes.

Cookie recipes aren’t usually featured here because I love baking cakes, but this cookie is TO DIE FOR. Tall and puffy with a chewy interior, studded generously with chocolate chips.  I took a leaf from Alton Brown’s ‘The Chewy’and used bread flour which gives the cookie such a chewy texture! To get their puffy, pillow texture, baking powder is used in lieu of baking soda. A handy tip : baking Powder PUFFS and baking Soda SPREADS. The spices – cinnamon, allspice and ginger are optional, but they give the cookie a different flavor dimension.

Because I like ‘em chewy but not gooey, I baked them for about 10-12 minutes at 175C. The texture is sublime, almost like a peanut butter brown sugar truffle. Best enjoyed with cold milk and a Jenny Colgan novel!

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies (Makes about 16 43g cookies)

1 large egg
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural or homemade, too runny)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup bread flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teasp ginger
¼ teasp allspice
¾ cup chocolate chips
1.    To the bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl with electric mixer), combine egg, brown sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and creamed, about 5 minutes. Mixture doesn't get as fluffy as you may be used to when typically creaming ingredients for cookies. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
2.    Add the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, spices and optional salt, and beat on low speed until just incorporated, about 1 minute.
3.   Roll out the dough into 43g balls equally.
4.   Place dough balls on a large plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or for up to 5 days, before baking. Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake flat and thin.
5.     Preheat oven to 175C. Place dough mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart.
6.    Bake for about 10 – 12 minutes, or until tops are just set. It's okay if cookies are glossy, pale, and slightly underdone in the center because they firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes before serving. 

Baker’s Notes

1.    Supermarket brand peanut butter (Skippy!) is recommended because the natural kinds might be too watery for these cookies.

2.    I highly recommend using bread flour for the best ‘chew’ factor. All purpose flour in my previous batches resulted into a flatter batch.

3.   Cornstarch or corn flour gives the cookie an additional melt in the mouth texture.

4.   You can mix up the spice ratio, but I love this combination because the chewy cookie is like a PB – Speculoos hybrid! WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?

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