Monday, December 8, 2008


A while back, I challenged Anna of Cookie Madness to a throwdown for peanut butter cookies. Anna has a peanut butter cookie recipe that she thinks is the best, and I have a recipe that I think is the best. Anna quickly pointed out that the cookies were different kinds and shouldn't be faced off; and in hindsight, I have to agree. But she did bake up a batch of my faves and said she liked them. In fact, she named them into her mid-autumn top 10 list. So the least I could do was to bake up a batch of her fave.
Actually, I had her recipe in my peanut butter cookie recipe file waiting to be made. Anna had the same recipe from Teri's Kitchen and just added peanut butter chips to them. Teri's Kitchen calls these Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies, and Anna calls them One-Bowl Criss Cross Peanut Butter Cookies. So here's the chronology of my kitchen experiments with Anna's One-Bowl Criss Cross Peanut Butter Cookies:
1. Made a half batch of Anna's recipe
making no substitutions or changes. I baked some small and some larger.
The cookies tasted dry to me. Did I put in too much flour? Did I overbake them? (Top photo is first batch.)
2. Emailed Anna to discuss cookies. Maybe I just don't like a sandy-textured cookie. That's how they're supposed to be.
3. Decided to make cookies again, measuring very carefully this time. As long as I was making the cookies again, I decided to add some flavors I like with peanut butter: coffee and cinnamon. Used Smart Balance buttery spread instead of butter this time, and baked some of the cookies using 1/4 cup of dough and some using 2 Tbsp. of dough. I slightly underbaked this batch. The flavor of the cookies was improved, but the texture stayed the same -- it didn't matter whether the cookie was large or small. Anna's right: I'm not fond of sandy-textured cookies.
The thing that's decidely different about these cookies is that they don't change when you put them in the oven. They don't puff up or spread. They stay pretty much the way they are when you put them in the oven. The texture is sandy and on the dry side. I'm going to assume that, if they're Anna's fave, there are a lot of others out there who will also like them a lot. So following is the recipe the way I made them the second time. You may think it's crazy to add coffee and cinnamon, but trust me, you won't taste either of those flavors: the cookie just kind of mellows out. Or, you can do what Anna did: add chipotle chile powder!
Just in case you're not sure whether you'll like this cookie, just remember that the half batch doesn't make that many -- only about 10. So you don't have a lot to lose by trying. Who knows, you might find the peanut butter cookie of your dreams.
One-Bowl Criss Cross Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted Half Batch from Teri's Kitchen + Cookie Madness
Rating: 8 out of 10
INGREDIENTS: 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) of Smart Balance buttery spread
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar (I used 1-1/2 tsp. Stevia)
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used Smucker's Natural)
1/2 egg (about 2 Tbsp.) (Use the other half egg to make a half batch of something else!)
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. coffee syrup*
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (3 oz. by weight)
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
Preheat oven to 350F. By hand, cream butter and sugars; add peanut butter, egg, vanilla and coffee syrup; mix well, scraping down sides. Add salt, baking soda and cinnamon, mixing well. Add flour and chips and stir till blended.
Using 2 Tbsp. of dough**, shape into 1" balls and place on cookie sheets about 2" apart. Flatten balls with a fork, making crisscross patterns. Bake about 10 minutes, or till just barely done. (Use a toothpick to test for doneness, just like you do for a cake.) Cookies will not be browned and will be soft. Transfer carefully to a wire rack to cool. These cookies break easily, so be gentle. (**Or use 1/4 cup dough and bake about 12 minutes.)

*Coffee Syrup: In a small jar, measure 1/4 cup coffee brandy and 2-3 Tbsp. instant coffee. Refrigerate and use as needed. This is a wonderful flavoring for chocolate recipes, such as brownies, cupcakes, etc.; for peanut butter recipes and for chocolate chip cookies. Use like you would vanilla but add it to vanilla instead of substituting it. If you don't care to bake with alcoholic beverages, you can sub very very strong coffee for the syrup.)

No comments: