Peanut Butter Cookies from “Baking Illustrated”
by The Editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine
America’s Test Kitchen
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup extra-crunchy peanut butter( they suggest Jif, I only had regular Jif in the house, so that is what I used)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup dry roasted salted peanuts, ground in a food processor to resemble bread crumbs, about 14 pulses
1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower- middle positions, and heat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with Pam, or use a Silpat.
2.Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. Either by hand, or with an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes with an electric mixer, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary. Beat in the peanut butter until fully incorporated, then the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture. Add the ground peanuts and stir gently just until incorporated (don’t overbeat the dough).
4. Working with a generous 2 Tablespoons each time, roll the dough into 2 inch balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart (you’ll notice in the pictures that these are large cookies to begin with, you can also see how much they spread-make sure to leave enough space). To make the criss-cross design, dip the fork in water and shake it off quickly before pressing into the dough ball (the dough is sticky). Don’t squish them down too much, just enough to flatten the tops a bit.
5. Bake until the cookies are puffed and slightly brown around the edges but not on top, 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. ( I know it’s a pain to have to bake cookies this way, and I usually avoid those recipes, but these cookies are so worth it). The cookies will not look fully baked. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet until set, about 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Baking takes precision and measuring, there is chemistry involved and it is fascinating to me. The folks at America’s Test Kitchen (where they test the Cook’s Illustrated recipes) do a very good job of explaining why the chemistry in a recipe works, or why it doesn’t work. Their recipes are no fail and classic.
If you’ve ever had brown sugar that got hard or lumpy, think about getting one of these guys. I’ve mostly seen them in the shape of a bear, and they were called “Sugar Bears” (mine is from Alaska so it is more fitting that it is a moose). They are made of clay. You soak them in water for about 15 minutes, dry them off and put them in your bag of sugar, hard cookies, bread,etc. By the next day it’s all soft and moist again.