Mindy Segal has struck a cord with her book Cookie Love. I have always been a proponent of imperfection, even with my wedding cakes. I want my baked goods to look like they were made by hand, with love. That they have soul. Cookies are a funny thing. Think about the term “cookie cutter”. It means everything should be the same. Exactly. Neat and tidy. How boring. I don’t want boring baked goods, do you? I want baked goods that show me that they are packed with butter and sugar and all kinds of luscious ingredients. I want to see texture and flavor. That’s right, with my eyes. I want to be able to tell that this dessert is going to explode in my mouth and dance. Make me happy. Look at the image above. You can tell what a fabulous texture this cookie is going to have. The title says peanut butter, but then we see that puddle of melted sugar and nuts and we know, even before sampling, that this will be a PB cookie unlike any other. Mindy busts open all kinds of preconceptions about cookies in her book. Check out the Cocoa Nib Hot Fudge Rugelach and also our interview with her. And then go roll up your sleeves and bake a batch of cookies
Reprinted with permission from Cookie Love: 60 Recipes and Techniques for Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinaryby Mindy Segal with Kate Leahy, copyright (c) 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Photography (c) 2015 by Dan Goldberg.
I GO THROUGH PHASES when I keep a hunk of this cookie dough in my refrigerator at home. There is something comforting in knowing that peanut butter cookies are within reach, especially during strawberry season. Few things are better than eating freshly spun strawberry ice cream with warm peanut butter cookies. My cookies are a little flatter and crisper than most. The surface gets these great crinkles, so you don’t need to press the tines of a fork to make crosshatch marks. Skippy is my usual choice for creamy, sweet-salty peanut butter. If experimenting with natural peanut butter, be sure to mix the jar well before using.
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup hot water
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- ½ cup raw or dry-roasted, skinless peanuts
- 1 tablespoon (½ ounce) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup cane sugar
- ½ cup firmly packed light muscovado sugar or light brown sugar
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- FOR COATING
- 1 cup cane sugar
- Shards of Peanut Brittle (page 249), for garnish (optional)
- For the Brittle: Line a half sheet (13 by 18-inch) pan with a Silpat.
- In a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar, water, and corn syrup. Stir in the peanuts with a wooden spoon and cook, swirling the pan, over medium heat until a light caramel forms, approximately 4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put the butter, salt, baking soda, and vanilla in a bowl. When the syrup reaches the light caramel stage, pour the contents of the bowl into the pot. Remove from the heat and stir. The baking soda will darken the caramel. (If it looks too light still, put it back over the heat for a few seconds.) Spread the brittle onto the Silpat. Let it harden and cool. Once set, break into shards with your hands.
- Depending on the humidity, peanut brittle keeps for at least 1 month in an airtight container.
- For the Cookies: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter briefly on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the sugars and beat until the butter mixture is aerated and pale in color, approximately 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Add the peanut butter and mix on medium speed to combine thoroughly, approxi¬mately 1 minute.
- Crack the egg into a small cup or bowl and add the milk and vanilla.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salts, baking powder, and baking soda.
- On medium speed, gradually add the egg, milk, and vanilla to the butter mixture. Mix for 5 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make nearly homogeneous.
- Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix on low speed until the dough comes together but still looks shaggy, approxi¬mately 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to bring the batter together. Mix for another 10 seconds on medium speed. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.
- Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Refrigerate overnight.
- Heat the oven to 350°F and line a couple of half sheet (13 by 18-inch) pans with parchment paper.
- To make the coating: Put the sugar for coating the cookies in a bowl, ensuring there is plenty of room to roll the dough in the sugar. Using a ¾-ounce (1 ½-tablespoon) ice cream scoop, portion the dough into 12 mounds and roll into balls. Gently coat each ball completely with the sugar. Evenly space the balls on a prepared sheet pan. Press a couple of peanut brittle shards into the top of the rounds.
- Bake the cookies for 8 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake until the tops are barely set and the edges are lightly golden, 4 to 5 minutes. They will firm up as they cool, but they still will be chewy. For crispy cookies, bake for 7 to 9 minutes more after rotating the pan. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Mindy’s Notes on The Brittle:
- BAKING SODA REACTS WITH the caramel, giving this peanut brittle a light texture. It is easy to break it into pieces with your hands or chop into bits without destroying your knife. Keep the shards dramatic when using for the Peanut Butter Peanut Brittle Cookies they melt on top of the cookies in a cool way. When buying peanuts, avoid skin-on nuts, as the skins tend to burn. Another tip: I measure the hot water and corn syrup with the same measuring cup. The corn syrup comes out easier when the cup is coated in hot water. As with my toffee, I pour the peanut brittle onto a Silpat to firm up, but you can also use aluminum foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray instead. Makes approximately 2 cups of large shards.
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