Tuesday, December 6, 2011

COOKIE CHRONICLES - Peanut Butter Break Out!

Peanut Butter cookies!
My dad loved peanut butter....I mean REALLY LOVED peanut butter!  He'd always have peanut butter icing on his birthday cakes and you should have seen his sandwiches!  I swear his PB&Js were more like PB and maybe some J!  And of course, no Christmas Cookie collection was complete without at least one variety of Goober goodie on the plate!

I am my father's daughter so naturally have an affinity for the nutty stuff too.  As is evident in the number of recipes I have acquired that use the stuff!  And why not? Even as a stand-alone, by the spoonful snack, it's a healthy, satisfying nosh.

Peanut butter's not just for sandwiches or cookies.  As a sauce (like Thai Peanut Sauce) it is raised to new levels of flavor - combining its salty complexity with a dash of chili peppers, touch of rice wine and splash of soy sauce. Now THAT'S fine eating! 

Of course, we're not here to talk about peanut butter as a main course.  We're here to talk about cookies....lots and lots of cookies!  And believe it or not, there are lots of different peanut butter cookies to talk about!  We'll work with the basic recipe first, then I'll suggest a few additions.

I've used this recipe for years and believe it originated with my mother...who may have gotten it through the "Fannie Farmer Cookbook."

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease or line 2 cookie sheets.
Mix together
  1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
  1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

Beat in a large bowl until well blended:
  1⁄3 cup (5 1⁄3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  1⁄2 cup sugar
  1⁄2 cup packed brown sugar

Beat  1 large egg
Add it to:
  1 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
  1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat 'til mixed then:
Stir in the flour mixture until blended. Shape into 1-inch balls and arrange about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Press flat with a fork and cook 1 sheet at a time, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.
Flatten with fork

Of course, there's a lot one can do with a basic cookie dough like that!  Start with something simple, like adding some chocolate or peanut butter chips.  Maybe both!  It'll taste like a candy peanut butter cup!

Reeses makes a great chip that's a little version of their candy...works real good in cookies!

Other Versions:
From your basic Peanut Butter Cookie batter, many great and magical things can come!  For example, melt some semi-sweet chocolate along with a little bit of water (or bourbon if you like) and drizzle it over your baked cookies.  Let them dry thoroughly - overnight isn't a bad idea - before storing.

Stick your thumb into the center of your cookies then fill with a jelly or jam of your choosing.  Just like with the chocolate drizzled version, it's best to leave these out overnight to fully dry before storing them!

Just throw raisins into your batter before forming the cookies.
Too, too simple!

Still more ideas?
Spicy PB & Cayenne Hotties!

PEANUT BUTTER CAYENNE HOTTIES - yup!  Add some cayenne to the batter and have at it! Warn your snackers! Also, try various amounts....start small, like around 1/8 tsp. if you're not used to working with it....bake small test batches to reach your desired level of spiciness!  Believe it or not, these cookies are terrific - some folk who don't like spicy foods seem to like the combination of peanut and cayenne.

With such a great base as peanut butter, the sky's the limit on what you can do to add variety to your cookie plate. Go for it!  Grab that bit of oatmeal and mix it in!  Same thing with dried fruits and nuts!  Stir in some powdered cocoa for a real treat!  It's hard to go wrong!

As always, feel free to share your ideas, stories, memories and recipes here via the comments section.  You'll get full credit for what you send.  But mostly, remember as always - Enjoy!

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