PB&C

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

To whoever came up with the brilliant idea of pulverizing peanuts into a gloriously smooth and creamy consistency, I thank you.  Jebediah Peanutbutter, you single-handedly made life worth living.
IMG_6482There’s just something so wonderful about peanut butter.  I can’t decide if it’s the rich texture, the profound umami taste, or the way it sticks your mouth together when you eat a big spoonful of it.  Whatever the reason, it’s safe to quote Zac Brown Band next time you serenade your peanut butter (normal people do that, right?) and say, “You got whatever it is, that blows me awaaaay”

Now, making the logical step from peanut butter to peanut butter cookies, I have to say that, though I prefer me a good natural peanut butter as my “eating” PB, when baking with peanut butter, natural usually is not the way to go.  The oil separation inherent with natural peanut butters can do weird and scary things to cookie doughs.  Let’s face it though, cookies are not a health food, so trying to balance the stick of butter you’re using with a “natural” peanut butter is a bit oxymoronic…just go whole-hog and use the Skippy regular.  YOLO.
As I have preached before, brown butter is da bomb.  Like literally, brown butter could cause an explosion…a FLAVOR EXPLOSION!  The nuttiness that browning the butter confers to that heavenly stick of solid fat couples so nicely with the peanutty goodness of a peanut butter cookie.  So really, if you haven’t already, get down with the brown.

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Two temperature tricks with this recipe:
  1.  Make sure your egg is room temperature by letting it sit in a cup of lukewarm tap water for 10 minutes or so while you brown your butter and gather your ingredients (this way you don’t have to leave the egg precariously on the counter for an hour to achieve the critical temp change…accident waiting to happen).  Ingredients of similar temperature just mix together better!
  2. You REALLY have to chill this dough.  Twice.  Once after making the dough (especially because of the brown butter), then again after shaping your dough blobs.  When you roll the dough blobs, your hands will inevitably warm up the outer dough layer, which will then predispose it to melt faster than the rest of the cookie in the oven, yielding those unsightly dark brown edges.

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

1 stick butter, browned & cooled 20 minutes
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon low fat chocolate milk
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Coarse sea salt
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together cooled brown butter and both sugars, until pale and fluffy.  Beat in peanut butter, egg, and vanilla, until totally smooth and homogeneous.  In a small mixing bowl or large measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.  With mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients into wet, and mix JUST until combined — dough may look a bit crumbly, BUT THAT’S FINE!  Beat in milk ~15 seconds to help dough come together.  Use a rubber spatula to fold in chocolate chips, then transfer dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap.  Form dough into a cohesive mound, and wrap tightly in the plastic wrap.  Place swaddled dough mass into a gallon-sized zip-top bag, seal tightly, and chill 24-48 hours.
1 hour before you’re ready to bake the cookies, transfer dough from fridge to counter.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Use your hands to form ~tablespoonfuls of dough into taller-than-wide marshmallow-sized blobs — you may need to manhandle the dough a bit to warm it enough to form the dough blobs.  Return to fridge for 10 minutes (15 minutes, if you have really hot hands).  Sprinkle tops with a little coarse sea salt, and bake 9-11 minutes, turning sheet halfway through bake-time.  Edges should be JUST browned, and centers should no longer appear wet and JUST starting to form tiny microcracks on the surface.  Let sit on cookie sheet 4 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Store cooled cookies at room temperature for up to 5 days.

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