Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ok folks, get your self-restraint ready.

Got it?

No?

It may be hidden in the fridge behind the carrots, or perhaps under the whole grain bread.

Alright, ready? Excellent, because you’re definitely going to need it when these treats are in the cookie jar.

I’ve always been a huge fan of peanut butter and chocolate’s relationship.  It’s a perfect marriage between salty and sweet, creamy and crunchy.  I could never choose one over the other.

It’s no surprise then, that one of my favorite cookies is the famous peanut butter- chocolate chip.  I found a recipe for peanut butter cookies a few years ago that quickly found its spot in my baking rotation.  Over the years I’ve adapted the recipe to be my own.  With a swirl of grade B maple syrup, a dash of cayenne pepper, and a crunchy coating of turbinado sugar, they are dangerously addictive.  Seriously, I dare you to try stopping after just one…

Dangerously Addictive Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies:
These cookies are a definite crowd-pleaser; I have had several requests to make them.  I recommend using the best chocolate chips you can get your hands on (I use Callebaut), or perhaps you can chop up a fancy chocolate bar.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup high-quality chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1/2 cup turbinado sugar, for coating (optional, but adds a really nice crunch)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper, if using.  Mix well. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, peanut butter, sugars, and maple syrup together until fluffy and lighter in color, about 4 minutes. Add the egg, mix well.  Mix in the vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until combine.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
Roll the dough into tablespoon-sized balls and coat with turbinado sugar, if using. Place on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Smash the dough balls down with a fork to flatten a bit (the cookies shouldn’t spread too much during baking).  Bake 10-12 minutes.
Enjoy.

Oh how time flies…

These past few weeks have flown by in a flurry of papers, projects, exams, and meetings.  It feels like I just whipped these brownies up yesterday and this pie the day before. Although I have made some tasty treats, I haven’t managed to snap a decent picture of any of them!  And so, I give you a bevy of descriptions and recipes to try:

First, I made a version of  Jean-Georges fried rice.  If you are short on time, this is a fantastic choice to soothe your growling stomach, as it took me less than an hour to make from start to finish. I did make some changes to the recipe, however.  Faced with a seriously stark fridge, I had to sub onions for the leeks. I also tossed the garlic and ginger in with the onions, which made one less step in the recipe.  And, as I cracked my egg into the hot pan and found it sticking, I decided to mix the egg right into the rice mixture. Despite the changes, the dish turned out great! I found myself wishing the bowl would never end, grumbling a satisfied “Mmm” as I ate.

I also discovered a treasure trove of bananas in the back of my freezer, begging to be made into my favorite treat: banana bread.  Needless to say, the loaf disappeared before I even managed to snatch a picture.  I promise to post the recipe soon!

Last, I found out that my immersion blender also doubles as a smoothie maker. Go figure! Toss a splash of lemon/orange/ginger juice in with a 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries, a frozen banana, a large spoonful of yogurt, and **BAM** you have a tasty breakfast treat.  I can’t wait to try a banana/peanut butter/vanilla/chocolate milk combination!

So, even though I haven’t been posting, I have been squeezing in some time to cook.  Give these recipes a try!  By the time you check back I’ll have another post up, acceptable picture included.

-k

Brownies with a Kick

For some reason, I always associate brownies with Valentine’s day. I usually opt for Alice Medrich’s ethereal New Bittersweet Brownies from her most recent masterpiece, Pure Dessert.  However, seeing as the world has gone absolutely gaga over the Baked brownie, I figured I’d give that recipe a shot.  Given the nature of Valentine’s day, I also wanted to spice it up a bit with some cayenne pepper and cinnamon–just enough spice to make the back of your throat sing.

From the start, I could tell the Baked brownie recipe would be a cinch to put together.  Unlike Medrich’s recipe, the batter can be whipped up without a mixer.  Also, because the eggs aren’t beaten as much, the top crust of the Baked brownies is a lot thinner (the one downfall of Medrich’s brownies, in my opinion).

The result?  Well, these brownies sure are delicious–perfectly fudge-like, without a hint of gumminess.  The heat from the cayenne and the cinnamon is a wonderful addition, especially with a scoop of coffee ice cream right on top.  Although I’m still not convinced that the recipe tops Medrich’s brownie heaven, it places a close second, and earns a spot in my brownie recipe rotation.

Spicy Hot Brownies:
(adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)
These brownies are exceptionally tasty when topped with coffee ice cream.  I’m particularly fond of Haagen Dazs.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon high-quality cocoa powder (I use Callebaut)
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground espresso powder
5.5 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 8 x 8 inch pan. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and espresso.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the chocolate and butter.  Set over a pot of simmering water and stir until the chocolate and butter are completely melted.  Turn off the heat.  Add the sugars, and whisk to combine.  Remove the bowl from the pot.
Add the eggs to the mixture, one at a time.  Do not overmix the batter, beat only until the eggs are combined.  Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture and fold until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few crumbs.  Try not to overbake, or the brownies will lose their fudge-like consistency.
Let cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes.  Cut into 9 squares for large servings, or 12 for smaller servings.
Enjoy.
 
If you would like to try Alice Medrich’s New Bittersweet Brownie recipe, click on over to Slow Like Honey.