Friday, September 18, 2009

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter is an American staple. Europeans scoff at our attachment to this sticky brown substance, but, hey, French supermarkets sell quite a bit of Nutella (I should know, because I ate a ton of it when I was a poor culinary student in Paris decades ago), and the Brits dote on their Marmite, after all. God-awful stuff, that Marmite (my mother used to eat it on her toast). Anyhow, I still eat peanut butter now and then, and I love to incorporate it into my desserts, especially with chocolate. But here's one of my favorite pure treats, a classic all-American peanut butter cookie. Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, they are chock-full of chopped peanuts and pure peanut butter flavor. I recommend you bake these on an insulated baking sheet, as directed, to ensure that the cookies don't over-brown on the bottom. If you don't have one, stack two heavy-gauge baking sheets--it will work just as well. And don't forget the ice-cold milk, to accompany them.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 36 cookies
Storage: in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter (not the all-natural kind), at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts

1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
2. In an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter and peanut butter together at medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in the granulated and dark brown sugars. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl between additions. Beat in the vanilla extract. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients and chopped peanuts until blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 30 to 45 minutes, until the dough has firmed up.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an insulated cookie sheet. Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop, scoop 9 portions of the chilled dough onto the cookie sheet, spacing them evenly. Using your palm (wet it first, to prevent sticking), flatten each scoop so that each cookie is a 2-inch disc. Using a fork, making a cross-hatch indentation in the center of each cookie. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until they are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center. They will firm up as they cool. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.