Showing posts with label Cookies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cookies. Show all posts

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Holiday Cookie Round-Up

The holidays around here mean the refrigerator is stocked with an (over) abundance of butter and the pantry contains a larger than usual amount of chocolate. With eight of the ten of this year's favorite holiday cookies being dipped in chocolate, there is probably little doubt as to what my vision of 'sugar plums' are made of. Christmas is the season to make our most favorite cookies. As well as the ones we make so infrequently, they have become the ones most anticipated. This year I discovered some new incredibly delicious. They will undoubtedly and definitely make repeat appearances at all future holidays. And that's a promise! Although these cookies are so over the moon wicked good, more than likely none of them will be put on hiatus for twelve long months.

Making Christmas cookies is one of the ways I gift myself during the holidays. Creating little bites of made with love, beautiful deliciousness to give to family and friends makes my heart incredibly happy. With the exception of the Linzer cookies and the Viennese Finger Biscuits, all of the others travel well if carefully packaged. Additionally, they remain flavorful, even if the post office takes three to four days to ship 'two day guaranteed' delivery packages. 

The spirit of Christmas takes many forms. Sometimes it manifests itself in anonymously extending 'pay it forward' kindnesses to strangers as well as friends. Or often it is displayed through volunteerism. But then other times it takes the form of homemade gifts of love for the people in our lives who unselfishly extended kindness, offered encouragement, made the time for shared memorable moments, showed heartwarming thoughtfulness, and/or never let anything affect a friendship. 'How' we show love, gratitude, or appreciation during the holidays isn't what matters most. Keeping the spirit of gratefulness and thankfulness alive is. Although a box of homemade cookies can often bring joy to both the giver and receiver. And just in case you want to share even more love and gratefulness, here's the link to last year's Holiday Candies and Confections Round-Up. Happy holidays to you! And may the gift of giving be one of the best you receive this holiday season!





















Monday, December 18, 2017

Peppermint Chocolate Dipped Oreos


With the exception of an attempt at a run, the entire weekend here was spent baking cookies and making holiday confections to send to friends far and near.  As one of my friends said, it wouldn't be the holidays for me if I didn't embark on an overly ambitious baking journey. This year's holiday boxes were filled with some familiar and soon to be new favorites: Fluffy Vanilla Marshmallows, Gingerbread Cookies with Rum Glaze, Orangettes, White Chocolate Dipped Pistachio Shortbread Cookies (aka Amy's Shortbread), and Sea Salted Chocolate Dipped Caramels. And then because I still had some baking energy, some of the holiday cookie boxes included these Peppermint Chocolate Dipped Oreos. I had vacillated between making this Peppermint Bark and these cookies as my window for finishing everything up for packaging and readying to ship first thing Monday morning was coming to an end. The cookies won the day, but the bark didn't lose the holiday season. 


The chocolate tempering gods were with me this weekend as everything dipped in chocolate had the perfect finished sheen to them. And I managed not to send the 'elf' over the edge with the multiple 'please get this, please go pick up that' requests. Oh, the things that make me happy these days.


If you love chocolate, peppermint and Oreos (especially the double-stuff ones), you are going to fall deeply, madly in love with these Peppermint Chocolate Dipped Oreos. They may be the best semi-homemade cookies ever!


There can be such a thing as too much peppermint in the chocolate. A little bit of pure peppermint extract goes a long way. For two and half pounds of a combination of dark and milk chocolates, I used only a scant 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract. 


There are a number of options for topping the peppermint chocolate dipped Oreos (double stuff ones of course). Crushed peppermints, crushed candy canes or peppermint chips. You can find peppermint chips at most grocery stores this time of the year or if you have a local chocolate store near you, they often sell them in bags at the holidays (for everyone wanting to make their own peppermint bark). 


After dipping the Oreos in the melted chocolate, I usually top each of them with another small spoonful of the chocolate before sprinkling them with some peppermint chips. For the record, there is no such thing as too much peppermint chocolate on these cookies.


Because the chocolate sets relatively quickly on these cookies (especially in cooler weather), working in batches of about 10 cookies at a time ensures they will each get their peppermint chip finishing touch.


These Peppermint Chocolate Dipped Oreos are definitely so much better than the prepackaged ones you can buy in stores. Not only do they have a bit more chocolate on them, they contain the secret 'made with love' ingredient. They may be one of the easiest, quickest, simplest holiday cookie to make, however, they will definitely be one of the hardest cookies to resist. And if you are deciding whether to make Peppermint Bark or these Peppermint Chocolate Dipped Oreos, just make them both. There is no such thing as too much chocolate peppermint at the holidays.

Recipe
Peppermint Chocolate Dipped Oreos

Ingredients
2 packages (15.35 ounce size) Double Stuff Oreos
2 1/2 pounds dark chocolate or a combination of dark and milk chocolate, chopped and divided (if using a combination of dark and milk, recommend 3/4 dark and 1/4 milk)
Scant 1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (I use this one).
1/4 cup crushed peppermints, candy canes, or peppermint chips (Note: Some local candy stores will sell you peppermint chips.)

Directions
1.  Line two 15 x 18 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2.  Chop chocolate. Place all but 1/2 cup of the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water until melted.
3.  Remove bowl from heat source. Add in the reserved 1/2 cup of the chocolate and the peppermint extract. Mix until melted.
4. Placing a fork under the bottom of the Oreo, dip into the melted chocolate.  Lightly tap the fork holding the cookie on the side of the bowl to release some of the chocolate.  Place cookie on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
4.  After all of the cookies have been dipped once, top each cookie with some additional chocolate using a teaspoon (10 cookies at a time).
5.  After each set of ten cookies is topped with additional chocolate, lightly sprinkle with some crushed peppermints.
6.  Let cookies set completely.  
7.  Remove cookies from parchment paper. Serve on a platter or package in a box, tin or cellophane bags.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cranberry, Oat and White Chocolate Biscuits


A couple of weeks ago I inadvertently deleted more than 2,000 (yes, 2,000) photos from my phone. They were lost to cyberspace as I had not taken the time to back them up or save them to another device. While probably not lost, simply unretrievable to me. It was one of those potentially meltdown moments except I was too stunned to weep. I stayed grounded by repeating to myself over and over 'they were only pictures, this is not the end of the world, get a grip on yourself others have lost more'. Photos for me not only capture a scene, they are also visual, tangible reminders of the emotions felt at a moment in time. The elation or tug at your heart feeling over seeing a familiar view from a new perspective; or seeing how light transforms from something seemingly benign into something spectacular; or seeing something wondrous for the first, second, even third time. Sharing photos taken can be a way of sharing a part of one's self with others or making a connection. They can be simple tokens of affection, particularly when they serve as reminders of shared experiences, interests, or passions. Pictures really are worth thousands of words.


As it turned out there were some silver linings in all of this. With the loss of thousands of photos came the return of available memory on my phone. Finally I could download the apps everyone else in the world seemed to have and rely on. And if I wanted, I could now create my own personal avatar. But could my bitmoji really reflect me? The me I think I look like versus the me everyone else sees. Maybe I should just stay with attaching nature, landscape and food photos to my texts and emails. At least for the moment. 


Baking and cooking is yet another one of the ways I share a part of myself with others. The holidays create a perfect opportunity for me to share some love and gratitude with others. Even more exhausting than shopping for ingredients, spending hours in the kitchen, or creating beautifully presented boxes of goodies is laboring over the 'what to make and what will arrive in the mail as delicious as the day it was baked' decisions. 


Although there are some of the same usual suspects in these goodie boxes, I like to add new, different confections. So this year, in addition to the sea salted chocolate covered caramels, fluffy vanilla marshmallows, orangettes (candied orange peels), and white chocolate dipped shortbread cookies, the soft gingerbread cookies with rum glaze and these Cranberry, Oat and White Chocolate Biscuits will be making first time appearances. 


There are so many things I love about these Cranberry, Oat and White Chocolate Biscuits I don't even know where to start. They are simultaneous luxurious and simple. The roasted almonds, dried cranberries, orange zest, and white chocolate are all readily available, simple ingredients, yet when combined in this biscuit (cookie) they seem exotic and extraordinary. The blend of flavors and textures creates hearty and satisfying bites of deliciousness. The crunch of the biscuit, the just the right amount of sweetness, and the creaminess of the white chocolate lathered on top are the components of a cookie destined to be a timeless, year-round classic.

The inspiration for these cookies comes from my newest, most favorite cookbook "Sweet" by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. Increasing the amount of white chocolate and using orange flavored dried cranberries (versus unflavored dried cranberries) were the two most (in)significant changes I made to them. Finishing them with some sparkling sugar and topping them with a piece of dried fruit was nothing more than adding some whimsy and festiveness to them. Note: I followed the European version of the recipe which meant I weighed all of my ingredients and used caster instead of granulated sugar).


The texture of the dough is more shortbread like than cookie-dough like. Once the dough begins to come together it is scraped out onto a floured surface and kneaded into a ball before being rolled out. 


Using a 2 3/4" inch round, sharp cookie cutter, the dough was rolled out to almost a 1/4" thickness. In a 375 degree (F) preheated oven, the cookies bake for approximately 18 minutes or until lightly golden. Once cooled to room temperature they are ready to be dipped or lathered in melted white chocolate.


If there was ever the perfect cookie to eat with your morning cup of coffee (or tea), to enjoy as a mid-snack or to satisfy a before night-time sweet tooth, they would be these Cranberry, Oat and White Chocolate Biscuits. 


Whether you adorn them with sparkling sugar and a piece of dried fruit or not is definitely an option. Finished simply with melted white chocolate will give them a more classic than whimsical finish. 

I simple adore these Cranberry, Oat and White Chocolate Biscuits. I can hardly wait to include them in this year's cookie gift boxes. I only wish I could be there when my friends take their first bite of this 'new to them' confection. Maybe they will send me a photo.

Recipe 
Cranberry, Oat and White Chocolate Biscuits (an ever so slight adaption to the Cranberry, Oat and White Chocolate Biscuit recipe shared by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh in their cookbook 'Sweet')
Yield: 27-30 cookies using a 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 inch round cookie cutter

Ingredients
1 cup (150 g) whole unsalted raw, skin on almonds
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (150g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup (75g) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups (150g) old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar
1 Tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from one large orange)
3/4 cup (125g) dried cranberries, chopped in half
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons (25ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
10-11 ounces (300g) white chocolate
Optional: Sparkling sugar

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F) or 180 degrees (C).
2. Spread almonds out on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then coarsely chop in a food processor.
3. In a medium sized bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, oats, salt, and chopped almonds. Set aside.
4. In a small bowl combine the chopped cranberries with the orange juice. Mix together. Set aside.
5. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, orange zest and caster sugar on medium speed until combined and light (approximately 2 minutes).
6. Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix on low speed until dough just comes together. 
7. Add cranberries and orange juice, mixing just until incorporated.
8. On a lightly floured surface, scrape dough out of the bowl and knead into a ball. If dough is too sticky add a little more flour.
9. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees (F) or 190 degrees (C). 
10. Cut dough ball in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough. Using a 2 3/4 inch (7cm) cookie cutter, cut dough into rounds and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Note: Dough should be rolled out to a slightly less than a 1/4 inch (.5cm) thickness.
11. Bake for 18 minutes (rotating tray midway through) or until lightly browned all over. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool completely.
12.  Roll out second half of dough, cut into rounds, and bake. Allow to cool to room temperature.
13. Place white chocolate in a bowl over simmering water ensuring the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. 
14. Dip the tops of the cookies into the melted white chocolate or alternately spread a tablespoon of the melted chocolate over the tops of the cookies using the back of a small spoon or offset spatula. Place coated cookies on a sheet of parchment or on a cooking rack. Allow to cool completely before serving or storing. 
15: Optional: Lightly sprinkle sparkling sugar over the tops of cookies before the chocolate has set. And/or top each cookie with a dried cranberry.

Notes: (1) To further increase the orange flavor in the cookies use orange flavored dried cranberries (Trader Joe's was my source). (2) Cookies will keep for up to a week if stored in an airtight container. (3) Could substitute granulated sugar for the caster sugar if caster sugar is not available to you. (4) Don't skip the roasting the almonds in the oven step. The flavor the roasting imparts to them adds to the depth of flavor of the biscuit. (5) Your baking time may need to be adjusted if you choose to make these biscuits smaller or larger. However, the 2 3/4 " size made them just about perfect.


Images from the Plimouth Plantation (November 2017)


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Gingerbread Cookies with Rum Butter Glaze


This year we spent the Thanksgiving holiday out east. During the non-stop, whirlwind four days we managed to spend an afternoon at the Mystic Seaport Museum (Mystic Seaport, CT); take the ferry to Nantucket for the day; spend Thanksgiving morning at Plimouth Plantation; take a side trip to the Plymouth Rock; have personal tours of two historic homesteads (Nathanael Greene c. 1774 and the Denison Homestead c. 1717); stop and meander around the John Bradford Homestead (c. 1714); have a great dinner with friends; take some other friends to breakfast; and, have Thanksgiving dessert with the extended family of close friends. Needless to say it was one of two of the most memorable Thanksgiving holidays ever. If this holiday wasn't already my most favorite, this trip would have made it so. I feel an indescribable, somewhat unexplainable aura when I am on the east coast. It's more intense in some places (like Nantucket, MA and Little Compton, RI) and slightly less in others (like Mystic, CT). Whether it is the breathtaking, captivating beauty, the sense of history seen in the landscapes and architecture, or some other yet to be discovered reason, the east coast ranks high on my list of 'happy places'. And after four incredible days of traveling around the east coast and staying in my 'home away from home', the 'happy' in Happy Thanksgiving took on a new, even deeper meaning this year.

One of the things I discovered when planning this trip was that most of the historic homes and homesteads close at the end of October for a variety of reasons. But as luck and persistence would have it, staff from two of the homes on my 'wanted to see' list made it possible for us to have private tours. There is nothing quite like walking through homes built in the early 1700s, especially ones filled with period artifacts and furnishings, and imagining what life and baking must have been like three centuries ago. 


Gingerbread dates back to 2400 BC, but by the Middle Ages Europeans had created their own versions of the gingerbread we often associate with the holidays today. Not surprisingly, gingerbread was one of the confections brought to the New World by English colonists. In the first American cookbook, American Cookery, author Amelia Simmons shared recipes for three types of gingerbread, including the more popular softer variety baked in loaves. Mary Ball Washington, mother of George Washington, is said to have served gingerbread to the Marquis de Lafayette during one of his visits to the Washington's Fredericksburg, Virginia home. Although some of the proportions may have changed, the basic ingredients for gingerbread cookies we are familiar with have not changed significantly since Colonial times. Now, like back then, these cookies are made with molasses, butter, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, flour, sugar, baking soda, and eggs.

The Gingerbread Cookie recipe shared by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh in their recent cookbook 'Sweet' not surprisingly contains some additional as well altered ingredients. Aimed at enhancing both the cookie's taste and texture, the Ottolenghi-Goh version of gingerbread contains Dutch-processed cocoa powder, finely ground black pepper, dark brown (versus granulated) sugar, and black strap molasses. Together these ingredients coalesce to create a depth of flavor I had not known existed in a gingerbread cookie. Yet the transformation of this gingerbread cookie did not stop there. The addition of a warm rum butter glaze was not only gastronomical genius, it was the proverbial 'icing on the cake' or rather cookie finishing touch. The result is a cookie layered in flavors and almost too beautiful to eat. But to not eat them would be utterly sinful. 


The dough for the cookies loosely comes together after the dry ingredients are blended into the molasses, butter, dark brown sugar, and egg mixture. With just a little bit of kneading on a lightly floured surface, the consistency of the dough changes to one amendable to rolling. On days when the temperature is warmer, the soft dough may need to be chilled. However, on a cool, crisp November day, the dough rolled out beautifully without the need for any chilling time. 

Because weight is an absolute and measure is not, I weighed out the flour, butter, dark brown sugar, and blackstrap molasses. Forgive me but I have a strong need to temporarily digress to try (again) to convince you to use a scale when baking. A cup of flour is not always a cup of flour, but 120 grams of flour is always 120 grams. Slight variations in ingredient quantities can often alter the textures of both the dough and the final baked confection. It took me awhile to make this paradigm shift, particularly because I grew up in a cup and ounces, not a grams world. But after seeing the difference weighing ingredients makes, I have been converted to the way baking is done in pretty much the rest of world. Okay, the 'everyone should own and bake using a scale' public service announcement is over. For now, anyway.


On a lightly floured surface, the dough is rolled out to a 6mm (or 1/4") thickness. I used a 3 1/4" cookie cutter when I made this batch of cookies as it best matched the diameter of the Nordicware cookie stamps I used. Alternately you could roll out the dough using an embossed or engraved rolling pin and then cut the cookies into your desired shapes.


If I learned one thing when making these cookies, it was have all of your ingredients for the rum butter glaze measured out before you put your first batch of gingerbread cookies in the oven as the glaze needs to be applied while the cookies are still warm. Ottolenghi and Goh suggest the use of freshly squeezed lemon juice, if you want a booze-free version of the cookies. However, after tasting the glaze's boozy version, I could never be a teetotaler. 

My rum butter glaze was on the thick side, so I ended up adding a little more warm water to get it to the 'consistency of a runny honey'. It will thicken as it sets, so be prepared to add a little more warm water, particularly when you are glazing the second batch of cookies. 


The cookies bake for approximately 9 to 10 minutes in a preheated 375 degree F (190 C) oven with the baking sheet turned midway through the baking process. To test for doneness, the cookies only need to firm to the touch as they will continue to firm up as they cool. Be careful not to over bake. My baking time was approximately 9 1/2 minutes. The aromatic fragrance of the spices in the gingerbread cookies will have you spellbound.


These cookies have a deep, rich spicy intensity to them. The slightly crisp exterior and dense cake-like interior is pure gingerbread texture heaven. After tasting them, the gingerbread cookie bar has been raised so high I am pretty certain no other gingerbread cookie recipe could even come close. If you love the taste of gingerbread, you will be swooning over the decadence and lusciousness of these cookies. 


If there was at least one new cookie you wanted to added to your Christmas cookie platters or gift boxes this year, let it be these Gingerbread Cookies with Rum Butter Glaze. But don't make them too far in advance, unless you feel the urge to have them now, as they are best eaten within 5 days (if stored in a sealed container). Which means I am going to have to time the mailing of my holiday cookie packages out a little more carefully this year as I could not imagine a box of Christmas cookies without some Gingerbread Cookies with Rum Butter Glaze in them. I can't even imagine Christmas without them. 

And oh, don't forget to put a scale on your list to St. Nicholas this year.

Recipe
Gingerbread Cookies with Rum Butter Glaze (from the cookbook "Sweet" written by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh)
Makes 16 to 17 - 3 1/4" cookies

Ingredients
Cookie
6 Tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (90 g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
100 g blackstrap molasses (or black treacle)
1 large egg yolk
2 cups less 1 Tablespoon (235 g) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting and stamping
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 Tablespoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Glaze
3/4 cup (80 g) confectionary sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted 
1 Tablespoon dark rum (or fresh squeezed lemon juice)
1 teaspoon warm water, plus more as needed to achieve a honey like consistency to the glaze

Directions
Cookie
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Sift together the flour, spices, cocoa powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, molasses, and dark brown sugar together until smooth. Approximately 2-3 minutes.
4. Add in egg yolk and beat until fully combined.
5. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter/molasses/sugar/egg mixture. Once it comes together (it will not be a smooth batter at this point), scrape dough onto a floured work surface and knead gently until it comes together. 
6. Roll out the dough so it has about a 1/4" (6mm) thickness. Note: If the dough is too soft for rolling, chill for approximately 20-30 minutes.
7. Cut cookies into desired shapes. If you using a cookie stamp, dip the stamp in a small bowl of flour, shake off any excess and then press firmly into the dough to create a deep imprint. How far you will need to press to get an imprint will depend on design on your stamp. Note: The cookies will rise as they bake and so any soft imprints will disappear. Transfer the cookies to the parchment paper lined baking sheets. Space about 3/4" to 1" apart. 
8. Bake 9-10 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through, until firm to the touch. Note: They will continue to firm up as the cool so be careful not to over bake them.
9. Remove from oven. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then apply the glaze to the still warm cookies. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and set completely.
10. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container. Cookies are best eaten within 5 days.
Glaze
1. Sift the confectionary sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
2. Add the melted butter, rum, and water. Whisk until smooth. Add more warm water if necessary. The consistency of the glaze should be that of runny honey.

Notes: (1) Depending on the cookie stamp used, you could top the center of each cookie with some finely chopped crystallized ginger. (2) The original recipe called for stamping the cookies before cutting them out with a cookie cutter. I cut them out first, then stamped them. Use whichever method you are have had the most experience with. (3) I used the Nordicware All-Season cookie stamps. Other cookie stamp options can be found online. 


John Bradford House, Kingston, MA, - c 1714  (November, 2017)


Nathanael Greene Homestead, Coventry, RI - c. 1774 (November 2017)


Denison Homestead, Mystic, CT -  c 1717 (November 2017)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Chocolate Dipped Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies


After indulging in an 'unusual for me' amount of alcohol this past weekend, I should probably not be baking cookies. Especially these cookies. Peanut butter dipped in chocolate ones. Although truth be told, I had intended on making these cookies for our girls getaway trip, but time got away from me. There are many things my running friends and I have in common. Our love of a peanut butter and chocolate combination is just one of them. Only I knew I had planned on surprising everyone with some home baked cookies, so there was a bit of lingering 'should have' guilt hanging over me. I tried to assuage this guilt by saying to myself 'we had more food than we needed, at least I made the Spinach Dip and English Oat Crackers, and maybe these cookies would not have paired well with or even be remembered after a night of drinking wine, beer and shots' (definitely a combination I wasn't certain I could handle). None of these rationalizations (or rather excuses) made me feel any better, so I made them as a post-getaway trip treat instead. Convincing myself they would make for a great cross-training workout recovery snack. Rationalizing of course that peanut butter and chocolate are a healthier option than let's say three kinds of alcohol consumed in a single night (can you tell I must be getting old if that is how I think?).


Next to chocolate chip cookies, there may be no more iconic cookie than the Peanut Butter Cookie. Most us remember or have made the peanut butter cookies cross-hatched with a fork or the ones topped with Hershey's kiss. One of both of these from our childhood kinds of cookies would have left a permanent imprint on our peanut butter cookie loving hearts. And more than likely most of us have remained true to whatever recipe was handed down from the family member who made them for us. So it might almost be considered a crime if we were to deviate from a deeply loved, cherished family recipe or even abandon it. But sometimes an even better version of this classic cookie comes along. Even still, we have no reason to give up what we believe are the best peanut butter cookies we had ever tasted. But Stella Parks, author of the new cookbook "Bravetart: Iconic American Desserts" has given us one. A recipe that without a doubt refines 'best ever'. And a version that had our mothers or grandmothers known about, they would have been making. 


Peanut butter cookies made with honey-roasted peanuts may not seem like anything new, but pulsing the peanuts with the flour to make a 'peanut flour' is (at least in my world). When I saw the recipe for these Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies, I knew I did not want to tinker with it. And I didn't. However, dipping the cookies in melted milk chocolate would be my variation to her recipe. Not because the cookies by themselves weren't going to be good enough (they were better than good enough, they were wicked good). But because my palate would be wondering 'where's the jelly or where's the chocolate' if I gave it a peanut butter cookie. But that's just me. And hopefully it's some of you too!


This is one of those cookie recipes where you more than likely have everything in your cupboard or refrigerator. Maybe not the Honey Roasted Peanuts, but the flour, sugar, butter, peanut butter, egg, milk, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder and salt are just waiting to be combined into a confection. 


After sifting the flour into a food processor, the honey roasted peanuts are added. After pulsing for approximately one minute, you are left with a fine mixture. What I am now calling 'peanut flour'. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, the peanut butter, butter, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and vanilla are beaten until light and creamy. Although there is only one egg used in this recipe, it is added in two additions (which means you have to lightly beat the egg first). Next your 'peanut flour' is added and mixed until it is incorporated into the creamed mixture. Lastly the milk is added (I used whole milk, but any percentage would work). The result is beautiful, supple, very soft dough. One that holds it shape when scooped into balls. And one hard not to stop yourself from eating.


Using a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, I made 25 evenly sized balls of dough. Mine weighed about 1 1/2 ounces each. They were more than the recommended 1 1/8 ounce size, but I wanted them a bit larger. In a preheated 350 degree (F) oven, the cookies bake for approximately 16 minutes (mine were taken out of the oven at the 16 minute mark) or until they are still puffed in the middle and the edges are just barely beginning to brown. At this point you might think they aren't done and you should bake them longer. But letting the cookies rest on the hot/warm cookie sheet for 10 minutes (before you transfer them to a cooling rack) makes for a perfectly textured, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, peanut butter cookie. So be careful not to over bake them or they will lose their chewiness texture.


Honestly after taking one bite of these Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies before they were dipped in the melted chocolate I momentarily wondering if I really needed to. They were like an expensive bakery version cookie in appearance, taste, and texture. The kind you would have begged or paid the bakery to give you the recipe. But that little voice in my head kept saying 'you need to dip them in melted chocolate' wouldn't go away. So I dipped them. And now they were like an expensive gourmet bakery version in appearance, taste and texture. The kind of cookie you would pay more for just to be able enjoy chocolate and peanut butter in a single bite.


I know we usually associate pies as the traditional dessert for Thanksgiving, but nothing says we can't also serve a platter of cookies too. Like these Chocolate Dipped Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies for example. No one should have to wait for the Christmas holiday cookie season to taste them. That would be even more cruel than me not bringing them to the girls' getaway weekend. You need to make them, even if the person in the family known for their 'peanut butter cookie' is at your dinner table. I would bet even they would concede the honor should be passed on to you (which you would graciously pass on to Stella Parks). Maybe they wouldn't say such a thing publicly, but privately they would. Because I am willing to bet (and I don't usually bet) these Chocolate Dipped Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies will forever redefine what a 'great' peanut butter cookie should be. So what should you do with your current favorite peanut butter cookie recipe? Maybe it's time to just 'let it go'. 

Recipe
Chocolate Dipped Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies (slight adaptation to the Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies from Stella Parks recently published cookbook 'Bravetart: Iconic American Desserts')
Makes 24-26 cookies

Ingredients
1 cup (4.5 ounces/130 g) all-purpose flour (recommend Gold Medal Flour)
1 1/4 cups (6 ounces/170 g) salted, honey roasted peanuts
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces/285 g), creamy peanut butter 
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (10 ounces/285 g) granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg, lightly blended
3 Tablespoons whole milk 
12-14 ounces good quality (melting) milk chocolate

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F) or 180 degrees (C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Sift flour into the bowl of a large food processor. Add honey roasted peanuts and pulse until fine (approximately 1 minute).
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the peanut butter, butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder and vanilla. Mixing first on low speed and gradually increasing to medium speed, beat until light and soft (approximately 3 minutes).
4. With mixer running, add the egg in two additions until each one is well incorporated.
5. Reduce speed to low and add the flour/peanut mixture. Mix until blended.
6. Finish with adding milk, and mix until you have a very soft cookie dough.
7. Using a 1 1/2" in diameter cookie cutter (about 1 1/2 ounces or 2 tablespoons), form 24-26 portions. Arrange on baking sheets, leaving at least 2" between each cookie ball.
8. Bake one tray at a time for approximately 16 minutes, rotating tray midway through the baking process. Cookies will be done when the edges are firm and just barely beginning to brown, but cookies will still be puffed and steamy in the center. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Allow cookies to cool completely.
9. In a bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate.
10. Dip one half of the cookies and place on a large piece of parchment paper to dry. Allow to dry completely before serving or putting in an airtight container. Cookies will be good for up to a week.

Notes: (1) These cookies made without chocolate are equally delicious. (2) Use a commercial grade versus natural peanut butter. I used JIF. (3) I used milk chocolate melting discs from a local chocolatier. But use any high quality melting milk chocolate available to you.


Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin weekend trip images  (November 2013)