30 April 2010

I Missed You (and Peanut Butter Baked Goods)

I'm baaaaaccckkk.  Most of my frenzied packing and cleaning has been completed.  My house is on the market and looking rather empty.  If you have any good mojo to spare, please send a few vibes my way to encourage someone to buy my house!

In the meantime, I have free reign in my parents' newly remodeled kitchen.  And when I say remodeled, I mean full out, state-of-the-art, amazing, beautiful remodeled.  The counters are humongous.  The stove is gas and has 5 burners *swoon*.  There are two ovens. There is a custom counter made specifically to kneading height, which conveniently, is right at butt height and makes a lovely kitchen perch.  There is enough storage for a small army; although, I come by my love of all things kitchen honestly because my mom filled up her storage spaces without much effort. It is a complete and total pleasure to cook in this kitchen.

Due to my move and my parents' remodel, my mom and I have realized the grand scope of our pantry ingredients. We actually started a list of items that we are not to buy under any circumstance since we have a zillion of them already (barbeque sauce anyone?).  So I was looking to bake something new and interesting, and I had the idea for a spicy peanut butter cookie percolating in the back of my mind.  I remembered a jar of Krema, our awesome, local nut company, Hot & Spicy Peanut Butter in our inventory.   I knew instantly that I would use this peanut butter to create a spicy cookie.  

I also feel like I need to take a moment to apologize for the overwhelming number of peanut butter baked goods of late- I must be craving them or something.  This cookie, however, was so different from the others I have posted recently that it didn't even fit in the same category. The cookies are thick and bakery-style huge (I could only find a big cookie scoop in my mom's drawers).  My dad exclaimed at how spicy-hot the cookies were, but to me they were just pleasantly spicy, with a slow-burn of heat that builds in the back of your throat.  The cookie has the perfect combination of flavors: hot and spicy, sweet and salty. I would like to bake them again and experiment with dipping the fork in a mixture of granulated sugar and cayenne pepper to make the ubiquitous criss-cross pattern on the top of the peanut butter cookie. 

If you do not have access to Krema's wonderful products, I would start by adding a teaspoon of ground cayenne to the dough.  Since I am happy to eat cookie dough, I would take a nibble of dough to see if it had enough kick - if not, I'd add a little more cayenne until I got the ratio right for my palate.

Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from Joy of Baking

3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (105 grams) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (260 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

additional granulated sugar mixed with a pinch of cayenne pepper to dip fork in to make criss cross pattern on cookie 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 2 - 3 minutes). Beat in the peanut butter. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the peanut butter mixture and beat until incorporated.  (If the batter is too soft to form into balls, place in the refrigerator for about an hour or until firm.)

Roll the batter into 1 inch (2.54 cm) balls. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet, placing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Then, using the tines of the fork that has been dipped in white granulated sugar, make a crisscross pattern. 

Bake the cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container, for about a week. Freeze for longer storage.

Makes about 20 large, bakery style cookies (or 40 smaller cookies)