Ultimate Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

A few days ago, as he feverishly prepared for the deadline, Matt announced that it was customary in his department to bring cookies to one’s dissertation proposal talk. He said he could just pick some up at Panera (gross), and there was also the option of Olive’s (a bakery whose undercooked Frisbee-sized cookies fueled many of the late night study sessions of my undergraduate years), but I volunteered to do better. I don’t speak math, so I can’t really proofread his papers or criticize his slides. I couldn’t tell him if his equations were off or if he needed to explain some statistical concept further. I’m really no help in that category, but cookies? Cookies I can handle.

These chewy peanut butter nuggets were adapted by Deb (of Smitten Kitchen) from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. They have the perfect texture, and the surprise of sweet peanut butter chips in each bite. The recipe also calls for chocolate chips, but I skipped those since I was also making a batch of intensely chocolatey cookies recommended by another favorite blogger. (More on those later, I promise.) I also skipped rolling the cookies in additional sugar, because I have found that many of the recipes from this book are a tad sweet for my taste.

I mixed the batter the day before and let it rest overnight covered in the fridge. Dough-aging is all the rage these days, since those New York Times cookies, and in this instance it may have improved the chewiness and heightened the deep caramel flavors of the final result. Also, it was just convenient.

And they were exceptional. I tasted one right out of the oven, then swore I would stop. Then I bit into another crackly edge into the soft, chewy, nutty center, and had to sit down.

I’ve had a few peanut butter cookies in my day, and maybe you have, too, but we should both throw away those other recipes. This is the one. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so passionately about a cookie—certainly not a peanut butter cookie. But I’m serious about these. Luckily Matt took the rest of the batch with him on the train (after tasting a few for “quality control.”)

Stuffing themselves with stacks of cookies, his committee members praised the presentation. I’m sure it wasn’t just the sugar talking, but it can’t have hurt.

Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook by way of Smitten Kitchen

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter at room temperature (I used Smucker’s Natural)
Scant 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips

If you are baking immediately, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you are resting dough overnight, preheat oven when you remove dough from the fridge.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl (or in an electric mixer) beat the butter and peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and continue beating until fully combined. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla extract, and beat well. Add half the flour mixture, fold in, then the rest of the flour, and beat until no white pockets remain. By hand, fold in the peanut butter chips. At this point, you can chill the dough overnight. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the dough and refrigerate. Or continue without aging the dough.

Drop small teaspoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving a few inches of space between drops for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a criss-cross pattern, but do not smash the cookie completely flat. Bake for 10 minutes. Do not overbake—cookies may appear underdone when perfectly cooked.

Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets one minute, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

In baking, cookies, dessert

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