Ah, 2008– a quaint time when I didn’t yet understand that sprinkling salt on baked goods brings out their flavor, and scooping dough before chilling is easier, and letting dough rest in the fridge for a couple of days yields tastier cookies. Fast-forward 9 years, and I now know to incorporate those tricks, whether or not the recipe says to. Why the trip down memory lane? Baked Sunday Mornings is making these Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking this week, and it’s a sweet reminder that BAKED has come a long way too– some of their recipes were less specific back then, but I now know what steps to add to make some of their early recipes even better.
These cookies hit just about all the right spots: chewy texture, balanced peanut butter flavor (not cloying or too sweet), and a pleasing craggy surface. The only things I would change are bumping the quantity of chocolate WAY up, and making them a lot thicker, as they spread out fairly thin. The first is easy; the second, I’m not sure how to do off the top of my head, but merits some experimentation. Still, they were delicious and addictive, and they were gone in *literally* 5 minutes once I put them out at work.
Making the dough is very simple and quick, pretty similar to making a chocolate chip cookie dough. You start by creaming butter (I used cool room temperature rather than softened) with granulated sugar and dark brown sugar until the mixture is fluffy. The recipe didn’t specify an amount of time, but I went with about 2½ minutes. I made one other little change, which was adding the vanilla extract along with the butter and sugar. I recently took a class all about different styles of chocolate chip cookies (suuuuper nerdy– it was awesome), and the instructor talked about how adding vanilla along with the butter better infuses the vanilla flavor. You then add the peanut butter and a couple of eggs, followed by the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt).
Finally, you fold in the chopped chocolate. I found 6 ounces to be woefully insufficient, as the chocolate was pretty much lost in the peanut butter dough, so I added another couple of ounces. I’d add even more next time— probably about 10 ounces total. Another thought is that maybe chocolate chips would be best here. I used chopped chocolate disks, which create lovely chocolate strata throughout the cookies as they melt, but in a flat-ish cookie, this may contribute to the flatness. I would probably try jumbo milk chocolate chips next time, or maybe a mix of chopped chocolate and chips. Am I overthinking this?? 😉
I’ve taken to scooping my dough before chilling it, which I learned years ago from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. We are instructed to refrigerate the dough for 3 hours, but I kept the scoops in the fridge for about 48 hours. This is another practice that I’ve seen more and more in current recipes (including in more recent BAKED books), and the chocolate chip cookie instructor talked about it as well. Basically, the longer the dough sits, the more it dries out (not in a bad way), so the sugars concentrate, and you get more caramelization, toffee undertones, and better browning.
We are supposed to flatten the cookies into thick disks, which I did after chilling. This worked fine, but the baked cookies were very flat and somewhat irregular in shape. I tried baking some as domed scoops, and I like the look of these better– less spreading, plus prettier crackles on top and a more uniform shape. Before baking we are told to sprinkle granulated sugar on top of the cookies. A little flaky sea salt elevates many cookies to a higher plane of cookie nirvana, so I decided to experiment a bit, and I also wondered about some different sugars. I tried various sugar/salt toppings: just granulated sugar as instructed, granulated sugar plus flaky sea salt, Demerara sugar, and just flaky sea salt without any sugar. I thought about fancy salts like smoked or vanilla-infused, but then I wondered if I was just trying too hard. I liked the ones with sugar and salt the best– a touch of salt really does take it up a notch.
I baked my cookies for precisely 10 minutes, which yielded golden brown edges and a slightly underdone center, just the way I like it. They came out of the oven super puffy, but settled quite a bit. The crackled tops and slight sparkle from the sugar make them pretty enough to put out on a holiday platter, but they could just as easily go on a picnic or in the break room.
The peanut butter-chocolate lover in your life will flip for these. I like them even better than the Peanut Butter Butterscotch Cookies that we made a few months ago from Baked Occasions, because you know, CHOCOLATE. You can find the recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks at Baked Sunday Mornings, and please take a peek at my fellow bloggers’ cookies too! 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2017.