Well, I'm going to be on vacation for a few days and, thus, not blogging again until perhaps next Wednesday. I'm going to Torch Lake, in the upper western part of Michigan's lower peninsula, with my husband and kids for the 4th of July. It's a beautiful spot. No longer all that wild or primitive, but still beautiful. My in-laws have had a cottage there for decades, so my husband spent every summer there as a boy. I was particularly hoping that the sweet cherry crop--a big deal "up north"--would be ripe on the trees while we're visiting, so I could pick some and bring them home to bake with, but apparently the cherries aren't cooperating this July. It seems they're still too green. Oh, well. What can you do? Just have to bake something else!
I thought I might bake a few cookies tonight to take on the trip, and I realized I haven't yet shared my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe with you--my FAIL-SAFE PB cookie recipe, that is! So, we'll remedy that right here and right now. (Have you seen my Fail-Safe chocolate chip recipe post? Or my Fail-Safe oatmeal cookie post? Those are really good too!)
The recipe, below, is simple and reliable. It's one I've customized over time by combining what I felt were the best aspects of several recipes I'd used many times in the past. The cookies turn out kind of tender-crisp, with a slight chewiness on the inside. They're not so peanutty-ish that they knock you over. You know that big whoosh of peanut scent that engulfs you when you open a new jar of PB? These cookies probably won't do that. They have a nicely balanced flavor that comes not just from the PB, but also from light brown sugar and a little vanilla extract. (This evening, someone in my immediate family, who made me promise to completely conceal his identity, said, upon biting into a fresh-from-the-oven cookie, "Beautiful consistency inside. Perfect crunch on the outside." It was high praise, coming from said individual, who shall remain nameless.)
You know the classic criss-cross design on the top of PB cookies? Well, I've discovered that I like using a potato masher(!) rather than a dinner fork to make that design. It works especially well with cookies that aren't very small. It makes a thicker impression with more space between the tines. Look at the cookie dough pictures below . . . see what I mean?
Anyhow, you can put the criss-crosses on your cookies any old way you want. Or heck, leave them off! It's a free country. God bless America, and all that!
Jane's Fail-Safe Peanut Butter Cookies
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put your cookie sheets in the freezer to chill. Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper as you pull them out of the freezer, one by one, to use them.
2 cups All Purpose flour, unbleached
1 and 3/4 cups All Purpose flour, bleached
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I've had the best luck using Jif brand in baked goods; maybe it's the texture and/or the sweetness level?)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients with a whisk; set aside.
In a large mixer bowl, on medium-low speed, combine the eggs, shortening, PB, sugars, and vanilla. Mix for a few minutes, until fluffy and well combined.
Add the dry ingredients gradually into the mixer bowl, on low speed. Mix on medium-low speed until well combined.
Chill the dough in the fridge for about twenty minutes or so.
Portion the fully-chilled dough into even balls about the size of small walnuts. (I use a size No. 50 ice cream scoop for these cookies; I think it's just slightly under two tablespoons). Roll the balls in some granulated sugar that you've put in a bowl or on a plate. Space the balls a couple of inches apart on the parchment-lined cookie sheets. With a fork or potato masher, gently but firmly make the criss-cross design, if you like. (If you don't, they'll just be smooth on top, like sugar cookies--still good!)
Bake the cookies on the middle and/or upper rack(s) in your oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until they're lightly golden brown. Let them cool on the pan for a few minutes then transfer them to a rack. They cool quickly.
Okay, now pour that little glass of milk and taste one of your cookies . . . . . . isn't it good?
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