Tuesday, December 4, 2012

National Cookie Day Celebration - with Peanut Butter of Course

Well, duh, if you're gonna celebrate National Cookie Day you have to have peanut butter. But I did not make just plain old boring peanut butter cookies. I made "fancy" peanut butter cookies.

Thing is I love peanut butter, if you haven't figured this out yet. I mean, LOVE peanut butter. Mike tells me I eat it too much and I'll go through a jar a week if I'm not careful. Seriously I love it that much. I've been trying to buy better for you PB that doesn't contain added sugars or hydrogenated oils. I don't do a lot of health food but when I do, I pick and choose carefully. This means I decide upon foods that I truly enjoy and deserve higher quality - some things just need to be held to a higher standard.

So the peanut butter I used today DOES have added sugar, cane juice and molasses - I wasn't terribly thrilled but I was at Walmart and was limited - I can't say I care for the Smucker's natural peanut butter. That has a taste that is, to me, off putting and burnt. It is fine to use in recipes but I can't say it makes the best sandwich or spoon-able snack.

I also did not desire to go to two stores after work, so I was stuck with Walmart's pathetic and commercial selection of nut butters. Next time I'm definitely making the trip to Whole Foods. It is worth the time and effort to get a higher quality nut butter.

I digress. The peanut butter I purchased is called "Naturally More." I have had the almond version of this when I was at Costco.Delicious! The peanut version is about the same, this is 80% peanuts with an ingredient list of the following (more ingredients than I care for - typically I want to see only two, perhaps three dependent upon brand): Roasted Peanuts, Soy Protein, Flax Seed, Evaporated Cane Syrup, Salt, and Molasses.

The problem I have is with the soy protein and the cane syrup - pick molasses or cane syrup - you don't need both - and what is the purpose of the soy protein? Makes the protein content go up, yes but necessary? No.

For me there is no reason for sugar in peanut butter - but I prefer it that way. I say salt and peanuts is all you need - peanuts have plenty of oil on their own. Anyway..TO THE RECIPEEEE, CHARGE! *tosses on warrior dash hat - has horns mind you - and rushes to the kitchen for the recipe, arm out and proud like a Roman soldier* (Yes that just happened - things are weird when I'm by myself sometimes.)

I've wearied you enough with my nutritional rant.

So, I made these cookies, modified my mothers recipe ever so slightly to achieve the desired result. I've been toying with this recipe a little each time to find out the best way to make these and when they taste their best.
You can see my homemade white bread back there ;)
 To start with what I have altered from my mothers original recipe is to use natural peanut butter rather than a commercial brand. I prefer Whole Foods brand, has the perfect balance I think. Of course I have used others like Maranatha. Second I use all butter instead of shortening. I just like the flavor better. I also feel they tend to give the cookies a chewier consistency - my type of cookie (crunchy edges with soft centers).

And lastly, I like to dust with powdered sugar when they cool (obviously the below cookies have not made it that far).

So here is my mother's fabulous PB cookie recipe (by the way, this makes a lot of cookies, so halve the recipe if you don't plan to feed a classroom of small children or the office).

Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup shortening (butter in my case), room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour (I used bread flour this time, will see how that goes over - they taste fine to me)
1/2 cup peanuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter/shortening, peanut butter, and sugars. Beat in eggs. Add dry ingredients. Mix well. Place small amounts of dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Flatten cookies with a fork dipped in sugar.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, dependent upon your oven. **I have a gas oven and had to go with 9 1/2 minutes**

Go crazy, modify and change the peanut butter to almond butter or Nutella. Add chocolate chips or butterscotch chips. Use your imagination. That's the great thing about cookies. Once you have a great base you can play around a little and make it into something completely different or more amazing than what you started with. This is how greatness happens. How do you think our Gooey Butter Cupcakes came into existence? Exactly!

Now go out and cook and bake!!