I have a thing for peanut butter cookies, and I’m really picky about them. They have to be peanut buttery and chewy, and preferably without the crunch of crunchy peanut butter or added peanuts. I don’t like them too sweet either. Oh, and they have to have a golden color, they have to be puffy and I just love the fork tine criss-cross on top. How could anyone be so picky about a particular cookie!
This past month I have discovered a new version of the peanut butter cookie on three different food blogs. First, I found it at Drool Factor, who found it at Almost Bourdain (my favorite food blog). Then a little later, I found it at Iron Chef Shellie, which made me realize I’ve had enough of looking at this recipe, I just had to finally make it.
So what is this new version of the peanut butter cookie? What first attracted me was the sprinkling of sea salt on top of the cookie. Then, came the realization that this was not your average peanut butter cookie – this cookie had perfectly formed round edges and it was flat on top with no fork tine criss-cross. This cookie dough requires a teensy bit of kneading, after which it is rolled into a log, refrigerated until firm, cut into slices and then baked. How interesting!
I had one problem with the recipe though – the dough is supposed to be made using a food processor. I don’t have a food processor. Drool Factor, however, made these cookies by using an electric mixer, so I followed the directions on this post. Everything went well doing it this way instead of in a food processor.
The only tip I can give you is to be absolutely sure that the log of dough has been refrigerated until it is very, very firm. For me, it took longer than 3 hours (as recommended in the recipe). If you try to slice the cookies from the log and the dough is not firm, the slices will all have flat bottoms and your cookies will not be round. This might have happened to me… because someone was just so impatient!
As I already mentioned, I’m not really keen on crunchy peanuts in my peanut butter cookies, but I didn’t have a problem with them in these cookies. If I made these again (and I probably will), I might use smooth peanut butter and add no extra peanuts at all. I think it would still be very nice. The texture of the cookies reminded me of shortbread, and without nuts in it, it would be even more like eating peanut butter shortbread!
The sea salt flakes on top were a delicious topping. I used Murray River pink sea salt flakes. I was a little concerned as to how the salt would taste if I were to eat these cookies with a cup of coffee or tea, but I’m happy to report that they couldn’t have tasted more perfect together.
The recipe seems a bit long, but don’t be intimidated – these are actually really easy!
Adapted from Belinda Jeffery & seen on Almost Bourdain, Drool Factor & Iron Chef Shellie
2 cups (300g) plain flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
180g unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut into chunks
1/3 cup (75g) castor sugar
1/3 cup (75g) firmly-packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
110g crunchy peanut butter
1/3 cup (50g) salted peanuts
Sea salt flakes, for topping
Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a food processor and whiz them together for about 10 seconds so they’re well combined. Tip them out into a bowl.
Put the butter and both sugars into the food processor. Whiz them for 40 seconds, stopping and scraping down the sides once or twice with a rubber spatula, until they’re light and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and egg and whiz them in for 10 seconds; the mixture may look a bit curdled, but it will be fine once the flour is added. Scrape the peanut butter into the egg mixture and whiz the machine briefly again so it mixes in. Add the flour mixture to the processor and mix it in with on/off pulses, until it just forms a thick soft dough (Don’t overdo the mixing in of the flour or the biscuits will be a tad tough.)
Add the peanuts to the dough and stir them in with a spatula (you might find it easier to do this if you tip the dough out into a bowl and work the nuts in by hand, as it’s always a bit awkward in the processor). Scrape the dough out onto a chopping board and divide it in half.
Lay a large sheet of foil on a bench and cover it with a sheet of baking paper. Gently knead one piece of the dough briefly to bring it together, then roll it into a log about 5 cm in diameter.
Sit the log on one edge of the baking paper and roll it up in the paper. Next, roll it so it’s wrapped in the foil. Twist the ends of the foil tightly in opposite directions so you end up with something that looks like a very long bonbon. Repeat with the remaining dough.
If you’re baking the biscuits on the same day, chill the logs for 2-3 hours in the fridge until they’re firm enough to slice. Or, at this stage, you can freeze the logs until you need them (they keep well in the freezer for about 5 weeks; just defrost them in the fridge before slicing them.)
Preheat your oven to 150C. Line some baking trays with baking paper. Unwrap the log (or logs) and cut into 6-7 mm-thick slices.
Sit the rounds, about 2 cm apart, on the prepared baking trays. Gently sprinkle a little sea salt onto each one; I’d go fairly lightly on the salt the first time you make them, and then when you’ve tried them once you can adjust the amount.
Bake, in batches if neccessary, for 20-25 minutes or until the biscuits are light golden-brown and feel crisp to touch. If your oven cooks a bit unevenly, turn the trays back to front and swap the shelves halfway through the baking time. Remove the trays from the oven and leave the biscuits to cool completely on them. Store the biscuits in an airtight container, where they will keep well for 5-6 days, or freeze them for up to 2 weeks, and when you want, defrost them at room temperature.