real cookies

by breannruthwhite

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It’s such a dreary scene out there. The grass in the grove outside our living room window is long and yellow and brown, which I would usually consider beautiful. But there is something about wet, winter grass after the ground has warmed enough to melt the snow around it. It looks so heavy. Two tire swings sway lullingly through it, back and forth, back and forth.  Nearly colliding once in a while. All the lights are off, and our house seems very dark in the cold, gray, afternoon light.

My husband sleeps on the couch and my son in his crib. And I have a very pressing list of things I have been re-writing obsessively over and over for some odd reason. But I feel the need to give this space a little love. So the list will wait.

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Last week, after returning from a Thanksgiving weekend trip, my husband brought the stomach flu home with him. He gave it to our son later that week. And then to me on my last scheduled day of student teaching. Needless to say, the timing was quite bad.

Last night, when we were all nearly healthy and had somewhat regained our appetites, my son proclaimed that he needed “coo-coos” (his term of endearment for cookies). So I unwrapped his BelVita golden oat biscuit and plopped it in his yogurt like I usually do, to which he replied by running to the corner of the kitchen to squat and cover his face. I was very confused by his reaction until it dawned on me how long it had actually been since we had made real cookies.

So we made plans to stay in last night for “The Rescuers Down Under” and make cookies. And since we had no chocolate (and due to the opinion of one member of this household, all cookie recipe’s require chocolate), I turned to Molly Wizenburg for her salted peanut butter cookie recipe.

Now, my husband lamented for the duration of bake-time that cookies without chocolate are dumb… or whatever. But once he tasted one of these fresh from the oven, his weary eyes seemed comforted. My son happily ate three, no kitchen-corner squatting included. These cookies were perfect.

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These cookies are quite soft so long as you don’t over-step the bake-time. The saltiness is not at all overpowering and compliments the flavor of natural peanut butter very nicely. The only thing we changed from Molly’s recipe was that we melted our butter. There is something so nice about just having to melt the butter to make a cookie. And I am happy to say that this method works perfectly in this recipe.

Stay warm and cozy. Make cookies and hold the ones you love very closely. And happy holidays from “Our Messy Table”!

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Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

Yield: about 20 largish (4-inch) cookies

2 cups plus 1 tsp. pastry or all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp.kosher salt
2 sticks plus 3.5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cup, packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup plus 2.5 Tbsp. sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ cup natural salted creamy peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine the pastry flour, baking soda, and salt, and whisk well.

In a medium, microwavable bowl, melt the butter in 30 second increments, swirling between. Once melted, mix in the sugars until well combined, scraping the sides when necessary. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the peanut butter and vanilla, and beat with whisk or on medium-low speed to with electric mixer. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, folding slowly by hand or mixing on low speed until incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Using an ice cream scoop – mine has a capacity of about ¼ cup… the batter will be a bit goopy – scoop the batter onto the prepared sheet pan, taking care to leave plenty of space between cookies. (I limit it to six cookies per pan; if you add more, they run together.) Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and pale golden around the edges, but their tops have no color. (The cookies will not look fully baked, and this is important! The chewy texture of these cookies depends on it. They’re not nearly as good when baked until golden and crisp.) Transfer the pan to a rack, and cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan. They will firm up as they cool.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Note: This dough freezes beautifully. Scoop the dough onto a sheet pan and freeze until hard, then transfer the dough mounds to a freezer bag or other airtight container. Do not defrost before baking, and plan to add four or five minutes to the baking time.

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