Monday, February 9, 2009

Peanut Butter Scare - What's a Baker to Do?

There's a lot of misunderstanding of the peanut butter recall out there -- no doubt caused by one food scare rolling into the next. Last week I was shopping for peanut butter and a woman stopped me and asked wasn't I afraid of eating peanut butter because of the contamination. I explained the new recall and that it didn't impact peanut butter. I love peanut butter and could hardly ever give it up. When I was a kid, it was Peter Pan but as I've gotten older, I can't stand it because it's so sweet. Now I prefer natural crunchy peanut butter -- love Teddie Super Cunchy Natural -- just peanuts and salt.

Last Wednesday's New York Times had an article about it in the Dining session. What a baker is to do is make their own peanut butter confections. Included in the article was a recipe for peanut butter cookies adapted from Chris Kimball of Cook's Illustrated. From the recipe I could almost taste those cookies, so much that I had to make a batch. I deviated from the NYT recipe by adding a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips to half of the cookies. Here's the recipe -- adapted to ingredients in my pantry:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. each of baking soda, baking powder and salt
1 1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts
1/2 pound unsalted butter (softened to room temp)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup Teddie super crunchy natural peanut butter
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Adjust oven rack to low center position. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Place peanuts in a food processor and pulse until the texture of bread crumbs. Set aside.
  2. In bowl of electric stand mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scaping sides as necessary. Beat in crunchy peanut butter until fully incorporated, followed by eggs and vanilla. Slow mixer to low and gradually add flour mixture. Fold in ground peanuts with a rubber spatula just until incorporated. If adding chocolate chips, fold them into all or part of the dough as well.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop dough onto sheet in spoonfuls a little bigger than a golf ball (small ice cream scooper is perfect) about 2 inches apart. Dip a fork in cold water and then press the back into the dough, repeating to make a crisscross.
  4. Bake until cookies are puffed and slightly brown along edges, but no on top, 10-12 minutes. Cool cookies on cookie sheet until set, about 3 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

The recipe produced 4-1/2 dozen cookies.

Dinner last night was a few peanut butter cookies and a glass of milk -- enjoy.

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