Baked’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
I grew up in San Diego, where we didn’t really have much in the way of winter weather. January tends to be a bit rainy, and the fog can roll in so thick at night you can’t see the lines on the road ahead of you. But heavy down jackets, gloves, and hats were not something I had to endure as a child. Rainy, wet weather felt special. We got to pull umbrellas out of closets, and jump in puddles, and sometimes Dad would build a fire in the fireplace if it got cool enough at night. Wintery weather was so special that people still talk about that time it snowed on Valentine’s Day, and that was 22 years ago.
I still get a little tingle of excitement on rainy days, despite having lived in places where rain was an all too common occurrence. And I always remember one rainy day in particular. Mom met my brother and I after school, and we all walked home together in the rain. We hurried into our warm house and took off damp shoes and socks, and Mom said it was a perfect day for baking cookies. So we did, and afterwards, we cut out the new Ramona Quimby paper dolls I had won at school that day, and I played with paper dolls and munched on cookies, warm in our little house while outside, our desert city got the water it probably desperately needed.
Over the years, I came to think that cookie baking was a required activity on rainy afternoons. I don’t know if we really did bake cookies whenever it rained, but in my mind, we did. And whenever it rains, I get the urge to start mixing and beating and stirring and baking. Last weekend, while it stormed outside my little house in Walla Walla, I did just that.
My co-worker bought me a copy of the Baked cookbook for my birthday, and I pored over it all summer. But it hardly felt like baking weather, and I couldn’t convince myself that it was time for cookies or brownies just yet. When the storm hit last weekend, I knew exactly what I wanted: Baked’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies. So I headed into the kitchen and got mixing.
People have cookie preferences: Some like them thin and crispy, some like them small and thick, like little nuggets of sweetness. I’ve always loved something in between: not too thin, chewy and soft in the middle, with the occasional crispy edge. These cookies exactly fit the bill. They are extra chewy; I don’t even drink milk and they made me want a tall glass alongside my plate. The brown sugar gives them a toffee-like flavor, and the peanut butter is definitely present, but not overwhelming. Without the chocolate chips, I’m not sure they would have been so lovable, but the balance of chocolate to peanut buttery goodness is pretty much perfect.
The next time you’re faced with a dreary, rainy day, and unless you live in San Diego, that will probably be soon, I’d recommend giving these cookies a try.
Baked’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used all natural)
- 6 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used a combination of semisweet chocolate chips, chopped up Special Dark bars, and chopped milk chocolate)
Many cookbooks recommend bringing ingredients like eggs and butter to room temperature before baking. Usually I don’t do this, but for this recipe I did. I’m not entirely sure how big a difference it made, to be honest.
Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
Beat the butter and both sugars together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla and the peanut butter, and mix just until incorporated.
Add half the flour mixture and mix for about 15 seconds. Add the rest of the flour mixture, and mix until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate, then cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Use a tablespoon measure or small scoop to drop rounded balls onto prepared baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart (these cookies will spread). Very gently press each cookie with your hand to flatten just a bit. Don’t press them totally flat.
Bake the cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Bake the cookies just until the tops begin to brown. Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.