Thursday, February 3, 2011

Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

I usually skip the whole mise en place step. Which is weird, because mise en place is very much my style. Measuring out the ingredients ahead of time, setting them aside in little glass bowls, having everything ready to go in the mixer at just the right moment. It's so organized.

So today I took the time for mise en place, and I was totally channeling Ina Garten. I pictured myself standing in some ridiculous kitchen in the Hamptons, saying "half a cup of good peanut butter" all matter-of-factly as I add it to the bowl, and then being awkwardly silent so that the only sound is the ambient noise of the mixer running while the (imaginary) cameraman gets an extreme close up of the peanut butter.

You know what I'm talking about, right?

Everything was going great. These cookies are super easy to make, and with this whole mise en place thing, they practically make themselves.

But then I started unwrapping the Reese's Peanut Butter Hearts, and my Ina Garten fantasy was instantly shattered. Last year when I made these, the hearts I used were incredibly cute and perfectly sized for these cookies. These hearts not only look more like bunny ears than hearts, but also they're gigantic. I guess this is the surprise part?

At this point the cookies were in the oven, so there was no turning back. Instead of cookies with peanut butter hearts in the center, I was now going to have peanut butter "hearts" (note the appropriate use of quotation marks) with cookie around the edges.

And although these didn't turn out exactly how I'd hoped they would, the great thing about a baking disaster is that you usually have something to comfort you as you wallow in your disappointment. Like chocolate and peanut butter.

And let's be honest... oversized, misshapen peanut butter cups surrounded by peanut butter cookies are not actually a disaster.

Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
20-30 miniature peanut butter cups

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Cream peanut butter and butter in an electric mixer at medium speed for about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar, and beat until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla, and continue to mix until incorporated.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour. Mix just until incorporated.

3. Scoop the dough into portions of about 1-2 tablespoons and roll each portion into a ball. Place the granulated sugar in a small bowl, and roll each ball of dough in the sugar, coating completely. Place the balls about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.

4. Bake about 7 minutes, or until the cookies begin to puff up slightly. While the cookies are baking, unwrap the peanut butter cups if you haven't already. Remove the cookies from the oven and press one peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie.

5. Return the cookies to the oven and bake about 6 minutes more, or until the cookies are golden brown and the chocolate has begun to melt. Cool on the baking sheet about 10 minutes before transferring toa  wire rack to cool completely.

Note: I meant to put the peanut butter hearts onto the cookies upside down so that the tops of the cookies would be flat, but I was so preoccupied with how ugly they were that I completely forgot. I also noticed that Martha's directions say to chill the peanut butter cups ahead of time, which would have been a great idea since mine got pretty melty. Just know that no matter what you do, these cookies are going to be delicious.

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