Saturday, September 26, 2009

Peanut Butter Fudge Cookies

I am not a huge fan of peanut butter - at least not by itself. Never had a peanut butter & jelly sandwich in my life (don't even get me started on not liking jelly). However, I don't mind peanut butter combined with other flavors, especially chocolate. Or peanut butter baked into cakes, brownies or cookies. Just don't like the stuff straight out of the jar.

While I like peanut butter cookies for the most part, I don't like the traditional flat peanut butter cookie that's a bit crisp. Crisp in a cookie often translates into "dry". I like my cookies rounded, thick and moist. Crisp also often signifies the use of shortening in a recipe and I much prefer butter.

I like this recipe for Peanut Butter Fudge Cookies because it holds its shape well and is a nice combination of peanut butter and chocolate. It's moist, fudgy and not too overwhelmingly peanut butter-y. Watch the baking time on this one. It bakes for 10 minutes in my oven. When in doubt, err on the side of underbaking rather than overbaking. This is from Nancy Baggett's All-American Cookie Book.

Peanut Butter Fudge Cookies
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken up or coarsely chopped
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened American-style cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces) milk chocolate morsels, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease several baking sheets or coat with nonstick spray.
2. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, microwave the unsweetened chocolate on 50% power for 1 minute. Stir well. Continue microwaving on 50% power, stirring at 30-second intervals. Stop microwaving before the chocolate completely melts and let the residual heat finish the job. (Alternatively, in a small, heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate over lowest heat, stirring frequently; be very careful not to burn. Immediately remove from the heat.)
3. In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on low, then medium, speed, beat together the melted chocolate, peanut butter, brown sugar, sugar, and cocoa powder until very well blended. Add the butter and beat until very well blended and smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy and well blended, about 2 minutes. Beat or stir in the flour mixture, then the chocolate morsels, just until evenly incorporated. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes, or until it firms up slightly.
4. Divide the dough into quarters, forming each into a flat disk. Divide each portion into quarters, then eighths. Shape the portions into balls with lightly greased hands. Place on the baking sheets, spacing about 2 ½ inches apart. Lightly oil the tines of a fork. Using the fork tines, firmly press down each ball horizontally and then vertically until the ball is about ½” thick.
5. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for 8 to 11 minutes, or until not quite firm when pressed in the centers; be careful not to overbake. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks. Let stand until completely cooled.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 ½ months.

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