Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pantry Raid!

Spring is always really inspirational for me for cooking – I want to put peas and pea shoots and asparagus and early carrots and lovely baby lettuces in everything. But not so much for baking. No fruit has really hit its stride yet – strawberries still don’t taste like strawberries, I’m bored to tears of citrus…good rhubarb is hard to find and my Mom is the reigning queen of that feisty rhizome, so I’ve yet to really adventure there.

As far as dessert goes in early spring to me it’s a time of pantry-emptying...a yummy way to spring clean I guess. That makes it a perfect time to make some of my favorite cookies…I call on peanut butter, cinnamon, roasted salted peanuts, milk chocolate and a nice dose of salt to come leaping forth from my cabinet to create layers of flavor in this Mexican-inspired cookie. I’ve been making them forever and the recipe has definitely changed a bit from Martha Stewart’s original that I started with years ago. They’re perfect to get you through this brief period of fruit/baking boredom until we explode into summer.

Peanut Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (BUT - I like these a little saltier so I substitute at least a 1/2 a stick of salted butter here instead. They're really fantastic like this.)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
2/3 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350˚. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Put butter and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium speed using the paddle attachment until combined, about 2 minutes. Add sugars, mix 2 minutes. Mix in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture, mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips, peanuts and vanilla with a mixing spoon until well distributed. Refrigerate dough until firm, 30 minutes to 1 hour (or overnight even, just cover tightly!)

Roll into generous 1-2 in balls (I like to go for a bigger cookie.) Space balls 2 to 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly. Bake until just golden - more so on the edges, about 12 minutes. Transfer to wire sheets to cool.

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