The idea of moderation makes a lot more sense when you’re not standing in front of a metal mixing bowl full of freshly whipped-up cookie dough.
You know exactly how much butter and sugar have gone into that bowl. You know it contains raw egg (from the farmers’ market, but still). But then you creamed it, added flour and chocolate chips and vanilla extract, and it became one of the most alluring substances on earth: cookie dough.
The dough beckons, of course. And it tastes really good, arguably better than the finished cookie.
I’ve heard Jackie O. stayed so thin by ordering entrees she didn’t like when she went out to eat. Moderation is easy when the waiter brings you a plate of sweetbreads and you hate offal.
So I guess you could say Jackie O. inspired me to make peanut butter cookies. Unlike the rest of the world (it sometimes seems), I do not have a bottomless stomach and unfulfillable craving for peanut butter. I love BGSK Peanut Sauce. I like a good PB&J. Still, I used to hate peanut butter cookies, which is what made them the cookie to bake when I needed to bring sweets to friends but had little desire to consume several cookies’ worth of raw cookie dough in the process. No dough was eaten for years.
Trust Alice Medrich to ruin the perfectly calibrated system. She’s the author of Bittersweet, one of my two favorite chocolate cookbooks. In 2010, she wrote a cookie book called Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy. The Peanut Butter Cookies included on page 324 are to die for. I made them for Katie & Dan’s housewarming. I ate the dough. I dipped the cookies in milk and ate them too. They taste like the inside of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup–even when they’re cooked.
From my kitchen, where I’m searching for a new cookie to hate, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy
Makes 36 cookies
Medrich recommends letting the dough rest in the fridge for 2 hours. You don’t have to, but it improves flavor and texture, so plan ahead if possible!
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups smooth natural peanut butter, stirred well before measuring.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Using a handheld or stand mixer (or your really strong arm with a wooden spoon), beat the sugas with the butter until it is smooth and creamy, but not fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and peanut butter, and mix until blended. Add the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. Wrap up the dough and place it in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Make balls out of 1 slightly rounded tablespoon’s worth of dough. Place the balls on the cookie sheet, then use the bottom of a glass–liberally dipped in flour between each cookie–to flatten them to a thickness of a little less than half an inch.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until firm and very lightly golden on top. Turn the sheets back to front once while baking.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes, then use a spatula to gently lift them onto a rack. Cool completely.