Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – Resistance is Futile

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

What do you do when you have a craving, but can’t find a decent recipe to satisfy it? You make one up, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.

Thankfully, last night it did not result in disaster.

I’ve watched enough Good Eats and America’s Test Kitchen to get a fairly decent working knowledge of food science. I am by no means an expert, but I can hold my own.

Last night, I had a PB/Choco craving. These two are a perfect union. Anyone who says they don’t like peanut butter and chocolate together is either lying, or they’re a Cylon. I had some chocolate chips, some Reese’s PB Chips… and while I first considered just eating handfuls of both straight from the bags, I decided to give creativity a go. I must admit, I wanted to add either melted chocolate or cocoa powder into the cookie dough as well, but I figured the more I invite to the party, the less of a chance this will turn out edible. These turned out equivalent to a gravy so good you’ve licked your plate.

I’ve specified Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Chocolate Chips because not only are they my favorite, but you need something darker to cut through the sweetness of the cookie dough and PB chips (plus, the way this chocolate melts is amazing). I guarantee no amazing-ness should you stray from my directions. Spend the few extra pennies for the good chocolate. This recipe made about 16 cookies.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 & 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1/2 cup Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips

1/2 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Chocolate Chips

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter, sugars, and peanut butter until creamy and “fluffy-ish” (I say fluffy-ish, because the peanut butter is really dense, and it’s not going to look quite like things normally would when you’re just creaming butter and sugar together).
  • Add the egg and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. (It should look much more fluffy now)
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  • Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until blended.
  • Add the PB chips and the Chocolate chips. Stir until combined.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Drop cookies about two inches apart in rounded spoonfuls, about two tablespoons each.
  • Put the baking sheet with cookie dough on it into the freezer for 5-10 minutes (I know this might seem strange, but the dough is really soft. By doing this, it helps the cookies not overspread, which means you won’t have overdone edges before the center is baked).
  • Remove the baking sheet from the freezer and bake one sheet at a time, about 14 minutes, or until edges are light golden. Don’t forget to rotate the baking sheet halfway through to ensure your cookies bake evenly. Do not over-bake. This is a common mistake most people make.
  • Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.
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Buttermilk Biscuits

Warm and buttery, these flaky biscuits are great with sausage gravy for breakfast or a little jam for a quick afternoon snack.

I’ve been making biscuits and sausage gravy for years, long before I was married. My old roommate’s now husband used to request this now and again when he would stay at our place. It’s taken years for me to perfect this. I’d tried using different amounts of butter, adjusting how much baking powder I added, and even fiddled with oven temperatures and baking times. For some reason, the bottoms always came out tough.

Eventually, I turned to shortening. This is the one and only recipe in which I will use the product. The flavor of butter is much better, but unfortunately did not produce the soft biscuit bottom and tender crumb I was seeking on it’s own. After much trial and error, I think I’ve adjusted the butter to shortening ratio and quantities to my satisfaction. Here’s what you need (best part is most of this will already be in your pantry and fridge):

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 8 tablespoons (one stick) very cold butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons very cold butter flavored shortening cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cups buttermilk

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt

Add your butter cubes to the flour. Once I cut the cubes, I typically put the butter and shortening into the freezer for 10 minutes to make sure it’s well chilled. This is especially true on a warm day. The key to making your biscuits flaky and tender is to have the butter very cold when it hits the hot oven.

The butter and shortening should be cut up like this.

The butter and shortening should be cut up like this.

Cut the butter into the flour. I like to use the pastry blender pictured below. Before I had one, I found the best tool for this job is two hands. Just get in there with your fingers and rub the butter and flour together until it looks like wet sand. There will still be many pea sized butter pieces, but that’s ok.

Love this pastry blender.

Love this pastry blender.

This is what the mixture looks like once the butter is cut in.

This is what the mixture looks like once the butter is cut in.

Here you can see some pea sized butter pieces. That's good. That's where you want it.

Here you can see some pea sized butter pieces. That’s good. That’s where you want it. You can click on any of these photos for a larger view.

If the room is warm, or you used your hands, it would be a good idea to put this flour-butter mixture in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. You’d be surprised how quickly the heat from your hands can soften and melt your butter.

Next, make a well in the center of the bowl, and pour in the buttermilk. Stir until it JUST  combined. Do not overmix. You will be sorry.

Overmixing will result in a tougher biscuit.

Overmixing will result in a tougher biscuit.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured work surface, dust the top with flour, and knead 4 or 5 times to bring the dough together.

There's still some dry spots here, but it'll all work out with a couple quick kneadings.

There are still some dry spots here, but it’ll all work out with a quick kneading.

Once you bring the dough together (again, work it as little as possible), pat it out into a 1 inch thick round on your work surface. You may want to re-flour your work surface to ensure the biscuits don’t stick when cut.

You may want to re-flour your work surface once you knead. This stuff is sticky.

It doesn’t need to be a perfect circle. Just try to pat it out evenly.

Begin cutting rounds with a 2 inch biscuit cutter. Re-flour the biscuit cutter between each cut and place biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet.

I neglected to re-flour my board, and a couple biscuits were sticking. They still turned out fine!

I neglected to re-flour my board, and a couple biscuits were sticking. They still turned out fine!

Line them up about 1/4 inch apart from eachother on the sheet like this.

Line them up about 1/4 inch apart from each other on the sheet like this.

Rework the scrap dough as little as possible, and pat into a 1 inch round again. Make cuts, and place remaining biscuits on the pan. Throw away remaining scrap dough. It will be too overworked if you try to make a third cut. Today I got 14 biscuits. Sometimes I get 16. It just depends on the day I guess.

Bake the biscuits in a 425 degree oven for 15-18 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through cooking time.

When the biscuits are GB&D (golden brown and delicious), transfer to a cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes.

Let them sit for 5 minutes so you don't burn your mouth.

Let them sit for 5 minutes so you don’t burn your mouth.

You can serve them once the 5 minutes are up, or cool them completely and store in a plastic container at room temperature for a couple days.

YUM!

YUM!

 

I said it was good… I didn’t say it was healthy

Remember when I did that blogging thing for awhile?

I’m bringing it back… and in most cases it will be in very food-centric ways. Let’s face it, I’ve got some TIME on my hands at the moment. One can only waste so many hours playing Candy Crush (Yeah, I’m outta lives. Send me one?)

Last night I made what is arguably one of my favorite weeknight meals. In all fairness, it began as an America’s Test Kitchen recipe. As with most recipes, I could not leave it alone and it has since been tweaked to my satisfaction.

Here’s what you’ll need:

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Sourdough bread, parmesan, provolone, pecorino romano and gorgonzola cheeses, penne, butter, cream, flour, salt & pepper.

You don’t have to use sourdough, any high quality bread will do… just don’t make the mistake of using store bought breadcrumbs, or you’ll be sorry. Don’t worry, they’re easy to make. Just take two slices of fresh bread, tear them into pieces and pulse 10-15 times in a food processor. It should look like this:

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Get about 4 quarts or so of water on the stove at this point if you didn’t do that already. You can heat that up while shredding the cheese, which is what you’ll be doing next. Don’t cheap out when you buy the cheese, and DO NOT try using anything like the Kraft pre-grated parmesan that comes in a can. You need to buy REAL parmesan and romano for this recipe. The couple extra bucks will be worth it (plus you’ll have a hunk of parmesan in your fridge and you’ll find all sorts of uses for that later).

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How much cheese? About this much. About 3/4 cup shredded parmesan, 3/4 cup shredded romano, 1 cup shredded provolone. You shoulda bought the gorgonzola already crumbled, this container is 4 oz.

All of you blue cheese haters out there can go home. Gorgonzola is pretty mild, and combined with the pungent flavors of the other cheeses, the final dish does not taste particularly “blue-cheesy.” The original recipe calls for fontina instead of provolone, but when the only fontina available at my local grocer is $11 for 4 ounces, I’m willing to substitute in provolone for a small fraction of that price. Take half of the parmesan and add it to your breadcrumbs, along with about 1/2 teaspoon of pepper (freshly ground, please) and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Toss it together with a fork.

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Dump the remaining parmesan and other cheeses into the biggest mixing bowl you’ve got and toss them together (seriously, this’ll get messy later if you don’t heed my warning). I like this ginormous one that also gets frequently used as the “popcorn” bowl.

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Stop worrying about the gorgonzola situation. I already told you, it’s not gonna taste like blue cheese.

Now is a good time to open one of these,

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Let’s ignore the fact that all of the bottles in my wine rack are clearly empty.

because a watched pot never boils!

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“T-T-T-Today, junior!”

and occasionally you have to deal with unexpected visitors…

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B-Bones offers his assistance.

While you’re drinking your wine (and waiting for that damned water to boil) melt about a tablespoon or so of butter over medium-low heat. Add about a tablespoon of flour and whisk until no lumps remain. Give it another 30 seconds or so to cook out that raw flour taste and then slowly add 2 cups of heavy cream while whisking.

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Can you multi-task? I hope so, especially with one hand occupied by a glass of wine. Hey look, the water is ready!

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Make sure you have a rolling boil going. Anything less can and will result in mushy pasta. Patience is a virtue! (but seriously, why can’t hurry the F$*! up be a virtue too?}

Throw in a pound of penne and cook until just shy of al-dente. Don’t choose another pasta. The tube shape and outside ridges are the key here. They help trap and hold onto all of the cheesy goodness. Hey! Don’t forget about that cream sauce you started. You turned up the heat to medium and have been whisking it every minute or so, right? Good. Once it starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for one more minute (it’ll have thickened up at this point). Add about a 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Whisk, remove from heat, cover and set aside.

When your pasta is ready, drain it but don’t shake off the excess water. You want it to be slightly wet. Dump the steaming hot pasta directly on top of the cheeses in your mixing bowl. Immediately pour the cream sauce on top of the pasta and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit for 3 minutes to get the cheeses melting.

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At this point, B-Bones had been fed and was no longer interested in dinner preparation photo bombs.

Once 3 minutes have elapsed, stir it up, making sure to scrape the bottom with a spatula to get all of the cheeses stirred in and melted.

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Dump that deliciousness into a 9×13 baking dish. Nope, you don’t need to spray it or butter it or anything, just pour that cheesy mess in there. Make sure you use the spatula to scrape any remaining cheese mess from the bowl.

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Remember the bread crumbs we made earlier? Nope, you don’t need to pre-cook or toast them. Just sprinkle them evenly over the top and press down lightly.

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Throw this into a 475 degree oven for about 13-15 minutes. You did preheat the oven, didn’t you? If not, you’ll just have extra time to work on that bottle of wine. Slice up some of that sourdough, cause it goes really well with the pasta!

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The bread anxiously awaits the arrival of the pasta… and worries about a possible altercation with B-Bones…

Here’s the finished product. Ta-Da!

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Let it sit for 5 minutes before serving. Try not to over-eat. Let me know how you liked it if you end up making this!

Things I like, Part one

Those who know me well could tell you this list will not be all inclusive. There will be a lot of entries that involve food. It’s unavoidable. From A-Z, here is a list of the things I like!

A – Aurora Borealis

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I’ve witnessed this phenomenon no more than half a dozen times in my life, and there are only two occasions that really stick out in my memory. Both of these times occurred during my high-school years (which makes sense, as the sun last reached it’s solar maximum between the years of 2000-2002). Each time, it was visible within the Twin Cities. That’s lucky, because the aurora rarely reaches an intensity that allows good displays at our magnetic latitude, and the light pollution of a metropolitan area doesn’t help matters. The sun’s eleven year cycle is approaching it’s solar maximum again right now, but that doesn’t mean every night will include auroral displays. A great way to gauge your chances of seeing the aurora is to check out NOAA’s Space Weather website. If the sun erupts and sends a CME (coronal mass ejection) toward earth, we generally see aurora a few days later, when the ejecta interacts with the geomagnetic field. A large CME, or a direct hit from one can thrust the aurora further south. It’s been awhile, but the sun is pretty active right now, so it’s only a matter of time before we see the aurora again!

B – Bacon

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Who doesn’t like bacon? I think even vegetarians secretly like bacon. While bacon is good alone, it has no problem being integrated into a wide variety of recipes. Anytime I make a dish that includes bacon, I have to make a few extra pieces just for snacking on.

C – Coffee

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You know it, you love it, and you can’t start your morning without it. Except french roast. I don’t have a problem with most dark roast varieties, but I find french roast to have a funny bitter taste that I don’t care for. I swing through McDonald’s drive-thru most mornings on my way to work, and the only thing I get is a large black coffee. I like my coffee with coffee. No cream. No sugar. No flavor shot crap. Give it to me straight up. On occasion, the 20 oz. McDonald’s cup just isn’t enough, and my body requires a trip to Caribou as well. Most of the time, it’s just another cup of black coffee. This time of year though, I have a special place in my heart for Caribou’s pumpkin latte. It’s pretty rare that I’m willing to spend almost $5 for a cup of joe, but pumpkin lattes have control over my wallet.

D – Danish

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I told you there would be multiple food entries. There’s something about that flaky croissant style pastry filled with delicious fruit flavors and/or cream cheese. I have been known to eat four of these in one evening.

E – Eating

Well, this one is obvious. I love food. I cannot believe I couldn’t find a photo of myself eating!

F – Friends

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These three ladies are my besties! From left to right, Beau Hodge, Michelle Harste, and Erin Danielson. These gals are one of the few reasons I ever leave my house.

G – Gravy

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I don’t care what you’re putting it on… whatever it is, it’s just a catalyst for gravy. Sure, I like mashed potatoes, but it’s really all about the gravy. I’ll cover my entire plate with it. If there’s gravy with dinner, the food on my plate is swimming in it.

H – Hawaii

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I’m fairly certain the word, “paradise,” must have been defined after someone visited this place. There aren’t many places on earth where you get this level of beauty day in and day out. We visited Maui on our honeymoon, and I would love to return someday. Everyday was sunny and warm, the air smells like plumeria everywhere you go, and there are fruity cocktails being served all over the place.

I – Icicles

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How tempting is it to bust the longest one of these suckers off the side of your roof and wield it around like some sort of gladiator? Once, a couple winters ago, a couple kids walked right up my front steps while I was sitting on the couch, and busted a few impressive specimens off for some sword fighting. Kids in St. Paul are bold, and have no respect for the property of others. I didn’t really care that they wanted my icicles, but it made me nervous when they started fighting with them in my front yard. Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be a rant about the riff-raff of the North End. Icicles are cool (no pun intended).

J – Jimmy’s

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Beau and I go here every Wednesday for happy hour. Neil and I had our first date here…. and we got married at their event center as well. Many birthdays have been celebrated here as well. A lot of my life’s history has occurred in this place!

K – Kitties!!

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Awww. Look at my precious cat babies! B-Bones is the one wearing the tuxedo. Sadie is all black and is also known as, “Fat Kitty.” She even responds to that name when called. I love my meow-mix faces! When we (by we, I mean myself and the kitties) lived with Michelle, she and I concocted a plethora of stories about the secret life these two lived. B-Bones has owned his own reality and has been a supervisor at the cat treat mines (which he got fired from when they discovered he was driving on cat-nip). Sadie subsequently had to get a job to feed her cat treat addiction after B-Bones was fired. One time (and this one actually happened), B-Bones stole an entire steak off a dinner plate when no one was looking and ran off with it. B-Bones will eat just about anything he can get his paws on. Sadie, however, is only interested in baked goods. For some reason she especially loves cookies, particularly oatmeal cookies. These two are an interesting pair.

L – Lightning

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Here’s a cool shot of a lightning bolt over the Minneapolis skyline. I think weather is cool, especially thunderstorms. My husband thinks I’m a huge dork, because I’m one of those people who is glued to the local news during a severe weather event. I just find the power behind this side of mother nature fascinating.

M – Moscato

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You know I love wine, right? This is one of my favorites. Moscato is very sweet and crisp. Ecco Domani is my favorite brand of moscato. It has a very light fizz to it, and I think that’s why I like it so much. Barefoot also makes a good moscato (you can also get a pink moscato from that brand).

I just don’t have the patience to finish this list right now, but will post the rest of the alphabet in the next few days!