Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello again! Bet you didn’t think you’d see another post from me this week! As promised, I began ramping up my cookie production this year and will possibly post twice as much this month. It’s a little nerve-wracking but I am up for the challenge!

When planning this month’s #CookieCraziness (isn’t my hashtag for this year’s cookies awesome?), one of the top cookies was a peanut butter one. I LOVE peanut butter, so this was a no brainer. However, plain peanut butter cookies can be boring and monotonous. I’m not into that with my cookies, so chocolate chips were the obvious solution.

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Peanut butter cookies aren’t necessarily a Christmas-y cookie. Like, when I think Christmas cookies, peanut butter ones are the furthest from my mind. Everyone else thinks of chocolate and peppermint everything. I usually go with sugar or gingerbread, which I’ll get to sometime later. I don’t know but I feel like peanut butter doesn’t even have an appropriate season. All the more reason why it belongs (in cookie form) with the holidays.

The main ingredient in these beauties is the peanut butter; the star of the show! Consider using chunky peanut butter in these cookies for added texture and to add on to the PB taste. I’m not about that chunky PB life, though; I love natural and smooth peanut butter. I get the huge jars at Whole Foods all the time because I make granola for my Greek yogurt regularly. Obviously, I need to have tons of the stuff on hand at all times because when I’m not making granola, there are PB&Js to be made (with grape jelly exclusively).

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According to the recipe, there’s supposed to be a double hit (or triple if you opt for chunky) of PB; the second by way of peanut butter chips. I once bought a couple bags of those from the one time they had them at Trader Joe’s. They were so good, I can’t even recall what I made with them. I had chocolate chips leftover from making these, so I used twice as many chocolate chips in this batch.

Now, let me just praise the actual cookie dough for one second. A DREAM to work with. Came together beautifully and handled like a dream. I’ve never seen such clean scoops of cookie dough come out of my mixing bowl. Barely any scraps and no sticking! Speaking of sticking, I used my new silicone mats for my half sheet pans. I had to get a pair because my parchment paper never fits. Can I just tell you how much I love them? I love them. Absolutely adore them. Cookies slid off no problem, they’re easy to clean, and look cute too. SO glad I got them!

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The cookies were INSANE. I found myself eating all of the scraps and several cookies before they even made the plate; they’re THAT good. Very peanut buttery, with the chocolate chips as backup. Think of PB and chocolate as partners in crime, or good cop/bad cop except they’re both the good cops. They just go together! The cookies themselves are soft but sturdy, with a little crunch from the granulated sugar they’re coated in before baking. You can even still see the traditional fork marks from the slight smush they need before going into the oven. They were as dreamy as their own cookie dough. When the cookie dough works, you just know the cookie will too!

Hopefully I’ve convinced you to consider peanut butter cookies as a holiday cookie. They may not scream Christmas but folks will be screaming with joy upon eating them this season. Either way, I think these non-conventional holiday cookies belong on your cookie roster.

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#CookieCraziness posts:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 36 cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Granulated sugar for rolling/sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment (or those nifty silicone liners). Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, place a good amount (maybe a 1/4 cup; separate from the amount needed to make the cookies) of granulated sugar for rolling the cookies later.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until the mixture is smooth. Add the egg and mix until fully combined. Finally, add the milk and vanilla.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and stir until completely combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. Using a cookie scoop, a tablespoon, or two teaspoons, drop the dough into the bowl with the granulated sugar. Completely coat the dough ball and transfer to the prepped baking sheet. With a fork, gently press the dough down but do not flatten completely. You can press the cookie with the fork twice, each in a different direction, to get the signature pattern.
  4. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges. The cookies may look under done but they are. Let them cool on the pan for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lucy’s Tips

  • I preferred baking them 12 minutes for a sturdier cookie that was still soft and slightly chewy. For a lighter cookie, aim for the lower amount of time. 
  • If you don’t feel like pressing with a fork, any smooth (or not smooth) surface can work. For example, a spoon, shot glass, offset spatula, etc. Just don’t go crazy pressing them down with anything!
  • I got 36 cookies with a #50 disher/scoop. Amounts of cookies vary depending on the size of the scoop/disher/spoon. The bigger the disher/spoon/scoop, the fewer the cookies. 
  • To make these extra festive, consider rolling them in colored sugar!

Light and Airy Pound Cake

I’m having the worst case of baker’s block. I’ve been feeling a little uninspired lately about everything kitchen related, and it’s catching up to me. I usually have my weekly baking excursions planned at least a month in advanced but I haven’t done that since March. I don’t know, I guess I’m going through a bit of a rut. So, what do you do when not even a fridge full of butter is enticing enough to compel you to make something? You bake a cake, of course.

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Pound cake is super easy. It’s literally a pound of butter, plus a pound of sugar, flour, and eggs. Simplicity at its finest. But this pound cake is different. I must admit, I made this recipe before (waaaaay before this blog was even a concept) and chose it because I thought it was “light” ingredient wise. You know, like light in terms of  “not fattening.” Boy, was I wrong! Nothing that involves two sticks of butter is “light.”

It did the thing

It did the thing

I quickly realized the error of my ways of thinking, and why this recipe was even titled “light.” This cake gets its lightness from whipped egg whites. Usually, pound cakes don’t require this step but it totally makes a difference. The ones that don’t probably end up more like a brick of cake; no offense to those recipes! Gentle folding of the whites into the already mixed ingredients helps keep the air in, and allows it to puff up into this light and buttery loaf. Another reason why I gravitated towards this recipe was the booze. There’s a tablespoon of hooch in this recipe! I’m no stranger to adding alcohol into my desserts; I actually try to throw it in whatever I’m baking as often as possible. I don’t know why but it just goes so well into baked goods. I promise you this cake won’t taste like alcohol but the flavor is there (somewhere).

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Originally, the recipe calls for lemon zest but I used orange zest instead. I reckon lime zest would be awesome, too. Perhaps with some coconut rum? Now I’m just imagining things! The pound cake was definitely light and airy. It’s super soft and fluffy, with the slightest hint of orange. The crust adds a bit of warmth and a necessary texture change that reminds you that this isn’t an angel food cake. I’m betting the alcohol lends to the browning of the cake, as it turns the loveliest shade of brown when baking and crumbles at the bite.

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The cake disappeared within minutes, both times, which obviously means this was a hit. I still don’t know what’s gonna come out of my kitchen next week, but I guess that feeling of uncertainty is okay. I know I’ll figure something out. If all else fails, just bake a cake!

Lighter, airy Pound Cake – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes one loaf cake

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Generous pinch of salt (about 1/8 – 1/4 tsp)
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, (divided: 1/2 cup + 6 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon Brandy, or other liquor of your choice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan, and set aside. Sift the flour onto waxed paper and then spoon it gently back into the sifter, adding the baking powder and a good pinch of salt. Sift the mixture twice more, each time spooning it lightly into the sifter.
  2. Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks and then gradually beat in 1/2 cup of the sugar, two tablespoons at a time. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the remaining six tablespoons of sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks until light and lemon-colored and then add the rum and zest.
  4. Gradually fold the sifted flour mixture into the butter-egg mixture. Fold in the beaten egg whites just until the batter is smooth. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick pierced in the center comes up clean. Cool for ten minutes in the pan on a rack, then turn the cake out and cool completely on the rack.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • Use the butter wrappers to butter the loaf pan; slightly messy but a good way to use the butter left on the wrapper
  • Really, sift the flour three times. Trust me (and Deb!) on this one
  • If you try the lime zest/coconut rum version, please let me know how it turned out! I have to try that 😉

Apple Cake

My dad is a huge fan of apple desserts, which is an odd thing in itself because he doesn’t like many things. You give him anything with apples and he’ll be a happy camper; apple pie, strudel, danishes, muffins, donuts, oatmeal, etc. This week, I decided to make something that I knew he would just love and devour.

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I go to the local farmer’s market every Thursday, and get a bag of apples each time. A small bag of apples, with about a dozen for $1.50 is not a bad deal! I ended up accidentally stocking up on apples over the past few weeks and since no one was eating them, this cake happened.

This beautiful cake is from the brilliantly awesome Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, one of my very favorite blogs. When I am in search for any kind of recipe, I usually check her site first. I’m convinced everything she makes, even the things I haven’t tried, are just absolutely delicious. I made her S’more cake (from her cookbook) for my birthday this year, with amazing success. This apple cake is originally her mother’s, which makes it even more special and a higher guarantee for deliciousness.

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The process is pretty straight forward. The most difficult part of the recipe, if any, was probably peeling, coring, and chopping the apples. Everything else is a cinch, and doesn’t even require a mixer. The only piece of equipment necessary is a tube pan.  These things can be finicky, and can literally make or break a cake. This dense but delicate cake can definitely crumble under mishandling from the pan. I may or may not know this from experience 😉

The result is a lusciously thick cake, full of cinnamon-y apple craters. The edges of the cake caramelize in the oven, forming a sugary sweet crust that goes deliciously against the soft and tangy apple pockets. It reminded me a lot of an apple pie, which is a yummy change.  My dad, and everyone else in my family, thoroughly enjoyed this cake. I would definitely make it again, and strongly suggest you do too.

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Apple Cake – Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes one 9 or 10-inch tube cake

  • 6 apples, (Deb’s mom and I both used McIntosh apples)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
  2. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla.
  3. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. A hand mixer makes mixing a breeze but is not necessary, just make sure you have a sturdy whisk! Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top.
  5. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before running knife between cake and pan, and carefully unmold onto a platter. 

Lucy’s Tips:

  • I used a 10-inch tube pan for this recipe, with great results. Deb originally used a 9-inch, and recommends this one
  • Grease that tube pan really, really well. I didn’t have any sticking problems but it can happen.
  • I used half brown sugar and half white sugar for the apples, which is not necessary. Deb’s original recipe asks for all white sugar, which is absolutely fine.
  • Make sure that when you insert a cake tester into the cake, that you do so towards the center for higher accuracy. Do not fret if the tester comes out slightly wet towards the end of baking; it’ll continue to cook while cooling. Do not overbake!
  • Seriously, completely cool the cake before taking out of the pan. I bolded it for extra importance. I cannot emphasize it enough! This cake is dense but fragile, because of the apples, and can cause breakage if unmolded while warm. Trust me, the wait is worth it.

An oven by any other name…

…bakes just as good.

What’s in an oven? Lots of things, that’s for sure. Living in a small New York City kitchen, space is of the essence. Now, I love being in the kitchen but it is difficult to maneuver when the kitchen’s size resembles a shoebox. Well, what does one with space issues do? Rely on small appliances!

We have a microwave atop of the fridge, a toaster that lives in a cupboard, a panini press that lives on top of our washing machine, a blender that sits next to our toaster oven, and our prized possession in its own little nook in a corner of the kitchen. Our old and used up toaster oven is my family’s favorite appliance. It is convenient, cooks well and is out of the way.

Now, I have Dominican parents. I don’t know if anyone else has parents like mine but they like their things overcooked. Because of this, the oven is set permanently on the “toast” feature, with the temperature cranked up all the way up (thankfully, the oven doesn’t go past 450 degrees F). Depending on what I’m making, I change the settings. Some recipes may take longer to bake, so I have to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn/overbake. I actually love using the toaster oven because I get a better golden brown effect on some of my recipes. Maybe that’s why it’s called a toaster oven 😉

It may sound like we prefer the toaster oven (we do, hah) but we do use our conventional oven. The only problem with using it, besides overheating our apartment, is that my mom stores her pots and pans in there! To use the oven, we have to take everything out. This is also the issue with having a tiny kitchen; there’s nowhere to put them! When we do use the oven, pots and pans are everywhere you turn. We mostly reserve our big oven, as I affectionately call it, for items that don’t fit in the toaster oven, or if you’re planning on cooking a lot of things at once. It’s mostly in commission during the fall/winter seasons, because of the holidays and for its toasty, warming effect on our apartment on super cold days.  I personally use it if I’m making cookies, layer cakes, and dozens of cupcakes; which is actually a rare occurrence.

I hope this intro has intrigued you enough to follow me on my journey of discovery and deliciousness. I want to share my own recipes, as well as established favorites. I’m also planning on sharing my favorite items and gadgets, as well as cookbooks, bloggers, etc. I want this blog to be an extension of me and my time in my tiny kitchen. So, come for the recipes, but stay for the story 🙂