Welcome to IPB Living Investigates, a hard-hitting series where we tackle the most burning of questions. Today’s edition finds us exploring the age-old question: is a chocolate peanut butter cookie really necessary. This question was first drawn to our attention… um… well… sorta just yesterday. You see, Gentle Reader, in a spur of the moment “what shall we have to celebrate this weekend’s string of S-Days?” it was decided we should make peanut butter cookies with M&Ms using the recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home To Yours. We have had much success with this recipe before so we thought we knew what we were getting into. That was, until we noticed the “Playing Around” sidebar that suggested replacing some of the flour with cocoa powder.
This needed to be tried. We whipped up one batch of plain peanut butter cookies, following the original recipe to a tee, except for the omission of nuts and the addition of plain M&Ms. We then whipped up a batch using the chocolate variation, again with M&Ms instead of nuts. While mixing the second batch up, I posited the chocolate cookies had the potential to be either awesome or wholly unnecessary since the original version is so tasty on its own.
The initial review thirty minutes out of the oven was that the chocolate ones were good but not great. I decided to withhold judgment until the cookies had time to cool completely. 12 hours later the concensus is: good but not great. They have a really nice chocolately flavor with a subtle hint of peanut butter underneath, ending with a nice peanut buttery aftertaste. The M&Ms don’t really pop at all in this version, whereas the original features a huge peanut butter pow with little explosions of crunchy, sweet candy fun. The problem with the chocolate version is two-fold. One, the original recipe is so phenomenally good, it’s hard not to be disappointed to be eating a cookie so close to them but not exactly them. Two, there are so many other really great chocolate cookie recipes out there, why make a chocolate cookie that’s not out-of-this-world good?
I don’t mean to cut these cookies down too much, as they really are delicious and a very nice twist on a classic. In fact, in discussing the cookie’s merits, Schnookie and I had this exchange:
Me: I think if I made peanut butter cookies often, every three times or so, I’d change it up and make the chocolate versions.
Schnookie: Yeah, if this were your go-to cookie, that’d be great. I mean, if we made these instead of the Tollhouse chocolate chip as a fall-back cookie…
[Long, thoughtful pause of behalf of both parties.]
This is bad news for our Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies! The world doesn’t really need a chocolate peanut butter cookie, but every so often, it certainly wouldn’t hurt anyone.
Peanut Butter Crisscrosses
Source: Baking From My Home To Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
2 1/2 cups flour*
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup peanut , crunchy or smooth (not natural) [I use smooth Skippy]
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts [I use 1/2 a small bag of plain M&Ms instead because who wants nuts in their cookies?!]
*For chocolate variation, use 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together flour, soda, powder, salt and nutmeg. Beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add peanut butter and mix for another minute. [Make sure to try the cookie pudding at this point because peanut butter butter is extraordinary.] Add sugar and brown sugar and beat for 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat for a minute each. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the dry ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Mix in the nuts or M&Ms.
Put some sugar in a small bowl. Roll tablespoon sized scoops of the dough into balls and roll in sugar. Using a greased fork dipped in sugar, make crisscrosses in the tops of the cookies (or, grease the bottom of a glass and dip it in the sugar, then flatten the cookie with the glass).
Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies are light colored and cracked on top. (The cookies will be a little soft). Cool before eating, as they don’t taste as good when warm.
Makes a lot of cookies.