Peanut Butter Cookies to Impress

We’ve talked about peanut butter before. There are times when nothing is more satisfying than creamy, rich peanut butter—with a spoon, right out of the jar.  The next time that impulse strikes, you might want to consider a slightly more civilized approach.

Here’s an opportunity to have an easy peanut butter fix in cookie form.  These seductive thumbprint cookies are tailor-made with five basic ingredients, and they bake in ten minutes. If you can recruit any tiny hands, their simple shaping contribution will make everyone happy.

The thumbprint variation allows for the option of quickly filling the little center imprint with whatever pleases you:  jelly, jam, Nutella, dulce de leche, or perhaps marshmallow crème.

Roll the cookies in granulated or brown turbinado sugar before baking for an extra sparkly touch.  When cookies are set, remove them from the oven and fill the center of each with the product of your choice. Briefly return the cookies to the oven to finish baking and set the filling.

Beware.  Do not be tempted to eat these standing up, directly from the pan. Let the hot cookies rest briefly in their pan to firm up and then cool on a wire rack.  You will avert scorching any hovering open mouths.

Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup peanut butter, either creamy or chunky
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup granulated or turbinado sugar (optional, for rolling)
Filling of choice:  berry jam, grape jelly, Nutella, dulce de leche, or marshmallow crème

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a baking sheet with baker’s spray or line with parchment or silpat.
  2. In a medium bowl stir the peanut butter and sugar together with a spoon. Add the beaten egg and baking soda and stir to evenly combined.
  3. Using a teaspoon, shape rounded spoonfuls of dough into balls. Roll in sugar, if desired.  Set on the baking sheet about 1” apart. With a water moistened thumb, press down in center about ½” to make a well.
  4. Bake for 7 minutes until puffed.  Using back of small spoon, press the thumbprint down again and fill with jam or other filling.  Return to oven and bake another 3 minutes.
  5. Let the cookies cool a couple of minutes and remove with spatula to cooling rack.  To store, layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper.  Store airtight for up to a week.   Yield: approximately 24 cookies.

A Chocolate Chip Cookie, à la minute

Here’s a cheap thrill to remember when the snack shelf is bare and you are in deep need of a little personal indulgence.  There’s nothing like your own rich, warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie, à la minute, for a boost of comfort and happiness.

That’s right, it’s another microwave steal.  Grab an oven proof cup, mix up a few basic staples (of course, that would include chocolate chips), and pop it into the microwave for maybe a minute.

The trick here is in not over baking.  After about 45 seconds the batter will look bubbly and raised, but certainly not set and firm.  No matter.  Take it out,  let it rest for 5 minutes, and it will solidify into the familiar cookie we all love.

This is not a bake ahead item.  Enjoy it warm straight out of the cup or pop it out and have at it.  Of course, a scoop or two of ice cream is an obvious consideration…

A Warm Chocolate Chip Cookie

Inspired by One Bowl Baking, Yvonne Ruperti

Ingredients
1 tablespoon softened butter
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
Pinch baking soda
1 tablespoon bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Spread a dab of butter on the bottom and sides of an oven proof cup or mug.
  2. Place the brown sugar, butter, salt, water and vanilla in mug and give it a good stir.
  3. Add the flour, baking soda and chocolate chips and stir until just combined. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the cup.
  4. Microwave on high, just until the dough puffs, bubbles form, and it doesn’t look wet—about 45 seconds, depending on oven.
  5. Remove from the microwave and let rest for 5 minutes, until set. Enjoy while warm.  Yield:  1 serving.

Oatmeal Crisps: Addendum

Perhaps I didn’t fully elaborate on yesterday’s amazingly addictive Oatmeal Crisps.  I woke in the middle of the night thinking of my extended rant which failed to mention much of anything about their real virtues.

Oatmeal Crisps

Did I mention the lacy cookies that clock in at under two minutes baking time per batch are not only ethereal, crisp, and crunchy, but their rich and nutty flavor belies the fact that they have less than 20 calories each?   I didn’t think so.

Did I tell you that they have the added benefit of oatmeal’s nutritional value, fiber, and flavor?  That for the small number and volume of ingredients you receive so much?  I think not.

Did I mention that although these are prepared in the microwave, and there still seems to be some concern about its usage, the convenience and advantages of the microwave in cases such as this, are well worth considering?

Did I mention that their charm lends not only to copious snacking but also that they make a style statement when perched alongside or atop ice cream, sorbet, parfaits, mousse, or nearly anything else you can think of?  Not so much.

Did I mention that even though they take so little time to produce, they make an excellent and thoughtful gift when you would rather not show up empty handed on someone’s doorstep?

No, I didn’t think so.

Fair Warning: Addictive Cookies Ahead

Well, that was exciting—but of course, food does that to me!

crisps-plate
Oatmeal crisps, tuiles, wafers. It’s all good.

This time two of my favorite things, oatmeal and caramel, joined together as one, thanks to the magic of the microwave. My tiny kitchen was astir with activity while these beauties danced their way out of the oven, one sweet nutty batch after another.

The crisp golden cookies began as tiny ½ teaspoon droplets of batter then immediately melted and expanded into thin rounds; they were done in less than 2 minutes of rapid baking. The trickiest part here is figuring out how to rotate from one batch to the next without a lot of down time.

When I hit my groove I was filling, turning, or cleaning two oven safe 10” flat plates constantly. Well, that’s not completely true. There was a time when I looked a little like Lucy in the chocolate factory, tasting and sampling the goods as fast as I could.

Fresh out of the oven
Fresh out of the oven

In spite of that, once the assembly line was working and I had my rhythm going, I cranked out four dozen cookies (*less the sample factor) quite efficiently.

It could be remnants of a sugar high, but these are dangerously addictive. Fair warning.

Oatmeal Crisps

Inspired by Barbara Kafta’s Microwave Gourmet (1987)

Ingredients
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons quick oats
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon butter, melted
cooking oil for baking platter

Directions

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt and combine with the oats.
  2. Beat egg until foamy. Add cinnamon and sugar and beat until well mixed, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla
  3. Add melted butter and dry ingredients and stir well.
  4. Thoroughly coat a 10″ round ovenproof platter with cooking oil. Drop 1/2 teaspoonful rounds of batter onto platter in a ring about 2” apart, around the inside rim (will only make about 6 cookies per batch).
  5. In the microwave, bake first batch approximately 2-1/2 minutes. Every 30 seconds, stop and restart until cookies begin to bubble and centers turn lightly golden. They will firm up as they cool.  Cooking time will shorten with remaining batches: allow about 1 minute 20 seconds depending on oven, restarting every 30 seconds to cook evenly. Watch carefully—they will burn quickly.
  6. Remove with metal spatula to a rack to cool. Store airtight.  Yield about 4 dozen cookies.
  7. Batter can be made a day in advance, chilled and well covered.

Must love peanut butter

When it comes to food, I’m always in search of something new and interesting.  This isn’t exactly new, but it is interesting.

It’s a very cool homemade cookie that requires only four ingredients—and very little time or effort.

Peanut Butter Cookies, Fast
Peanut Butter Cookies, Fast

Faster than it takes to preheat the oven, I had the aroma of freshly baked peanut butter cookies wafting magically from the kitchen.  A mere wave of the wrist resulted in crisp, slightly chewy cookies with perfectly balanced peanut-buttery sweetness.

Well, there is one small catch.

These addictive cookies are so good, any attempt at self-restraint goes right out the window. Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and random snacking.peanut-butter-cookies-rack

 Peanut Butter Cookies, Fast

Inspired by a popular cookie originally in Gourmet magazine, reprinted in Gourmet’s Five Ingredients by Gourmet Magazine Editors.

Ingredients
1 cup peanut butter, either creamy or chunky
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil or line with silpat.
  2. In a medium-small mixing bowl, with a spoon beat peanut butter and sugar to combine; then beat in egg and baking soda.
  3. With hands, roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls and arrange about 1” apart on baking sheets.  Flatten balls with tines of fork to about 1-1/2” diameter, making a crosshatch pattern.
  4. Bake in batches about 10 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.
  5. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2 minutes to set, then transfer with spatula to rack to cool completely.  These will keep 5 days stored airtight at room temperature.  Yield: 2 dozen approximate.

Date Delirium

datesNow that the weather is beginning to cool off and school is in session, it is time to get back to some serious cookie baking!  I jumped right in with an easy, unassuming cookie made with dates and a dash of oats for nuttiness and fiber.

What a surprise!  Be prepared for an unexpected cookie rush:  the dates manage to melt into distinct bites of light, perfumed sweetness, perfectly balanced with a mild coriander-spice blend.cookes-and-coffee

I know, they are so good for you, too.  You can  justify having another.

Since the dates are the star here, look for a premium variety, like Medjool; not desiccated nubs devoid of both flavor and moisture.  I found excellent well-priced Deglet Noor dates at Trader Joe’s.

The batter will be thick, I dropped rounds onto a cookie sheet, then flattened them slightly with a fork. dates-cookie-sheet This makes a small batch just over 2 dozen cookies, you may want consider doubling these if you have cookies monsters on premises.

Date-Spiced Cookies

Concept inspired by Well-Fed, Flat Broke, Emily Wight

Ingredients
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup quick oats
3/4 cup pitted dates, dice
1 egg
2 tablespoon oil
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with silpat or parchment.
  2. On waxed paper, sift flour through salt; mix in the oats, add the dates and toss to coat.
  3. In mixing bowl, whisk egg and oil together, whisk in the brown sugar and milk, then the vanilla. Stir in dry with large spoon only to combine, it will be thick.
  4. Form rounded teaspoonful’s of dough, roll into balls; place 2″ apart on baking sheet. Flatten with a moistened fork while rounding the edges.
  5. Bake 9-11 minutes, until barely set and tops begin to brown. They should be soft; they will firm up as they cool. Cool on rack and repeat.  Yield: 27 cookies

New Millennium Snacking: Date Bars

This moist and tasty bar is a life saver when faced with dashing out the door without breakfast, and it’s solid enough to hold up well for snacking later in the day.  Much of the sweetness comes from dates plus a good hit of candied ginger, which in tandem with warm spices gives off a subtle kick of heat.Date Bars(480x640)

The quinoa works quite well here, not only for its health benefits, but also because it is light and does not become mushy as is the case with many grains.  While at it, I like to make a full batch of quinoa and use it for other purposes, instead of just the small batch required here; a recipe follows. Oats are also included, but neither butter nor oil is used.

Date Bars with Quinoa and Candied Ginger

Ingredients

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour, buckwheat, or other flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon each allspice, and coriander
1/4 teaspoon dried ginger or cloves
Pinch salt
1 cup quick rolled oats
1/2 cup dates, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup candied ginger root, minced
1 banana
1 large egg
1/4 cup yogurt
1/3 cup agave or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cooked white quinoa (see below)

1 Tbsp. Demerara sugar, for sprinkling on top

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line and spray 8×8″ pan.
  2. In medium bowl combine flour through oat flakes.
  3. In a large bowl, smash the banana with a fork, mix in the egg, then stir in the yogurt, agave, extract and the quinoa.
  4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet along with the dried fruit, and stir to combine.  Spread evenly into pan and sprinkle Demerara sugar over the top.  Bake approximately 35 minutes, until it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and the top begins to brown.
  5. Let cool 10 minutes on rack, remove from pan, cool thoroughly, then slice.  Yield: 18 bars

To cook the quinoa, use the 1:2 ration of quinoa to water.  Rinse 1 cup quinoa well and place it in a small saucepan with 2 cups water.  Bring it to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.  It is done when the seeds swell and sprouts tails. Drain any excess water and cool.  Yields 3 cups.