Peanut Butter Cookie Time

I actually made these a couple of weeks ago and did not get round to writing a post.  However, given that it is Independence Day in the USA, now seemed as good a time as any.

Cookies are the American cousin to our biscuit.  They are usually bigger (as everything in the USA invariably is) and are more suited to a glass of milk than a cup of tea.  While looking at different recipes, it became apparent that like our biscuits, cookies are never just cookies.  They can be crispy or have more of a half-baked, soft texture and of course the combinations of flavours and ingredients are endless.

An all American ingredient that has a very special place in my heart, is peanut butter.  When I eat it, I often like to compliment the saltiness with something sweet.   Although traditionally paired with jam (jelly to any Americans reading this), one of my all-time favourite breakfasts/snacks is a peanut butter and banana sandwich on wholemeal toast…. Incredible.

Given it’s soft, pasty texture, I knew peanut butter would work well in a cookie. However, like my beloved sandwich, it needed something sweet to balance the saltiness. Cookies for me, always need to contain a chocolate element, either chunks or chips.   Dark chocolate was not going to be sweet enough and even milk chocolate didn’t quite have the level of milky, sugariness I was after.  What I needed was the creamy, almost slight sickliness of white chocolate for that real sweet/salty contrast.

The recipe for these is a slight adaption of this one from Baking Mad

Ingredients

125g butter

195g light brown sugar

1 egg

1tsp vanilla extract

195g plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

300g peanut butter (crunchy or smooth but I think the crunchy gives more texture to the cookie)

150g white chocolate or white chocolate chips (the more chocolate, the better)

Method 

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a flat baking tray with greaseproof paper

2) Cream the butter (make sure it is at room temperature) and sugar in a mixer or a with hand whisk until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again until well combined

3) Using a wooden spoon, fold in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder.  Next add the chocolate (smashed up if it’s a bar) and peanut butter and stir until mixture is evenly combined

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Cookie mixture

4) Using a dessert spoon of mix per cookie, spoon dollops of mixture on to the baking tray and squash down slightly with the back of the spoon. Leave about an inch between each cookie as they spread when baking

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Space cookies evenly on the baking tray

5) Bake for about ten minutes or until golden and still slightly soft in the centre.  Once cooled, slightly, transfer to a wire rack and then enjoy

Ready to enjoy
Ready to enjoy

Tip: Cookies come in many textures and styles. Play around with ingredients until you find a combination that works for you.

Summer Strawberry Fool

Strawberries are the epitome of summer for me and  I eat my way through at least three punnets a week when they are season.  While they are perfect on their own (and in Pimms) they can also lend themselves to many a dessert.  When the weather is a little warmer, nobody wants to be weighed down by a stodgy pudding after dinner.  Whipping up a fool is both incredibly simple and can be done with many soft fruits including gooseberries, strawberries and raspberries. It is not especially elegant, yet it provides enough creamy sweetness to satisfy most pudding addicts (yes, even me).

Ingredients

350g strawberries (plus a few extra for decoration)

400ml double cream

1 tbsp icing sugar (optional if strawberries are not sweet enough)

Method  

1) Pour the cream into a large bowl. Whisk with an electric whisk until it has thickened and forms ribbons when you lift the whisk out

2) In a separate bowl, use a potato masher to mash the strawberries and release some of the juice.  Do not mash to a complete pulp, leave some strawberry lumps.  If you feel there is too much juice, drain some off

I could just eat them like this
I could just eat them like this

3) Fold the strawberry mixture into the cream until well combined.  Add the sugar at this point if required

Fool mixture
Fool mixture

4) Use six tumblers or glass dessert bowls and spoon the mixture in (you can layer a few strawberries on the bottom of each if you wish).  Leave in the fridge for an hour before eating

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Strawberry fool for pud

Tip:  This fool is great accompanied by meringues. I will share my mum’s recipe another time