Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

I was astounded to realize recently that we had NO treats in our house.  Nothing.  Not even some cookies hidden away in the freezer.  The clever girl asked for a cookie after dinner and I had to tell her we didn't have anything.  She looked at me like I had sprouted a second head.  "Nothing?!", she said, incredulously.  "Momma, we need to bake some cookies tomorrow!", she exclaimed.  It was a travesty!  Don't get me wrong, we don't have treats every day after dinner.  But usually there is a little something sweet somewhere in our house for a random treat.  It was truly devastating to have no treats.  I felt a bit like Old Mother Hubbard, though luckily my cupboards weren't so bare that I couldn't rectify the situation!

Though 99.9% of the time I make my favorite chocolate chip cookie to fill our treat needs, I have decided lately that I need to branch out and try other cookies.  Back to the cookbooks to find something to try...  And alas, I found Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters in Dorie Greenspan's cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours.  Do you have this cookbook?  If you enjoy baking, I highly recommend this book for your shelf.  It is wonderful.

Anyway, this is like three amazing cookies all in one!  A trifecta of yummy cookie-ness!  Peanutbutter?  Check!  Oatmeal?  Check!  Chocolate Chips?  CHECK!!  How can you go wrong?

You know the TWD group I am in?  Well, the cookbook containing this cookie recipe is the first cookbook they cooked through.  I am super sad that I missed that experience and may just have to replicate it on my own sometime.  Drat.  Anyway, since this recipe is part of that book, hundreds of people have baked it and blogged about it!  So when I googled the recipe, I had tons of opportunities to see what different people thought!  The first blog I found noted that she reduced the amount of butter in the recipe by HALF.  Wow.  That is not something I would have been brave enough to try on my own, but I thought it was definitely worth thinking about.  And as I looked at other bloggers posts, I noticed that many of the cookies were flatter than I wanted and had that brown buttery look.  Many people stated that the peanut butter flavor did not really come through, but it tasted more buttery.  Ah-ha.  So I made a big change (in my opinion) to the recipe.  Instead of using 2 sticks of butter, I used 1/2 of one stick and and equal amount of butter-flavor Crisco.  Technically, this equals 1 stick of butter but I wanted to substitute some Crisco because of the melting difference between butter and Crisco.  (For more discussion about this, see my chocolate chip cookie recipe, linked above.) Next time I might even try just Crisco, no butter.  Now we are getting crazy!

Enough talking, let's get baking!  Whisk together oats, flour, baking soda, spices and salt.

Here is my scant amount of butter/Crisco.  The butter is on the left, Crisco on the right.  Imagine, these cookies are supposed to use twice that amount of fat!  It makes me so happy to have found a way to "lighten" up some cookies.  Since there is oatmeal involved, can we call them "healthy"?  No, I didn't think so.

Cream the butter/Crisco with peanut butter, white sugar and brown sugar.  I reduced the total amount of sugar by about 1/3 cup and will do more next time.  Instead of using 2 cups total, maybe I'll try removing another 1/3 cup or something.  Ratio-wise, I'll use more brown sugar than white sugar.  Whenever I make these again, I'll let you know!

Once that is nice and creamy, add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla extract.  Then slowly add the oat mixture, mixing only until it is all combined.  Stir in the chips.  Don't you love how little kids stand with their tummy's poked out?  It just cracks me up.

Here comes another controversial part.  According to the recipe you should now refrigerate the dough for 2-24 hours.  Wait even longer for cookies?  Agony.  Supposedly this gives you more evenly shaped cookies.  I did refrigerate them for about 2 hours but I don't know that I would do it again.  When cold, the dough is a bit dry and harder to get into the smooshed ball-shape.  And the dryness is not because I used less fat.  There were lots of comments about this in the random blogs I read.  Anyway, refrigerate (or don't) and then scoop the batter into rounded tablespoons and put them on the baking sheet.  Bake 13-15 minutes.

Success!  Puffy, chewy goodness!

Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg 
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup butter-flavor Crisco)
1 cup peanut butter--chunky (my choice) or smooth (but not natural)
1 cup sugar 
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar 
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or 1 1/2 cups store-bought chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat the oven to 350F and position racks to divide the oven into thirds.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, spices and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then add the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until combined. Mix in the chips. If you have time and patience, cover and chill the dough for about 2 hours or for up to one day. (This will give you more evenly shaped cookies.)

If the dough is not chilled, drop rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto the baking sheets. If the dough is chilled, scoop up rounded tablespoons, roll the balls between your hands and place them 2 inches apart on the sheets. Press the chilled balls gently with the heel of your hand until they are about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes. The cookies should be golden and just firm around the edges. Lift the cookies onto cooling racks with a wide metal spatula - they'll firm as they cool.

Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

Storing: Wrapped airtight or piled into a cookie jar, the cookies will keep at room temperature for about 4 days. Wrapped and frozen, they'll be good for 2 months.

Substitute soft, moist raisins for the chocolate chunks or just stir in some raisins along with them. 
Toss in chopped peanuts too (salted or not). 

Enjoy triple cookie goodness!  I made mine into an ice cream sandwich.  Mmmm. 

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