I'm going to take these cookies and use them as another ode to the joys and benefits of simple baking...
Sometimes, I need a little baking therapy when I'm stressed and want to relax. I get into the kitchen, into my "happy place", and in those instances, I go for easy recipes - cookies or muffins, generally - that I can whip up with familiar, routine-like movements that are soothing on their own. The most recent time I really needed a baking "session", I went for a small batch of these peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. In place of some of the chocolate chips, I chopped up and included some peanut m&m's as well. I like the touch of variety, color, flavor, and fun it throws in.
You might have recently seen this article on the psychological benefits of baking for others. It articulates much of what we know and feel if you enjoy baking as much as I've come to. I don't only bake to de-stress...I bake in all moods and for all different occasions, and I would say I'm usually very happy when I do it, but for times when I do need to decompress, baking is a familiar and happy ritual that does that. It has been a great outlet and source of joy, and I'm grateful to have discovered it and be able to indulge in it.
So a couple of weeks ago when I was in need of a little de-stressing, I went into the kitchen to whip up some of these cookies for my family. We always welcome a fresh batch of cookies! I knew it would put a smile on my face and on my fellas as we enjoy them together afterwards.
To stretch out the process of making this batch of cookies, I did it the old-fashioned way, by hand. The mixer and electronic equipment are a great help in general but it's amazing how good it feels to work ingredients together, using your hands, doing basic things like stirring, whisking, and chopping. You take your time and the process really can be therapeutic...
This recipe from Dessert for Two makes a dozen cookies (or a baker's dozen in my case). I'm already partial to her small-batch monster cookies, which I've whipped up multiple times but as you know, there can never be too many variations of peanut butter, chocolate chip, or oatmeal cookies to try out and enjoy. Bring 'em all on! And if I can whip them up with basic ingredients that I already have at home, all the better!
This was one much-needed happy baking session! And I'm curious...if you find baking relaxing, what do you like to make when you're looking to decompress and get a little "baking therapy"?
I made a few tweaks to the original recipe. First of all, the recipe calls for natural peanut butter; I used Skippy natural creamy peanut butter, which I'd say is thicker and more homogenous than other brands of natural peanut butter.
I substituted half the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour, and dialed down the sugar in the recipe by a couple of tablespoons. I also used light brown sugar instead of dark (to be honest, I didn't notice the recipe listed dark brown sugar until after I'd made the cookies!). I used bittersweet chocolate chips and, as I've mentioned, chopped peanut m&m's for the mix-in. Have a little fun with it!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Dessert for Two
- For 1 dozen cookies -
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup peanut butter (I used Skippy natural creamy peanut butter)
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar (I used light)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (I substituted half with white whole wheat flour)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup mix-ins (I used about 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips and 1/4 cup coarsely chopped peanut m&m's; you can simply use 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
In a medium bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar together (you can use an electric mixer on medium speed or do it by hand using a wooden spoon like I did). Beat until combined and mixture is light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beating until just combined.
In a bowl, whisk the flour(s), baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Add to the butter mixture and stir together until incorporated. Add chocolate chips and other mix-in's, if using, and stir together.
Portion the dough into 12 dough balls (rolling them between your hands), spaced evenly apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 11-12 minutes, until cookies are puffed and set though still soft in the center. Remove baking sheet from the oven, let cool for a minute, then remove cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely.
You just can't beat the combo of peanut butter and chocolate, can you? These cookies look fantastic, Monica.ReplyDelete
You got that right! ; )Delete
I feel exactly the same as you do about baking therapy, Monica. I just love getting in the kitchen and making something for my family or for others. Cookies and dessert bars are at the top of the list: partly because they're fun to make, and partly because I can eat one or two and give the rest away.ReplyDelete
Cookies are so easy and so great for sharing, aren't they? I totally agree with you.Delete
Baking therapy is fantastic. Love this concept.. life is tough - Bake cookies! These little chewy ones are a favorite classic. Happy Monday!ReplyDelete
Bake cookies, share cookies, repeat. It's a good mantra. ; )Delete
I find it therapeutic just looking at the photos of your cookies! :) M and M cookies in particular are a nostalgic bake for me. My grandmother would bake them and bring them for us grandkids when she came to visit. They are really the only cookie memory I have, which makes them special comfort food. Do you ever find a big difference between dark and light brown sugar? I only "stock" dark brown, because I want to taste a flavor difference between brown and white sugar and I'm not sure I do with the light. What do you think, Monica?ReplyDelete
What a great cookie memory, Wendy. Meanwhile, I never had cookies or baked goods with M&M's while I was growing up and to be honest, I always thought it was odd and not a great idea...then one day, I tasted monster cookies and got schooled in how M&Ms make baked goods better! I have seen the light and M&M's are one of my favorite things so it makes total sense. : )Delete
Regarding brown sugar...funny you ask because if I really think about it, I think I actually prefer dark brown sugar over light but yet I reach for the light by reflex. I usually regret not using dark when my cookies come out too light and I feel like the baked goods can never taste "too" dark anyway - more caramelized flavor, the better. But again, I have this bit of "fear" of using dark brown sugar just in case...can't really explain it but I will try to reach for the dark brown sugar more often. I have both on hand always.
Love these fun little cookies Monica, I am going to have to check out the dessert for two website, since it is only my husband and I most of the time we waste alot of food. I love chopping veggies when I'm stressed out not sure what that says about me lol.ReplyDelete
Hi Cheri! On the savory side, I love stirring risotto and mixing things up like that. Chopping veggies definitely has its therapeutic effects, too. A healthy way to de-stress for sure! : )Delete
I think my family would be happy if I chose baking as stress relief more often. I do yoga instead.These cookies look colorful and delicious.ReplyDelete
haha! The yoga and baking can be mutually inclusive...how about that?! ; ) Baking is just one way to de-stress. Exercising is a very good option.Delete
You really are a fan of the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, don't you? They look fun & cute, Monica.ReplyDelete
Yes, it's been a craving I can't seem to get enough of. I think it's that richness of the peanut butter. We had a peanut butter ganache fondant cake for dessert while we were on vacation and I can't tell you how much that hit the spot. Bit like the cakes you posted recently. I definitely 'medicate' and relax through chocolate. : )Delete
What an interesting article, I've read it and I can totally relate. Lovely cookies, I've tried making similar with m&m's once, but although the cookies tasted good, the color of the candy was gone... I wonder what I did wrong?ReplyDelete
Hmmm...I've never had an issue with the color of the M&M's running off (were you using M&M's specifically)...could the batter have been especially wet? It would be a bummer to lose the color. That is half the fun, isn't it. ; )Delete
Great combination Monica...peanut butter and chocolate...yes, I too use "baking therapy" when I am stressed...nothing specific...just baking anything helps...ReplyDelete
Have a wonderful week ahead :)
I can see you baking some wonderful bread for one thing! : )Delete
I love all the changes you made to this recipe - they sound and look great. Baking is a pleasure when I have the time. If I am in the mood to make something just because I want to - I guess it would be pie :) With fruit mostly - because fruit pies are unsurpassed! Thanks for sharing :) and hope you had a wonderful Easter and a great spring break!ReplyDelete
You are the pie queen for sure! The feeling of accomplishment that must come from pulling out a homemade fruit pie has to be amazing. It's definitely something to "ooh and aah" over. Sounds wonderful. PS - I just ate a ton of strawberries! ; )Delete
I HAVE TO COVER MY EYES!!!! BECAUSE I WANNA EAT MY SCREEN!!! OMG I AM DYING THESE right here are MY FAVORITE kind of cookie EVER!!!!!!!ReplyDelete
You describe how I feel about chocolate in general. : )Delete