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.