Friday, September 11, 2009

Primo peanut butter cup cookies

In general I don’t consider myself to be a very good baker. I envy the one who can successfully cook up moist cupcakes or gooey-in-the-middle cookies. For me it is a rarity that my baking endeavors have a happy ending.

But I suppose failed baking doesn’t always stop me from trying once more to see if I can get it right. Practice makes perfect, right? If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again? I could go on and on.

For Labor Day I made some Lemonade Cookies that looked NOTHING like the picture in which I was aiming for. In fact, they stuck together and I had to scrap nearly an entire batch. Check out the rest of the story here.

This week a co-worker of mine had a birthday and I wanted to bring in a treat to work. Instead of stopping at Costco for the usual brownie bites (not that there is ANYTHING wrong with these), I decided to make something for her. I mean, even if they didn’t turn out perfectly, it would be the thought that counts, right?

My September issue of Real Simple arrived on Tuesday and my roommate pointed out that they had a recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Cookies. Sold.

I went to the store (walked there actually, I was being green and decided to burn off the calories before I ate them) in the morning and got the few ingredients I was missing, including the peanut butter cups. When I got home I realized that I forgot to allot time for pealing the wrappers off of a bag of mini peanut butter cups. So I sat myself on the couch and watched Martha make some yummy looking tabouli salad and bunny lamps with Jerry O’Connell while shucking (?) wrappers. So I guess I was "cooking" in front of the TV at this point, rather than eating in front of the TV.

Once the peanut butter cups were ready it was smooth sailing the rest of the way.

I am learning that when baking, if it says room-temperature butter it is of utmost importance. It doesn’t really cut it to microwave it and it really has the wrong consistency when it’s fresh out of the fridge.

When I made my Lemonade Cookies and scooped them with a spoon they came out with ragged edges, not perfect circles like the pictures. My roommate told me Martha usually uses a small ice cream scoop for more rounded cookies. While I don’t have one of those and didn’t want to drop the dough (get it?) to buy one, I improvised this time and just used my rounded-bottom tablespoon measure. It worked like a charm. I held up a perfectly rounded cookie and exclaimed, “Look how pretty!”

Cookies and milk in front of the TV – nothing better (and that's America's Top Model on in the background by the way -- Fall Season Premiere blog to come soon).

The reviews from the birthday girl and others at work were a reinforcement that maybe I am getting better at this baking thing.

From the birthday girl: “I think it's a 5-star cookie. The reviews keep coming.” The review that she was referring to: “that was MOST excellent. She's definitely on the hook to do that more often. (thanks for sharing the goods.)” An editor exclaimed: “Those are awesome cookies. I may steer clear of you for a while until they're gone or I fear I'll scarf them all.” Yet another editor demanded: "By the way, once you bring in cookies that are that good, you're not allowed to stop bringing them in. Company policy." And finally, the namesake of this blog: “Primo cookies!”

Here’s how you can make your own Primo Peanut Butter Cup Cookies (recipe from Real Simple September 2009 issue):

Hands-on time: 15 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes | makes 48 cookies (I only made 30)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 12-ounce package small peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped

>Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

>Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Fold in the peanut butter cups.

>Drop tablespoon-size mounds of dough 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake until light brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.

Make-ahead tip: The cookies can be baked and stored at room temperature in an airtight container up to 3 days in advance.

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