Well, I’m back with more cookies. We are living through a global pandemic – can you blame me?
I don’t think many people read blogs anymore. Does anyone still read blogs anymore? (I hear it’s too difficult to read wordswordswords before getting FREE recipes! Thoughts on this? Follow up question: is it really that hard to scroll?!) No matter. We need cookies and I need to get some things down.
I want to know how everyone is doing. How are you getting along? We are on day 22 of shelter-in-place at my house, and although we are all safe and healthy, we are grieving for the world, for our community, for healthcare workers, and we are grieving the loss of our old life. No school. No playgrounds. No lake walks, playdates, music class, mid-morning walks to the bakery. No Sunday dinner at Nana’s house. Absolutely no Spring Break trip to see my parents in Philadelphia. I’m actually not sure when I’ll get to see my east coast family again, a thought that absolutely terrifies me. A few months? A year from now? More? For now, all we get is a lot of Facetime-ing, brisk walks around the neighborhood (but don’t touch anything! Cross the street if you see anyone approaching!) and a once-a-week venture to the grocery store, alone – a quick, all-business affair quickly followed by a frenzy of highly regimented hand-washing and car/doorknob/grocery package disinfection. All while desperately trying to both keep up with and avoid the news.
And as weird and scary as it all is, I know that we are lucky. So lucky. We are young(ish), and so far healthy. We have a comfortable home, with a basement and yard where the boys can run and play. We have enough food to eat. We are not essential workers, so we’re shielded from the front lines of this virus. All we have to do is stay home. Ask neighbors if they need anything. Try and support local businesses and friends. It’s fine. We’re fine. The waves of fear and guilt and general unease come regularly, a tide coming and going each day. We’re fine. We watch more cartoons, draw more pictures, tidy up the same areas over and over and over again. We take comfort in baking – a batch of cookies, homemade granola, some bread. We’re clearly not the only ones – the baking aisle at the grocery store is gutted clean – so each kitchen project is chosen thoughtfully, with an eye towards our rations, to avoid the bottom of the flour bin, or package of yeast, cocoa powder, sugar, eggs.
The following recipe – from Shauna Sever’s lovely book, Midwest Made – doesn’t even touch the flour bin, so if you’re running low you needn’t worry! Soft, chewy, sugar-glittered, peanut-buttery cookies are in sight.
It’s bad, yes, but it’s not all bad. (See: cookies). Chin up, everyone.
Soft & Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies
Lightly adapted from Midwest Made by Shauna Sever
Yields about 20-24 cookies
- 2 cups (500g) creamy peanut butter (I used JIF)
- 1 1/4 cups (280g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, cold from the fridge
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons (16g) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar (for coating)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with two racks spaced evenly apart. Line a sheet pan or two with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl using hand-held mixer), beat together the peanut butter, brown sugar, melted butter and salt on medium speed until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each, then the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the cornstarch and baking soda. The dough will quickly come together and begin to come off the sides of the bowl.
Use an ice-cream scoop to portion the dough into 2-tablespoon balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar to coat completely. Place the dough balls, evenly spaced about 2 inches apart, on the prepared baking sheet(s). Use a large fork (dipped in sugar to prevent sticking) to cross-hatch the top of the cookie balls, flattening them into 1/2-inch thick disks. Sprinkle the tops with a little extra granulated sugar.
Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, rotating the sheets midway through baking, until the edges are just barely set. Cool the cookies entirely on the pans. They will seem pale-ish and underdone, but will continue to bake as they cool – try not to over bake! This ensures their soft and chewy texture. Enjoy immediately, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Note: if you want to make giant cookies, scoop them into 1/4-cup balls and bake them for 12 minutes. (This is how the book directs you to bake them, though I enjoyed the slightly smaller variation.)