On many a Saturday afternoon, there is a gentle knock at the door, and my entire family knows that deliciousness waits on the other side. It is MrsWheelbarrow, toting a left over apple tart from a class she just taught, a stick of cured meat that none of us should be eating, or maybe some contraband cheese from France.
She sits down at the table, gleefully unwraps her goodies, and politely ignores the dirty soccer cleats, the pile of coffee cups and the bowl of whatever I was mixing up for a bake sale perched precariously on a pile of newspapers nearby. Ours is a chaotic household, and MrsWheelbarrow brings a small spot of the ordered universe that is her kitchen to our home.
It has been that way since literally the first day we moved here, 14 months ago, when MrsWheelbarrow, having yet to meet me in the non-virtual world, left a tomato plant and jars of her delicious preserves on our porch. Knowing I was bereft over the loss of my fall farmer’s markets in Los Angeles, she quickly gave me the D.C. tour. When it came time to plan a family event, she steered me to the perfect barbecue shack. In short, MrsWheelbarrow embodies goodness, and so, as anyone who has tried her recipes can attest, does her food.
So recently, when I asked one of the technology guys at the office -- who did me a solid concerning an expensive type of telephonic equipment and water damage, ahem -- what type of cookies he liked, and he said peanut butter, I was thrilled to see that MrsWheelbarrow has posted one such recipe on the site.
I will pause to say that I have made many of the peanut butter cookies on Food52, and I have enjoyed them all, largely because I feel peanut butter and sugar go together like Malibu and a surfboard. But All I Want For Christmas Peanut Butter Cookies are one-extra-step special, with the delirious-making addition of more sugar and more peanut butter in the form of frosting.
I began where instructed, with a nice hunk of unsalted Plugrá, and commercial peanut butter. I then followed the instructions carefully, sifting up my dry ingredients as my butters and sugars mixed, and then adding the eggs and vanilla. I folded the dry ingredients into the wet by hand, to avoid over mixing. MrsWheelbarrow instructs you to make these cookies on the small side because they are so rich, but I was a bit heavy of the hand and made standard-sized guys. You should probably do as she says.
I am not going to dwell on the part where I removed one sheet pan from the oven only to have it slip out of my hand, dumping peanut butter cookies into the oven hinge and all over the floor, and the screaming and yes maybe a little bit of crying that ensued. Because I moved on.
While my remaining cookies cooled, I washed out my mixing bowl and went on to the sandwich cream, which is a sort of standard butter cream infused with the addition of a peanut butter and chocolate chip mess that will make your head explode. Frosting these guys was fun, and they look lovely, especially tucked into a paper box with some tissue paper, if they are a gift.
Mr. Tech Man smiled politely as I handed them to him. I think maybe he thought he was getting a wrapped box of Nutter Butters? I waited a bit, because I knew what was coming.
Ping ping! “Holy Smokes, Those stinkin’ Peanut Butter Cookies are the best!!!!!!!!! Wow, they are good.” (All words and punctuation verbatim from the email. I am a cookie-loving aggregator!!)
I knew just how he felt. Divine cookies are like a special friendship -- they find you when you don’t expect it, and maybe when you need it the most.
6 ounces unsalted butter, best quality
3/4 cups creamy peanut butter (I use Jif - do not use natural peanut butter)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Cream butter, peanut butter and sugar together until lightened.
Add egg, beat to combine, then add vanilla bean. Beat well until combined and lightened.
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Fold into butter mixture thoroughly, but gently.
Place rounded teaspoons of dough on the sheet pan, about 2" apart, and press down gently with a fork or with two floured fingers.
Bake about 10-12 minutes, until barely golden on top, and golden brown on the bottom. The cookies will be very soft, so don't fuss with them until they cool.
Allow the cookies to cool completely while you make the sandwich cream.
8 tablespoons butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate or miniature chips
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat the sugar, butter and peanut butter together.
Stir in vanilla and chocolate. Add cream until smooth enough to spread.
Put the little cookies together, gluing one half to the other with a very generous schmear of sandwich cream. If you are very lucky, there will be broken halves, or uneven numbers - as that means a little snack for the baker.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).Order now