A couple of years ago I worked in the same department as Andi, a gorgeous American who introduced me to the very exotic flavour combinazione of peanut butter and chocolate. After a trip back home to visit her family in Oregon, she returned to work with all manner of Hershey’s confectionery. I was a little reluctant to try them at first, not being one for overly sweet sweets, but with my father’s words echoing in my head (‘you should try everything at least once’, he had said over childhood dinners of giblets and plates of stinky cheese), I must have tried every product those Hershey people made. Well, it was instant love. I thought I had discovered the best sweet flavour combination EVER. But I was light years behind my friends, as I soon realised. Their palettes were well-adjusted to this new discovery of mine. The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were my absolute favourite – the salty, sweet and sensationally-smooth peanut butter oozing out of a cup of scrumptious milk chocolate.
So, as a dedication to Andi, who gave me the gift of peanut butter and chocolate, here is a little something that may reduce you to a 5-year-old, as it did me, complete with chocolate all over my hands. For the full inner-child experience, I recommend a glass of milk whilst you down these cookies. I’ve been baking these all week to wrap up as Christmas gifts and the smell of them continues to entice me into having yet another cookie! In a show of fairness towards all North Americans, these cookies have also been endorsed by my Canadian friend, Lois. Methinks she liked them a lot.
125 g butter
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
1½ cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups dark and milk chocolate bits (one or the other is fine also, but the dark and milk chip combo is sehr gut)
Preheat your oven to 180°C (with mine at 160°C, see ‘Crumbly Pear Teacake’). Grease and line a baking tray or two with baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and a little fluffy. Add the peanut butter and beat until the mixture is well combined and smooth. Add the vanilla, milk and egg, and continue to beat until the mixture is velvety. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then add the salt and gently fold these into the mixture.
Stir in the chocolate bits and ensure they are mixed through evenly. By now the cookie dough should be quite thick and look good enough to eat! Actually, I would have a taste at this point, firstly because it’s yum cookie dough, and secondly to check that there is just the right amount of salt to give it a bit of an edge.
Using a tablespoon, drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking tray, leaving about 5cm between each spoonful. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until just golden, then using a spatula, carefully place the cookies onto a wire rack to cool. The cookies will be very crumbly and soft, so be gentle when transferring them. You need to have a little faith here too — and I’m talking to you, Yiayia (my larger-than-life grandmother, whom I shall introduce to you in good time) — the cookies will harden as they cool, leaving just the right amount of doughiness in the centre. You should get about 25 cookies out of this batch. If you’re giving these away, as I am, and their smell alone drives you into a cookie eating frenzy, you may wish to make a double amount.