Thursday, March 17, 2011

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Peanut Butter Cookies

Even though I am abstaining from sweets for the next six weeks, that doesn’t mean the rest of you should suffer! When it comes to cookies, there is no greater expert than Alice Medrich. The thing I respect the most about Medrich is her scientific devotion to baking. She truly understands that baking is not an improvised endeavor, and every recipe is an experiment with variables and controls. Her research into the usage and function of ingredients, precision of measurement, and combination of elements is truly awe-inspiring.

Medrich’s first home baking tome, Cookies and Brownies, came out more than a decade ago. Before releasing a new edition of this seminal cookbook, Medrich revisited her original recipes with an eye to updating and improving them. What resulted is the magnificent and encyclopedic Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies. One major addition to the book is the inclusion of gluten-free recipes. Although vastly different, people tend to think of gluten-free and vegan together. I have my fingers crossed that this gluten-free exploration will lead Medrich to devote her considerable knowledge to vegan recipes. Until then, I will offer my own attempts at veganizing these spectacular cookies.

Peanut Butter Cookies

hardly adapted from Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 tablespoons non dairy butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups natural salted chunky peanut butter, stirred to incorporate oil

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to incorporate all ingredients.

Place butter in the bowl of a mixer, and whip until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the sugar and blend until creamy, about 1 minute. Combine the flax seed and water in a blender. Blend until thick and creamy. Add to the butter along with the vanilla and peanut butter, mixing all the ingredients together. Add the flour mixture, and stir until ingredients are just incorporated. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably overnight.

Heat the oven to 325ºF. Scoop large tablespoons of dough, and form them into ball. Place balls of dough 2” apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Flatten each ball with a fork, pointing the prongs in two directions to make a crosshatch pattern. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until light golden on the top. Remove cookies from the oven and transfer cookies to a cooling rack.

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