Saturday, April 6, 2013

Back From Planet Pillsbury: Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

I have to start this post with a big "thank  you" to all of you who took the time to register and vote for my Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest recipe.  I am happy to say that because of all of the love you showed me and my Bacon Corncakes, I will be competing for the million dollar prize in Las Vegas in November.  Like the other 99 people who will be competing with me, winning this contest is a dream of mine and your help has brought me one step closer.  I'm also looking forward to giving you a behind the scenes look at this iconic contest from a contestant's point of view so stay tuned.

Back in December before all this Pillsbury stuff started I felt like I was really hitting my blogger stride.  I had so many great ideas for blog posts, I didn't know how I was going to get them all done in my lifetime, then I got distracted by the contest and everything slowed down.  Now that I am in a holding pattern for the next several months, I'm trying to gather back up all those brilliant blog ideas and regroup.

In an effort to clear my mind and get my creative juices flowing again, I decided to do something totally different and kind of therapeutic for me, clean out my very small and very packed pantry.  I don't often do this so it takes me awhile to get up the courage to see what lurks in the dark recesses.  It usually takes a couple of weeks of having canned goods spill out and smash my toes before I get fed up enough to finally do it, and today was the day.

By the looks of the things I pulled out of there you would have thought that some half mad old cat lady stocks my kitchen.  I know it can't possibly be that long since I last had the courage to purge my dry goods, so how did I manage to miss that cornbread package that was dated May 2006?  I'd also like to know who the hell bought 3 cans of coconut cream, 2 cans of clams and no less than 50 assorted boxes of Jell-O dating back as far as 2009?  And why do I have 2 plastic bags of some odd looking grain obviously from the bulk section of Whole Foods that is only identified as "5887" on the twist tie?  Our household purchasing agent should probably be let go, but I have no idea how to fire myself.

So after 2 hours of solid work, with a couple of coffee breaks thrown in, I finally have a tidy pantry.  I have uncovered some things I have long been looking for and a couple of things that I wish I hadn't, but it is done.  Now I think I'll consolidate and use up a couple of the things I have found by setting a couple of eclectic buffets.  Tonight for example, Mr. H and I are going to have something with lots of apple cider vinegar, canned salmon, peaches and beets, and maybe a hearty serving of 5887 on the side, but dessert is where things are really going to shine.  Since I also found 3 partial jars of peanut butter and 4 open packages of chocolate chips, peanut butter cookies it is.

In the past I've made no secret about the fact that I don't exactly enjoy baking cookies, but for these I will make an exception.  The easy base recipe for these cookies comes directly from my very old and trusty Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.  Then when they're still just a bit warm, I melt a little chocolate, give them a good drizzle and then a sprinkling of Murray River Flake or kosher salt.  Serve these with a cup of coffee flavored with some eight year old powdered hazelnut creamer,and you have the perfect reason to take a snack break from any unpleasant task.

Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for coating dough
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 - 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Thoroughly cream butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla; set aside.  Sift together dry ingredients; blend into creamed mixture.  Scoop into heaping teaspoons, shape into balls; roll lightly in granulated sugar.  Place 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Press gently with the back of a fork in a crisscross pattern.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool slightly; remove from the pan and cool on wire racks.  Drizzle with melted chocolate (recipes follows) and sprinkle with salt flakes.  Makes approximately 3 dozen.

Chocolate Drizzle

2/3 cup chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Kosher or flaked salt to taste

Place chocolate and oil in a medium size bowl and stir well.  Microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after each. Continue until chocolate is melted.  Drizzle chocolate over cookies with a spoon in sweeping motions.  Allow to set up slightly.  Sprinkle with coarse or flaked salt to taste. Allow  chocolate to set up for an additional hour or so or until firm.

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