Saturday, September 6, 2008

Peanut Butter Cookies... Experiment!

It all started when I decided to send some peanut butter cookies to my little brother who is at Mississippi State. When contemplating the best way to mail them, I decided that the recipe I usually make are just too crumbly to make the trip.

That's when the research started. I knew I'd probably have to add flour to help keep them together, and the recipe I found over and over was the one I'll post in a bit. But first more talking.

While I was doing research, I saw that most of the recipes called for chilling the dough for at least an hour. The general consensus was that, if the dough is at room temperature before baking, the dough will spread more, resulting in a crispier, flatter cookie. On the other hand, if it was chilled, the cold dough would prevent the middle from cooking as fast as the outer layer. This would result in a cookie that would spread less and be more chewy.

I decided to see if that was true.

The recipe:

1/2 c. butter, room temp
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 c. flour*
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt

*the recipe I saw online called for 1 1/4 c. flour, but I thought the dough was good enough after adding in 1 c. I didn't know how the flour mix would work and didn't want the cookies to taste "gluten free." So, I figured less was okay, and it was.

First I creamed the first 4 ingredients and then added the egg. I mixed the dry ingredients together and added them to the dough.

I split the dough in half and refrigerated one half for 1.5 hours.

Each batch went into a 375 oven for about 8 minutes. Each cookie was the same size blob of dough before it came out.

The Results:

I was skeptical, but sure enough. The cookies that were not chilled were much crispier and the ones allowed to chill were much chewier.

Both cookies spread out, but that may have been due to the fork-mark process. It kinda mashes them down. Even so, it does not flatten them completely and the chilled ones were not any thicker than the room-temperature ones.

I do wonder if I had added all the flour, if it would have provided more structure and more opportunity for the chilled cookies to stay thicker. The flour mix did not affect the taste of the cookies. They were not as rich as the previous recipe but still very very good. I don't think the addition of the 1/4 c. flour would alter the taste much. *hmmm* I guess I will try that next time.

Yet another question in my head is the issue of creaming the butter and sugar. Over at Gluten Free [Cooking School] they had their own experiment that yielded very different results depending on the creaming technique. And Gluten-Free Girl also recommends just barely creaming the butter and sugar (comment at the very bottom of the post). I've come across this issue a few times.

So I guess I'll have to perform another experiment and cover all the variables. I hypothesize that if I barely cream the butter and sugar, and chill the dough, the cookies will both spread less and be chewier.

We shall see! Right now I'm kinda burnt out on peanut butter cookies as I ate about 6 last night. And 2 for breakfast. :o)

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