In most peanut butter cookies recipes, you're told to NOT use the "natural" peanut butter. I find statements like these to be an open invitation to doing exactly the opposite. I've been playing around with my peanut butter cookie recipes for as long as I can remember. I never bake the same one twice. I have mentioned my love of peanut butter goes way back. There's a picture my mother took of me when I was around fourteen walking through the kitchen with a spoon in one hand and a huge jar of Jiff cupped in the other. (I've since moved on from brand "x" and now prefer to only indulge in natural types of peanut butter.)
So far we've gone through three batches of these cookies. I whip these together while dinner's cooking, then stash the dough in the fridge for baking a fresh batch of cookies around eight o'clock. The dough stores well. In fact, I am of the opinion that the longer the dough is able to set in the fridge, the better the cookies become. I find them irresistible. As I said, my cookies are baked with natural crunchy peanut butter. Not only do I love the flavor, but combined with Raw Sugar (turbinado), they're incredible. *I've even considered pouring a tablespoon or two of raw sugar into my jar of natural peanut butter, skipping the baking step entirely. That's slippery slope thinking.
Cross hatching for these cookies is purely optional. During an experiment whereby I decided to NOT cross hatch, I was less enthused with my cookies, somehow not feeling the "love". So there the cookies sat. Untouched. If this is purely psychological and indicative of some deeper rooted "problem"--I really don't want to know.
A beautiful plate of yum if ever there was one.
Monday was the first day of my watercolor class. The assignment called for us to begin a series of "related" paintings--around the same theme. I had a sunflower in my folder. I free-hand drew in the basic outline of the flower, then began applying my color washes. This is two hours of painting. It's been four years.
When I called the school to enroll in the class, I was told it was full but. . . there was NOT a waiting list. It sounded to me like a chance to just "show up" paint and paper detritus in hand and pleading with the instructor might be in order. So that's exactly what I did.
Ten minutes before class, I approached the instructor. (I had taken this painting class on my last enrollment period, though at the time was feeling the painting bug slowly creeping away from me, a.k.a. "watercolor burnout".) I doubted she'd remember me. I couldn't think of any other way of saying what I wanted to say, so I just blurted, "I need to paint."
"The class full. . . have you painted before?"
Yes, indeed I had taken her class before, but it was at the end of my three-year painting jaunt. She looked at me again and seemed to register some recognition (maybe along the lines of, Oh here's that nut who only painted dogs and then only showed up for half the classes. . . ) or maybe not. She was smiling. That was a good sign. She said I'd be a little behind the rest of the class because there was a winter break "assignment". I said, no problem, I'd do my homework. There was a bit of silence. Then: Yes! I gave her a hug and a big thank you--told her how much this meant to me. I almost cried. It was damn emotional there for a minute. My paint brushes are back!
Like any other skill, it will take some time for my painting mojo to return. I laughed myself silly when, at the end of class, we do critiques and up on the wall went everyone's work from that day. And there were some gorgeous pieces--let me tell you. In the midst of their work was my simple little sun flower done on very cheap watercolor paper that I've had for at least ten years. The paper kept rolling up on her while she tried to tack it to the board. When we got to my work the instructor said, This is Kelly's sunflower. . . she's not picked up her paintbrushes in four years! The class was most gracious in their oohs and ahhs. It was very humbling.
When Dr. Thyme got home he asked how painting class went. I said I was reminded of the saying, Use it or Lose it. And showed him my flower. He just gushed and said what any great husband would say: You should frame that and give it to me to put on my desk at work--it's lovely!
Awww. That earned him big hugs.
Natural Chunky Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
*Adapted from David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert
1/2 cup oat flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 stick unsalted vegetable margarine
1/3 cup turbinado sugar (Raw Sugar)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup natural crunchy peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoon Ener-G Egg Replacer
2 tablespoons warm water
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup peanut butter chips
Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl add the dry ingredients--flours, baking powder, salt--whisk together, then set aside. In a large mixing bowl, add the margarine, sugars, vanilla extract, nutmeg and egg replacer. Mix with a hand blender until smooth. Add two tablespoons of water to this mixture, then blend one more time--a few more seconds should do it. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in thirds--blending just until most of the dry is incorporated into the wet. After the third addition, blend the mixture only a few more turns. You'll have a chunky consistency, but all of the flour should be incorporated. Fold in the chips. Take a tablespoon of the dough and place it in your hand and roll into a ball. Place on cookie sheet two inches apart. Bake cookies for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.