Serves: Makes about 50 cookies
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened (65° to 68°F)
- ½cup (4 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (7½ ounces) creamy salted peanut butter, at room temperature
- 1¾ cup (8¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (8 ounces) heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup (4 ounces) water
- 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (4 ounces) finely chopped roasted salted peanuts
- 4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped and melted (optional)
Procedures:These are your favorite peanut butter cookies, all dressed up and ready for a party. Their centers are filled with a mixture of salted peanuts coated with caramel sauce, and their tops are drizzled with chocolate. You’ll end up with more peanut caramel sauce than you need for this recipe, but it’s hard to make it in a smaller quantity. Store any extra in the refrigerator (it keeps for several weeks) and use it whenever the mood strikes-for ice cream, fondue, toast... It won’t hang around for long. Neither will the cookies.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and position two oven racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Mix the dough: Place the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth and blended, about 2 minutes. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, although you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results. Scrape down the bowl with the spatula. Add the egg and vanilla and blend well. Scrape down the bowl again. Add the peanut butter, beat until well blended, and scrape down the bowl once more.
- In the medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture all at once. Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and blend slowly, just until there are no more patches of flour. Scrape down the bowl. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir gently a few times with the spatula to make sure there are no patches of unincorporated flour or butter lurking near the bottom of the bowl.
- Use the ice cream scoop to portion tablespoon-size mounds onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1½ inches apart. Or use a spoon to portion the dough, then roll each piece into a ball between your hands and place on the prepared sheets, about 20 cookies per sheet. Use the rounded handle end of the wooden spoon (or another kitchen utensil) to make a depression, about an inch in diameter, in the center of each cookie.
- Bake the cookies, switching the sheets between the racks and rotating each front to back halfway through, for 13 to 16 minutes, until they are lightly golden brown all over and a bit darker at the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack. Immediately reinforce the depression in each cookie using the same kitchen utensil. Be careful not to push so hard that you crack the cookie or break through to the baking sheet below. Cool and reline one of the baking sheets, and bake the remaining cookie dough as directed. Let the cookies cool completely.
- Make the peanut caramel: Microwave the cream in the small, microwave-safe bowl just until hot. Set aside. Place the water in the medium saucepan and add the sugar, corn syrup, and salt. (The pan will seem too large, but when the cream is added the mixture will rise dramatically.) Cook the sugar mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally with the heatproof spatula, until the sugar dissolves. Set the hot cream on the counter next to the stovetop. Turn the heat to high and cook the sugar mixture, occasionally swirling the pan (not stirring) so that the sugar cooks evenly, until it turns a golden brown. Immediately turn off the heat and whisk in the cream, adding it in a slow, steady stream. Whisk to blend the caramel well. Pour into the heatproof bowl and let cool until warm and pourable (if it becomes cold and thick, simply reheat in the microwave until fluid again). Stir in the peanuts.
- Fill the cookies: Spoon peanut caramel into the depressions of each cookie. Allow the filling to cool and set for an hour before finishing with the chocolate (if using). Cover and refrigerate any leftover peanut caramel to use another day.
- Top with the chocolate: Place the melted chocolate in a small resealable plastic bag. Snip a small hole in the corner of the bag and stripe the chocolate over the top of the cookies. Allow the chocolate to cool and harden completely before transferring the cookies to a storage container.
Storing: Keep the cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.