Thick, super chewy peanut butter cookies made with chunky peanut butter and studded with chunks of milk chocolate. The dough scoops are coated in a mix of sugar and salt for a flavorful, crispy outer texture. These cookies have a unique shaping method that gives them a thick chewy, fudgy center.
Like you, I grew up with only one peanut butter cookie: you make it and before you bake it you press down with a fork, criss crossed. I always just took this for granted, this is how peanut butter cookies are made… right? But why don’t we ever press down on a brown sugar or a regular sugar cookie? After making many a cookie I can tell you that the answer is that peanut butter stops the dough from spreading in the oven, so we ‘pre-press’ it.
But I’ve found a new way to bake peanut butter cookies and I think it’s better because we’re going to allow the cookie dough to bake as it will without pressing but then we’re going to squash the air out after baking. This is going to lead to a thicker, fudgier cookie with an honestly, freaking deliciously thick, chunky center.
So goodbye fork marks, hello fudgy disks of chunky peanut butter studded with bits of smooth, sweet milk chocolate.
To create this recipe I started working from my small batch peanut butter cookies. Predictably, the cookies weren’t spreading despite some of the modifications I was making in hopes it would. After the first batch went in, I pressed them down as soon as they came out of the oven just because I couldn’t stand the idea of a domed cookie, lol. The next batch I pressed down before baking – but as I compared them, I found the post-bake press was so much better! The controlled spread during the bake along with the press after, led to more of that chewy center.
I kinda hate doing this and I’m not always confident enough to put it in writing… but I actually do think these
might be are the best thick peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, ever. Let me make my case:
Peanut Butter: When it comes to cookies, my preference is always for a conventional brand like Jiff or Skippy (Justin’s will do too) because they deliver pretty consistent results. Natural brands, where the oil is separated, are not ideal because you risk not getting enough of or getting too much of the oil. If you would like to use creamy instead of chunky, go ahead (to be safe, reduce the peanut butter by about 5 grams).
Butter: I used salted european butter and recommend it; the extra butterfat percentage adds to the taste and chewy texture of the cookie. Unsalted is fine too, just add another pinch of salt to the recipe.
Sugar: We’re doing a mix of brown and granulated. I use dark brown for these cookies (extra flavor and moisture, more of that toffee taste) but light works too. Avoid organic as it doesn’t have enough moisture.
Egg & yolk: Large. No need to bring them to room temperature. The extra egg white can be used to make some double chocolate chunk cookies ; -)
Flour: all purpose, I use King Arthur. If you use a brand with a lower protein content the cookies might spread a bit more (but no harm in that here).
Chocolate: Chop up a good quality milk chocolate bar (from the candy aisle – not baking). It should be something you enjoy eating on its own. For one of my final versions of the cookies I used a milk chocolate with crispy rice bits and it was wonderful.
Melt the butter & peanut butter: I like to start by melting the butter first, but not fully. Once it’s halfway I’ll add the peanut butter and return the bowl to the microwave and set it for another 30 seconds. It’s usually enough to get it so the peanut butter and butter can be swiftly whisked together.
Whisk in the sugar: Both sugars and the flavorings (vanilla and salt) need to be whisked very well, to the point where the sugar begins to dissolve into the butter mix.
Whisk in the egg & yolk: an emulsion needs to happen in this step, so you need to whisk until the mixture looks cohesive and shiny – there should be no visible separation of oil from the sugar.
Add dry ingredients: Add the flour & soda, but don’t mix it fully before you add the chocolate. Doing it this way stops you from overmixing the dough. The chocolate should be in a mix of chunks and little bits that will help it distribute well throughout each cookie.
Chill & bake: The rest or chill time is to allow the flour to hydrate and the dough to come together.
The cookies spread too much: This can happen for a few reasons; there was too much butter, the batter didn’t rest enough, the flour was under-measured (or a very low-protein content), or the peanut butter itself has more oil in it than a conventional brand.
The cookies didn’t spread at all: These cookies are not designed to spread much, they will some but mostly they will rise and dome. Once they are done baking you’ll be pressing down on them to spread them into a thick, even layer.
The cookies are dry: There was too much flour or the dough was left out (or chilled) too long while not covered.
The cookies are too sweet: The only scenario I see this happening is if you’ve used a sweet milk chocolate that you don’t particularly like on its own. Also, you can leave off the sugar topping if you like.
The cookies aren’t sweet enough: There is a delicious mix of sweet and salty in this recipe and that’s kind of the point when it comes to a peanut butter cookie. If you want to make sure they are sweet enough, use a milk chocolate bar you like eating.
Make the cookies up to the point of scooping and tossing in the sugar & salt mixture. Set them on a plate or tray and freeze them for 10 minutes. Then transfer to a ziplock bag or airtight container to freeze longer term. Add a couple of minutes to the total baking time.
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