I am a fan of peanut butter. It’s versatile. Slathered on slices of apples, mixed into a savory Asian-inspired dish, made into a marinade for chicken, and of course, as a cookie. It’s a pure comfort food, and laced with rich nostalgia and childhood memories. And peanut butter and chocolate in any combination? Forget it. I’m sold.
The French don’t really get peanut butter. It’s just not a food that ever made it into their repertoire. While we grew up eating ants on a log and PB&J, they find the mere idea of peanut butter odd. It’s the same with pumpkin pie. The French view pumpkins as fitting into the savory category. Pumpkins are for soup, not for pie. When I announced pumpkin pie on my Thanksgiving menu, my French friends immediately imagined a salty torte and were surprised to find it on the dessert table covered in whipped cream. These preconceived food notions clearly needed to be rectified, so I set out to win them over with the best ever peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies. The decision was unanimous: peanut butter is awesome.
I’ve played around with a lot of peanut butter cookie recipes in my day from the most simple (peanut butter, eggs and sugar) to more elaborate (peanut butter sandwich cookies with peanut butter frosting). These are by far the best. A bit of allspice is added for an extra something, brown sugar brings a perfectly sweet note, butter makes them crisp and gourmet and white and dark chocolate chunks balance out the sweet/salty combination. The texture is divine: slightly crispy and yet barely cooked and brownie-like on the inside. They will literally melt in your mouth, and are best enjoyed with a tall glass of milk.
Peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies
1 C peanut butter
1/2 C butter
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt
1 1/4 C flour
1/4 t allspice
1 t baking soda
1/2 C quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 C quality white chocolate, roughly chopped
fleur de sel or fine sea salt
Preheat your oven to 350°. Begin by creaming the peanut butter and butter in a large bowl until well combined. Add both sugars and continue to work the dough. Next, add the egg and vanilla and beat some more. You know the drill. Once all of this is properly combined and creamy, sift in the dry ingredients and mix by hand until you have cookie dough! If it’s too dry, add a touch of milk. If it’s too sticky, add a bit more flour. Now you can stir in the chocolate chunks and you’re ready to bake!
Place small balls of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, spaced about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes. The cookies will seem undercooked; this is normal! Peanut butter adds a lot of oil to the dough, so while they’ll be crisp on the outside (thank you butter!) they’ll stay moist and almost brownie-like on the inside. Let them cool for a minute or two to set before you remove them from the baking sheet and add the next round to the oven. Should make about 30 small cookies or 24 larger ones.
I recently made these cookies in a professional kitchen in Paris and served them to a hungry crowd: they were the day’s big winner, with a few customers even asking for the recipe! A big thank you to Ludovic, Pauline, Eric and Sophie at Un Jour Un Chef, a fabulous concept restaurant near Bastille that allowed me to design and carry out my very own American-themed menu last night. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I’ll be writing all about it very soon!