August 7, 2013

Homemade Peanut Butter Cookie Mix

So, you remember last week when I said I'd been on a peanut butter cookie mission? How I needed a good base recipe because I had this really cool idea that I actually haven't seen anywhere else on the internet?
Ta da!!!!! It's homemade peanut butter cookie mix.

Now, you can find recipes for peanut butter cookie mix, but they usually don't actually have peanut butter in them; you have to add it when you're making the cookies. And that's fine if you're making it for you, but if you're giving it as a gift, that's for serious the messiest and hardest part. The measuring cups don't always fit in the jar, and when they do, you end up getting peanut butter all over your hands, and then it's all sticky and difficult to clean. No, if I'm giving a mix to someone, I want it to be just as easy as the Betty Crocker ones: oil, eggs, oven. Otherwise, what's the point?

The problem with peanut butter cookies is that the peanut butter is oily, messy, and sticky. I thought maybe that since peanut butter is shelf-stable, that maybe there would be enough dry ingredients to balance it all out. I haven't tried it, but since I couldn't find a recipe like that (and considering the epic amount of peanut butter I like in my cookies), I figured it might not be the best idea. So what's a girl to do? Now that it was in my head, I had to figure out a way to make it.
The solution was simple: powdered peanut butter. As ingredients go, it's a little obscure, but not as much as you may think. I ordered it off of Amazon, but a lot of health food stores carry it as well, like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. (at least, according to my interwebz research. I don't have any health food stores near me. Closest I have is Wegman's, which is more gourmet, but tends to have those weirdy health food things, too. But I can't go in there because it's big and I'll get lost, and I'll spend ALL THE money.)

Powdered peanut butter is just peanut butter with the oil removed. That's it. The peanuts are still roasted, it's still flavored with salt and sugar, they just suck out all the oily, messy, sticky bits. And actually, I read online that the brand that I used, PB2, bottles and sells the oil from this process as roasted peanut oil. Talk about letting nothing go to waste. I like their style.

And it's kind of totally weird. You open the bag, and it smells like peanut butter, but it's powder. And you taste it, and it tastes like peanut butter, but it's powder. It blew my mind.
Remember me? Thick, soft peanut buttery perfection?
So I threw together a mix based off of my peanut butter cookie recipe. I halved the recipe, first off, because if I screwed up (and I did), I didn't want to waste too many ingredients. Secondly, I used butter-flavored shortening instead of butter. Why? Because shortening is shelf-stable, unlike butter. If shortening weirds you out, you can use butter, you just need to keep the mix in the freezer. Not as good for presents, but that's on you. You mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugars, leavening, peanut butter)(peanut butter as dry ingredient. So weird.), then cut in the shortening like you would for scones or pie crust. And that's all there is. Put it in a plastic bag, tie it up with some dollar store ribbon, slap a hand-written label on it with some baking instructions, maybe put it in a stinkin' cute Chinese food container gift box thingy (also from the dollar store), and you have a totally impressive, handmade, gourmet gift.

Of course, I had to test the mix after making it. So I added oil and eggs, and found the dough to be solid enough that I didn't even have to chill it. And OMG, that cookie dough is amazeballs. Like, for serious, I think next time I'll skip the egg and just make cookie dough truffles, because I totally could not stop eating it. Which I did while waiting for the oven to preheat. So the yield my not be totally accurate. I tried my best.
And from the mix...
The cookies themselves were a little more crumbly and had a little more chew to them than the regular recipe. The flavor was a little different, too. Not bad by any means, but like how different brands of peanut butter can have different tastes, the PB2 was just a little bit different. Not unexpected, and I think if I hadn't spent the last few weeks becoming a peanut butter cookie connoisseur, I might not have even noticed it.

So the long and short of it is, I do prefer the non-mix cookies, but not mostly because of a personal preference in terms of texture. They are still sweet, super peanut buttery cookies, and as a homemade gift, this cannot be beat.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cookie Mix

1¼ cups flour
¾ cup powdered peanut butter
 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. packed brown sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt
6 tbsp. butter flavored shortening

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients but the shortening. Using a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Tip: Theoretically, since all the ingredients are shelf-stable, this should be okay indefinitely. However, since it is homemade, I would suggest using it within 6 months, or keeping it in the freezer.

Recipe by Kim

Peanut Butter Cookies
Yield: Approx. 18 cookies

1 recipe peanut butter cookie mix
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
Sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To a large bowl add the mix, oil, egg, and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Roll into tablespoon-sized balls, and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten into 1 inch disks with a fork dipped in flour. Sprinkle the tops with sea salt, if desired, and bake 12-15 minutes, until the bottoms begin to brown. Cool completely on wire racks.

Recipe by Kim