Monday, March 18, 2013

Salted Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies with Pretzels

Last weekend was a rough one - I had two full days (and then some) of meetings at work.  It was very stressful, so to keep the morale up of my team I did what I do best - I baked!  A batch of muffins and two batches of cookies, and they were enjoyed by all.  One of the batches of cookies was a chocolate-red wine cookie (I'll post it soon, promise), and my boss was eating them with pretzels.  She commented that they were fantastic together.  Who doesn't like a salty-sweet combo?  And that gave me an idea to try that flavor profile in one cookie...

I was surprised to find that such a recipe doesn't exist (that I could find, anyway).  A bar or brownie, perhaps, but not exactly what I was looking for.  So I did some modifying and came up with this little gem.

I thought chunks of pretzel would be good for flavor and crunch.  I bought small, sturdy pretzel twists and used an oh-so-high-tech-smashing-device to crush them up a bit, just into bite-sized pieces.  (Who doesn't like to smash things with a rolling pin?)  To avoid the pretzels absorbing moisture and getting sort of stale, I put them only on the top and not mixed into the dough. 

I also knew I wanted to top them off with coarse sea salt.  You have to sprinkle it on after baking (otherwise it just gets absorbed), but of course it doesn't stick too well to a baked cookie.  When I made the Nutella-Stuffed, Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt, I noticed the salt stuck to the melted chocolate chips quite well.  So, why not drizzle some melted chocolate on top of these cookies?  No one says no to more chocolate!  (If they do, I'm sure something is wrong with them.)

These cookies are husband, friend, and coworker approved.  Won't you welcome them into your home?

Salted Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies with Pretzels
(heavily adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
Makes ~ 3 dozen cookies

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
~ 1 cup pretzels, slightly crushed
~ 1 cup dark/semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Beat together the butter, peanut butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract. Scrape the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips.  If dough feels too soft to work with, feel free to pop it in the fridge for a bit.

Take heaping tablespoonful of dough, roll into a ball and place on cookie sheet, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart.  Press pieces of pretzel on top of unbaked cookie.  Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the outside of the cookies are set but the middles are still a little soft. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then place them on a cooling rack.

Melt chocolate chips, and drizzle on top of cooled cookies (I used a Ziploc bag with the corner cut, of course).  Sprinkle a small pinch of coarse salt on top of each cookie.  Place cookies in fridge to set the chocolate (for roughly 15-30 minutes), and store in an airtight container at room temperature.


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