The winning recipe from the Pillsbury Bake-Off has been getting a bit of flak because it uses refrigerated cookie dough. As creative and tasty it may be – not to mention a good use a General Mills products, which was a requirement of the competition – for many people it seems that the recipe as it is is just a little too simple to be worth a million dollars. Good – of course. The question is how good are they? Anna, a former Pillsbury winner herself, baked up a batch of the cookies as the recipe is written and they look pretty darn tasty.
I decided to try the recipe with a twist – homemade, from-scratch peanut butter dough in place of the refrigerated kind. I actually wanted to try the recipe both ways – as written and from-scratch – and compare the two, but it turns out that my local supermarket doesn’t carry refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough at all. For the cookie dough, I used my best classic peanut butter cookie recipe and, instead of baking the cookies as drop cookies, I wrapped the dough in wax paper and refrigerated it until it was nice and firm.
While waiting, I mixed up the filling and the topping. The filling is nothing more than a blend of peanut butter and powdered sugar. I opted to use a national brand (creamy JiF) peanut butter, in place of the salted natural-style I usually like to use, to ensure that I stuck closely to the million-dollar recipe. The topping is a mix of cinnamon, sugar and finely chopped peanuts that each cookie is rolled in before baking. I used roasted, lightly salted peanuts, which turned out to be a good choice because the peanut butter was slightly sweeter than I am used to and I really love a good sweet-salty contrast with my peanut butter.
Once baked, I let the cookies cool and bit into one. It was really good, but didn’t blow me away – largely because my expectations were so high! They’re a really fun change from a plain peanut butter cookie. The cookies themselves (sans filling) were great, with a crisp/tender edge and a softer center. I usually use chunky peanut butter in my peanut butter cookies and having the roasted peanuts on top gave the cookies a deeper peanut flavor, while the sugar seemed to add a bit more crunch than usual. The filling was soft and a bit melty when the cookies came out of the oven, then firmed up a bit as the cookies sat. It was good, but a little on the sweet side. I wouldn’t hesitate to make these again (it was fun to shape the dough), but I definitely would add some salt and perhaps a bit of cinnamon to the filling to amp up the flavors even more.
From-Scratch Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies
PB Cookie Dough
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth, national brand)
Filling and Topping
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy, national brand)
1/2 cup confectioners’/powdered sugar
generous pinch salt (recommended)
Make the cookie dough. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light. Beat in egg, followed by the vanilla and peanut butter.
Gradually add in dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined.
Spoon dough onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper, shape into a roll about 3-inches in diameter and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Prepare topping and filling. In small bowl, mix chopped peanuts, granulated sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
In another small bowl, stir peanut butter and powdered sugar (and a bit of salt, if using) until smooth. Shape mixture 20 small (1/2 inch) balls and place each on a sheet of parchment paper. Set aside.
Remove cookie dough from fridge. Cut the log lengthwise in half, then make 10 horizontal cuts to slice the dough into a total of 20 even pieces. Each piece should be a semi-circle in shape.
Flatten each piece of dough and place a peanut butter ball into it. Shape each cookie dough piece around the filling, making sure to cover the ball completely. Repeat with remaining dough and balls.
Roll each ball in peanut-sugar mixture and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 2-inches between balls. Use a flat-bottomed drinking glass to flatten the cookies down to 1/4-inch thickness.
Bake for 9 – 11 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
Cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 20 large cookies