Soft baked peanut butter chocolate cookies

It’s National Peanut Butter Lovers Day on March 1st and even though we don’t celebrate it in the UK, I’m flying the UK flag for peanut butter lovers!  I can’t quite describe how much I love the stuff, especially as I used to hate it as a child.  Seriously.  I know it’s hard to believe, but I have a particularly traumatic memory of visiting a friend’s house after school and being fed a peanut butter sandwich for tea.  I’m pretty glad my tastebuds have changed 🙂

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Welcome to PBLA (Peanut Butter Lovers Anonymous) 🙂

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I’ve made peanut butter cookies with oatbran before (peanut butter raisin cookies) which were great, but I wanted something with pure peanut butter flavour here.  They feel ‘heavy’ when you pick them up, almost like they will be dry to eat, but do not fear.  They may not be the best looking cookies in the world, but in terms of taste, they beat everything else I’ve baked.  Hands down.

The addition of chocolate and peanut butter chips (what else?!) only adds to the whole flavour.  There is no better combination in the world than peanut butter and chocolate.  Who’s with me? 🙂

The dough for these cookies doesn’t need chilling for long (bonus if you’re impatient like me!)  It is important not to overbake these little lovelies as I believe they could become dry if left in the oven too long.  Stick with 7-8 minutes and they’ll be perfect.  Make sure you leave them to cool on the tray for around 10 minutes, as they need some time to firm up before they are moved.

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Ingredients:

  • 115g soft butter
  • 100g crunchy peanut butter
  • 155g smooth peanut butter
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 185g plain flour
  • 80g peanut butter chips
  • 80g milk chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy (I use an electric handmixer).  Beat in both lots of peanut butter.
  2. Beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla.  Fold in the flour, baking powder and bicarb, followed by the peanut butter and chocolate chips.
  3. Chill dough for 30 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C and line 2 baking trays.
  4. Roll the dough into golfball size balls and place on the baking tray, flattening slightly with the palm of your hand.  Bake for 7-8 minutes and leave to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes, before removing to a wire rack.

Happy Peanut Butter Lover’s Day!

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Lemon white chocolate cookies

I love lemon and white chocolate.  When I used to work for a recruitment agency, I would pootle down to a certain UK shop that’s known for its expensive food (any guesses?!) and buy a lemon and white chocolate muffin to go with my lunch (sometimes it was my lunch!)  I have plans to recreate those muffins very soon, but in the meantime I wanted to put the flavours into cookie form 🙂

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I wanted these cookies to be packed with lemon flavour, so I used both lemon zest and lemon extract.  All the natural, fragrant lemon flavour is contained within the oils in the zest and the lemon extract just ramps it up even more!  You need the extra sharp lemon flavour in these cookies, as they are so packed full of white chocolate, which provides the sweetness.  Sweet vs. sharp.  Awesome 🙂

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In some of my previous cookie recipes (such as my chocolate chunk peanut cookies) I used a high proportion of light brown and dark brown sugar compared to white.  As I wanted today’s cookies to be quite light, I adjusted the amount of dark brown sugar accordingly.  You’ll notice that the majority of the sugar in the recipe is still light brown, as that means the cookies will stay wonderfully soft and chewy for a few days after baking.  Soft and chewy is good in my cookie book! (I wish I had a cookie book)

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Like most cookie doughs, make sure to chill this for at least 2 hours (although I chill mine overnight now out of habit!).  This chilling means the cookies won’t spread so much whilst baking , staying soft and puffy.

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I’ve just thought of a way to make the extra cookie dough in the fridge even better…lemon curd 🙂

Ingredients (makes around 18 cookies):

  • 125g soft butter
  • 125g light brown sugar
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar (superfine)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 150g white chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Cream the butter and sugars together until soft and fluffy (around 3 minutes with an electric hand mixer)
  2. Beat in the egg, followed by the lemon zest and extract.
  3. Fold in the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt, followed by the chocolate chips.  Chill the dough for at least 2 hours.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C and line baking trays.  Bake cookies for exactly 8 minutes (no longer).  They will appear underdone, but will firm up as they cool.  Leave on the baking sheet for 10 minutes and move to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Banana Nutella Cupcakes

I’ve just had an idea…if banana + peanut butter are good on toast and banana + nutella are good on toast, how about all 3??  Breakfast is sorted for tomorrow!

I will admit now to slathering extra nutella and peanut butter on top of one these cupcakes…don’t judge 🙂

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I have a nutella banana treat for you today, in the form of banana cupcakes with a nutella swirl.  You all know how much I love peanut butter & banana (and apple & cinnamon. And peanut butter & jam. And…you get the picture :D), but banana & nutella is definitely in the top 3 favourites (ok, maybe top 5 :-)).

Anyone notice the heart swirl in the picture below?  I’d like to say I did it on purpose…

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These cupcakes start with a straightforward cupcake base, with a few delicious add-ins 🙂  Start in the regular way by creaming butter and sugar until pale and soft (about 3 minutes, I used a handmixer).  Beat in your eggs, one at a time.  The mixture shouldn’t curdle, but if it looks like it’s going to, add in a small amount of the flour.  Next, fold in the dry ingredients, which include cinnamon.  I freaking love cinnamon.  Particularly in any sort of banana cake 🙂  The baking powder and self raising flour makes these little cakes amazingly light, even though they contain banana.

Now.  I’m going to make a suggestion that I didn’t actually do when making these cupcakes (but it’s a good idea, promise!)  Slightly warm the Nutella before swirling it into the top of the cupcakes.  As the kitchen was pretty cold when I made these, the Nutella was solid.  Solid Nutella + swirling = not such a good idea 🙂  These cupcakes still taste great though and will keep for 2-3 days (but are best enjoyed soon after baking!)

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Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes):

  • 175g unsalted soft butter
  • 175g caster sugar (superfine)
  • 175g self-raising flour (or all-purpose)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder (or 2 tsp if using all-purpose flour)
  • Nutella (enough for 12 teaspoons)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to Gas 4/180C.  Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes using a handmixer)
  3. Beat in eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.  Fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the mashed banana.
  4. Fill the cases 2/3 full with the cake batter.  Place a teaspoon of Nutella on top and swirl gently with a toothpick or knife.  Bake for around 20 minutes or until well risen and golden.  Try not to eat straight out of the oven 🙂

Victoria Sponge

I have an English classic for you today…Victoria sponge cake 🙂

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Along with vanilla fairy cakes, this is one of the first recipes I ever made.  I have my Granny, Mum and Mary Berry to thank for teaching me!  This recipe is quite straightforward, however they are many ‘discussions’ as to the best way of making it!  Today, I’m going to give you the recipe that I use, but also talk you through some of the tweaks you can make for your own recipe. 

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Traditionally, Victoria Sponge is made with raspberry jam, no buttercream and caster sugar sprinkled on top.  However this cake is equally delicious with strawberry jam and buttercream filling.  It’s also beautiful as a summer dessert with fresh strawberries. raspberries and lightly whipped cream in the middle.  Take your pick! 🙂

My personal preference is for strawberry jam and caster sugar as the topping (I know, I know.  I used icing sugar for my photos.  It looks prettier :-))  A bit of a controversy with this cake is whether you use butter or margarine in the cake batter.  I personally use margarine.  Butter provides excellent flavour in certain recipes and for most baking I will use butter, however using margarine in this case means the ‘all-in-one’ method can be used.  As margarine will not cause the eggs to curdle, all the ingredients can be quickly beaten together in one bowl.  As soon as they are combined, stop mixing, as overworking the flour can cause a heavy cake.  I’ve tasted the Victoria sponge using butter and then margarine and it really doesn’t affect the flavour.  Try it and see!

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Ensure that you bake both halves of the cake on the same oven shelf, as this should mean that they rise evenly.  Don’t worry if one looks more perfect than the other, just pick this one to be the top 🙂

My recipe makes one 7 inch cake (2 layers), if you’s like an 8 inch cake, simply increase the 4 main ingredients to 225g and the baking powder to 2 teaspoons.

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Ingredients (makes one 7 inch cake):

  • 175g soft margarine (or butter)
  • 175g self-raising flour (or all-purpose)
  • 175g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 3 eggs (about 175g)
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder (if using all-purpose flour, increase the baking powder to 2 teaspoons)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to Gas 4/180C.  Baseline and grease two 7 inch sandwich tins.
  2. If using butter: Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes with a handmixer).  Mix in the eggs one at a time, with a small amount of the flour (to prevent curdling).  Fold in the flour and baking powder.
  3. If using margarine: Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together (with a handmixer) until just combined.
  4. Divide the cake mix evenly between the two tins, smooth the top and bake for 20 minutes until well risen and golden.  Do not be tempted to open the oven door whilst the cake is baking, as this could cause it to sink in the middle.
  5. Leave the cakes in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  6. When cool, sandwich together with plenty of jam (strawberry in this case) and sprinkle the top with icing sugar or caster sugar.

Do you ever use margarine rather than butter in baking?

Peanut butter chocolate raisin cookies

I want to start the weekend off on the right note…with peanut butter.

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These are an adaptation of the salted peanut & white chocolate monster cookies I made recently.  This cookie dough base is wonderful, as it bakes to be very soft and the bonus is you don’t have to chill the dough!  No waiting around with these cookies! 🙂  I’ve been experimenting with different cookie add ins and my favourites are…

Peanut butter chips (duh)

Chocolate chips

Salted peanuts

All of the above are fantastic, but I realised since I started Baking-Joy, I haven’t included any cookie recipe with raisins.  This is a massive oversight on my part and I intend to fix that today 🙂

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These cookies are packed full of flavour from the peanut butter, peanut butter chips, chocolate chips and raisins.  All that sweet is balanced by the salted peanuts.  Salt + sweet is fantastic in my book 🙂  Hands up who had pancakes with bacon and maple syrup on pancake day?

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Ingredients (makes 14-15 cookies):

  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar (superfine)
  • 200g smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 210g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 60g oatbran (or superfine oats)
  • 100g milk chocolate chips
  • 50g salted peanuts
  • 40g peanut butter chips
  • 40g raisins

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C.  Line 2 baking trays with baking paper or a baking liner.
  2. Cream the butter, brown sugar and caster sugar together until soft and fluffy.  Gradually mix in the peanut butter, egg and vanilla.  Fold in the bicarb, flour and oatbran.
  3. Fold in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, peanuts and raisins. Roll dough lightly into balls (2-3 tablespoons) and place on baking tray.
  4. Flatten cookies slightly with your hand.  Bake for 9 minutes (no longer).  Leave cookies on baking sheet for at least 10 minutes after removing from oven so they can firm up, then place on a cooling rack.

7-layer bars (aka DisneyWorld Magic Cookie bars)

I have a confession to make.

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My husband John and I first came across these cookie bars on holiday in DisneyWorld in 2010.  I’m embarrassed to say he’s been asking me for nearly 3 years to make them 🙂  I’ve only recently got hold of the butterscotch chips to make the proper version of these…but I’m still embarrassed 🙂

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I’m thinking of these as a Valentine’s present for John, however I’m one of those people that doesn’t really ‘get’ Valentine’s Day.  I know, I know.  I just get slightly miffed with the overpriced cards, flowers and chocolates.  Don’t wait until Valentine’s to tell someone you love them 🙂

These bars are a heady mix of a digestive biscuit (graham cracker) base, nuts, coconut, chocolate and butterscotch.  They are delicious and very easy to make…prepare for your sweet tooth to be satisfied for the next week or so!  Take care when baking these, when they get close to being fully baked, they can brown a little too much on top (because of the sugar in the condensed milk caramelising).  Bake for 20 minutes and check, but they may need the extra 5 minutes baking time.

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Ingredients (makes 16 magic cookies):

  • 113g unsalted butter
  • 200g digestive biscuits (graham crackers)
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 150g milk chocolate chips
  • 120g dessicated coconut
  • 100g walnut pieces
  • 150g butterstoch chips

Method:

  1. Grease and base line a 8inch x 8inch tin.  Preheat oven to Gas 4/180C.
  2. Food process the digestive biscuits until they turn to fine crumbs (or bash them with a rolling pin!)  Melt the butter and mix into the crumbs.  Press this into the tin to make a base.
  3. Bake base for 5 minutes in oven and remove.  Layer all the ingredients (apart from condensed milk) in any order you like!  Pour condensed milk over to cover.
  4. Bake for around 20 minutes until set (bars will still be very squidgy)

Prepare to visit the dentist very soon after eating 🙂

Recipe adapted from MagicalRecipes.net

Banana peanut butter chip muffins

I try to eat a healthy breakfast.  Really I do.  I absolutely love porridge, fruit and yoghurt for example.  But more often than not, during the week, that extra 15 minute lie in wins over 🙂  That’s why I keep a variety of quick (and fairly healthy!) breakfast options up my sleeve.  Like today for example…

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Bananas are the ’emergency breakfast’ that I always have in the fruit bowl.  They taste great and are cheap (why are bananas so cheap?  I often wonder this, when some fruit grown in the UK is more expensive!)  However the bananas I used in today’s recipe I wouldn’t even consider eating (I’m one of those slightly strange people that eats green bananas :-)).  For bananas to be used in cake, they have to be practically rotting away, which gives what ever you are making the fantastic sweet taste.  It’s the reason that not a lot of sweetener is needed in my Peanut Butter Banana Oat Bars and it also means the muffins will keep for a lot longer.

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Today’s muffin recipe is based on my Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins, but with the addition of…peanut butter chips!  Ever since getting hold of these in the UK, I’ve been keen obsessed with using them 🙂  When making these muffins, fold the flour in really carefully, as overmixing muffin batter can cause it to become really stodgy.  As soon as the dry ingredients are incorporated, stop mixing.  This should ensure you have a lovely light texture in the finished cake.  These are divine straight out of the oven, when the chocolate  and peanut butter chips are all gooey, but will also keep well for a few days (particularly good at breakfast :-))

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Ingredients (makes 10 muffins):

  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g plain (all purpose) flour)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 50g peanut butter chips
  • 50g dark chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas 6/200C.  Line a muffin tin with muffin paper cases.
  2. Beat the eggs and oil together in a jug.  Mix all dry ingredients (apart from the choc and peanut butter chips) in a bowl.  Pour the eggs and oil into the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix carefully together.  DO NOT OVERMIX.
  3. Fold in the mashed banana, followed by the peanut butter chips and chocolate chips. Fill the muffins cases nearly to the top (this ensures the muffins are tall).
  4. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and well risen.