Each December for the last several years, I’ve dreamed up a Christmas cookie for the blog. This time, I might have found my very favorite–just in time for your weekend last-minute baking. “Peaknut” Crinkles are a twist on the always-favorite Chocolate Crinkles so often made at holiday time.
My own crinkle recipe– pictured above–and this is a riff on that– is one I’ve made for years and I have no idea from whence it came. More than once, I’ve really searched to discover its provenance, but the crinkle recipes I find are not like mine and so I have no idea. Thanks to that cookie baker I’ve never found!! Now, just so you know: the difference between “my” recipe and the others is this: mine uses melted chocolate and ALSO chocolate chips; every other one I locate is made with only cocoa. So. “My” Chocolate Crinkle Recipe.
Over the last few weeks, in the middle of the night, I awakened to think about this year’s holiday cookie. I knew I wanted it to be peanuty, yet still chocolatey. Hmm. My best eldest son has always had a true, true love for anything smacking of chocolate and peanuts. I thought I could rustle up a new version of the crinkle that he might like. And I did. But only after a few sleepless nights. (wink, wink)
I considered chopped peanuts on top and liked that, but wouldn’t they fall off? I thought of peanut chips, but they’re not really tasty. (What’s in those things?) Peanuts inside the cookie appealed a lot. But, just peanut butter or peanut butter in addition to salted butter? Or maybe salted peanuts inside the cookie? A few things hung on the salt; I knew that. The texture would be held accountable via the fat content. And so I began to experiment.
Pikes Peak, copyright Alyce Morgan 2009
My friends, I’m on Weight Watchers! Baking these cookies and tasting them required me to track every 1/2 cookie I put in my mouth to consider the crumb, the salt, the fat, the chocolate, the peanut factor. In the end, though, by George, I think I’ve got it. Even though a few points had to go to COOKIES! And why not at this time of year? Try this and have fun as you bake:
below: a basic version without the cocoa sprinkle and peanut on top, but with Pike’s Peak in the background right in my own front yard
makes about 30 cookies
These chocolatey-peanut butter cookies, a twist on the ever-popular chocolate crinkles, were developed in the shadow of Colorado’s famous Pike’s Peak, hence their name. With the powdered sugar and cocoa (snow and dirt), along with the peanut garnish (rocks), they even resemble our favorite mountain a bit! Be sure you under bake them a bit or they’ll be hockey pucks; cookies will firm up on the cooling racks. At alititude particularly, “Peaknuts” only stay fresh a day or two, so if you’re not serving and eating them right away, freeze until needed. If you’d like to skip the cocoa and peanut garnish, they’re perfectly good with only the powdered sugar–see photo just above.
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee, optional
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons salted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (6 tablespoons)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup salted peanuts, divided (chop 1/2 cup finely to make cookies and use the other half for garnish)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place rack at oven center. Grease two cookies sheets or fit with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt 1 cup of the chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Stir in the espresso powder, if using. Set melted chocolate mixture aside to cool a bit. Reserve the other half-cup chips to add to the dough later. (You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave. See cook’s notes below.)
- In the bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl using a hand-held mixer, beat together on medium speed the granulated sugar, butter, vanilla eggs, and the melted chocolate for 2-3 minutes until well-combined and lightened. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients — flour, baking, powder, and salt. With mixer set at medium-low, slowly pour the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture and beat until just mixed.
- Add the finely chopped 1/2 cup of peanuts and the reserved 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and mix at medium speed until well-combined. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll dough into 1-inch balls and then roll each ball in powdered sugar. Place on greased cookie sheets and, using a fine mesh strainer, dust with just a little bit of cocoa powder. Bake 8-10 minutes or until the edges are dry, but the cookies are still quite moist inside. Sometimes they crack in the oven and this is easier to see. I like to bake these one sheet at a time; if you bake two sheets, switch and reverse the cookie sheets half-way through the cooking time.
- Remove to cooling racks and press a peanut very gently into the center of each cookie. Let cool completely and store in containers with tightly-fitting lids for 1-2 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks. Thaw in containers at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
COOK’S NOTES: To melt chocolate in the microwave, place chips in a microwave safe bowl or cup, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for a minute. Stir, and repeat, until chips are melted.
OTHER MORE TIME COOKIES YOU MIGHT LIKE:
Thanks to my Twin Cities and fb friend, Mary Murphy, for a clue about what to name my cookies!
Tucker and Rosie only sat still because I told them Santa was watching.
Be well, my friends. Bake a few sweet cookies and, whatever your beliefs, consider the idea of a star that leads us all to a place where justice prevails, there is no hunger, pain or sorrow…and love is everything. It’s possible; I know it.