The Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookie Experiment

Have you ever seen a recipe, and just couldn’t get it out of your mind until you tried it?  That happens to me periodically. Most recently, it happened with these cookies. I kept drooling over the idea of  combining chocolate, peanut butter, and pretzels in a cookie since I saw it orignially on this blog: Sugar Cooking

Maybe it’s partly my son’s fault.  He has been getting me hooked on the peanut butter and pretzel combination recently.  On any given day if you ask him what he wants for lunch, 9 times out of 10 he will say “peanut butter sandwich, banana, pretzels, and peanut butter on the side” which is his way of asking for some extra peanut butter on his plate that he can dip his pretzels in.

Last weekend I was desperate for some time in the kitchen to make some cookies.  It was going to be my first week back to work after my 6 weeks of maternity leave, which went by WAY too quickly, and I needed some baking therapy. As the weekend rolled around, it found me exhorting my husband to start eating more cookies so that I could make another batch. I did a search for recipes with this combo in it, and found several online– I can’t remember all the ones I looked at. Some of them had peanut butter chips, some of them had peanut butter in the dough.  I thought, why not both?  I couldn’t find any recipes that were quite what I was wanting.

So I decided to try to experiment a little bit on my own.  I wanted a soft cookie (we are big soft cookie fans in this house), with peanut butter in the dough, as well as the mixture of peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and crushed pretzels. I have to say, the flavor of the cookies ended up being just what I was looking for–some salty, sweet, chocolatey, peanutbuttery goodness. Unfortunately, my dough experimentation didn’t work out so well, and the texture of the cookie left a bit to be desired.  It was a soft cookie, but it ended up being VERY crumbly and dry. In fact, instead of dropping the cookie dough on the pan, I was molding it together into a cookie shape with my hands first before putting it on the pan.

Obviously I have a lot more to learn. (It looks like there is an episode of Good Eats by Alton Brown which addresses the differences in cookie dough, which I need to find and watch.)  I did do a little search and some reading about cookie doughs. I was mainly curious how you can tell from a recipe whether your cookie is going to turn out soft and chewy, or crunchy, or somewhere in between?   I’m still not entirely sure that I can look at a recipe and predict this, but I did learn a few pointers, some of which surprised me. I apologize, I don’t remember all my sources– most of them were discussions on forums.
Most of these points were also summarized in this article: The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

  1. Whether a cookie is hard and crunchy or soft and chewy is all about how much moisture is in the dough–makes sense right? It has to do with the type of fats, and the amount of eggs and sugar.
  2. You also need certain elements in your dough to trap the moisture, so it doesn’t all evaporate when you put the cookies in the oven. Brown sugar seems to be a key player in this, and apparently increasing the amount of flour will also hold moisture in.
  3. A lower fat content will yield a softer cookie, higher fat content will make a crunchier cookie.
  4. A shorter baking time will lead to a softer cookie. (I definitely already knew that– being a lover of soft cookies, it is my personal opinion that many recipes over bake the cookies. I almost always knock a few minutes off the baking time of cookie recipes.)

So I’m not going to share my recipe, because it isn’t what it should be yet. I think I will have to do a bit more practicing and research on how to make a good cookie dough. But if I ever get it down, I will share the recipe because for anyone who likes the salty sweet combo, this cookie hits the spot.

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