There are few things with more inherent comfort for me than a cookie, be that a chocolate chip, an oatmeal raisin, a gingersnap, I don’t discriminate, all cookies are welcome in my kitchen. Maybe it’s a nostalgic thing, a throw back to childhood. Maybe it’s simply because they’re sweet. Or maybe it’s just because I love them so much that each one is a little bit of joy. I’m a fan of tricky recipes, I like the challenge, but sometimes simpler is better and with this recipe I cant think how you could dial it back any further, it really is a ridiculously easy recipe and it delivers way more in terms of flavour and texture than it should considering its merger ingredients and distinct lack of technique.
The recipe for these salted peanut butter cookies comes from the Brooklyn based bakery Ovenly, which I am sad to say I haven’t actually haven’t managed to visit yet. But these cookies have a life outside the bakery. On one of my recent trips to NYC, randomly filming an advert for Yahoo which somehow involved me talking to a cgi flamingo, I was wandering through the West Village and popped into Toby’s Estate for a coffee. At the counter they had this domed, crackly looking peanut butter cookie and in the moment it seemed like the exact thing I was craving without even realising it. It turned out to be the version from Ovenly and it was good, so good I bought a second and nibbled on it as I walked around the village in a jet lagged haze. When I looked into the recipe I found it hard to believe it was based on the classic three ingredient peanut butter cookie, made with just peanut butter, egg and sugar. That classic recipe is fine if a little boring and to be quite honest im not a complete lover of the texture.
The guys at Ovenly took that idea, played with the ratios a little and added two little extras, vanilla and sea salt. Their version is so much better, with a chewy outside and an almost blondie like centre. But I forgot about the recipe until late last year when a box arrived at my door packed full of cookies from the team at the bakery. The cookies somehow survived a transatlantic journey and didn’t seem stale, or any worse for ware at all. I tried very hard to make the cookies last but between myself and my boyfriend they disappeared quick. And that’s how, with the dread of doing my taxes hanging over my head, I found myself making a big batch of them. Call it procrastibaking (can we be done with that awful saying already) or just a craving for comfort and cookies during a stressful week, these ridiculously easy cookies were exactly what the doctor, and maybe my accountant, ordered.
Note about the salt. I posted a picture of some cookies recently and someone complained that they were sick of seeing cookies sprinkled with a little sea salt, calling it pretentious and without merit. Let me say this. Do Not Skip The Salt. Peanuts and salt are made to be together and the salt makes a big difference in the flavour. Think of eating blanched peanuts versus roasted salted ones. We all know which is better, so just add the salt.
Ovenly Salted Peanut Butter Cookies
Ever so slightly adapted from the ‘Ovenly’, by Agatha Kulaga & Erin Patinkin
335g (1 3/4 packed cup) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
450g (1 3/4 cups) smooth peanut butter
Flaked sea salt, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
In a bowl vigorously whisk together the sugar and eggs until incorporated. Add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Switch to a wooden spoon and mix in the peanut butter until no streaks are visible. At this point I divert from the recipe in the book just a little. They suggest chilling the dough in the freezer after forming to help the cookie hold its shape. I find doing this step before scooping the cookies is better, because the dough firms up a little when cold and you’ll get that distinct look of the Ovenly cookie much easier when the dough is firmer. I tend to leave the dough in the fridge for an hour but I know Deb from Smitten Kitchen says a rest in the freezer for 15 mins works fine too (my freezer is tiny so the fridge is just more convenient for me). I have also made this dough and left in the fridge for a couple days and this works great too if you want to prepare ahead but bake the cookies fresh.
Use an ice cream scoop of spoons to form the dough into roughly 2 inch balls (using the scoop is how I do it and how you replicate the look of the bakery versions, you want a 2 ounce scoop) and place the cookies onto the prepared baking tray, about an inch or so apart from one another. They spread but just a little so they can be closer than regular cookies. Sprinkle each cookie with a little flaked sea salt.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-22 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown around the edges but still a teensy bit paler in the centre. Transfer to a wire rack rack to cool completely before serving.
These cookies also keep incredibly well, I have had them up to five days after baking and they were still great.