Tuesday, January 21, 2014
For Christmas this year my sisters gave me Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery cookbook. It's the biggest cookbook I've ever seen. It could fulfill Kramer's dream and have a dual purpose as a cookbook and a coffee table. It's mega. And there are tons of recipes in it--many of which look sort of intimidating because everything in it looks pristine. Nevertheless, I decided to dive into it with one of his cookie recipes and more specifically his take on the Nutter Better (which is one of the most addicting cookies in human history) which he coined the Better Nutter. If you've ever been to a Bouchon Bakery you'll notice that all of his cookies--even the renowned macaron--are three times the size of the average cookie.
He makes them big and the Better Nutter is no exception. Another thing I noticed while flipping through a lot of his recipes is that he pretty much ages all of his doughs--from cookies to scones and probably beyond. For this cookie recipe and few others I saw he ages the dough in the fridge for a couple of hours at least. So if you want to make these cookies--like exactly the way he does--you're gonna need some time. I think that some of the aging (if that's what it even is--I might be using that term incorrectly for this instance) is practical because the dough is a bit sticky and difficult to work with if it's warm which isn't uncommon with some cookie doughs too. But also, if you've ever made the New York Times cookies they require a day of aging in the fridge before you bake them. So maybe there's a little bit of flavor enhancement that goes on too.
The only criticism I have (who am I to criticize Thomas Keller?!) is that I thought the cookies tasted slightly bland. And the only thing that this recipe doesn't have is salt. So maybe...maybe...it could use a pinch. I am not sure that would make a difference but I always read how salt brings out flavor in all things--even sweet.
Here is the recipe for the cookies from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller:
30g (1/4c) unsalted peanut halves (or--in reference to my no salt criticism--use salted peanuts)
198g (1 1/4c + 2 1/2tbsp) all-purpose sifted flour
9.1g (1 3/4tsp + 1/8tsp) baking soda
3.8g (3/4tsp) baking powder
210g unsalted butter at room temp.
86g (1/2c) creamy peanut butter (Bouchon uses Skippy natural peanut butter. I used Smuckers natural)
106g (1/2c + 1tbsp) light brown sugar
1 large egg
8.5g (1 1/2tsp) vanilla paste (I used vanilla extract)
106g (1 1/2c) old fashioned oats
Peanut butter filling
175g (1c + 3tbsp) of your favorite basic buttercream
175g (1/2c + 3tbsp) of creamy peanut butter
pinch of kosher salt
First toast the peanuts so preheat the oven to 325 F. Spread the peanuts on a baking pan and toast them for 16-18 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let cool completely.
-Using a medium bowl, whisk together the sifted flour, baking soda and baking powder.
-Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat the peanut butter and butter together until smooth, creamy and the mixture holds a peak when you lift the paddle from it.
-Add the sugar to the peanut butter/butter mixture and beat for 2 minutes or until fluffy
-Add the vanilla paste (extract) and egg and mix just until combined--15-30s. It's noted in the cookbook that over-mixing the eggs can cause too much spreading of the cookies when they are baking and then they will deflate.
-Scrape down the bowl
-Add the dry ingredients in two additions mixing until just combined with each addition. Scrape down the bowl between additions as well.
-Add the oats and peanuts and pulse mix them about 10 times
-Place the dough into plastic wrap forming a block of dough and wrap tightly. Refrigerate that for at least 2 hours or until firm.
-After the dough is firm roll it out at about a 1/4 inch thick between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using a 3" cookie cutter cut out as many rounds as you can. Scrape up the remaining dough and refrigerate again if too warm for a while. Then roll it out again and cut out as many more rounds as you can. I got about 14 total.
-Place all of the rounds on cookie sheets and place in the freezer for another 2 hours or until firm.
-Once the cookies are firm, position the racks in your oven to the top and bottom thirds of it and preheat the oven to 325F
-Make sure the cookies are arranged 2 inches apart on the sheets and bake them for 16-18 minutes rotating the cookie sheets 180 halfway through the baking time.
-Once done baking remove them from the oven, let them sit on the cookies sheets for 10 minutes before removing them and setting them atop cooling racks and then allow them to cool completely.
-Meanwhile, prepare the peanut butter filling by beating together the peanut butter, buttercream and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer until it is good and fluffy.
-Once the cookies are completely cool, pipe the buttercream on one cookie and then place another cookie atop that to make a sandwich.
You should have about 6-7 cookie sandwiches when done.