Peanut Butter Cookies
You may recognize the dog in the picture above... that is Riley. Riley (at the time I wrote this) is a nine and a half year old Mini Australian Shepherd, and he is a super sweet little dog, especially if you have food, and you’re willing to share. Riley is always on hand, generally right under foot, when food is around. If you ignore him he will let you know he is next to you by tapping your leg with one of his paws, or resting his head on your lap as he looks up at you with well-practiced sad eyes. If there is no food around he pretty much just ignores people. Try to pet him and he'll usually back away as if you have some kind of disease. If he really likes you though he will lick you. There are a few people that can confirm that indeed he likes to lick, and that he pretty much doesn't stop until you physically shoo him away.
Before Riley, we had a German Shepherd named James Garner (that's him above). I know, I know, that's an odd name for a dog and truth is we didn't name him. The day we visited the breeder we learned that almost all of her dogs were named after famous people. I guess she just wanted to have some fun with her dogs. At the time, we were looking for a slightly older dog since we both were pretty busy with work and wouldn't really be able to spend the requisite amount of time we would need in order to properly raise a puppy. At least that's what the breeder told us! And she was right, no question. We sat outside in a large grassy area and she brought out several dogs for us to look at including one dog named John Lennon, who she would discount for us, since he was born with only one testicle. We sort of felt bad for John Lennon as he was only a year and a half old and he was already in the discount bin. When they brought out James Garner to meet us, the breeder told us that he was the brother of Celine Dion and the son of Sophia Loren. He had actually been adopted previously but for some reason was returned to the breeder. He wasn't one of those dogs that got super excited at seeing new faces and he sort of just followed his handler around as if he had done it several times before. Then they returned him to his pen and brought out Kirstie Allie to do the same.
After a while of looking at dogs and seeing if there was any immediate connection between the dog and us, David asked if he could see James Garner again. The only worry he had was that the dog was already more than a year old so he would be accustomed to his name and it might be really weird that both the dog and I were named James. "No worries" we were told, "as we were training him, we called him Garner, so he will answer to that", the breeder told us. When they brought him back out the breeder gave the sit command,
Again, "Garner, sit"...
Then David tested his theory: "James..." the dog instantly turned his head, cocked it slightly to one side and stared right at him, "...Sit" he said.
Plop! Without hesitation he sat and continued to look right at David.
We all just looked at each other and laughed. "Maybe we called him James after all”, the breeder added. Despite the name issue we both knew this was the dog for us. When David drove our truck over and opened the passenger side door, James Garner jumped up and got in the back seat without any prompting. We also knew that it was going to be odd and that for many years to come we would have to explain why the dog was named the same as me.
It was great having a big dog; he definitely came in handy when unwanted solicitors would ring our doorbell. When the doorbell rang he would start barking ( a very deep, loud bark) and we discovered that if you only opened the door just enough to peer out to talk and just enough to let him get his nose out, but not actually see everything, and you held him by the scuff of the neck, he would continue barking, and it would even escalate. Upon hearing this and seeing his big nose poking out, which meant all they really saw was teeth, whoever it was would always back up as far as they could and usually just apologize for disturbing us as they quickly retreated up the sidewalk. Little did they know that if I actually opened the door all the way James would just walk out quietly, sniff around then go back inside and lay down. Best and worst guard dog ever!
We had strict rules for James, there was no getting on the furniture, and there was absolutely no people food... OK, there was only a little people food... OK there was people food, but only for dinner and special occasions... OK, people food was always allowed, but the furniture thing was iron clad! Since David had his own shop and I worked in a very dog-friendly environment James was with either David or myself 90% of the time. When we did have to leave him at home alone he didn't have any separation anxiety, he would just curl up in his bed and nap. On one such occasion I had to run an errand or something and David was at work, so I patted James on the head, assured him that I would return shortly and went on my way. When I got back and came into the house I could see straight from the front door to his dog bed and it was empty! I turned around to look in the second bedroom, as he liked to sleep under the desk in there a lot, but it was also empty. Panic started to set in as I feared the worst, that somehow he got out. I quickly looked at all the doors and windows to see which one, if any, was open... and then I looked into the living room, over the back of the sofa, and this is what I saw. He was fast asleep and didn't even budge as I got out the camera to take this picture.
After that day I started to notice that often, when we came home after leaving him there alone, he would be right next to the sofa, but the indentations in the cushions gave everything away. He was pretty good about getting down just seconds (I am guessing) before we came in the door and he would give us a big stretch and yawn as if he had only just woken up. So we eventually waived the no pets on the furniture thing and we would often ask him to come sit with us and he would do as he was told, for about two seconds before getting down again, and looking up at us as if to say, “oh no, I'm sorry I'm not supposed to get on the furniture, and would never imagine doing so… I'm a good dog… can I have a treat now”?
For a while our town had a business called Three Dog Bakery. It specialized in fresh baked dog treats, including birthday cakes and even a frozen ice cream type treat that James Garner was over the moon for. All the fresh bakery items even looked like regular food, the "Pupcakes", looked exactly like little cupcakes, and the peanut butter "Pupcups" looked like a Reese's peanut butter cup. Everything was made with natural ingredients, right there in the store, which was pretty cool. One day I purchased a few items for the dog, a pack of what looked like chocolate chip cookies, a pack of peanut butter cookies, and a pack of what looked exactly like Oreo cookies. Now I have to say that James was pretty smart and there was no way he was going to leave the store without getting at least one cookie so I sat him at the counter (yes, there was a counter where the dogs got to eat their "Lickety Split" frozen treats) and put out a peanut butter cookie for him. As he gobbled it down I thought to myself, if these things are made with all natural ingredients, why couldn't I eat one? So I did! Actually it was not that bad, a little dry, but good flavor, good texture, overall I was not disappointed. By the way, the Oreo cookie was good too, just saying. Don't worry though, on the way out of the store, I bought two more cookies to replace the ones I ate!
I would have to say that peanut butter cookies are in my top three of all time favorite cookies. Perhaps even number one. If I go into a bakery, that is the cookie I will choose first every time. And if there are chocolate chips in it, forget it, you had me at $12.99 per dozen. Since this post has been primarily about my dogs though I thought it might be nice to including recipes for not only a good peanut butter cookie you can share with your friends and family, but also a peanut butter cookie you can make for your canine friends. Sorry kitty folks, I don't have any way of testing cat treats (without eating them myself) and I wouldn't trust myself to know what cats like or don't.
As I am sure you know by now that cookies are David’s favorite dessert and so it should be no surprise to learn that he was the one that ran across the recipe for these peanut butter cookies in the LA Times Daily Dish and you can see that article here. The headline claimed that this may be the best peanut butter cookie recipe ever… challenge accepted! Now, you should know that I would be a terrible judge in a “best ever” peanut butter cookie contest because I think every peanut butter cookie is the best ever… it’s a problem, but I’m working on it. The LA Times adapted the recipe from The Buttery bakery in Santa Cruz, which is apparently known for its very large cookies. And let me just stop here for a minute to say I can’t imagine how a bakery named The Buttery, can not have the best peanut butter cookies or for that matter the best... anything at all! Anyway, I decided to give it a try and see for myself. Guess what. They may be right. This may be the best recipe ever, and I am not just saying that for the sake of filling space or to get in the good graces of the bakery. I really mean it. The cookies are indeed big and that works in their favor. They have great taste and texture too. If you like peanut butter cookies at all, I think you’ll really, really like these.
The canine version for peanut butter cookies comes from the Three Dog Bakery and is just four ingredients. If you are lucky enough to have a Three Dog Bakery near you, I say go visit them. Take your pet and get him or her a “Lickety Split” doggy ice cream treat and some freshly baked items from the case. If there is not one near you, not to fear… you can also visit them online with this link to pick up some good stuff including their cookbook! You can get the recipe for the Peanut Butter Dog Treats here or by using the link at the bottom of the post..
Peanut butter cookies are actually quite easy to make so you won't need my step by step instructions. The recipe for the human version is below, along with a link so you can download or print.
Until next time…
Special equipment needed
Stand mixer with paddle attachment or electric mixer
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup + 1 tablespoon baker’s (superfine) sugar
½ cup + 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
½ cup chunky peanut butter, room temperature
1½ cups (6.4 ounces) pastry flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with an electric mixer) beat the butter on medium speed just until it is until creamy, about 1 minute.
Add the bakers sugar and the brown sugar to the butter and mix again on medium speed until they are evenly combined, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Add the egg and mix just until it is incorporated, about 30 to 45 seconds.
Add the peanut butter and mix until combined, about 1 minute more, scraping down the bowl after mixing.
In a medium bowl put the flour, baking soda, and salt and whisk them together well.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until the flour is evenly incorporated.
Scrape down the bowl again to be sure there are no flour pockets at the bottom and that all the ingredients are combined and smooth.
Transfer the dough to a large piece of parchment paper and shape into a log about 2½ inches thick.
Roll the dough in the parchment paper until it is smooth and a uniform 2½ inches thick throughout.
Put the peanuts on a cookie sheet and roll the dough gently across them to cover the log all the way around. If the peanuts don't stick, brush the dough with a little beaten egg and roll again and that should work.
Wrap the completed dough log in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours or up to overnight.
When the dough has chilled
Preheat the oven to 350F with the rack in the center position.
Slice the dough log into 1 inch thick slices.
Place the slices onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper spacing them about 3-inches apart, at least.
Bake until they are browned around the edges and set, about 20 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through the bake time.
Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet to fully set.
Store cookies in an airtight container.