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food detective

Categories: Desserts, Dinner for Two, Supper, Dinner Party, Lunch, Sources, Well Equipped, Posted on January 30, 2021 by Sandy Bergsten

How about something sweet? 

I’ll confess I’m not much of a baker. My birthday cakes are endearingly lopsided and zucchini bread eternally crestfallen. What I’ve come to realize is that cooks and bakers are wired differently.  Bakers tend to follow recipes to the law and measure precisely. Us in the cook-camp like to add a pinch of this and bit of that, and it shows. 

I’m also one of those people who seeks out a recipe to use that leftover ingredient from a previous one. I’ve been wondering what to do with the rest of that white miso in my refrigerator from that wonderful salmon from my last post. As chance would have it, I came upon a recipe for peanut butter miso cookies. They sounded amazing- a little savory to cut the sweetness, and simultaneously crisp while chewy. The best part I had most of the ingredients on hand and only had to send my wonderful instacart husband out for some demerara sugar. And just in case you are wondering, demerara sugar is a dark brown sugar with large crystals that give it a crunchy, candy-like texture. And while I was picking up one specialty ingredient to use another, this sugar is a must.

The thing that caught my attention about this recipe was that all of the measurements for the ingredients were listed by volume (i.e. one cup) and by weight (i.e. 225 grams). Perhaps it was time to pull out my beloved cooking scale. I use mine almost daily when cooking, but rarely for baking. Maybe that was one of the reasons my baked goods look the way they do.

If you don’t have a kitchen scale go online right now and get one. They are small and relatively inexpensive. Purchase one that is battery operated and switches from ounces to grams. You’ll also want to be sure you can place a container on the scale and zero balance it so you can measure right into your bowl or onto your plate. 

For these peanut-miso cookies in a medium bowl measure out 1 ¾ cups/225 grams all-purpose flour, ¾ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon baking powder. 

Whisk together and set aside.

Measure out 1 cup/220 grams light brown sugar and ½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar. 

Place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, along with one stick (½ cup/115 grams) of room-temperature unsalted butter.

Mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Measure out ⅓ cup/80 milliliters white miso paste and ¼ cup/60 milliliters chunky peanut butter.

I only had smooth peanut butter, so I improvised.

And chopped up some peanuts I had on hand.

Add the miso and peanut butter to the mixing bowl, and continue to mix at medium speed, about 1 minute.

Scrape down sides of the bowl to make sure all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated and mix again. 

Add one large egg and 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract.

Mix until just combined.

Add one third of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed until the flour mixture is incorporated. Repeat with remaining flour mixture in two batches until all of it is incorporated. Take care not to overbeat. 

Place the bowl with the cookie dough in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to allow the dough to firm up slightly.

Place ½ cup/105 grams demerara sugar into a small bowl. 

One at a time, scoop out 2 heaping tablespoons of dough (about 50 grams per cookie).

Roll each portion between your hands until it is nice and round. Drop the dough ball into the bowl of demerara sugar.

Turn to coat. 

Transfer each ball to a small rimmed baking sheet, taking care they do not touch. Repeat with all of the dough. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours and up to overnight. The longer the dough is refrigerated the more the flavors will meld and the mellower the flavor will be.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and space each dough ball 3 inches apart. 

Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, until crisp at the edges and slightly puffed in the middle. At this point they should still be a bit underdone in the center. 

Now this will sound crazy and will most likely scare your dog but trust me- pull out the baking sheet and hit hard it against the top of the stove. This will cause the cookies to deflate. 

Place the cookies back into the oven to finish baking for about 2 minutes more or until the cookies are firm at the edges and slightly puffed in the center.

Once again pull the baking sheet out and hit the baking sheet on top of the stove. The cookies should appear flat and crinkly at the center.

Let the cookies cool on a baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container; they should retain their marvelous chewy texture for a few days.

This is one scale you won’t be afraid to step on.

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