Happy December! Hope you had a good Thanksgiving holiday!
I spent it in the company of hubby’s extended family, who are as lovely and welcoming as a Norman Rockwell painting, and who threw us a wonderful baby shower. Our baby now has clothes! And a car seat and stroller! And toys and books! I’m grateful to family and friends who showered us with gifts and well wishes. I am now 33 weeks and the word “imminent” is starting to reverberate in my head. I think I’m at the point where I’m looking forward for the pregnancy to be over, because a)I feel huge b)anticipation is starting to drive me crazy and c)I don’t need to hear any more “jokes” about saying goodbye to sleep and sanity. Actually, I don’t truly wish the baby here yet, because I have A LOT TO DO before this year runs out. Please be good, baby!
Among my things to do: keep this blog updated! Foremost among the stacks of cookbooks I’ve received to review is, of course, the baker’s book of the season: Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook. This cookbook is as beautifully crafted as its sister books in the Keller series (French Laundry, Bouchon, Ad Hoc at Home), with dreamy photography, charming anecdotes detailing behind-the-scenes life at Bouchon Bakery, and some seriously inspiring, meticulously crafted recipes.
Keller’s cookbooks navigate that fine line between coffee table-tome and working cookbook with grace: while it’s easy to just leaf through the pages, mesmerized, the recipes are clearly laid out, and ultimately very doable for the home cook. Things I really liked about the cookbook: 1. Metric measurements first for every recipe (you can tell since the imperial measurements are not always nice round cups but sometimes things like “2 1/2 cups plus 1 1/4 teaspoons”. Although I’m thrilled that including metric measurements seems to finally, finally becoming expected for serious baking cookbooks, it’s a bonus pleasure to know these recipes are truly adapted from professional versions – which would of course be in metric. 2. Although most of the recipes are for classic French patisserie, adjusted for home bakers, they still offer tips and tricks to execute them at a professional level. For example, the cream puff recipe has you piping the cream puff dough into a silicone cup mold, so that all cream puffs will come out the same size. Of course. It’s these little things that, of course, raise Keller’s restaurants a notch above the rest. These little secrets will really help home bakers to take their baking to the next level. 3. The recipes that are witty modern updates of the classics, like their version of Oreos, or the apple band tart, or the pear feuilletes. The mix of classic and new make this book both fresh and timeless, and inspiring to all.
I tested out the “Better Nutters” to take back to Kansas: they’re basically Keller’s take on those iconic Nutter Butters from the grocery store. Judging from how quickly the cookies disappeared, I think they’re a keeper. These cookies are very tender-crumbly – not surprising given the amount of peanut butter and butter in them. It makes them delightful to consume, but require a little patience to make. The recipe advises freezing the dough before baking, and chilling it frequently while rolling it out. I strongly agree – this dough seemed to literally morph from frozen slab to sticky soft moments after I pulled it out of the freezer. Exercising restraint is the key here: trying to rush-roll the dough or sprinkle on tons of flour to un-sticky the dough will lead to disappointment. Take the advice and return the dough to the refrigerator if it gets too soft to roll. Freezing the cut out cookies before baking will also help them keep their shape and not spread into shapeless blobs. Your reward for your care will be some deliciously light, crumbly, peanutty cookies. The peanuts and oats give them some welcome textural heft, and they smell satisfyingly nutty. The recipe suggests using Virginia jumbo peanuts, although I found regular peanuts to work fine. Although they are tasty on their own, they definitely shine with some peanut butter filling sandwiched in between.
The recipe for the filling in the Bouchon cookbook involves combining their buttercream recipe with peanut butter, but to make things a little easier I turned to a quicker peanut butter frosting – this is actually what was published in the NYTimes version of Bouchon’s peanut butter cookies. I also added a dollop of dark chocolate ganache in the center for fun, since it’s the holidays and all, and you can never go too over-the-top with holiday cookies.
When the sandwiches are assembled, they indeed taste like their grocery-store inspiration, albeit in a far superior way. Make no mistake, these cookies are pretty filling, with all the peanut butter, but I kept trying to eat one more even though I my stomach was already groaning. If you use just the peanut butter filling, it’s pure peanutty bliss. Adding some chocolate makes it a full-on dessert.
Just one example of how Bouchon Bakery takes a simple, well-known cookie and elevates it to a new classic. Since I probably won’t make it back to French Laundry or Bouchon Bakery for a while, this cookbook will be the next best thing.
Look for my yearly holiday cookbook roundup to follow soon!
Note: I received a review copy of Bouchon Bakery cookbook from the publisher from review. All opinions are my own.
Homemade Nutter Butters
- adapted from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook
- 1/4 cup (30 g) unsalted peanut halves
- 1 1/4 cups + 2 1/2 tablespoons (198 g) all purpose flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons + 1/8 teaspoon (9.1 g) baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon (3.8 g) baking powder
- 7.4 oz (210 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/3 cup (86 g) creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (106 g) light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (54 g) egg (approx. 1 large egg)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (8.5 g) vanilla paste
- 1 1/3 cups (106 g) old fashioned oats
Peanut Butter Filling
- 4 oz (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (129 g) creamy peanut butter
- 1 2/3 cups (200 g) confectioners' sugar
For the cookies:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread out peanuts in a single layer on a sheet pan and toast in oven for 16 to 18 minutes until golden brown. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
- Combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
- Combine butter and peanut butter in bowl of stand mixer. Beat on medium low speed until combined and has the consistency of mayonnaise and holds a peak when the paddle is lifted.
- Add brown sugar and beat for 2 minutes until fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl.
- Add egg and vanilla paste and beat just until combined. Scrape down sides of bowl.
- Add in flour mixture in 2 additions, beating just until combined. Add oats and mix to combine. Add in chopped peanuts and mix to combine.
- Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into 5" x 7" block. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
- Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper or Silpats to 1/4" thick. The dough will soften very quickly so if it starts getting too soft and sticky put back in refrigerator to firm up slightly before continuing to roll.
- Using a 3 1/4" round cutter, cut out cookies from the dough and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Wrap sheets in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours until firm. You can also store the dough frozen for up to 1 month.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Arrange frozen cookies on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpats about 2 inches apart. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until they are golden brown at the edges. Remove and let cool.
For the filling:
- Cream together all ingredients in a stand mixer until very smooth.
- Scoop filling into a pastry bag fitted with an Ateco #867 star tip (opening size approx. 9/16" if you have other tips). Pipe a spiral of filling on half the cookies, starting at the center and working out to within 1/4" of the edge.
- Top each with a second cookies and press gently down.