These chewy peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies are good. Really, really good. They’re made with salted, natural peanut butter and chunks of milk and dark chocolate. They’re simple to make but feel special enough for an occasion. In fact, last Sunday they served as my husband’s ‘birthday cake’.
I’ve formed a nasty habit of going away to the states in the weeks leading up to Sam’s birthday. I schedule my return back home a few days before the big day. Just in time, I always think to myself, to beat jet lag before his actual birthday rolls around. Jet lag always wins. As a result of my poor planning, Sam hasn’t had a home-made birthday meal or dessert in several years. Not that he complains. He’s the most chill. I have no chill. It balances out.
Birthdays were always a big deal growing up in my family. My mom always went all out: she decorated the table at breakfast with balloons and flowers and made us special pancakes or waffles. We even had a special chair we lovingly called the throne that was brought out for every birthday in the house. The throne had a tall back with ornate wooden carvings at the top and was upholstered in lush purple velvet. It looked like it belonged in a cathedral, the seat of some fancy, official person. As a kid, I felt like the most special person in the world every time I sat in it and listened to my family sing Happy Birthday to me as I blew out my candles. Birthdays were big and important.
Sam’s first birthday that we spent together was seven years ago. We were still getting to know each other, and I wanted to plan something really special–the perfect day. I surprised him with a full and busy day in the city. Lots of running around and all the city things to do: museums, walks, dinner, lots of hoopla. I made him brownies and brought a candle and match with me. Sam made a birthday wish as we sat on a bench at the station after a very long and tiring day and waited for our train home. I wanted that little space of time sitting on a bench in North Station to feel like a throne.
While Sam graciously appreciated that day, as time went on, I learned that his idea of a perfect day included less running around a city. He prefers more nature or friends to organized chaos, and he does not care at all about birthday surprises. Since that first year, I’ve tried to appreciate our differences and lean into the chill. I’ve asked Sam every year since that first birthday what he wants to do, no surprises, just the perfect day for him.
This year, Sam chose hiking. The day before the hike jet lag followed me around all day–no birthday cakes or treats were made, yet again. I think I may have showered but I can’t be certain. In between trying to stay awake and unpacking dirty laundry, I packed a simple hiking lunch, and I pulled a few of these chewy peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies from the freezer where I’d stashed them weeks before. They’re simple and one of Sam’s favorites. We left early and spent the day in the Peak District. We walked in the sun through pastures of sheep and cows and breathed deeply in the fresh air.
Late in the day, after we’d reached the summit of the little peak we’d climbed, we sat on a wooden bench, with our freezer cookies, and we celebrated another year of Sam in the most Sam way possible. Chill. Cookies in hand. No candles. No hoopla. Special because the person I was celebrating was happy and content.
I think these cookies could make anyone’s day a little more special. Using natural peanut butter makes them rich and so much more peanut-y than your average peanut butter cookie. You may also notice that there is a bunch of kosher salt in these cookies. Have no fear, the saltiness is exactly what you want in this cookie and is balanced beautifully by the mix of milk and dark chocolate. The texture is also amazing because we use pastry flour for a delicate, tender cookie and dark brown sugar for a chewy bite. I would venture to say that this might be the perfect peanut butter cookie, but you’ll have to try it for yourself.
If you like these Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies, you might also like:
Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies
- 1 cup pastry flour*
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup salted natural peanut butter creamy
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 ounces milk chocolate chopped into large chunks
- 1 ounces dark chocolate chopped into large chunks
- big flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
*The protein content of pastry flour is right between all-purpose flour and cake flour. Having a little less protein in these cookies makes them particularly tender. You can often find pastry flour in large grocery stores, but you can definitely get it on Amazon. Buttt, if you can't get, use all-purpose. The cookies won't be quite as tender, but they'll be delicious all the same!
Preheat the oven to 350*F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the pastry flour, salt and baking soda.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and beat on medium until completely incorporated. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and mix on medium until incorporated. Pour in half of the dry ingredients, mixing on low until just incorporated, then add the other half and do the same. Add both the milk and dark chocolate and mix on low speed until evenly distributed.
With a large cookie scoop, or ice cream scoop, measure, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the cookies lightly with big, flaky sea salt, if desired. I divide the cookies out by scooping 6 onto the first tray and 4 on the second, so they don't spread into each other while they bake.
Bake the first tray for 14-17 minutes, rotating once during baking. When they're ready they should be lightly golden on the edges, but not fully browned. Remove from oven and place the baking sheet on a cooling rack, allowing the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet. Repeat with the next sheet of cookies.
If you want to double the recipe, this dough freezes really nicely once it's scooped.