Monday, February 19, 2007

Cookies for a job well done...

When we woke up last week after the big snow/sleet/ice storm, we stepped onto the driveway to begin clearing it, only to discover it was one large sheet of frozen snow that would not budge. We do have a little plow on front of the riding lawnmower, but in no way was it going to clear the driveway! We didn't know how we were going to get it cleared out, but soon after we heard on a knock on the door and it was Farmer Jon's (the family who owns the alpaca's behind us) wife, Colette, asking if we would like our driveway cleared, by chance. We looked and saw he was on his big tractor - no way we were going to turn down that offer! They kindly didn't ask for any payment, but I thought we needed to do something - so I made these Cocoa-Peanut Butter Crisscrosses for Jeff to bring over. It makes a fairly large batch, so we decided to share some with our other neighbors John and Loree.

This may be my new favorite way to make peanut butter cookies! To choco-fy these peanut cookies, we replaced a portion of the flour with Dutch-process cocoa and added in some finely chopped bittersweet chocolate. I used a smooth peanut butter (processed, not natural) and added a generous cup of salty chopped peanuts. The cookie dough was soft, but not sticky, so you could easily roll them into balls with your hands. To give them a bit of a crunch and sparkle on the outside, the balls are rolled in granulated sugar before you make the crisscrosses on top. Instead of using a traditional fork to flatten the dough balls, I used a potato masher so the grooves would be a bit bigger and make for a more unique appearance. You can control the texture a little by how long you bake them - if you want a more crunchy all-the-way through texture, use the longer time - however if you want the centers to be a little chewy, bake a little shorter and leave them on the sheet until they firm up enough to move them. They bake up into large cookies with a strong peanut butter taste and just enough chocolate flavor shining through - they are a bit salty, sweet and crisp... all of our favorites wrapped in a delicious package.

Tonight's dinner is not only a mouth-full to say, but a new way to enjoy pizza! Roasted Red Pepper, Chicken Sausage and Smoked Mozarella Potato-Crust Pizza has a base of potatoes that have been slightly pre-cooked, shredded and tossed with olive oil, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and black pepper. This mixture is spread out over a 12" pizza pan and bakes until the potatoes are tender and beginning to turn golden and crisp up on top. Now, I'm not trying to fool you and say you will end up with a thin-crunchy crust ala pizza dough - however, the outside does get a bit crispy with the insides staying warm and fairly moist. You could probably leave it in the oven and let it dry out even more, but I don't think I would have liked it nearly as much if we did that - we thought it needed to stay on the tender side so the flavor is not compromised.

Once pre-baked, we topped it with marinara sauce, smoked mozzarella, diced sun-dried tomato chicken sausage (that I crisped up in a skillet), chopped roasted red bell peppers and a shower of nutty Parmesan cheese to finish. The smoky cheese was able to stand out and be heard against the canvas of the mild potatoes. I was going to forgo the chicken sausage to keep it more clean, but I'm glad I added it... besides adding another layer of flavor, we thought the sausage added to the "pizza" aspect without the need for a doughy crust. Hearty servings that are actually not too caloric made for a filling dinner, with a light salad on the side.


7 comments:

  1. And I thought that I was all "baked-out" from last week's Valentine's Day bake-a-thon... these cookies look incredible. I wonder if I'll have the time to make them tomorrow? :) Thanks for posting, Joe.

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  2. Those cookies look delicious! I love the idea of the potato crust pizza too! My favourite pizza topping is fried potatoes, sour cream and spring onions with green chillis (I know, completely traditional) but yours sounds great!

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  3. Thanks for the great recipes and photos! Made the chocolate cherry bars and they were great, even found a no-sugar added cherry pie filling to keep the sugar content lower.

    Just received the King Arthur cookbook based on your comments and the tasty looking things you've made from it. Having some trouble finding all the ingredients, but look forward to making good, whole grain recipes.

    Thanks for the inspiration. Love to cook, but it's hard to find new things to make sometimes.

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  4. Hey Joe, I haven't been wandering around blogland much lately, but I wanted to ask, is the King Arthur Flour whole grain baking book as awesome as it looks?? I have been eyeing it for ages now . . . perhaps it's time to purchase it!

    P.S. All the food looks fabulous, as always. Your Valentine's Day linzer cookies are (were?) works of art!

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  5. Oh yum - I had been thinking about trying to come up with a chocolate peanut butter cookie, but look - I waited long enough that you went and did it for me. ;) I think I know what cookie I want to try this weekend.........

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  6. KQV - I don't think I could ever be too baked-out... well maybe after we do our yearly Christmas spree!

    Barbara - Thanks!

    Freya - That pizza does sound good though!

    Anne - I hope you try some recipes out soon, I can't wait to pick the next one!

    Catherine - It is! I am very into this book - it makes it difficult to pick the next recipe to make!

    Alysha - I loved how they turned out - they were pretty big too!

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