I have a new favorite cookie. Or rather, the long-standing two-way tie between my frosted pumpkin-ies and Kathleen's molasses-raisin-ies has become a three-way tie (and this sentence has too many hyphens). Please allow me to introduce:
SPICED PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE.
Notes: Now, I am not a Reese's fan. There are those for whom the combination of peanut butter and chocolate is sweet-tooth nirvana. I've never been one of them. So rest assured that these cookies stand on their own merits. The recipe is, again, very similar to one from America's Test Kitchen, but with a few adjustments and additions, including the spices and the ganache topping. Ganache is a flexible animal; the higher the cream-to-chocolate ratio, the softer the icing will be. If you want to serve the cookies chilled, use more cream, but make sure you chill the ganache thoroughly before frosting (like, for eight hours). If you want to serve the cookies at room temperature, use less cream. I suggest frosting the cookies with a spoon, instead of a knife. For the cookie batter, do observe the finer points of construction -- creaming the butter and sugar properly, using parchment paper (or a silpat!), etc. Also, if you have Mexican or another sort of high-quality vanilla, now is the time to break it out. The combination of the vanilla, cloves, nuttiness, and chocolate is... dreamy.
8 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or you can use chocolate chips)
3/4 to 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Place chocolate in medium, non-reactive bowl. Heat cream in small saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling, stirring frequently. Pour boiling cream over chocolate, whisk vigorously until smooth, then keep whisking for another minute to fully emulsify. Cover, and refrigerate or let stand at room temperature, as desired.
Spiced Peanut Butter Cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
scant 1/2 tsp ground cloves
scant 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 pound butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup Adam's brand creamy peanut butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 TB vanilla
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together flour, soda, powder, salt, cloves, and cinnamon in medium bowl. In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer until creamy. Add sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping bowl with spatula as needed. Beat in peanut butter, then eggs (one at a time), then vanilla. Gently stir in dry ingredients by hand.
Roll dough into balls of about 2 tablespoons' worth. Place two inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Wet a flat-bottomed glass with cool water and flatten each ball slightly. Bake until cookies are puffed and golden along the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. They will not look fully-baked. Let stand on cookie sheet for about 4 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.
Once they reach room temperature, frost/refrigerate as desired. Makes about 30 large cookies.