Kevin Vaughn’s Spicy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookie
There are two kinds of people in the world: those that like PB&J and those that don’t.
Although it’s not how I generally start conversations with: “Hello, I’m Kevin and I’ve never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich”, I’m proudly a part of the latter community. Sometimes I’m a fan of peanut butter on its own, but I don’t cry about its absence in this city as I do with, say, sourdough bread, or pepper jack, ice cream sandwiches, chimichangas, or sushi menus that only have one Philadelphia cream cheese option.
I googled for two straight weeks and sorted through all kinds of recipes. What it all boiled down to was figuring out how to make the peanut butter spicy, which for me was non-negotiable. Most of the recipes recommended simply adding paprika or cayenne pepper but I wasn’t convinced that the tastes would genuinely play with one another or the contrary, that one spice wouldn’t be diverse enough to complement the peanut butter.
I threw out pies and cakes because I’m not much of a baker and the idea terrified me. I considered spicy peanut butter balls and peanut butter cups, but thought the chocolate might compete too much for the attention. Then I came across a blog post about peanut butter cookies with sriracha. It was the first recipe that suggested something besides paprika and it struck me as absolute genius.
Cookies it was, my favorite dessert. I decided to mix this Siracha peanut butter with my favorite cookie, the oatmeal raisin, in part because the oatmeal would help thicken out the liquidly natural peanut butter but mostly because I wanted to be able to announce the cookie by its proper title: The Spicy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookie.
You will need the following to yield about 2 dozen large cookies:
- 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
- 1½ cups peanut butter (or approximately one jar of Mil Manteca)
- 2 cups brown sugar
- ¼ cup Gochujang
- 2 Eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups oatmeal
- A few handfuls of seedless raisins
- 1 bar chocolate (I used dark), crushed into little chips
I don’t happen to be a big fan of Sriracha, I find it too overwhelming for my personal taste. I instead chose to go with my new household staple, gochujang, a Korean red chili paste that you can purchase by the tub in both Barrio Chino and Floresta. This is the biggest purchase but can be used later on to add spice to soups, marinades or alone as a salsa. I like it with steak or to dip raw veggies.
In three separate bowls place the butter, peanut butter and sugar, the gochujang, eggs and vanilla extract, and finally your dry ingredients, the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
First, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar. This is going to take quite a bit of bicep muscle unless you’ve got cash to throw and own a mixer. Mix until there are no more chunks of butter and it takes on a smooth consistency.
Now slowly add the gochujang, eggs and vanilla. I did this in two parts. I began with ¼ cup of gochujang and added more a spoonful at a time until it reached my desired level of spice which was a total of 5 heaping spoonfuls. Once you are happy with your batter, add the dry ingredients and mix. Now that you have your dough fold in the oatmeal, chocolate chips and raisins. This is a matter of personal taste. I added an entire bar of chocolate (which I hammered into small chips), about three handfuls of raisins and two cups of oatmeal.
Mix everything thoroughly, cover and set in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up.
Form into little golf balls, lightly press them with the palms of your hands or with a fork and put onto your baking sheet. I gave the baking sheet a light coat of butter but found that it wasn’t necessary to continue to butter the pan after the first batch.
Cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes at 350°. You want the top of the cookie to be soft to the touch but not mushy. Take out of oven, let it sit on the pan for a few minutes and scoop onto a cooling rack. The cookies will firm up on the outside while still remaining gooey on the inside.
That first bite tasted like the peanut butter had reproduced with a ginger snap. It was soft on the inside with a slight crunch on the outside. The gochujang gave a gentle kick of spice and paired with the peanut butter it had morphed into an oaky cinnamon or nutmeg flavor rather than a deep red chili paste. I dipped it in some milk and my baking fears washed away. And just when I thought I had discovered all the tastes I could feel the flakey texture of the oatmeal, the juiciness of the raisin and the subtle dark chocolate. For a recipe with such a hodge podge of ingredients everything worked together, not a single flavor fought for my affection at the expense of the other.
So even though I’m not quite ready to start slapping pb and marmelada together, I am now a legitimate peanut butter fan.