Peanut Praline Cookies

Peanut Praline Cookies

Makes 4 to 5 dozen, depending upon size.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from a recipe found in a restaurant trade journal.

These cookies are made with peanuts and caramelized sugar, almost like making a peanut praline. In my research I learned a new trick (new for me): For thicker chewier cookies, refrigerate the dough before scooping onto the baking sheet.

Ingredients:

2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
½ cup (118ml) water
12 ounces (340g) peanuts, dry roasted and salted
1½ cups (340g) butter, preferably clarified and at room temperature
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
1½ cups (225g) brown sugar, lightly packed
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3½ cups (500g) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
7 to 8 ounces (200-225g) bittersweet (dark) chocolate; chopped

Directions:

Combine the 2 cups sugar and water in a saucepan and heat to boiling over medium-high flame. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer to evaporate the water and make a concentrated syrup. When the color changes to a golden brown, remove from heat. It is best to use a thermometer for this step, such as a candy thermometer. Heat to around 315°F (157°C).

While the sugar syrup is simmering, line a baking pan with parchment paper and arrange half the peanuts in the pan. When the sugar is caramelized, pour over the peanuts. Handle carefully, as it is very hot. Set aside to cool. When cool, chop the candied peanuts in a food processor to a coarse texture.

Cream the butter and sugars (¾ cup granulated and 1½ cups brown) together in a large mixing bowl (or mix with an electric mixer). If using a stand mixer, mix at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low (or mix by hand) and add the vanilla and eggs, combining thoroughly. Sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and blend just until combined and smooth. Add the caramel-peanut mixture along with the remaining peanuts and the chopped dark chocolate. Fold with a spatula or wooden spoon until combined. (I used my hands.)

Heat oven to 375°F (190°C). Using a #30 (1 fl. oz./30ml) or #24 (1½ fl. oz./44 ml) ice cream scoop (commercially called a disher), or a pair of spoons, drop dollops of cookie dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving space between dollops to allow cookie dough to melt and expand. (I fit 8 to a standard baking sheet.) Bake 15 to 20 minutes until crisp and golden.

Allow cookies to cool a few minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. Shelf life: 1 week.