My father is an unapologetic fan of chocolates and sweets. I remember a never-empty jar of mini-Crunch bars in the den when I was growing up; and a pint of Rocky Road ice cream was ever-present in the freezer. The last time I visited his place in the Philippines, a jumbo-sized plastic jar with assorted Hershey mini-chocolate bars sat just a few steps away from his nightstand. The memories of my dad’s sweet tooth are so strong that I associate these candies with him regardless of the current time or place.
He flies back to the country a few times a year to spend time with the family, and since there are no direct flights from the Philippines to Colorado I get to see him during layovers going either way. Sometimes he stays with James & me in our tiny apartment, sometimes he’s here for dinner and gone in a few hours. Of course, anytime I get to spend time with him is precious. But I figured that I would show him how happy I was to see him again during his most recent trip by baking him a batch of cookies to temper his sweet tooth!
Why these cookies, when the combination of chocolate + cookies is endless? I distinctly remember my mom coming home from the grocery store with chocolate-covered pretzels on a weekly basis and watching them disappear next to my father’s computer. And as much as I love Crunch bars (who doesn’t?), I’ve been trying to stay away from candy for the sake of my own diet—if I had leftover candy bars after incorporating them in a recipe, it would be the end of me!
I brought the batch of cookies with me to the airport when I picked him up, and to say that he enjoyed them is an understatement! Since then, I’ve baked a few more batches: two batches in Boston for my whole family, a batch for my visiting aunt and cousin (and significant other!), and the most recent one… well, I just dropped my father off at the airport to fly back to the Philippines, and I thought it would be a sweet way of sending him off until I see him again for Christmas in a few months. See you soon, Daddy!
This recipe from The Brown-Eyed Baker is pretty solid as-is—the only changes I made were to add more pretzels (at my father’s request, of course!) and to leave them in pretzel chunks instead of finely crushed. The pretzels soften slightly during baking because of the oil in the cookie, but still retain enough of their own texture to make the cookie more interesting to chew on. Because I increased the pretzel “presence” in the recipe, I also increased the chocolate chip ratio. What you’re doing, in essence, is taking a peanut butter cookie recipe and throwing in pretzels and chocolate. Who knew that something so simple could elevate the cookie to another level?
Recipe adapted from The Brown-Eyed Baker
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies
- 1 cup and 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cup roughly-crushed pretzels (thin pretzel sticks work best)
- ¾ tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
- ¾ cup (200 g) creamy peanut butter
- ½ cup (110 g) vegetable shortening
- 3 Tbsp. milk
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- ½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Set the oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.
- Crush the pretzels, either by using your hands, a mortar and pestle, or by pulsing the pretzels in a food processor. Make sure you have a good mix of small pretzel pieces (no larger than ¼ inch) and finely crushed pretzels.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and pretzels together and set aside for now.
- Combine the brown sugar, peanut butter, shortening, milk and vanilla in a stand mixer bowl and, with the paddle attachment, mix at medium speed for a minute or until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. For a hand mixer, start at a low speed and move up to medium. I’ve had to mix this by hand before, which includes a lot of initial resistance—but it is still possible, just more time-consuming!
- Add the egg and mix again until completely incorporated into the batter.
- Pour a third of the flour and pretzel mixture into the bowl and stir until just incorporated. Do the same for the other two thirds. I would recommend the lowest setting for the stand/hand mixers or even just stirring in the dry mix with a wooden spoon so that the pretzels won’t be crushed.
- Stir the chocolate chips in with a wooden spoon.
- Take two tablespoons of the batter and roll it into a ball between your palms. Place the cookie dough balls at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
- After you have placed the cookies, use a fork to create a crosshatch pattern on top of the cookie. If the fork starts to stick to the cookie ball, rinse the fork in water and continue.
- Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until you see the edges turning a slightly darker color than the top of the cookie.
- Remove from oven and let sit on the baking sheet for a minute before transferring to a cooling rack.
- Cookies can be eaten right away, or saved for up to a week in a plastic container.