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The man in my life doesn’t like chocolate. I know, right? It’s a little crazy, and it means that if I ever make a batch of brownies, or steaming mugs of hot chocolate, or chocolate chip cookies, I have to eat them all {which isn’t a bad thing}. It also means that there are heavy hints dropped at me to make cornflake cookies. Usually though, I like to try out different recipes and see if they can claim the accolade of best bake over said cornflake cookies.

I had a pretty stressful week last week. I won’t go into it, but a few things went wrong and I was super emotional. I realised that I really missed routine and getting outside due to COVID-19. These are things that seriously help me stay sane. So this week, I’m trying to rise with the sun and cherish every morning a little bit more. Lazy coffee mornings in bed are sooo lovely, I can’t even explain. I never ever do this. Usually it’s a 5:30am alarm, into lycra and onto a spin bike or straight to the gym. So I hugely appreciate having this time to slow down.

Salted peanut & caramel cookies

I’ve been trying to ask myself “What makes you feel like you’re living your very best life right now?” Like, honestly I am so unbelievably lucky to have incredible friends around me and a loving family and boyfriend but I have a to-do list up my eyeballs, and standards to meet with everything I do that if I fall short, I feel disappointed. Today I woke up at 6am, meditated and tried to get some productive work done before making coffees, showering and getting dressed {yes, this is a huge achievement right now ha!} and settling down for a day’s work in my actual full time job. But also part of me had a yoga flow and walk planned, a sit-down breakfast and some sort of healthy protein shake to pair it with. Am I honestly being realistic, or just setting myself up for failure?

I miss my usual workout routine, I really do. And my dream day would honestly include this – eight solid hours of sleep, feeling like I’ve absolutely bossed the day and ticked *everything* off my to-do list, eating all the healthy things in life and finishing the day with a 30min stretch session to get myself ready for bed. My dream day would also include baking for most of the day and not rushing from one thing to the next, or squeezing my valuable time to split it across a million and one things I think I *should* be doing. Easier said than done, right?

We were having dinner the other day and my boyfriend looked up from his plate and said: “You need to stop being so hard on yourself. You run every other day, you gym like a crazy lady most days of the week and you’re so unbelievably productive it’s unreal.” At the moment, days look more like: alarm goes off, *hits snooze*. How am I feeling? Do I feel good? Should I work out? *Closes eyes for another 10mins*. Yeah, I’m probably too hard on myself and I need to just lay in bed and accept a lazy morning, or sit my butt on the sofa and watch a film without feeling the need to be doing something else whilst watching it {anyone else find it tough to sit and do nothing?}.

Salted peanut & caramel cookies

Baking, although another thing to tick off my to-do list, is part of how I relax. It calms my soul. I’m so grateful that I’m supported by those around me. Not everyone really truly understands how baking lights me up, so when the boyf requests a non-chocolate treat, I am more than happy to oblige. The next best thing after chocolate has to be peanut butter. And salt. I’m a sucker for sprinkling sea salt on most things. Oh and caramel. So although I didn’t have a cookie cutter to hand {I had to use a glass}, I made this work. Personally, I’d make them smaller in future because they’re essentially two cookies in one – but who’s really complaining? – and use a piping bag to pipe pretty rivers of buttercream onto the cookies. Buuuut today, I’m cutting myself some slack. They taste just as good as they are.

Salted peanut butter & caramel cookies

For the cookies:
50g salted peanuts, plus extra for decoration
225g plain flour
150g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter, diced and chilled
2 large egg yolks

For the filling:
50g unsalted butter, room temperature
75g crunchy peanut butter
75g icing sugar
1/2tsp vanilla bean paste
100g dulce de leche or caramel
Pinch of flaky sea salt

For the cookies:

  1. Place your peanuts in the bowl of a food processor or a nutribullet and pulse until finely ground. If you don’t have a food processor, you can also place your peanut in a sealable food bag and bash with a rolling pin until they resemble ground almonds.
  2. Sift your flour and icing sugar into a bowl and add the ground peanuts.Mix to combine.
  3. Add the diced butter and using your hands, rub between your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. You want to make sure you’ve broken down all the butter, and everything is nicely combined, but not yet a dough.
  4. Add the egg yolks and stir in gently. It might seem as though there isn’t enough liquid. At this point, use your hands to knead the dough ver lightly and gently until it starts to come together in clumps.
  5. Turn it out onto your work surface and using your hands again, keep working until it forms one uniform ball of dough.
    N.B. Overworking or kneading the dough too much will result in tough cookies. You want to handle it as little as possible!
  6. Divide the dough into two halves, press them into discs and then wrap in clingfilm. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until the dough is firm.
  7. Roll each piece of dough out separately between two pieces of parchment until roughly 5mm thick. As the dough is high in butter, it may be flexible and soft, so place it onto a baking tray and refrigerate once more until firm. 
  8. Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan. Remove one of the dough sheets from the fridge and carefully peel off the top piece of parchment, using this to line a baking tray. Using a 5cm round cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can, placing them onto the prepared baking tray. You can bake them fairly close together, as they won’t spread much in the oven.
  9. Repeat with the second sheet of dough and then collect the scraps together to form another uniform ball of leftover dough. Repeat by rolling between two sheets of baking parchment and refrigerating once more so it’s easier to handle.
  10. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through baking, until the cookies are lightly browned around the edges.
  11. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the buttercream icing:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth and creamy. Sift in the icing sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and beat to combine. 
  2. Once your cookies have baked and cooled completely, pipe or spread half of your cookies with the buttercream. Top with a scant teaspoon of caramel and sprinkle over a few extra chopped peanuts and some flay sea salt. Then sandwich them all together.

These should keep for a fair few days in a tupperware box, but are best eaten within 1-2 days.