Great for School Lunches and Afternoon Snacks
In the US, tomorrow is Labor Day — which means the school year has arrived. So it’s time to start planning lunches and thinking about after-school treats.
Most kids love peanut butter (although a few are allergic; see Notes for more info). And because PB has so much flavor on its own, this is one cookie you don’t have to over-sweeten. So, while peanut butter cookies can’t claim to be a health food, they are actually one of the more nutritious treats you can provide. And homemade is tons better than anything you can buy in a store.
How about the adults in your household? Well, let’s just say that peanut butter cookies bring out the kid in them.
Recipe: Peanut Butter Cookies
Most peanut butter cookie recipes are pretty similar. The major divide is thin-and-crisp versus plump-and-chewy. Today we’re going for thin and crisp. These are particularly suitable for dunking in milk or tea.
Mrs. Kitchen Riffs is the baking whiz in our household, and these are her creation. She has long liked the recipe in our ancient copy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, and her recipe is adapted from that.
This recipe yields about 4 dozen cookies. You can easily double it if you want more. The recipe requires about 20 minutes to mix, plus baking time. These cookies store well in an airtight container and you can freeze them.
- 1 cup flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ pound unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 1 cup peanut butter (we prefer chunky; see Notes)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg (consider using pasteurized; see Notes)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (see Notes)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt); whisk for at least 30 seconds to combine (you want to make sure the baking soda and salt are thoroughly distributed).
- Cream the butter and peanut butter together (it’s easiest in a stand mixer, but you can use a bowl and wooden spoon).
- Beat in the granulated sugar and then the brown sugar. Then add the egg and vanilla, and beat well to mix.
- Add flour mixture to the butter and peanut butter mixture, and mix thoroughly to combine.
- Prepare your cookie sheets. You can line them with a silicone baking mat; or grease with butter or shortening; or use a baking spray (see Notes).
- Use a teaspoon to scoop cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing scoops of dough about 1½ inches apart. Press flat with the back of a spoon, or make a nice pattern using the tines of a fork.
- Bake until firm, about 7 to 9 minutes.
- You can use salted butter if that’s what you have on hand. The cookies will be slightly more salty, but probably not enough to notice.
- Chunky or smooth peanut butter? We vote chunky, but use what you like.
- Peanut butter that contains only peanuts, salt, and peanut oil has much more flavor than brands that contain — among other things — sugar in one form or another (usually high fructose corn syrup). These cookies are sweet enough already; you don’t need to be adding more sugar.
- Eggs carry a slight (but real) risk of salmonella. So I suggest using pasteurized eggs for cookie dough. Although it’s unlikely that the eggs you buy will be infected, why take the risk? Especially since most of us can’t make cookies without tasting the raw dough!
- You can easily identify pasteurized eggs because they usually have a red “P” stamped on them.
- Good vanilla extract contains no sugar. So check the label on yours — you may be surprised at what you see.
- You want real (pure) vanilla extract. Pure vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla beans in a mixture of water and alcohol for several months. BTW, the FDA requires that pure vanilla extract contain at least 35% alcohol.
- If the label doesn’t say “pure,” that means it’s made from synthetic vanilla. Artificial vanilla is usually derived from the sapwood of several species of conifers — or from coal extracts. You read that right: coal!
- The flavor of some imitation vanillas can be nasty. You don’t have to spend a fortune on pure vanilla extract, but getting decent quality does mean spending a bit more for something that’s not loaded with sugar or imitation flavoring. Do yourself a favor and get the real stuff.
- You can also use real vanilla beans, but for baking that’s a pain.
- Recipes used to call for greasing baking sheets to prevent the cookies from sticking as they baked. Nowadays, most bakers just line their cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats (like the French-made Silpat). Easier, faster, and more effective.
- Unfortunately, some people suffer from food allergies, and peanuts are a particular hazard. This allergy is relatively rare, but children seem to suffer from it more than adults. Among particularly susceptible children, simply being near peanut butter — say, sitting next to your child eating his cookie — can cause an allergic reaction. If this is a concern, you may want to serve peanut butter cookies as an afternoon snack rather than packing them in the lunch box. Bummer, but that’s reality.
- The good news is that most people don’t suffer this allergic reaction. So take prudent precautions, and enjoy these tasty morsels!
Good to the Last Crumb
“Ummm,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs as she sampled her baking handiwork. “These were always a favorite of mine as a kid.”
“Same here,” I replied between bites. “Chocolate chip cookies too. And ginger cookies. And . . . .”
“Was there any cookie that you didn’t like?” inquired Mrs K R sweetly.
“I guess not,” I admitted, eyeing the last peanut butter cookie on the plate.
Mrs K R reached out and picked it up, my eyes following her hand. She bit into it, and noticed my stare. Another bite, and she licked a stray crumb from her lips. I had to stifle a whimper. One last bite, and the cookie was — gone.
OK, so maybe that whimper did escape my lips.
She handed me the plate. “Why don’t you get us another round? There’s more in the kitchen — I made a double batch.”
Mrs K R — she’s a keeper!
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