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Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe & Video

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Americans love peanut butter in their cooking, their candy bars, in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and especially in Peanut Butter Cookies. Jean Anderson tells us in her excellent book The American Century Cookbook that the first published cookie recipe using peanut butter appeared in 1915, but it wasn't until 1936 that a recipe resembling the peanut butter cookie of today appeared in Ruth Wakefield's book Ruth Wakefield's Toll House Tried and True Recipes. Of course, the classic crisscross pattern make them instantly recognizable and that 'sweet and salty' flavor combination make them irresistible. There is an ongoing debate about whether smooth or crunchy peanut butter make the best cookies. There are statistics that say women and children prefer the smooth type, while men go for crunchy peanut butter.

Peanut butter has been an American favorite ever since its introduction at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Dr. Kellogg is credited with popularizing it in the 1890s when, as a vegetarian, he wanted a substitute for what he called "cow's butter". His answer was "nut butters" and since peanuts (really a legume, not a nut) were the cheapest nut, that is the "nut butter" he focused on. Peanut butter was first touted as a "health" food and recipes for making and using peanut butter were in many vegetarian cookbooks by the early 1900s. Today peanut butter is so popular that over half the American peanut crop goes to its making.

Peanut butter is a smooth paste made from roasted peanuts. The peanuts are ground, and then salt, a sweetener, and sometimes a stabilizer (to keep the oil from separating) are added. There are two types of peanut butter, and the ones that are labeled "Old-Fashioned" or "Natural" do not contain a stabilizer which means the peanut butter will separate and you will have to stir the peanut butter before using. Now if possible, when buying peanut butter, try to buy ones that do not contain trans fats, which are labeled as "partially hydrogenated oil" or "hydrogenated oil".

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Peanut Butter Cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 2 - 3 minutes). Beat in the peanut butter. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the peanut butter mixture and beat until incorporated. Fold in the chopped peanuts, if using. (If the batter is too soft to form into balls, place in the refrigerator for about an hour or until firm.)

Roll the batter into 1 inch (2.5 cm) balls. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet, placing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Then, using the tines of the fork that has been dipped in white granulated sugar, make a crisscross pattern. 

Bake the cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container, for about a week. Freeze for longer storage.

Makes about 40 cookies.

View comments on this recipe on YouTube

References:

Anderson, Jean. The American Century Cookbook. Clarkson/Potter Publishers. New York: 1997.

Smith, Andrew F. The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press. New York: 2007.

Stewart, Martha. Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. Clarkson Potter. New York: 2005.

Peanut Butter Cookies:

3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (105 grams) light brown sugar

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup (185 grams) peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

2 cups (260 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped peanuts or 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

 
 
     
 

 

 

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