My dad taught me long ago that Adams peanut butter was superior to all others. He was a clear supporter of the peanuts-and-salt-only tradition. Back then there were few options on the nut butter shelf. I didn’t think much of it then.
But I’ve since had many debates with friends over the years. My issue: Do you want peanut-flavored margarine, or do you want peanut butter? And don’t get me started on crunchy versus creamy. These are the important issues.
When I got married, I had to compromise my position on “real” peanut butter. My husband grew up on the opposite end of the spectrum — it’s really a wonder we ever ended up together. We now have two different peanut butter jars in our cupboard, as well as a few other nut butters. But I failed to indoctrinate my kids. They both gag when I try to push my all-natural peanut butter.
As it turns out, peanut-flavored shortening is best for cookies. I’ve tried to make the natural peanut butter work, but it doesn’t do what I want. Peanut butter cookies are notoriously crumbly, and the reason the cross hatch on them is so iconic is that they need to be flattened out — without help they don’t spread.
I like every cookie chewy, the kind that sticks together even when you make it big. It should be thick, doughy in the middle and crunchy on the edge. It should form and spread like a chocolate chip cookie.
Pulling cookies out of the oven at the right time is a huge part of getting the texture right. I have a problem with alarms and timers. I’d much rather check on progress myself, even if I do so too many times. Perfectly baked cookies will have already puffed and are starting to settle back down. They will be just a touch golden on the top.
I have a friend who encourages me to leave my last batch in the oven until they’re downright burnt. He actually prefers it. The amount of diversity in the world is astounding.
Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
With mixer using paddle attachment, beat butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Scrape sides of bowl and add 1 egg, mixing until incorporated, and then the other egg, along with vanilla. Beat until sugar is almost dissolved and mixture feels a little gritty, about 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl again.
In separate bowl, place flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture all at once. With mixer set on low, stir flour into dough until just incorporated, about 45 seconds.
Onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, scoop out dough with an ice cream scoop with a release handle, or measure out a heaping 1/4 cup. Flatten tops just slightly. Sprinkle each with pinch of turbinado sugar if using.
Place cookie sheet into freezer 30 minutes prior to baking. (This is an important step.) If you choose to freeze longer, be sure to let dough thaw slightly before baking. It should be cold but not frozen through.
Heat oven to 375 degrees and remove 6 pieces of dough from freezer. Arrange them on another parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 15 minutes, then check for doneness. Bake for up to an additional 3 minutes, checking texture after each minute. Remove from oven when cookies are golden brown on edges, middle is barely done and they still seem raw straight from the oven.
Let cookies cool on pan for 2 minutes and then remove to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Cool at least 10 minutes before eating, although the thick and chewy texture is better after cooling and sitting for much longer. Store in an airtight container for eating the next day, or in the freezer for longer. Makes 2 dozen large cookies.
Nutritional information unavailable.
Mariko Jackson blogs about family and food at thelittlefoodie.com.