The first thing I ever made on my own was peanut butter cookies. In my initial attempt as a 7-year-old, I followed the recipe in my mom’s red-checked Better Homes & Gardens binder. But I accidentally swapped the salt for the sugar. Huge mistake, but also motivation to try again.
So I did. Countless batches and decades later, I’ve landed on this, my ideal version. It delivers the pleasure of eating a spoonful of chunky peanut butter straight out of the jar in a two-bite cookie.
I’ve streamlined the technique to one bowl and the ingredient list to maximize peanut-buttery goodness. To accentuate the peanuts, I took out flour and added extra salt. Not as much as in my initial fail, but just enough in a crunchy duo of sea salt and chopped salted nuts.
It took years to understand that the best dishes aren’t ones that show off my skills. They’re the ones that make people happy. And leave me with the fewest dishes to wash. These cookies hit both marks.
Salted Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1 tablespoon salted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup natural chunky peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- Coarse sea salt, such as kosher, Maldon or fleur de sel, for sprinkling
- 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment.
Smash and mix butter into brown sugar with a spoon until butter is no longer visible and sugar resembles wet sand.
Add peanut butter, vanilla and egg; mix until well combined. Lift spoon; if dough drips off in globs, refrigerate or freeze it until stiff. Cold dough will bake into taller cookies, too. (Dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days.)
Drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto prepared sheets, 1-1/2 inches apart. Sprinkle with salt, then peanuts. Bake 1 sheet at a time until dark brown around edges and dry on top, 9 to 11 minutes.
Cool completely on sheets on rack. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month. Makes about 4-1/2 dozen.
Nutritional information unavailable.
>> PB&J sandwich cookies: Spread a thin layer of thick jam on half the cookies and sandwich with the others.
>> Vegan cookies: Mix 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds with 1 tablespoon cold water. Let stand until thickened, about 5 minutes. Substitute coconut oil for the butter and the flax mixture for the egg.
>> Ice cream sandwiches: Sandwich small scoops of salted caramel ice cream between cookies and freeze until firm.