Classic Peanut Butter Cookies

After the chocolate chip cookie, I don’t think any cookie in America is more beloved than the peanut butter cookie.

Yes, I know there are versions of chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, and peanut butter cookies made even more peanut-y thanks to the addition of chunky peanut butter or chopped, salted peanuts…but for me, this classic version is still the best.

Ever wonder why peanut butter cookies have their distinct “criss-cross fork” pattern on top?  Peanut butter cookie dough is very dense, so pressing down on it before baking helps the cookie cook evenly.  The earliest mention of the fork-press method dates back to the Schenectady Gazette in 1932, a trick quickly adapted and popularized by giant flour producer Pillsbury throughout the 1930’s, and the method stuck.

When the craving for a good peanut butter cookie hits, whip up a batch (this King Arthur recipe is a winner), pour a glass of cold milk, and surrender.  It’s an American tradition!

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (do not use natural)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine shortening, sugars, egg, vanilla, and peanut butter until smooth.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture until well combined.  Add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.
  5. Place rounded tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2″ between each.
  6. Use a fork to press a criss-cross shape onto each tablespoon of dough.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to brown.  Do not overbake or your cookies will be too crisp.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack to cook, then store in an airtight container.

Yield:  24 cookies

Print Version

No-Bake Peanut Butter Squares

These peanut butter squares are my original signature dessert.  I have been making them for years, and they have served me well.  My mom got the recipe from my first grade CCD teacher and they were an occasional treat in our family, until I got to college and started making them all the time.

Peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter, and cookie crumbs are blended together into a delicious base, which is then topped with creamy, melted chocolate.

I always made them using plain graham cracker crumbs for the cookie component, until I was living in Scotland and realized that they don’t have graham crackers there.  Determined to have them anyway, I turned to my favorite digestive biscuit…the almighty Hobnob…and was delighted with the oat-y, hearty addition to the bar’s texture.

When I tasted Peanut Butter and Co.‘s line of fancy peanut butters at the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival last year (in varieties such as maple, white chocolate, honey, spicy, and cinnamon raisin), I knew I wanted to incorporate new flavors into future versions.  Unfortunately, I think I ate the cinnamon raisin jar I bought with a spoon before I had the opportunity to bake with it…so when I made them recently I used cinnamon graham crackers instead.

The cinnamon grahams contributed to a delicious base.

That was then covered with melted milk chocolate chips.

Spread smooth and made festive with the addition of some delicious candy corn before chilling in the fridge.

My new venus fly trap from Kayte approved.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Squares

Ingredients
2 cups cookie crumbs (2 “sleeves” if you’re crushing your own graham crackers)
2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, softened
1 ½ cups smooth peanut butter
1  bag of chocolate chips (milk or semisweet) – you can use less than the whole bag, but it makes for an easy clean up to just use the whole darn thing

  • In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, cookie crumbs, sugar, and butter. 
  • Once combined, press firmly into a 13×9 inch pan and set aside.
  • In a double broiler or in the microwave on low power, melt the chocolate chips.  Once melted and smooth, pour on top of peanut butter mixture and use a spoon or rubber spatula to distribute evenly.  Add seasonal sprinkles if you are feeling festive.
  • Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until chocolate hardens. Then allow to come back to room temperature, and cut into squares. Put squares in pretty cupcake liners.
  • Serve with something to drink.  These things are deadly!