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To be an American is to love peanut butter (just as to be a European is to love Nutella). Although peanut butter is very nutritious, we love peanut butter because it is sweet and creamy and tastes more like dessert, especially when paired with jelly.

Peanut butter cookies have been successfully baked for generations, but they inspired a staff debate at Kitchen Conservatory, because we all have our opinions on what makes a great peanut butter cookie. What fat to use? What peanut butter to use? What design to use?

Thanks to Jean Millner, a kitchen assistant at Kitchen Conservatory, we are having a lively discussion on peanut butter cookies by baking several different kinds. Stop in to taste the varieties and see which cookie is your favorite!
Many peanut butter cookie recipes are not made with butter. But we know that it’s always better with butter, so I prefer the taste of the all-butter peanut butter cookies. Jean’s original recipe (printed below) uses part-butter and part-Crisco shortening. Why? Because shortening gives baked goods a better texture, chewier consistency, and neater appearance. For those of us who love butter, Jean graciously offered an all-butter recipe, but she cautions that the dough must be refrigerated before baking. The temperature of the butter in the cookie when it goes in the oven is crucial to the success of the cookie. The butter-peanut butter cookies are more crumbly and after baking and do not show the signature crosshatch. The shortening cookies are baked in a slower oven, but the butter cookies are baked in a hotter oven.

Smooth or chunky peanut butter? Natural peanut butter or commercially-processed? I think if you bake with the brand of peanut butter you already like, you will like that style of cookie. Jean calls for creamy peanut butter; I like chunky natural peanut butter.
Can the cookie be made with peanut butter and not have a crosshatch design on the top? Yes! I usually just flatten the cookie with the palm of my hand or mark with one fork rather than the crosshatch design.

Plain peanut butter cookies are a delicious lunch. I like to make them even more rich by adding chocolate, for a homemade version of Reese’s peanut butter cups. I suggest sandwiching the cookies with chocolate ganache!
Peanut Butter Cookies with Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • granulated white sugar for dusting

Mix together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and creamy. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Fold into the butter mixture. Chill the dough for an hour.

Using a #70 disher, form the dough into balls and roll in sugar. Place on a lined sheet pan and flatten with a fork. Bake at 375 degrees for about 7 minutes.

for chocolate ganache:

  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan and remove from heat. Add the chocolate to the cream and stir until smooth. Let cool. Use as a sandwich filling for the cookies.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Shortening

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt

Mix together the shortening, butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and creamy. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the butter mixture. Using a #70 disher, form the dough into balls and place on a lined baking sheet. Flatten the cookies and crosshatch with a fork. Bake at 325 degrees for 9 minutes.