As a New Zealander, peanut butter cookies don’t exactly jump to the forefront of the mind when I think about baked treats. I mean, afgans, yes. Lamingtons. Custard slices. Cream buns (ach, sticky-sided cream buns at the Saturday market, all caked in icing sugar that stuck to your fingers, and sweetened cream that splattered out the sides and got everywhere, and you ate around the middle so the dollop of jam on top of the cream was the last bit left …). Anzacs, obviously. But things like chocolate chip cookies (other than shop-bought ones) were a bit out of the ordinary. And as for peanut butter cookies – well, we would’ve called them biscuits, anyway.
However, working in the Caribbean meant a lot of American guests, and so I learnt to expand my cookie range (and also to cook, but that’s another story. Yes, I got myself hired as a cook at a point in my life where the height of my culinary efforts stretched to stir-fried 2-minute-noodles and fancy baked beans. I improved). To be fair, American cookies are amazing. Big, chewy, soft in the middle and with a bit of bite to the edges … *drools* So it was hardly a hardship. And, having been inducted into the joys of peanut butter and jam sandwiches at a very young age, I was open to peanut butter, even though it wasn’t a big thing when I was growing up. We had it in the cupboard, but Marmite was more our go-to toast and bread staple. It still is in this house.
Okay, it still is for me. The SO has yet to be converted.
Anyhow, many of the things I learnt to cook in my Caribbean yachting days I haven’t touched since, mostly because they were seriously indulgent holiday food, and also meat. The exception has been cookies and brownies, since, as we all know, baked goods are life and I refuse to call such morsels of joy indulgent. Joy > calories saved, as a wise Twitter commenter pointed out recently.
Which brings me (finally) to the pure joy that are peanut butter cookies. If you are allergic, I apologise – I haven’t tried substituting with other nut butters, so I can’t say whether it’ll give the same result or not.
These cookies are soft and chewy, with a hit of saltiness and a truly delightful crunch from all the peanutty bits. They’re amazing. I can eat many of them (as can the SO), so I usually make a full batch, but halving it also works well if you’re a little less cookie-monster-ish than us. They last a good week in a tin without any ill effects, so you always have the excuse that it saves baking more frequently.
I’ve also messed around with adding some dark chocolate chips and those caramel-flavoured morsels to make a bit of a Snickers-type thing, but these are so good they don’t really need any changing.
PS: these are probably not Toot Hansell Women’s Institute-style cookies (or biscuits). But I guarantee that your resident dragons will forgive you for the break with tradition.
Peanut Butter Cookies
312g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
227g salted butter, softened
200g soft brown sugar (there are all manner of varieties of this, so I seriously just use whatever’s in the cupboard. It always works.)
225g granulated sugar
250g crunchy peanut butter (palm oil-free, because orangutans)
2 tsp vanilla
150g roasted salted peanuts, whizzed in a food processor until crumb-like
Pop your oven at about 180C, and get some baking sheets ready.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and set aside.
Beat that poor, helpless butter until creamy. Add the sugars and keep beating until they’ve learnt to never cross you, and/or are nice and fluffy. It helps if you have a standing mixer, as I never had the patience for this bit before. Make sure you scrape down the sides now and then, though, else you’ll end up with weird deposits of butter like I did in the last batch.
Beat in peanut butter, then eggs and vanilla.
Stir in dry ingredients, then ground peanuts (ground groundnuts. Snort).
Dollop roughly heaped tablespoonfuls in kind-of balls onto baking trays, and squish with a fork to get a pretty pattern. They will spread, so give them room.
Bake until puffed and a wee bit brown on the edges for around 8-10 minutes, turning the trays halfway through cooking.
Try to allow them to cool enough that you don’t burn your tongue.
Makes a lot, but they never last long.
Now tell me, lovely people – what sweet treats from countries other than your own do you love? Let me know below!