I love peanut butter, and I love cookies, so what could be better than peanut butter cookies? Not much, I’ll tell you what.
Now, some may call these beauties plain, or even dull, but I would argue that plain isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A little butter, a little sugar, an egg or two, a generous scoop of peanut butter — these all come together to create something that is nothing short of wonderful. As I sit here, a wee bit sleepy on this last Friday morning in March, I’m eating one with a cup of Peet’s coffee and folks: it’s going to be a good day. I can feel it.
The marriage of sweet and salty is a formidable one, and one, too, that is sure to go the distance. I present salted butter caramel ice cream as one shining example of this — make it, and you’ll quickly discover it’s truly a love match — and which I remembered anew last week when I fought my dinner companions for the last, melting bits on our dessert plate at Nopa. The pecan pie was quite alright, but it was the ice cream that made us sigh and long for more, even as we ate it up quick as a flash.
There’s a place in DC I used to frequent called Teaism (an aside: how much do you love that name?!). Self-described as an ‘Asian-inspired tea house,’ it’s a lovely place. Not only does the small chain offer a wide assortment of freshly-brewed teas and cute, tea-related gifts, they have delicious and interesting lunches which incidentally are nice to share with a Spanish friend in the last days spent in your city before you move West. But even better than all this are the oatmeal cookies that come with a light smattering of salt across the top; for me, they are the epitome of heaven, and the main reason to make a stop there. The tea is just the bonus.
I’m thinking of Teaism’s cookies today because of my peanut butter cookies I’m so enjoying as I try to shake off this morning fog of fatigue. Though I didn’t sprinkle any salt across their tops when I baked them the other night, the slight saltiness of the peanut butter itself gives them that inherent salt-flavor I so love. The contrast deepens the peanut buttery-ness, and one might call this a celebration of cookie complexity, though I wouldn’t want it to go to its head. The next time I might dust half the batch with sea salt right before putting them into the oven, just to experiment. However, this recipe as it stands is pretty worthy of a repeat (or several — make that many severals).
Peanut butter cookies, adapted from an online recipe
Makes 2 dozen cookies. For true peanut butter-a-holics, you may add even more, as I did.
1 1/4 cups flour, sift or stir before measuring
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup peanut butter, plus a few tablespoons
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside. Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars; beat in vanilla and egg. Stir in flour mixture, blending well. Shape mixture into 3/4-inch balls and place on greased baking sheets.
Flatten each cookie with the tines of a fork and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes.
Note: These would be nice with a bit of melted chocolate on top — either milk or bittersweet — or even a light smear of jam.
Vegans: substitute Earth Balance for the butter, and use an egg substitute to make these easily vegan-friendly.