October 28, 2009

Peanut Butter Cookies

My elementary school lunch, creamy peanut butter and grape jelly on Schmidt's Blue Ribbon white bread, a single-serve bag of Utz potato chips, and a small carton of chocolate milk from the school lunch counter. My lunch-box, metal, Super Friends. I'd unhook the metal latch, which squeaked, and a rush of school lunch past would flood my olfactory. I think you know the smell I'm talking about. It's the smell of white bread crumbs and plastic sandwich bags. That stale smell that can only come from a metal lunchbox that spent a good part of its day in the confines of a school locker without proper ventilation.

Mom had a heavy hand with the grape jelly. This displeased me. I would peel the bread apart, one triangle at a time, and witness the massacre of an otherwise perfect sandwich. The sweet little girl in me, not wanting to break my mothers heart, never removed the globs of jelly. Instead, I closed the sandwich and took bite after tiny bite. I chewed with sour face, a labor of love.

It was not in my best interest to be confrontational with my mother. She had only my best interest at heart. I knew of no other kids my age whose mother drove them to the Hickory Mart before school. There my mother would give me two quarters which were promptly spent on honing my Pac-Man playing skills. While mom drank her small coffee, I drank my small hot chocolate. While mom talked to the lady behind the counter, I stared dreamy-eyed at the candy and gum display...the eye level candy and gum display. I always left with something, be it an edible necklace, Bazooka gum, or the taboo candy cigarettes. Once I even left with a pack of gum without paying...

As an adult I still enjoy peanut butter, sans the globs of jelly. I enjoy a nice, modest spread of jam, evenly spread, of course. I don't go for chunky peanut butter, only smooth. My taste has gone from the sweet, hydrogenated variety to the organic, no salt, no sugar kind.

Recently, fretting to myself that I was in dire need of peanut butter cookies (even though, only two days before, I had yet again baked Rachel's nice plain cake), I whipped up a batch. Roberto stood charged with making dinner. My whims often leave him holding the pot of boiling water. My baking urges are sometimes frenzied weeknight pursuits.

'Have you ever made them before?' Roberto asked.

What a silly question, I thought to myself.

'Yes, many times. Although, never with organic peanut butter.' I said.

I consulted the Joy of Cooking for the recipe. I organized the dry ingredients before moving on to the wet. Once the wet combined, I added in the dry. The dough was a bit more crumbly than I remembered. The lack of man-made sweeteners and stabilizing agents—the things that make commercial peanut butter so...commercial—were taking its toll.

I pressed on, though. Literally. After rolling the balls of dough between my palms...I should say it was rather like a squeeze and roll, squeeze and roll...it was rather crumbly, I placed the balls onto the baking sheet and pressed down with the back of a small glass. Then with fork tines, I created the cross-hatch affect that peanut butter cookies are known for.

After dinner we sat down to our espresso and a small plate of cookies. I took a bite. I was happy. I knew not to expect the peanut butter cookies from days of yore. The flavor was mild, not too sweet. A nice alternative. While the perimeter of the cookie stood a bit more textured and frayed, due to the crumbliness, I found it quite charming. The imperfection in execution and resulting flavor was lovely to me.


  1. need to try this! Peanut Butter is one of my favorite things in the world... :) However, I always try and play it cool like I like it just as much as anything else...but really...I LOVE peanut butter!

  2. Do you know I don't think I have ever eaten a peanut butter cookie but when I do I would like it to be a bit crumbly and frayed at the edges..oh and made by you.
    I think we need another plain cake around here too.

  3. my mom would die for these!! this is her absolute favorite!!
    I should make some again... just for a little treat for her!

  4. Ooh peanut butter cookies...Yum! I will definitely try these!

  5. ROXY MARJ...there's just something about peanut butter! :) Thanks for posting.

    racheleats...I would love to make you a batch of cookies...but I'm quite sure they would be obliterated on their trip across the Atlantic. I once sent cookies to a friend. She called to say that they had all but exploded...but the crumbs had tasted delicious. :)

    Ash...Joy of Cooking is great for standard recipes without all the fuss. A treat for your mom and just imagine how great your kitchen will smell. :)

    Mrs. B...I'm thinking that next time I might create a divot in the center of the cookie for jam or dark chocolate...

  6. Tracy, our chat via comments yesterday inspired me to actually create the It's A Major Award! award. Since you were my inspiration, I hope you'll accept it.

    The info is at http://bonappetithon.com/2009/10/29/and-the-award-goes-to/

  7. MMM I love those kinds of cookies! I whipped up some peanut butter banana bread last night tooo.. definitely not as good as those look!

  8. strawberries...peanut butter banana bread...I think I'll be needing that recipe. :)

  9. Lovely, indeed. This just might be a weekend plan.

  10. denise...I have yet to figure out my weekend plan...but there is a mound of apples in my kitchen. I'd better get organized, otherwise a frenzied moment of baking will ensue.

  11. Uh oh...now I have this nice cookie recipe and a little mound of apples (not to mention kale, potatoes, carrots). It seems I'm right around the corner from having my own frenzied moment.

  12. denise...yes, but it looks like your frenzy could take care of dinner and dessert. Frenzy on! :)

  13. oh my lord. i need one of these now. smeared w/ extra PB on top. in fact, top it also w/ some nutella while we're at it. mmmmmm.

  14. we are never full...peanut butter on peanut butter. I love it! Nutella, now that's genious. :)


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