Big, fluffy, peanut butter clouds. Peanut butter clouds with a sprinkling of salt. Few other foods can so easily kill the ugliness of the hangry person or cure you of your sugar jones…Actually, a lot of things could, but few could be made so quickly and easily from scratch in your own kitchen. Now that is satisfying.
Peanut butter was never a regular part of my food world growing up. Peanut butter was a jar that sat on a shelf for a million years without moving. PB & J was bo-ring. I wanted bologna. And sure I’d enjoy the peanut butter crisscrosses my babysitter would bake, but I never really craved the stuff, at least not until I got older.
When I was a teacher, there was never enough time to take good care of myself. There were many missed breakfasts and lunches, and those I didn’t miss must have looked like I was training for competitive eating contests. Things definitely improved once I started my work outside of the classroom, but anywhere in the world of primary and secondary education, eating a decent meal at a reasonable speed while sitting at a table with a clean napkin was a luxury. Or it felt like you traded places with your alternate universe double for just a little bit, the one with the better job and better overall quality of life. One meal time savior of those many, many years became my previously snubbed peanut butter and jelly sandwich. With some good bread, peanuts-only peanut butter, and a good quality jam (or jelly, or…), I started craving these things. Orange marmalade, plum jam, peach and lavender jam, or raspberry and currant…so many options (I’m partial toward jams). And it kept me satisfied longer than that half of an avocado Mr. L barely managed to eat on so many days, or the few spoonfuls of ricotta from the tub of ricotta Ms. S brought for her lunch on one particularly low “self-care” day.
And what all this is meant to bring us to is the fact that I like peanut butter a lot now. Some days, I love peanut butter, and on those days, I make these cookies. On those days, I make exactly 28 easy-breezy cookies in a flash. From craving to mouth in under an hour. Cooling time, schmooling time! (Ignore that – you should let them cool.)
I use a relatively dense all-natural, peanuts-only peanut butter. The original recipe states that you’ll get better shape and texture using a processed smooth-style peanut butter. This is a to each their own kind of decision.
I use a #40 scoop (~1.5 tablespoons) to make exactly 28 cookies. You can make bigger cookies with a 1/4 cup scoop, too. I haven’t tried this. I prefer smaller cookies because then I can eat 2 or 3 instead of just one. I don’t know why that matters. I think part of me is still 5.
1 3/4 cups (335 grams) packed light brown sugar (see end note)
2 large eggs, at room temperature (see end note)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (450 grams) smooth peanut butter (see end note)
Preheat your oven to 350° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Whisk together the eggs and sugar. I found this easier to do if I lightly whisk my eggs a bit before adding the sugar.
Next, whisk in your vanilla. The final ingredient in the bowl is your peanut butter. I had to switch over to a spoon at this point because it was too dense to be done by a whisk. Do this all by hand, not using a mixer, otherwise you risk a too-thin dough.
At this point you can either start scooping, OR if you are interested in the classic crisscross design on the top of your cookies, you can stick your bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes, being sure to give it a quick stir halfway through so the edges don’t freeze. If you go the latter route, scoop and add your crisscrosses after the 15 minutes.
Once your baking sheet is loaded up (3 across each row worked on my two differently sized sheets), place it in the freezer for 15 minutes to help ensure you get the best dome shape while baking. If you skip this step, you will have less satisfying, flat-ish cookies. You can wait 15 minutes. During that time you can make a list of all the other cookies you hope to make and/or eat in the near future.
Right before these cookies go in the oven, sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top of each one. Bake for 15 minutes. If you decided to make the big 1/4 cup scoop cookies I mentioned in the text way up above, let them bake for 18-20 minutes. I haven’t tried this and would love to hear how it goes.
Once you take the cookies out of the oven, let them set for a minute or two before transferring them to a cooling rack. Will they be ruined if you just leave them on the baking sheet? Probably not, but you run the risk of overcooking your cookie bottoms on that hot tray, so I’d take them off if I were you.
Now, seriously, let them cool. The different textures of this cookie need the cooling time to happen. I’m sorry I can’t tell you how much time because I usually walk away and find something to distract myself with so I don’t not follow my own advice. Then you’ll remember they’re there, just sitting on the counter, and they’ll be ready!
Sugar note: Sometimes I want these to be less sweet and only use 275 grams of light brown sugar. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, I highly recommend getting one. They really do help you to be precise in your measurements and have more recipe successes.
Egg note: Did you forget to take the eggs out ahead of time? Yeah, me too. Place your cold eggs in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes. That should do the trick.
Peanut butter note: Like I’ve said, I go for the all natural peanut butter and have been happy with the results, but use what you like. The original recipe calls for a smooth processed peanut butter for the best shape and texture. I haven’t tried that out, so you’ll have to tell me how that goes! I haven’t tried other nut butters either, but I think they’d work. That’s not a guarantee, so that’s another one you’ll have to tell me all about.