There are plenty of recipes I'd like to share of things on my menu lately, and I'd even planned to write about them before the cookies, but I can't hold out on you any longer. What I am about to give you did not originate with me but is perhaps the greatest peanut butter cookie recipe of all time. Thank you Heidi Swanson and 101 Cookbooks!
I love peanut butter. It brings out the crazy in me, not like that's very hard. If you haven't heard me mention it before, I have access to two brands here in Denmark. TWO! This is practically unthinkable when you come from the U.S., land of not only massive numbers of different brands, but peanut butter with jelly mixed in, chocolate, honey roasted nuts, unsalted, salted, and more. And then there are all the other nut butters available that I could never dream of finding in Denmark.
It's no secret that Danes are not the peanut butter fans that we Americans are. They eat rugbrød, a strong, dense rye bread that perhaps just isn't the best match for heavy peanut butter (although I happen to like the two together very much). Also, Danes are known to eat butter on their bread and top it with cheese and jam or cheese and meats and/or sliced veggies. It's that whole smorgasbord thing.
But the best part is that among these lone two brands of peanut butter is an exceptional selection. It's both natural and organic and comes in creamy and chunky. I pay $6 for a smallish jar, but it's worth every kroner. Alan detests peanut butter (but will easily inhale a dozen peanut butter cookies...hm), so I share my supply with me, myself, and I...and Anatole when he's in the mood. Once in awhile I'll give him a teaspoon full right from the jar and he thinks that's pretty fun.
Recently I started day dreaming about peanut butter cookies. I began my quest for the recipe by looking in cookbooks and online. The recipe on 101 Cookbooks really caught my attention because it contains no butter, eggs, or refined sugar. I'm not Anti any of these items, but why not go for a natural cookie if you can. And this one totally delivers: it's sweet (but not cloyingly so), soft, crumbly, and pure goodness in every bite.
I sprinkled sea salt on top of some and thought it was a delicious combination (but not one my family is crazy about). On my last batch of dough I threw in a handful of chocolate chips thinking of the never fail peanut butter-chocolate chip combo, but frankly, I like the plain version better. The cookie stands on it's own beautifully. My other favorite part: the glossy dough is pretty, easy to work with, and makes such lovely pre-baked cookies. Baked, the cookies take on a more matte, dull finish. But never mind because the taste more than makes up for it. So, my friends, make these cookies!
Peanut Butter Cookies
1t baking soda
1c peanut butter
1c maple syrup
1/3c olive oil
1.5t vanilla extract
350F for 8-9 minutes
Please see instructions on 101 Cookbooks
Heidi says to use whole wheat pastry flour, spelt or all purpose. I went with the latter because it's all I had in the house. She also says to use finely ground sea salt, which I did, but I think table salt would do just fine. I used natural, crunchy peanut butter. I found that the 10-11 minute baking time in Heidi's instructions to be a minute or two too long and fared better with 8-9 minutes. But of course ovens vary, so check yours at the 8 minute mark. Like Heidi says, you don't want to overbake these as the result will be a dry cookie and what you're after is a slightly moist center that's just a tad darker than the outside.
Finally, in spite of the tip to refrigerate the dough for one hour for a mix to which it's easier to apply fork crosshatch marks, my dough didn't need this step. It was so glossy and pliable that the crosshatched marks set in with no problem. Perhaps it's because I used all purpose flour which is less dry than whole wheat.