Soft and Chewy (Contest-Winning) Peanut Butter Cookies
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Jessie Sheehan, the author of The Vintage Baker, has a new book out, Snackable Bakes, filled with “100 easy peasy recipes for exceptionally scrumptious sweets and treats.”
I want to make everything — cinnamon sugar buttermilk donut holes, chocolate gingerbread snacking cake, gooey blondies with toasty pecans — but I had to start with the peanut butter cookies, which won The Pancake Princess’s peanut butter cookie bakeoff, triumphing over recipes from Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Bravetart, and Ovenly, to name a few.
As I read the recipe in Jessie’s book, I noticed, that it differs slightly from the contest-winning one on her blog: the recipe in the book has fewer ingredients, the measurements are given in weights, and the process is simpler — no stand mixer required.
It also, interestingly, calls for vegetable shortening, whereas the recipe on her blog calls for neutral oil. The reason for this substitution, Jessie explains, is that shortening “shortens the time between assembly and baking, as it keeps the cookies from spreading as they bake.” Without it, she notes, the dough needs a rest in the fridge, a step she is against when “snackable baking” because treats falling into this category should be ready in one hour or less.
As I never have vegetable shortening on hand, I decided to use all butter instead, and, as a result, I let the batter rest overnight in the fridge. The following day, I let the batter soften briefly at room temperature; then I portioned, rolled, and baked.
The result? A sugar-crusted, soft and chewy, nicely peanutty and salty cookie with a surface crinkling to perfection. These cookies more than lived up to the hype, exceeding all expectations. Though I love them so, I am demanding my husband bring in the remaining to work tomorrow because I feel unsafe left alone with the cookie tin. They are irresistible.
And can I tell you the best part? It’s a one-bowl job. First, you melt the butter and let it cool briefly; then you whisk in brown sugar and vanilla. Two eggs follow, with a mix after each addition, and then you whisk in the peanut butter, salt, and leaving agents, one by one. Fold in the flour at the end, and the batter is done.
The process is simple and enjoyable. Here are three more details I think you should know:
- The batter is made with brown sugar exclusively, which makes the cookie especially chewy. Each of these cookies is also made with brown sugar exclusively: brown sugar cookies, chocolate sugar cookies, soft and chewy molasses cookies. I love an all-brown sugar cookie.
- Before baking, you coat the cookies in sugar and then sprinkle with flaky sea salt, which creates that especially tasty salty-sweet dynamic.
- When the cookies emerge from the oven, you flatten them gently with a spatula. I’ve never done this before, and I found the process oddly satisfying.
More Contest-Winning Baked Goods
Jessie Sheehan’s Snackable Bakes
How to Make Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies, Step by Step
Gather your ingredients:
Melt the butter and let it cool briefly; then whisk in brown sugar and vanilla.
Add two eggs, whisking after each addition.
Whisk in the peanut butter.
Then add baking soda, baking powder, and salt, whisking after each addition.
Finally, switch to using a spatula, and fold in the flour.
At this point, because the dough is very sticky, I like to chill it for about an hour before portioning it. You can also chill it overnight before portioning it.
I like to use my scale to portion the batter into 50-gram portions. Cold-ish batter makes this easier.
Before baking, roll the portioned balls into granulated sugar. Depending on the size of your dough balls, you’ll be able to fit 6 to 8 per sheet pan.
Bake at 375ºF for 14 to 16 minutes.
Out of the oven, flatten the cookies gently with a spatula.
Let the cookies cool completely on the sheet pan before storing.Print
From Jessie Sheehan’s latest book, Snackable Bakes. I made a few small changes:
- In place of using a combination of butter and shortening, I use all butter. If you would like to use the combination of shortening and butter, use 1/4 cup (48 g) shortening and 3/4 cup (169) butter. Jessie includes shortening in her recipe because it shortens “the time between assembly and baking, as it keeps the cookies from spreading as they bake.” Without it, she notes, the dough needs a rest in the fridge, which is what I’ve done here.
- I’ve also made the cookies smaller. Jessie uses a 1/4 cup measure to portion the batter, which will give you 16 jumbo cookies. I portion the batter into 50-gram balls using my scale, and as a result I get more cookies: 23 to 24.
- If you want to compare these to Jessie’s original recipe further, find it here: Contest-Winning Peanut Butter Cookies.
Variation from Snackable Bakes:
- Fold in 1 cup (170 g) of milk chocolate chips into the batter along with the flour.
- Often people ask if the quantity of sugar can be reduced. The answer is often yes, and if you know you prefer a less sweet cookie, I think you could make these successfully by cutting back 1/4 cup of the sugar or possibly even a little bit more. Keep in mind, the sugar lends not only a sweetness but also a softness and chewiness, too, so you don’t want to cut it back to the point where the texture becomes compromised.
- 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, see notes above
- 1.5 cups (300 g) packed light brown sugar, or slightly less, see notes above
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, cold
- 1 cup (255 g) smooth peanut butter, such as JIF or Skippy (i.e. not all-natural)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1.25 teaspoons (5 gram) kosher salt
- 2.5 cups (325 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 to 4 tablespoons (25 to 50 g) granulated sugar for rolling
- flaky sea salt for sprinkling, optional
- Place the butter in a large bowl. Whisk in the brown sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition. Whisk in the peanut butter. Add the baking soda, and whisk to combine. Add the baking powder, and whisk to combine. Add the salt, and whisk to combine. Finally, fold in the flour.
- At this point, the batter will be very wet and sticky. You can chill it for one hour before portioning it into smaller balls and then returning to the fridge to rest overnight. Or you can chill the batter overnight or until you are ready to portion it. If you choose to chill the batter for a longer period of time, you may need to let the batter rest at room temperature briefly to allow it to soften before portioning it. When you are ready to portion, use a 2-tablespoon scoop or a scale to portion the batter into 50-gram balls. You should get 23 to 24 portions. Note: Jessie uses a 1/4 cup measure and portions the batter into 16 jumbo balls. Ball up each portion.
- Place the granulated sugar in a small bowl. Roll each ball in the sugar. At this point, you can chill the dough balls until you are ready to bake or you can proceed with the recipe.
- Heat the oven to 375ºF. Place 8 of the sugar-coated cookie dough balls on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Sprinkle with sea salt, if using. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until the tops are slightly puffed and crinkly and the cookies are just beginning to brown at the edges. (I find 15 minutes to be perfect.)
- Remove the pan from the oven. Use a spatula to flatten each ball gently. Let the cookies cool completely on the sheet pan before eating or storing — I do prefer the texture and taste of these cookies when they have cooled completely.
- Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days.
- Prep Time: 24 hours
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: peanut butter, cookies, brown sugar, soft, chewy