Peanut butter is a fairly new discovery for me. We’d circled each other warily for years. I’d seen jars of the stuff swirled with jelly and wanted to like it. Heard about the PB&J but just couldn’t get on board. But then, seemingly through sheer force of will, I started to like it. Now? Can’t get enough of the stuff. My favourite way to eat it: liberally spread in the crevasse of a celery stick and doused with hot sauce.
I have been informed that this is something of a peculiarity of mine. An aquired taste, if you will.
Happily, these cookies are not. They’re crowdpleasers if ever there were ones. Softly crispy, with a pleasing chew, and a really moreish mix of sweet and salty. While they won’t be as crispy on day 2 (cookies are always going to be best the day you bake them), as long as you keep them in an airtight container, the soft chew remains, and they won’t change much beyond that. Yum.
The recipe is adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. An American recipe book, it delves into the world of cookies, from chocolate chipped beauties to Italian biscotti. To say it’s comprehensive is an understatement. Obviously there will be more cookies from this tome in due course…
Peanut Butter Crisscrosses
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion – makes 24
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (or butter)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar (or dark brown)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1 1/2 cups plain flour
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. I can fit 12 per sheet (just about), which means I do two batches, one after the other. Make sure to leave a little room around each cookie – they will grow slightly as they cook.
Cream together the shortening and the sugars. Add the egg and beat to combine, followed by the vanilla essence, bicarb of soda, salt and peanut butter.
You should now have a creamy mixture. Stir in the flour.
Using a tablespoon measure, take little scoops and drop them on the prepared baking tray.
Make the cookie’s namesake crisscrosses by pressing the tines of a fork into the middle of the ball of dough twice, making a tic-tac-toe pattern. You don’t need to be precise here, I like that the resulting cookie is a bit shaggy. Just don’t press down too hard (e.g. to the bottom of the pan), just enough to make a good pattern.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes (or until they’re slightly brown). When you take them out of the oven, leave them on the tray for a minute or two before moving them onto the wire rack to cool completely. They’re pretty delicate at this stage so be gentle – they’ll firm up properly as they cool.