The other day, I was baking a batch of Cheryl Day’s peanut butter cookies, as one does on a snowy weekend morning, when I came across this instruction in her recipe….
“If you want, you can freeze the cookies on the baking sheet until firm, then transfer to ziplock bags and freeze for up to two months.” In other words, if I froze half the batch for later, individually, I could bake one or two at a time and have warm cookies any night I wanted to. In the past, I’ve frozen logs of cookie dough for this purpose, but I liked this method better, no slicing into a stubbornly hard block of dough, just grabbing a few from the ziplock and throwing them into the preheated oven.
And Day’s cookies are the perfect cookie to do this with. You don’t have to wait for them to thaw — just throw them into the oven on a baking sheet, and 10 to 12 minutes later, you have meltingly tender, salty-sweet peanut butter classics. With a glass of cold milk, there’s no more comforting way to end the day. I’ve been in search of my go-to version of this cookie for a while, and I have finally found it.
You could, of course, just bake the entire batch of cookies. But I can’t promise they will last very long, if you do so.
Peanut Butter Cookies
From Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking
Makes about 24 cookies
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder, preferably aluminum free
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cane syrup
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup honey-roasted peanuts
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling
Sift together the flour, baking powder, fine sea salt, and baking soda into a bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter, both sugars, and the cane syrup together on medium speed until super light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add peanut butter, egg, and vanilla, and mix until completely incorporated. Turn the speed down to low and gradually add half of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Gradually add the remaining flour, mixing until just combined, then add the peanuts, mixing until incorporated.
Remove the bowl from the mixer stand (if using) and finish mixing by hand to make sure no bits of flour or butter are hiding on the bottom of the bowl and the dough is thoroughly mixed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the dough in the refrigerator until slightly firm, about 30 minutes.
Position the racks in the middle and lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Use a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon to form the cookies (about 1 rounded tablespoon each) and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between them to allow for spreading. Lightly touch each cookie with the tines of a fork to make a crisscross pattern (keeping it old school). Top each cookie with a pinch of flaky sea salt. (If you want you can freeze the cookies on the baking sheet until firm, then transfer to ziplock bags and freeze for up to 2 months. Sprinkle the cookies with the salt just before baking.)
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through and switching their positions, until golden brown. Let cool completely on the pans on wire racks.
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
(Middle photo by Angie Mosier.)