By Terry Harris
I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I’m not a big fan of baking cookies. All of the mixing and stirring and rolling and babying pan after pan of sweets that can be ruined by one extra minute of baking? No thanks!
However, I do love eating cookies. I probably always have, but I especially remember how huge boxes of my Grandma Evelyn’s teacakes mailed to me in college got me through many a night of homesickness freshman year. And I remember how the boxes got bigger and bigger as word of those cookies spread until they made me one of the most popular girls in the dorm – especially when word was whispered down the halls, “The teacakes are here!”
Well, I think for a lot of folks, cookies of one kind or another are the best comfort food, and what better time than right now with back-to-school upon us and its accompanying uncertainties for a little quick and easy homemade comfort food? So – TA DA! Queenie’s Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies!
Because, with these little jewels, you get to skip all the measuring and steps usually involved as eggs, sugar, and peanut butter are the only ingredients required. That’s right! There is no flour in these cookies! I know it sounds impossible, but I have made a bunch of them, and I promise that not only are they flourless, they truly are delicious, and as a bonus, this also means that they also are gluten-free.
Now, I love them just as they are – big and sweet, and crunchy – but not hard. If you want to step up your game a bit, you can always add chocolate chips. Or make them into BIG cookies. Or – my personal favorite – you can push an unwrapped chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie just before you slip the pan into the oven. They don’t lose their shape when baking, but they do melt into delightful chocolatey goodness! In fact, when I make them that way, I think of them as “grown-up peanut butter cookies. Kids just happen to love them, too.
I’ve been making these forever, and while it’s one of the simplest recipes I know, I have learned a few little tips that I’ll pass along.
First, you’ll find that some similar recipes include a teaspoon of vanilla. I do not. If I’m going to have peanut butter – or chocolate – I want to taste the flavor of peanut butter and/or chocolate – not vanilla! Also, be warned that “All Natural” peanut butters won’t give you the best result. They turn out too dry.
Another tip is that while the crisscross top you can make with a fork gives you a pretty cookie, if you use crunchy peanut butter (as I like to do) instead of smooth, you won’t get the same pretty top. And if you’re looking for a little extra crunch, try sprinkling a little granulated sugar over each cookie just before baking.
Frankly, however you do – or don’t - decorate these, they really are so easy to make that with only minimal supervision kids could make them for themselves. And they love the part where they can use a fork to make the crisscross design across the top.
Now, about the size of these cookies, with some adjustment of baking time, you can have them any size you like, but for me? I just don’t like wimpy cookies. Unless I need something dainty for a party, I like BIG ones. So, I start with balls of dough a little bigger than a golf ball. That way, they take 12 – 13 minutes to bake rather than the 9 or so required for “regular” sized cookies. But whatever you do, don’t overcook these. They won’t necessarily seem done when they really are as the peanut butter makes them deceptively brown to begin with. So be sure to take them out of the oven just as they’re barely beginning to brown – especially as you have to let them cool on the cookie sheet for about a minute before removing them to finish cooling on a wire rack. That way they’re less likely to break, and don’t worry – they will get crisper as they cool.
Here’s one more tip that will make a big difference the next time you are trying to decide if you really feel like baking cookies. I remember back when I first started making these, the one thing I particularly disliked was cleaning up the cookie sheets afterward. Then I discovered the joys of parchment paper. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend that you do so. It’s easy to use, you end up with basically no-mess on your pans, plus your cookies are less likely to break when you remove them from the pan with the parchment paper underneath.
And that’s it! That’s how, with only three ingredients, you – and your family and friends - can go from craving to raving in about 15 minutes. But shhhh… Let’s just keep that “so quick and easy” thing our little secret. Enjoy!
Queenie’s Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies
2 cups Skippy Peanut Butter with Nuts
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients and roll into 1” balls. Place dough balls on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. (Or you can spray your pan with non-stick spray. Spray the tines of a fork and use it to mash a # on the top of each dough ball.
Bake for 9 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool on cookie sheet. Store in a covered container with waxed paper between layers.
VARIATIONS: May add chocolate chips to dough, sprinkle flattened cookies lightly with sugar crystals, or press an unwrapped chocolate kiss into each cookie before baking. Make delicious tiny “party” cookies or hearty “BIG” cookies by varying the baking time. Just be sure to bake them only until very lightly browned and let cool for a minute before removing from cookie sheet as they will become crisper as they cool.