On the recommendation of a friend—”What’s your favorite cookie?” “Peanut Butter.” “Done.”—I gave this particular recipe a try. These are easy enough to make, if a little time consuming (the dough requires chilling for 3+ hours). However, while researching a time-tested recipe, I found it curious that all of them involved using a fork to press a criss-cross pattern into the cookie dough. After a little digging and a whole litany of unsatisfactory explanations, I found there’s no real reason why a fork is used. Sure, flattening the cookie dough makes for more even baking, but the same result can be achieved using the heel of your hand or a cookie shovel. So, chalk it up to “that’s just how it’s done” (and the Pillsbury’s influence in the baking world in the 1930s).
However, one unexpected result of this inexplicable tradition is that the criss-cross pattern makes it easier for those with peanut allergies to identify this as a potentially life-threatening treat. EpiPens are pretty expensive these days, in case you haven’t heard.
INGREDIENTS (ever so slightly modified from Simply Recipes)
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1 egg
DIRECTIONS (Makes about 2 dozen cookies)
- In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Using a stand up mixer (or a hand one that doesn’t suck) set on medium, beat butter until smadoove and creamy.
- Add sugars and beat for an additional 2 – 3 minutes. You made need to scrape the sides of the bowl.*
- Add the peanut butter and egg and mix until fully incorporated. Again, bowl scraping may be required.*
- Drop the mixer speed down to low and add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
- Cover and refrigerate for 3+ hours.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Shape dough into 1 and 1/4 balls and place on baking sheet about 3 inches a part.
- Using a clean fork, flatten each cookie…leaving you with the requisite criss cross pattern. You may need to clean the fork after flattening 2 or 3 cookies.
- Bake for 15 – 17 minutes until edges begin to brown slightly.
- Remove from oven and allow to sit on baking sheet for 2 – 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to fully cool.
- Remain unsatisfied with the reason people continue to give for why a fork is used to flatten these.
*If you don’t have one of these bowl craping biddies for your stand-up mixer, I can’t recommend it enough.