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Peanut butter cookie simply irresistible

There’s a “day” for nearly everything, but here is a holiday so good, it’s nuts. Or perhaps rather, legumes? This Saturday, June 12, is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day.

Over the years I’ve baked my share of peanut butter cookies, usually the good old-fashioned drop cookie made by creaming butter with sugar and adding flour and baking powder, etc. But not anymore. Since trying this simpler, easier approach, I’m never going back. I know you’ll love it, too.

The recipe I’m sharing needs only five ingredients for sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy, delectable cookies. Like most cookies, they’re best warm from the oven with a glass of milk.

One thing to love about this recipe is the simplicity. It’s a perfect cookie to make with kids who are learning to bake. It’s very tactile with lots of stirring and rolling stuff in sugar, which is especially great for the very young (or young at heart). And since it doesn’t contain flour, it’s ideal for people with gluten allergies.

To top it off, it’s very inexpensive. Don’t waste your money buying natural peanut butter, where the oil separates from the solids, it doesn’t work with this recipe. Buy the cheap stuff. Those with peanut allergies can substitute almond butter or sunflower butter.

I can’t write about peanut butter without acknowledging George Washington Carver, the American agricultural extension educator from Alabama, and passionate peanut proponent. In 1925, professor Carver wrote a research bulletin called “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption.” It included three recipes for peanut cookies calling for crushed or chopped peanuts.

Although those recipes didn’t specifically call for peanut butter (that didn’t happen until the 1930s) I say, close enough. Thank you, professor Carver. Today we raise a glass of milk and dip a peanut butter cookie in your honor.

FLOURLESS PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

What you’ll need:

1 16-ounce container of peanut butter (2 cups)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Optional: ¼ cup granulated or demerara sugar, for rolling

Here’s how:

Please remember, any time kids use the oven, adult supervision is required. Preheat your oven to 350 F, placing the racks in upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large bowl using elbow grease and a rubber spatula, mix or stir the peanut butter and brown sugar until combined. Add eggs, vanilla and salt, then mix or stir once again to thoroughly combine.

Shape dough into walnut-sized balls and, if desired, roll in sugar to coat. That makes a delightfully sparkly exterior that’s so pretty. Place them 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using the tines of a fork, press down to flatten each ball and then press again at a 90-degree angle, to form the iconic crisscross pattern on top.

Bake cookies until edges are set and beginning to brown, about 12 minutes, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and back to front halfway through cooking time.

This makes about 38 cookies.

Why do we press peanut butter cookies with a fork? Because peanut butter cookie dough is usually very dense. Flattening them slightly allows for more even baking. The fork marks also make it easier for those with peanut allergies to spot them.

You’re going to love this recipe so much and I don’t want you to get tired of it. So, I’ve included some easy variations to this basic recipe to shake up your peanut butter palate.

Peanut butter sandwich cookies: Prepare recipe as directed. For filling, with a hand mixer, blend ½ cup creamy peanut butter, 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 5-6 tablespoons milk until light and fluffy. Place a spoonful between two baked cookies to make a sandwich.

Extra crunchy: Prepare recipe as directed, stirring in 1 cup chopped dry-roasted, salted peanuts before shaping and baking.

Oatmeal raisin: Prepare recipe as directed, stirring in 1 cup old-fashioned regular rolled oats, ½ cup raisins and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon before shaping and baking.

Chocolate pretzel: Prepare recipe as directed, stirring in ½ to 1 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips, and 1 cup chopped pretzels before shaping. You won’t be able to make a crosshatch pattern so just flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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