Peanut butter cookies are nothing new, but I’ve never really been satisfied with the recipes I’ve found for them. Everyone has their own preference — and I wanted little, dense, soft cookies that tasted really nutty. Instead I got crisp and airy, oily and bland, dry and gritty, sugary and enormous.
I tried recipes with cake flour, no flour, cream cheese, and on. Finally, I took out a bowl and made my own recipe, tinkering with it time and again until I felt victorious. Then I thought: what about almond butter? I knew its delightfulness but hadn’t tasted it in dessert form. Using my newly created peanut butter cookie recipe, I did a few trial runs and found that almond butter – though it acts a little differently than its more common cousin — is just as easy and just as delicious. The recipe for both cookies is simple and easy, made in one bowl with no mixer, followed by a quick stint in the oven.
Almond butter or peanut butter cookies [makes 25 – 30 little (1.25-1.5”) cookies]
– 3/4 cup peanut or almond butter (I prefer chunky nut butters that contain nothing but roasted nuts and salt, but please use whatever kind you like best)
– 2 to 3 tablespoons softened butter*
– 1/3 to 1/2 cup moist brown sugar, packed*
– 1 large egg yolk
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (for peanut butter cookies)
OR 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (for almond butter cookies)
– 1/2 cup all purpose flour
– 1/4 teaspoon salt (increase to 1/2 teaspoon if your nut butter is unsalted)
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*For almond butter cookies, use 2 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. For peanut butter cookies, use 3 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar. For either kind of cookie, reduce sugar by a few tablespoons if your nut butter already contains sugar.
Pre-heat oven to 325 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. If using natural peanut butter, give it a good stir. In a large bowl, mix first four ingredients plus the extract with a spatula until smooth, pasty and completely even in color. Add the flour (do not sift unless it’s particularly lumpy), salt and cinnamon, mixing until no traces of flour remain and dough holds together. It may be easiest to use bare hands for this step.
Using bare hands, make little balls of dough that are less than a tablespoon (about .5 to .6 ounce) of dough a piece; you should have 25-30 balls. Place them on prepared cookie sheets. For peanut butter cookies, indent with a fork, bracing the sides of the cookie to prevent cracking. Almond butter doesn’t hold its shape as much but still needs to be pressed down for even baking, so use your thumb or the back of a spoon, bracing the sides, and adding an almond on top if you’d like.
Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and be sure to let cookies sit on hot cookie sheets for 10-15 minutes before touching or moving. With the mouthwatering aroma in your kitchen, this last act can be the hardest part. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
With their trace of cinnamon, their moist brown sugar and their high share of nut butter, these little cookies pack a rich and flavorful bite in a soft and tender form. By avoiding electric beaters, sifted flour and egg whites, the dough is dense and delicious — much like the nut butter they’re made of.
And with this recipe’s simplicity and ease, you just might make both types — almond and peanut — in one scrumptious session.
Moriah VanVleet is the voice behind butter, sugar, flowers where this post first appeared.