Successful emergency ingredient substitutions are my favorite.
I started out using Smitten Kitchen’s Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe, which, in turn, came from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. The only intentional modification I was planning on making was omitting the peanut butter chips and chocolate chips*.
Of course, I started mixing the ingredients before checking that I had everything in my kitchen. The original recipe calls for milk, but there was no milk, cream, buttermilk, soymilk, or anything close to milk in my fridge. The closest approximation? Cream cheese.
Know what? It worked.
These cookies are not the prettiest peanut butter cookies in the world (to be completely honest, I am not a fan of the photos, and will almost certainly make another batch just to get some better ones), but they are the best ones I’ve ever tasted. I’m sure most of that can be attributed to the folks at Magnolia Bakery, but maybe the cream cheese did something. We’ll never know.
(That’s actually not true at all. I could make two batches, one with cream cheese and one without, but I’m okay with this score remaining unsettled for the moment.)
Peanut Butter Cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar (plus some extra for rolling)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
optional: 2-3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (for melting and drizzling, if you like chocolate with your peanut butter)
Preheat your oven to 350.
In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Coat the bottom of another large bowl with a few tablespoons of sugar. Set these two bowls aside for the moment.
In a mixing bowl, combine one stick of butter (melted is easier to work with, but at least use softened/room temperature butter) with the crunchy peanut butter. Beat with a hand mixer (or a standing mixer, if you’re luckier than I am) until the peanut butter butter is extra fluffy and smooth, and slowly add in vanilla and cream cheese. Gradually add the dry ingredient blend, and mix until the dough is consistently blended.
Form balls of dough, approximately one inch in diameter, and place in the bowl with the sugar from earlier. Roll each dough ball around until it is lightly coated in sugar, then place on a baking sheet. Make sure each ball has plenty of room to expand (at least an inch or two on each side – I made 8 cookies per each 13 x 9 baking sheet just to be safe).
Most peanut butter cookies feature a signature cris-crossed fork mark. I’m sorry, but these cookies don’t do so well with the fork marks (they tend to break apart and expand into funny shapes…it might be the cream cheese’s fault).
Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. They will look a bit under cooked when you pull them out of the oven, but let them cool for a few minutes. If they’re still super soft after 5 minutes, bake for another few minutes.
Optional: drizzle the cookies with chocolate. This is a very rich peanut butter cookie recipe, and the addition of chocolate makes them taste similar to buckeye candy.
These are a bit thicker and more cakey than any peanut butter cookies I’ve ever had, but I’m a fan. My coworkers and a random CTA worker also enjoy this recipe.
*Reckless Chef trivia: I can’t stand chocolate chip cookies. I’m ok with chocolate-chip-free cookies, though.