What, you mean all other peanut butter cookies are terrible and dry? I guess I wouldn't know that, since I grew up making these with my mom and brother. But I had noticed that whenever I had store-bought or most other people's peanut butter cookies, they weren't as good, so maybe I did know but just didn't think I'd lived enough or something. But whatever; I don't really pay attention, I just eat anything sweet I can get my hands on.
Edit 12/18/17: I can eat peanuts again! 😃 After 8 years of no chocolate, peanuts, tree nuts, and other foods, I finally had a food allergy test last year to see if I was still allergic, and I'm not! My allergist said that, based on my reported reactions, I no doubt was allergic at one time, but she has had a lot of people grow out of their allergies and food sensitivities, so the same had happened to me. ...But I'm still lactose intolerant, so I have to take a lactase supplement every time I consume anything containing dairy, including these cookies. Oh well. At least I can eat them again! <3
**Edit on December 18th, 2017 (Yes. Almost one year later, we finally tried it, but then I forgot twice to edit this blog post to remove the butter option because life's been busy lately with a family member's surgery coming up, as well as a bunch of other errands to run.): Do NOT use butter in place of shortening. It ends up tasting terrible and flat and it tastes more like butter than peanut butter. The combination is unpleasant. I mean, I ate it anyway, but it just lost it's magic. Nothing like the good recipe. I originally found a link that shows you how to replace shortening with butter, but I don't know if even that would be right. Best way to do this: If you really want to be healthier, find an organic non-soybean oil substitute to regular shortening.
Makes 2 dozen
1 or 2 silicone spatulas (for peanut butter and for shortening)
Mixing bowl (preferably metal, but glass works well, too)
2 ungreased cookie sheets
1 pair of disposable gloves (non-powdered)
1 small spoon for scooping out dough
1 small spoon (or 1/2 teaspoon) for peanut butter jar (after dough is made)
1 metal fork
1 small glass or cup of water for fork (optional)
Measurements and ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
Cut in shortening and peanut butter till mixture resembles coarse meal.
Blend in syrup and milk.
Thoroughly mix. (Even if it seems like it's too dry, do NOT add more liquid. Your mixing arm may get sore, but in the end you will thank yourself for being patient).
Stick the bowl in the freezer for at least 40 minutes (a metal bowl works faster, but glass is almost as fast) or until it's firm.
After at least 40 minutes has passed (though it doesn't hurt to leave it in there overnight), preheat oven at 350 degrees.
Put on the disposable gloves. This will keep your hands from getting greasy from the peanut butter and will help keep the dough from sticking to your skin (This especially happens when the dough thaws and because your skin is warm).
Using a small spoon, scoop out some dough and place into the palm of your hand.
Roll the dough around between your palms until it's a smooth ball, about the size of your palm (cherry or walnut-size range, if you like to imagine it that way like I do). Now, when the dough is cold just out of the freezer, it may clump and sort of crumble at first, but if it gives you much trouble, squeeze the crumbling parts together again between your fingers and add more pressure when rolling between your palms.
You will at least want an inch or so space between each ball you place on an ungreased cookie sheet. You can fit twelve on a single cookie sheet.
With your finger knuckles (Look at your palms, then close your fingers into fists. You'll be using the flat parts of your fingers between your center knuckles and tips-of-your-fingers knuckles.), flatten the cookies to about 1/4 inch thick. I like to turn my hand three times from left, to right, to left with the same pressure when I'm pressing on the dough. It makes all of them have the same thickness everytime. And don't worry too much about your finger indentations. The cookies expand quite a bit.
After all are flattened, scoop out peanut butter with half of a small spoon (or 1/2 teaspoon peanut butter) and plop it in the center of each cookie. The amount doesn't have to be perfect, because chances are you'll have cookies of different sizes. It doesn't hurt to have a little too much on a small cookie, either. If you like, you can also place one small chocolate chip in with the dab of peanut butter for a chocolate peanut butter cup taste.
On another cookie sheet, repeat the balling and flattening process EXCEPT for the dropping on peanut butter on top. Instead, carefully place these on top of the ones with peanut butter on them (like the top layer of bread on a sandwich). It's okay if they fall apart, rip, or twist shape as you pick them up and place them down on top.
With a wet fork, gently press down all around the cookies along the edges to create that sort of flowery effect. (Not only for decoration, but also to seal the edges and keep the peanut butter from oozing out.) You might have to dip the fork in a cup of water for every completed cookie to prevent the dough from sticking to the fork, depending on how thawed your dough is.
Once finished, bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
Cool slightly after taking them out, then remove from the baking sheet. If they start breaking, wait a little longer before you remove them.
Warning: Don't be tempted to take a bite too soon after removing them from the oven. It doesn't matter how mouthwatering they look and smell. It kills me, too. The reason why is the peanut butter in the center will still be much hotter than the rest of the cookie, so wait a little while longer after the outside has cooled.
The book version doesn't mention the materials needed, nor the alternative to shortening. It otherwise has the same measurements and ingredients as mine. The only real difference between my version and its own is that it's not as specific, that it involves shaping the dough into a 2-inch roll and cutting slices, and it asks to spread the peanut butter on the dough. I prefer the way I've always made it as a kid, but feel free to test out both methods and see which way you find easier.
Edit 12/18/17: I might take a picture of each step. Maybe when life isn't so busy I'll remember.