To go with the jelly fish, of course!
I love peanut butter. Think about it, it really does go with almost everything. It’s creamy, or crunchy, sweet, full of healthy fats, and has protein. I mean…it’s a fantastic food. Indulgent, yet also good for you. I developed an peanut butter obsession when I was in New Zealand getting my Master’s. I think it was my way of reconnecting with home. NZ-ers eat it, but don’t rely on it as much as we do. It’s not a staple, it’s merely an option. They also like to dip carrots in it. I say, right on.
I also love jelly. It’s sweet, sticky, and goes great with cream cheese on a bagel. It is a tradition in my family to make our own jam and jelly, so I get to connect with it on another level. We make grape and plum, blueberry, and mango. It is a lot of very hot work, since the fruits we use are usually in season in the summer. It’s a lot of boiling. A lot of heat.
Now you take the peanut butter and you take the jelly and when they are combined it is a match made in heaven. Like childhood in food-form.
How many of us were brought up on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? I think an inherent love of pb&j is almost a requirement to be American.
I, surprisingly, wasn’t. Or maybe it isn’t so surprising. I didn’t bring a ziplocked baggie to school with the classic sandwich on white bread, crusts cut off. I brought chicken parm sandwiches to school. I brought ham, incredibly stinky Italian cheese, and roasted peppers sandwiches to school. I brought meatloaf, mashed potato sandwiches to school.
Yes, those sandwiches were delicious and wonderful and really shaped my palate…but sometimes I just wanted to be a normal kid with a normal sandwich.
So, when I would spend the night at a friend’s house, and we got to pick what we wanted for lunch, I usually chose one of two things–boxed mac n’ cheese (the yellow kind) or a pb&j. The sandwich usually won out.
So, when I had a group of friends over for a celebratory dinner party to thank them for helping me with Free Comic Book Day, I knew I had a group of kids at heart. I wanted to play to that theme…and I had a crazy hankering for pb&j. I knew that a bunch of sandwiches wouldn’t cut it, so, I made peanut butter and jelly cookies for dessert.
These cookies were everything a pb&j should be: sweet, nutty, crunchy when it needed to be, and soft otherwise. They were great. I made about 38 of them, and after the party there were only 2 left. I take that to be a success.
The original recipe called these cookie cups, and they were made in giant muffin tins. This produces an absolutely HUGE cookie. I love eating more than one cookie at a time. I don’t like eating more than one giant cookie at a time; that’s a recipe for a stomach ache. So, I made these in a regular sized muffin tin. They worked just as well. I used a small cookie scoop to keep the portions regular. The cookies puff up, instead of out, which is great fun.
For the jam filling, I had made plum jam this past year, and used that. But, feel free to use whatever you have on hand, or whatever is your favorite. And don’t skimp on it. Having that burst of fruit in the center of the cookie really makes the flavors pop. I recommend strawberry, or grape, or plum….
Peanut butter and Jelly Cookies
Adapted from WishesandDishes.com
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten in a separate bowl before adding
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1 3/4 cup peanut butter (your choice of chunky or smooth)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar
Jam or Jelly of choice, for filling and topping (optional)
For the cookies:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Mix together the flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.
- Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
- Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk.
- Add the flour mixture; mix well.
- Shape into round 2-inch balls and place each into a greased muffin tin. (As mentioned, I used a small ice cream scoop for this.)
- Bake at 375 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. Start checking the cookies around the 9 minute mark to make sure they aren’t getting too brown on top.
- As soon as you take them out of the oven, use something with a circular bottom (I used a shot glass) to press into the middle of the cups and make craters. Whatever you use should be slightly less than the width of the cookie.
- Let the cookies cool completely in the pan before trying to remove them. Feel free to run a butter knife around the edges of the cooled cookies to loosen it before attempting to lift it out.
- Fill each crater with your choice of jelly or jam (about 1-2 tsps per cookie).
For the Frosting:
- Place the peanut butter and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined.
- Add the remaining ingredients and combine all together by beating on medium speed.
- Turn the speed up to high and beat for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the frosting becomes light, airy, fluffy, and pale.
Assembling the cookies:
- Transfer the frosting to a piping bag, or make your own piping bag using a ziplock bag (put filling in bag, work it to the bottom of one corner, twist off the top and snip off a small bit of the corner).
- Once the cookies are completely cooled and the indentations have been filled with the jelly/jam, pipe the frosting in high, swirling mounds on top, like frosting a cupcake.
- Top with a small dollop of jam/jelly (optional).
- You will probably have leftover frosting – freeze it for the future or use it in another recipe.