Instagram Instagram

« The ladies who launch; snapshot reviews of books from Martha Stewart, Ina Garten, and Nigella Lawson | Main | Kitchen aid; reviewing In the Kitchen with Anna by Anna Olson »

Attention to detail

The little things can make all the difference.

The perfect cup of coffee to start a cold winter's morning. Finding the paper within reach of the front door, rather than having to traipse across the front lawn in your robe and slippers. Catching a cab on the first try. Reaching your hand in your coat pocket to discover that ten dollar bill you forgot you had.

An unexpected thank you.

All of these are little things, but little things do add up. Little things can make your day.

And, as I just was reminded, little things can change your cookies entirely.

Any time it is requested that I bake peanut butter cookies, I automatically reach for this recipe. Nonetheless, I have kept to my word and have continuously tweaked and adjusted the ingredients and method - partially because I sometimes have a ridiculously-short attention span when it comes to cooking and cannot commit to following anything to the letter, and partially as I still am in search of the ultimate cookie.

On a recent occasion, as I was creaming together the butter and sugars, I recalled my fondness for peanut butter and honey sandwiches as a child. Without a second thought, I grabbed some honey from the pantry, popped off its lid, and watched as it oozed goldenly onto the whirring beaters. From there, I continued with the recipe as per usual.

The dough was softer and more pliable than before. Considering liquid sugars grant a toothsome density to baked goods, and also knowing my disdain for thin, dried-out drop cookies, I chose to freeze the shaped balls of dough rather than chilling the batter as I did in the original version. After a quick arctic blast they held up nicely against the pressure of the fork when marked with their distinctive pattern. Into the oven they went.

Assumedly due to the change in sugars, I noticed that after 16 minutes the cookies were already pleasantly bronzed, sporting a modest hump. The height remained after cooling, allowing for a slightly crunchy top but a cakey, moist centre. In comparison to the crumbled chewiness of their flatter predecessors, these were a wholly different cookie altogether.

The cookies tasted richer. Maybe it was depth of mellow sweetness from the honey that accentuated the roasted quality of the peanut butter; the peanutty-ness was more pronounced, but still well-rounded. Now this was my idea of a really good cookie - not to say the previous version doesn't have its slightly-crisper charms.

Sometimes magic is truly in the details.

Note: Some may notice that the above photo returns to the style of my Happenstance series. To be honest, I had not intended to write about this recipe, but I was so happy with the effect of small changes on the recipe that I felt compelled to share. As this was such a spontaneous impulse, shooting again in that format seemed appropriate.

Soft and chewier peanut butter cookies
My own recipe. With a crisp edge and a soft interior, these cookies are one step closer on my quest for peanut butter perfection.


1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (up to 1/2 teaspoon if you particularly like savoury sweets)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons/1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed golden or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
sea salt, optional, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Use parchment paper to line several standard baking sheets and set aside.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugars and honey and beat on high for three minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the egg and vanilla, then mix on medium speed until well blended.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and stir to just combine. Using a 1 1/4" ice cream scoop dish out mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet (alternatively, use a generous 2 tablespoons of batter for each cookie), spacing them about 2 inches apart. Place onto baking sheet and freeze the batter for 10-15 minutes to set up and chill thoroughly.

Dip a fork into warm water and use the tines to press the dough balls lightly; you only want to slightly flatten their shape and leave the imprint of the fork. Freshly dip the fork between pressing each cookie. Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired.

Bake in the preheated oven for 16 minutes, rotating the sheets once during baking. Cool on pan for two minutes, then remove to a baking rack to cool completely.

Makes 18.

Reader Comments (15)

Mmmmmm...they look delicious!

I'll be saving this recipe for when I have a proper kitchen and equipment again. We're living like students this year!

November 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I'm going to have to say that I find the fork impressions charming. For some reason they remind me of snow angels.

November 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnik

oh! peanut butter cookies are my favourite. (hint-hint).

November 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterclinka

Hmmm...I cold smell the peanut butter and sugar all through the screen! I am sure to make my husband happy with this favorite of his!

November 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTartelette

Mmm, perfect timing, thanks! I was planning to make some this weekend to sell for a good cause and I havent found the perfect recipe, hopefully now I have!

November 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennywenny

Peanut butter and honey bring back fond memories of being a kid. I bet trying different honeys would be fun. Your photo is gorgeous!

November 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShari@Whisk: a food blog

Michelle, you know, I'm all to happy to pack up some to send to the UK ... consider it some long-distance baked good therapy!

Anik, you've really elevated a rather dowdy little cookie to something poetic.

clinka, I do believe I might be making the rounds with these babies come the holidays. I had no idea they'd have such a fanbase!

Tartelette, peanut butter cookies seem to be a hit with the husbands, no? I would be sheepish to admit how many batches of these I've made recently ...

Jennywenny, I do hope these live up to your expectation! Please report back, and best of luck with your baking this weekend.

Shari, thanks so much for the kind words. I love the idea of experimenting with various honeys to give different effect. I'm so taken with honey and peanut butter, I am tempted to substitute another tablespoon of honey for the same of granulated sugar, but then I'm thinking the cookies might brown too quickly ... hmm. Maybe a lower oven temperature then? So many possibilities.

November 30, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertara

I agree---there is magic is the details and little things can make all the difference. Not only is this a delicious recipe, but a fun piece to read as well.

December 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSandie

dreamy! honey in peanut butter cookies sounds absolutely amazing. what a match! i'm surprised i haven't seen it around sooner! lovely photo too!
you're totally right. it's the little things that make all the difference. great post!

December 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoy the Baker

The cookies sound great! Definitely one I will be trying soon, I love a soft chewy cookie.

December 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJake

Sandie, I am glad you enjoyed it!

Joy the Baker, thank you so much for the kind words. As I said earlier, I am tempted to continue to play with the type of honey and the quantities used. I do believe I have stumbled on something here ...

Jake, I hope you enjoy the cookies if you try the recipe. I would love to hear your thoughts!

December 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertara

Oh my! I just found your site and have fallen in love!! I was reading an old post (May 2005) about your freezing compulsion and I dare say I am suffering from the same compulsion at present! However we live in the interior of Alaska and at present the outdoors serves as my freezer. (we are able to unplug the chest freezer as it is 0 and below from November to March, normally!) I am going to have to try this recipe as we love peanut butter cookies!!

January 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy in Alaska

Oh, the peanut butter magic! I'm in love.

February 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Kate

It took me only a day from bookmarking this recipe to making it! Although I love peanut butter, I reduced it by 1/4 cup and added a generous helping of rolled oats. This hit all my sweet teeth AND my salty ones too. Amazingly delicious.

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSyin

Made these today for a friend who just go out of surgery and loves peanut butter. Half got hershey kisses, the other received a nice chocolate drizzle. Can't wait to see what they think of these! I'll agree that they are very chewy, great texture. A keeper for sure.

August 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDana in NY

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>