of peanut butter and procrastination

peanut butter cookies cooling on a rack

When’s the last time you had a homemade peanut butter cookie? Really? That long ago? Me too.

Which has me wondering – what happened? I grew up baking peanut butter cookies. But I didn’t know that there were only two generations before me with the same experience. I hadn’t remembered that peanuts weren’t even grown in the U.S. until just before the turn of the 20th century, when thanks to George Washington Carver they were cultivated as an alternative to boll-weevil infested cotton crops. Carver’s 1925 article, How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption, includes recipes for cookies containing peanuts (and peanut doughnuts, and peanut soup, and liver with peanuts), but nothing containing peanut butter. , which wasn’t even invented until the 1920s. A recipe for peanut butter cookies first appeared in the 1930s, along with the first time ever instruction to press dough balls flat with the tines of a fork, which is how my grandmother did it, and is still done today. Except that it is hardly ever done today.

What would cause peanut butter cookies to fall so out of fashion?

One of the best things about peanut butter cookies is that you can make them from pantry staples. Cookies! Without a trip to the store! A good excuse to do anything other than work on what you should be working on! Fun!

I tweaked a traditional recipe in quite a few ways to make it accommodate my pantry plus my wheat (and responsibility) avoidance issues: Spelt instead of wheat flour, all brown sugar instead of half white, less flour to make the cookies a little less cakey, and a sprinkle of salt at the end for contrast. The result was excellent – roasty, chewy, a little crisp on the edges, and salty sweet.

cookies on a cooling rack

Spelt Peanut Butter Cookies
Please ignore your inner lesbian when she tells you it would be ok to use freshly ground peanut butter for this recipe.

2 3/4 cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (packed) brown sugar
2 large eggs
kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together the spelt flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer (or a hand mixer), beat the butter, peanut butter and vanilla until well blended. Beat in the brown sugar. Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula, then add half of the dry ingredients, mixing at low speed until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on low speed until well combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until combined, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another thirty seconds.

To form the cookies, roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls. Arrange them several inches apart on the baking sheets. Using back of fork, flatten the dough balls, then lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake the cookies until they look dry on top and golden brown on bottom, 10 to 14 minutes.

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5 Responses to “of peanut butter and procrastination”


  1. 1 Ambrose-P May 6, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Despite my aversion for p-nut butter cookies, i really needed a minute of procrastination and read on. I found delight in reading about the peanut’s late arrival to western industry, but could not help wondering, ‘is that really true, p-nut butter was not even invented until the 1920s?! What are her sources? What about other nut butters?’, and so on.

  2. 2 Elaine May 15, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Yuuuuum. I’m definitely going to use this recipe. I remember making peanut butter cookies as a kid too. I always loved making the fork marks.

    Loving your blog, Jami.

  3. 3 Kelly May 24, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Those are the prettiest peanut butter cookie pictures I have ever seen.

    Jami, these were delicious. I don’t think I let Jean and Jan have any of them!

  4. 4 khyber July 12, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    I followed the recipe to the letter but swapped out almond butter for peanut butter. They came out great. Tasters raved and we couldn’t get enough ourselves. These cookies are definitely going to become a staple dessert in our house!

  5. 5 Miriam December 9, 2009 at 7:55 am

    I want some……love the photo, too.


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