In case you aren’t up to date, today is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day! That’s right, a whole day dedicated to a cookie. I’m not sure who makes up these fun food holidays, but my taste buds thank them profusely. Now, I used to not be a big fan of peanut butter cookies, until I came across a recipe years ago that had 4 simple ingredients: peanut butter, egg, sugar and baking soda. The lack of flour really allowed the peanut butter flavor to shine through. While the original recipe was a bit too sweet and resulted in a crunchy and very crumbly cookie, a bit of tweaking brought about a balanced cookie that was crispy on the outside but still soft in the middle; perfect for celebrating today with! But why stop with just a simple cookie recipe? Why not layer it with bananas and chocolate pudding and top it off with whipped cream? I mean, if you are going to celebrate a NATIONAL holiday, you might as well do it right!
Let’s talk a little about the cookie first. The key to this cookie is using a natural peanut butter. Natural peanut butter has true, deep peanut flavor that isn’t bogged down with added sugar and hydrogenated oils. And, it is healthier for you. You want a smooth textured one with nothing but salt added (and yes, you want the salted one because it is the only salt in the recipe!). If you aren’t used to using natural peanut butter, don’t be alarmed when you open the jar and find a layer of peanut oil on top. This is normal and all you have to do is give it a stir to incorporate. Don’t pour it off or your peanut butter will become dry and result in a cookie that crumbles apart.
The Ankarsrum mixer whips up this cookie dough in no time at all. Since peanut butter is so sticky though, I like to scrape down the sides and bottom before giving it a final spin to make sure the peanut butter is fully blended in.
The dough will seem a little crumbly, but once you start scooping it out, it easily sticks together. When you have the little balls of dough on your cookie sheet, you will want to gently flatten them with your hand JUST until they are flat on top. Don’t pat them down a lot or they will end up too thin and you will lose that soft center.
One more thing to be aware of, when they first come out of the oven, the cookies are extremely soft. Make sure you let them cool 5-10 minutes on the cookie sheet so they can firm up before being moved to a cooling rack.
When I first started to think about this post, I knew I wanted to somehow incorporate the cookies into a recipe. I toyed around with the idea of turning the cookies into a pie or tart crust, but it seemed a little silly to make a whole batch of cookies and then turn around and smash them to bits. And since today is in honor of the actual cookie, I wanted to make sure it held center stage in the recipe. So I started to think about flavors that naturally go with peanut butter, and chocolate and banana immediately leapt to mind. Bananas made me think of banana pudding with vanilla wafers and I thought it would be fun to do a spin on that with the peanut butter cookie.
One of the things I love about this peanut butter cookie is that it is easily converted to a gluten-free recipe simply by using gluten-free oats. I wanted to keep the chocolate pudding uncomplicated as well, so I am sharing a ridiculously easy chocolate pudding recipe. I made a basic hot chocolate with cocoa powder and then simply added in gelatin to thicken it. Using cocoa instead of chocolate adds a subtle bitterness that balances out the sweetness of the dessert. It also allows you to swap the sugar out with a more natural sweetener, if desired. While I used less gelatin than you normally would with this amount of liquid, you will want to give the pudding a vigorous whisking before using it to smooth out the “jiggles”.
Both the cookie and pudding are a delicious dessert on their own, but since we are celebrating in style today, all that is left to do is layer it with some sliced bananas and dollop with fluffy whipped cream. I like using individual serving glasses as opposed to a large serving vessel. That is up to your personal preference. You could also portion the dessert into small canning jars for easy transport to picnics and potlucks. Just screw the lids on and don’t top with the whipped cream until you reach your destination.
Hope you enjoy and Happy Peanut Butter Cookie Day!
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Peanut Butter Cookie Pudding
Prep Time: 20 minutes
26 peanut butter cookies (recipe follows)*
2 cups chocolate pudding (recipe follows)*
4 medium bananas, sliced
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Special equipment: 8 (9 oz.) glasses or serving dishes, 2 (gallon size) zip-top bags
Place a peanut butter cookie on the bottom of each glass.
Vigorously whisk up the chocolate pudding. Spoon into one of the zip-top bags and snip off one corner. Pipe approximately 2 tablespoons pudding on top of the cookie.
Place 3-4 banana slices on top of the chocolate pudding. Repeat this layering process once more: cookie, pudding, bananas. Top with a final cookie. (You should have 2 cookies leftover.)
Place the whipping cream in the plastic whipping bowl of the Ankarsrum mixer with the balloon whisks. Beat on medium speed (3 o’clock) until it begins to thicken up. Add in the sugar and vanilla extract, adjust speed to high (5 o’clock) and beat until stiff peaks just begin to form.
Use the remaining zip-top bag to pipe the whipped cream on top of the peanut butter cookie.
Cut the last 2 peanut butter cookies into quarters and top each pudding with one quarter.
Yield: 8 servings
*Cook’s note: The cookies and chocolate pudding can be made one day in advance.
-Replace the oats with gluten-free oats. Follow the recipe above.
Natural Sweetener Version:
-In the cookies: replace the brown sugar with equal parts firmly packed coconut sugar. Replace the white sugar with equal parts sucanat with honey (aka honey crystals).
-In the pudding: replace the sugar with equal parts sucanat with honey (aka honey crystals).
-In the whipping cream: replace the sugar with equal parts sucanat with honey.
Peanut Butter Cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
1 1/2 cups smooth natural peanut butter (salt added kind)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set up the Ankarsrum mixer with the plastic whipping bowl and single wire whisks.
Add the peanut butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla extract to the bowl and beat on low speed (2 o’clock) until combined. Add in the oats and baking soda. Mix until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for another 30 seconds to make sure the peanut butter is fully incorporated.
Scoop out the cookie dough into balls using a disher or tablespoon and place on the cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Gently pat until just flattened.
Bake for 13-14 minutes, until the edges are beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes. Once the cookies have cooled slightly and firmed up, place them on a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Yield: 32 cookies
Easy Chocolate Pudding
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Time: 3 1/2 hours
3 cups milk
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
Place one cup of the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top to allow to soften.
In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 2 cups of milk, cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Place over medium heat, and whisk until the cocoa and sugar are incorporated. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cocoa mixture just comes to a boil, approximately 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in the milk/gelatin mixture. Whisk until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour into a heat-safe medium bowl and place in the refrigerator for 3 1/2 hours, or until completely cooled and set.
Yield: 3 1/4 cup