A few months ago, I was trying to make Hamantaschen cookies because I liked the idea of having the fruit flavor combined with the cookie. I will get back to those in a few months. But, while I was trying to get those right, daughter Mindy said that I should do a PB & J cookie. I think I have developed a good PB & J cookie, and this is the recipe.
If you don’t want to add the jam to the cookie, it still makes a nice peanut butter cookie as shown on the plate in the picture.
At the last minute in developing this recipe, I decided to change one step in the directions; consider the change as an option. It makes the recipe slightly harder to make, but I think it is worth the extra work. The extra step delays filling the thumb print in the cookie with jam until after they are baked. The complexity is that the thumb print loses some of its depth during the cooking process and needs to be pressed again.
The reason I made the change is that when the thumb print is filled before baking, the jam is dried out and becomes a fruit leather. The change means that the jam is not cooked, and thus stays fresh. This following picture shows the cookies with the jam cooked with the cookie.
- 3/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tablespoon water
- 2 1/2 cups AP flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup jam
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Cream the butter and sugars.
- Add the vanilla, peanut butter, eggs, and water and beat until combined.
- Add the flour, baking soda and salt and beat until just combined.
- Place 2-tablespoon-size balls of dough on lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
- In the center of each ball, push an indentation to receive the jam.
- Optionally: Place about 1/4 teaspoon of jam in the indentation; do not overfill, or it will bubble out in the oven.
- Bake 12 to 14 minutes;
- Cool for 4 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to completely cool.
- Alternatively: Bake 12 to 14 minutes;
- Reform the thumb print indentation before the cookies have a chance to cool and set.
- Don’t try to move the cookies and cool for 4 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to completely cool.
- Fill the cookies with about 1/2 teaspoon of jam when they are cool.
Before forming the cookies, loosen the jam so that it is easy to separate out small portions. I used a small spoon we have that is used as a first spoon to feed babies to pick up the jam and drop it into the thumb-print on the cookies.
I used my #50 scoop to measure the dough, and placed the balls onto silicon mats lining my baking sheets; you can use parchment to line the baking sheets.
I used the tip of my thumb to make the indentation; after all, these are thumb-print cookies. The flat of my thumb was too big to make a good indentation.
I have made many dozen of these trying to get them right, and have discovered a few suggestions about making these cookies.
One trick if you decide to fill the thumb print after cooking is the need to reform the indentation as soon as the cookies come out of the oven and are hot. When you press down to reform the indentation, the surface of the cookie will crack slightly around the edge of the indentation- not a problem. I found that I had a couple different items in the kitchen that were about 1 inch in diameter which I could use to press down in the indentation without burning myself.
I was late in learning that just because a jam or preserve is a good color does not mean that it has any flavor. I have used strawberry preserves for the color, but I find that they are quite bland, and do not add flavor to the cookies. I find more flavor in the raspberry and apricot preserves. Red might look pretty, but go for flavor, and not looks.
You can really experiment with the size of the cookie. In the batch I show in the photos, I used both the #50 scoop for the smaller version of the cookies, and then I experimented with a #20 scoop (3 Tablespoons) for the larger version of the cookies. The larger version obviously holds more jam which was one of my objectives. However, the larger version of the cookie needs to cool longer on the baking sheets before it is moved- I would say 6 minutes. If the cookies are moved too soon, before they have firmed up a bit, you are apt to find the bottom under the jam dropping out, and the jam leaking out. My test is to do a light squeeze on the sides like I am going to pick the cookie up, and if the sides give, I wait longer for it to cool more and firm up.
Finally, from these last two photos you have a before and after comparison of the jam in the cookie. The first photo is of the cookies ready to go into the oven, while the second photo is of the cookies on the cooling racks. Even though I heap the jam up, the heat of the oven evaporates moisture from the jam and it ends up being indented just like the thumb print we made to hold the jam.
Please also recognize that the recipe can easily be scaled down to half size. The scary part of dividing the ingredients in half might be the places it calls for 3/4 cup of something; half of that is 6 Tablespoons. Most butter wrappers have 6 Tablespoons marked, and for measuring the sugars, you can use 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons, or 1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup- the latter is a standard measure for ground coffee.