Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies
January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day.
And it just so happens that I’ve made the best peanut butter cookies of my entire life in honor of it.
I am a huge, ridiculous peanut butter fan, lover, and connoisseur. I have quite the collection of recipes using it: 35 Favorite Peanut Butter Recipes, 20 Peanut Butter Recipes, Peanut Butter and Jelly Recipes, and a master compilation of all the Peanut Butter Recipes I’ve blogged about. Yes, I love peanut butter.
I’m not one to throw around labels like ‘The Best’ or ‘Best Of’ if I really don’t think something is. When people talk and every other thing is amazing, life-changing, or the best, I tend to not take them seriously. Some things are good, some things are great, but to say The Best means there’s very little, if any, room to improve. But I can proudly say, these cookies get my vote as The Best peanut butter cookies I’ve ever made.
And here’s the most amazing thing about these cookies. There’s no flour, no butter, and no white sugar used. And they taste better than any other peanut butter cookie I’ve had, many of which use plenty of those ingredients. Edited to add: For those compelled to comment that brown sugar is white with molasses added, yes, I’m aware.
I tweaked my nearly three-year old recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies and with a few changes, it went from a recipe that was very good and has served me quite well for years, to something that is dangerous to have in the house. It’s a good thing this is a 16-count batch size. Or, if you make them larger, about one dozen cookies.
They’re the easiest cookies you’ll ever make, with only six ingredients, and one of them is vanilla, which hardly counts. The recipe is naturally gluten-free because there’s no flour, and it’s one egg away from being vegan.
There are countless versions and variations on flourless peanut butter cookies. I’ve seen various types of peanut butter used, from creamy to crunchy, natural to not. The type and quantities of sugars vary, from using all granulated to all brown, to a combo of both. The inclusion or absence of baking soda; warm versus chilled dough; dough rolled in balls or dropped from tablespoons; fork-tine crossmarks and not. There are so many little tweaks that can be made to a four to six-ingredient recipe.
For my version, I used one cup Peanut Pan Creamy Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and I don’t advocate using natural or Homemade Peanut Butter. As lovely as homemade peanut butter is for eating with a spoon, spreading on toast, or making pans of bars with, it lacks the structure that storebought peanut butter has. Because these cookies have no flour which would lend structure, using peanut butter that’s oily, natural, and loose is going to result in cookies that are loose and may not bake up as thick.
You could try using natural peanut butter and I’ve seen some people have success, but I get much better results with commercial. Good old-fashioned Jif, Skippy, or Peter Pan are my recommendations. I detest nuts in baked goods and creamy peanut butter is the only way for me, but if you like little pebbles in your cookies, go with crunchy.
Add the peanut butter and light brown sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Spraying the measuring cup with cooking spray will help it plop out easier. In my former recipe, I used three-quarters cup granulated sugar and one-quarter cup brown sugar, but in the past three years, I’ve learned some things.
I’ve learned that I strongly prefer to use brown sugar when possible. It helps baked goods stay moist and soft, and it adds greater depth of flavor than granulated sugar. Most recently I made Brown Sugar Maple Cookies using only brown sugar and was so pleased with the soft. moist, and tender results, that I used exclusively brown sugar in these peanut butter cookies.
Please don’t write to tell me that brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added. I’ve been told that about 500 times. I am making a taste claim about brown sugar, not a health claim. You cannot get the flavor from white sugar that brown sugar lends.
To the peanut butter and brown sugar, add one egg, one tablespoon of vanilla extract, and one teaspoon baking soda. In my old recipe, I only used one-half teaspoon vanilla, but I am a vanilla fiend and added it amply enough to matter; one tablespoon. No more of this half-teaspoon business, but if you’re one of those people who prefer less, go with less. I go with more.
I didn’t use baking soda in the past, and in looking back at those old photos, the cookies are thinner because there was no chemical leavening. Part of the thinness also stems from baking with warm dough, but I’ve since corrected the errors of my ways on both accounts.
Mix all the ingredients until well-combined. The brown sugar is gritty and granular for the first few minutes of beating, so make sure to cream the ingredients until the sugar has smoothed out and the dough is nice and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. The dough comes together, even without flour, and remarkably it’s not a sticky mess, thanks to the natural oils in the peanut butter.
These cookies would have been perfectly fabulous without adding chocolate, but chocolate and peanut butter is quite possibly the best food pairing on the planet. I decided to go for broke and add as much chopped chocolate as I possibly could. I used six ounces of a roughly diced 72% Pound Plus Bar. I like the darkness and slight bitterness of the chocolate, contrasted with the honey in the peanut butter, and with molasses that’s naturally found in brown sugar. Most semi-sweet chocolate chips are in the 50 to 55% range, and I relish the extra bump in dark chocolate intensity.
Unlike chocolate chips which have stabilizers added to them, which slow down the rate the chips melt when heated, chocolate bars and baking chocolate don’t have them and when heated, the chocolate pools and forms puddles, rivers, and streams that run through the cookies.
Add the chocolate and beat momentarily to incorporate, and as tempting as it is to bake the cookies right away because the dough is just so good, it must be chilled for at least two hours, up to five days, before being baked for thicker, puffier cookies. Baking with warm dough is a recipe for flatter pancake cookies, as my old photos show.
Using a medium-sized two-inch cookie scoop, form the dough mounds. This translates to almost two tablespoons of dough, or about 1.60-ounces by weight. For this batch of cookies, I made 16 balls, ate two, baked 14. You could divide the dough into 16 pieces for medium-to-smaller cookies like I made, or divide it into one dozen pieces for slightly larger cookies. These aren’t jumbo bakery-style cookies, which means you can have seconds. Or fourths.
Place the dough onto baking sheets about two inches apart, about 8 per tray. Prior to baking, flatten the mounds slightly. If your dough is very well-chilled, you can flatten them a bit more so they don’t stay mounded up in little puffballs while baking, just don’t over-flatten like I recently cautioned against.
Bake at 350F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, but I really recommend the lower end of that range. The cookies in the photos were baked for eight minutes exactly, with the trays rotated once at the four-minute mark. The cookies will look underdone at eight minutes, but firm up as they cool. Let them cool on the baking trays for 5 to 10 minutes before moving them.
If you like crispy and crunchy peanut butter cookies, this probably isn’t the recipe for you since these are all about soft, chewy, and melty. But if you prefer slightly more well-done cookies, go for nine-ish minutes, maybe ten, but I would not bake them longer than 10 minutes or they’ll set up too firm and crunchy as they cool, and you’ll miss out on the ooey, gooey, melt-in-your mouth qualities, which are make these my favorite peanut butter cookies.
Yes, they’re a new favorite. The dough itself is as robustly peanut butter flavored as you can get. There’s no butter and no flour to take away any of the intensity of flavor. Just pure peanut butter intensity. The honey roasted peanut butter makes for a slightly sweeter cookie than using regular peanut butter, and it’s a great contrast to the bittersweet dark chocolate.
The exclusive use of brown sugar keeps these cookies moist beyond words and they stay soft for a week. Or keep the unbaked dough in your fridge and bake off two or four mounds at a time. The recipe makes a small batch anyway, and I doubt you’ll have to worry about lingering leftovers or these gooey nuggets stale on you. You’ll have to worry more about when you’re going to fit in some additional cardio.
The edges have a bit of chewiness to them, the interior is so soft and tender, the peanut flavor is distinctly present, and chunks and rivers of dark chocolate ooze everywhere.
It’s hard to believe there’s no butter, no flour, and no white sugar in them.
They’re my definition of the perfect cookie.
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Edited To Add – Troubleshooting Tips
There are similar recipes on Allrecipes (2000 comments), The Food Network (275 comments), Epicurious (325 comments) – all with very high to nearly perfect user ratings and feedback. For anyone who has had trouble with my recipe, I recommend reading the comments on those other sites and perhaps they will help you troubleshoot your issues.
Also, googling “flourless peanut butter cookies” will pull up hundreds of bloggers who have similar recipes on their sites.
For example, Heidi of Foodie Crush made cookies using my recipe on her site here, minus the chocolate chunks. Rather than 1 cup brown sugar, she used 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar.
I love peanut butter!
35 Favorite Peanut Butter Recipes (as of September 2012)
master compilation of all Peanut Butter Recipes
Here are 10 favorites below:
1. Homemade Peanut Butter (vegan if plain peanuts are used, GF) – Ready in 5 minutes and you have not lived until you’ve made your own
2. Homemade Cookie Butter Peanut Butter (vegan, GF) – So similar to Biscoff or Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter and it comes together in minutes in the food processor. Dangerously good
3. Special K Bars (no-bake) – The recipe is from my Grandma and one of my favorite bars of all time and ironically was the first picture Foodgawker ever accepted of mine. 250+ later, it’s fun to think back
4. Coconut Peanut Butter Magic Cake Bars – One of my favorite bar-desserts that I’ve ever posted (tied with the bars below it). If Seven Layer Bars (aka Magic Bars or Hello Dolly Bars) met a golden yellow butter cake rather than a graham cracker crust, that’s what these are like
5. White Chocolate Vanilla Marshmallow Cake Bars – One of my favorite desserts that I’ve ever posted (tied with the bars above) – There are four main layers to these bars. Gooey butter cake, peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk, white chocolate chips, more white chocolate. The pictures don’t do them justice
6. Peanut Butter & Jelly Blondies – So dense and rich they’re peanut butter fudge-like with jelly swirled throughout
7. Marshmallow Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Pillowtop Bars – One of my favorite desserts of 2011. Creamy, sweet, rich. A soft and sweet marshmallow-peanut butter top layer adorns a base of oats, sweetened condensed milk, and white chocolate. An all-time favorite
8. Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies – One of my favorite cookie recipes on my site. Chewy, filled with texture, and combines three of my favorite cookies in one – chocolate chip, oatmeal, and peanut butter – and very easy to make, no mixer required
9. Peanut Butter Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies – One of my all-time favorites, I love these cookies and they’re similar to the cookies above, but with white chocolate chips. I love them
10. Peanut Butter Cocoa Krispies Smores Bars – Thanks to Pinterest, one of the most popular recipes on my site. No need for campfires, make s’mores at home. These smores have three layers, including a cocoa-crispy cereal top layer that’s made with peanut butter
And there’s no peanut butter in them, but these are my favorite Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies
I wrote a Peanut Butter Cookbook
Do you like peanut butter? Love peanut butter?
Do you have a favorite recipe for peanut butter cookies? Or any favorite recipes using peanut butter? What are you eating or making in honor of National Peanut Butter Day?
Please tell me about them and leave links. I am always game for trying new peanut butter-based recipes.