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Crispy Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies

It has been a while since I made peanut butter cookies. They’re a great cookie to have in a basic baker’s repertoire because they are almost universally popular (except to those with peanut allergies), even if you’re not a fan of the nuts themselves. Basic peanut butter cookies have a slight chew to them, but you can really do a lot of different things with cookies that use it.
This variation on the classic peanut butter cookies comes from Maida Heatter’s Cookies and makes a light, crispy cookie. They use whole wheat pastry flour, which is a finely ground whole wheat flour that can usually be used interchangeably with regular all-purpose flour, unlike the coarser regular whole wheat flour. If you cannot find whole wheat pastry flour, you can substitute 3/4 cup all purpose and 1/2 cup regular whole wheat to make up the total 1 1/4 cups needed. The cookies also use raw sugar, which is much coarser than regular sugar and, according to Maida, contributes to the texture.
Because they taste so light, these cookies are very addictive and definitely need a glass of milk to go with them. They have a good peanut butter flavor and you can’t really taste anything “healthy” (they’re not really all that healthy) about them, despite the use of whole wheat flour.

Judging from the differences between my batch and Cathy’s batch, I would say that using a mainstream peanut butter (like Jif or Skippy) is better than using a natural one. I didn’t have any problems handling or slicing the dough once it was cold, though the dough does have to be sliced quickly before it thaws. I completely agree with Cathy’s comment that the cookies end up in perfect circles even if you slice them imperfectly. They spread a lot, and the spread covers up any flaws.

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies
(from Maida Heatter’s Cookies)
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup raw sugar
1 large egg

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg, then gradually incorporate the flour mixture.
Spoon cookie dough into a 12-inch log on a large piece of wax paper, then roll it up and freeze it for at least 3-4 hours, until firm.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Slice roll of dough into 1/4 inch thick slices and arrange on parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between cookies. If you don’t have enough sheet pans to hold all the dough at once, store the unsliced dough in the freezer until ready to use.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until cookies are golden and slightly firm to the touch at the edges.
Cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes about 48 cookies.

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  • Anonymous
    September 11, 2006

    hi, may I know whole wheat pastry flour = All purpose flour?

  • Julie
    September 12, 2006

    I like this variation on the usual peanut butter cookie. I love using whole wheat pastry flour and really can’t tell much difference. The raw sugar in these sounds good as well. PB cookies are my husband’s favorite.

  • valentinA ®
    September 12, 2006

    I like using raw sugar instead of refined sugar. You’re right, they do make a difference in the texture & the taste!

  • Cathy
    September 12, 2006

    Hi Nic – I actually used natural peanut butter both times. The first time was older and had less oil (since I’d drained it off each time I used it). The ones I sent you were from that batch and I was really happy with how they turned out. The more recent batch that I posted about were also made with natural peanut butter but were much more crumbly. I was guessing that this was due to the additional fat, but can’t be sure. I think the only problem with the natural peanut butter is the variability – especially if like me you tend to pour off the oil. I’ll have to try some regular peanut butter to see how that compares. I’m also curious to try cutting back on the butter. Alright, I’ve rambled on long enough! Anyway, if anyone has made it this far – the recipe is really wonderful and well worth trying!

  • Abster
    September 15, 2006

    Oh me, oh my! Peanut butter is my current favorite crave-inducing flavor! Looking at the cookies you baked is already making me want to grab and eat one!

  • Brenda
    September 19, 2006

    Have you tried baking with silicone bakeware?

  • Nic
    September 20, 2006

    Aside from the occasional use of my silpat, I do not like silicone bakeware – particularly not pans for cakes and things.

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