HAPPY NATIONAL PEANUT BUTTTER COOKIE DAY! (June 12th)
This cookie’s ooey-gooey center and salty-sweet crust will have any true peanut butter cookie fan jumping for joy! A final sprinkle of flaky sea salt crystals really bring out the flavor of the peanut butter, but are completely optional if you’re baking for a child who’s a picky eater, or just don’t have any on hand.
Yield: 18 - 20 cookies
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine, at a cool room temp (not melted)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar, plus extra for rolling
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Sea salt flakes, for finishing
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine 3/4 cup peanut butter with honey and salt, stirring well until thickened slightly. For ease of scooping, put the mixture in the refrigerator for 5 - 10 minutes.
3. Using a teaspoon-sized scoop or spoon, scoop chilled peanut butter mixture into 18-20 small balls. Place balls in the freezer while preparing the cookie dough.*
4. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, cream together butter, brown and white sugars until fluffy. Add 1/2 cup peanut butter and applesauce, and blend until well combined.
5. In a separate bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in two to three batches, mixing until well combined and a dough has formed.
6. Using a medium cookie scoop or large spoon, scoop dough into 1.5 tbsp-sized balls. Flatten each ball into a palm-sized circle, and place a chilled peanut butter ball in its center. Gently fold the dough around the peanut butter ball, pinching the edges closed to ensure that the ball is completely covered with dough.
7. Roll stuffed cookie dough ball in additional white sugar until well coated, and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Press down very gently on the top of the ball to flatten slightly, taking care not to let the edges crack. If desired, gently press a fork in a criss-cross pattern on the top of each ball.
8. Bake until the cookies are golden brown underneath, about 11-12 minutes. Serve warm with a sprinkle of sea salt flakes on top of each cookie.
* tip: for best results, do not freeze peanut butter balls for more than 10-15 minutes. If making balls ahead, store in the refrigerator and move to the freezer for just a few minutes before forming cookies.