Note: Lee Zalben, a.k.a. "the Peanut Butter Guy" is the creator of the Peanut Butter & Co., a New York sandwich shop with a national line of nut butters. Every week he chimes in with some nuttiness.
The phone rang the other day. It was my mother. Those of you who have read my posts before may recall that while I'm more of a from-scratch kind of guy, my mother is more, well semi-homemade.
"We're doing the office cookie swap next week, and I thought I should bring in some peanut butter cookies. Did you know that if you take a tube Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookie dough and mix it with some of your peanut butter, it makes perfect peanut butter cookies?"
Now I didn't really know what to say—it kind of goes against every fiber in my being to do something like that.
"Why didn't you just use the recipe in our cookbook?" I asked, half knowing the answer.
"Your recipes are all too complicated," she said. "And I didn't want to mess up the kitchen with all that flour and baking soda."
Now to me, that's why you have a kitchen—to mess it up with flour and baking soda. Half the fun of baking is getting your hands in the ingredients in their most basic form. But I will concede that Mom has a point—not everyone has time for the from-scratch philosophy every day. She cooks and bakes the way most of America does. And I learned from the whole Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie fiasco that her "innovations" often turn out pretty well.
But now I had another question for her. Why didn't she just buy pre-made Pillsbury peanut butter cookie dough?
"Oh Lee, I could never buy pre-made peanut butter cookie dough. That would be like me buying a jar of someone else's peanut butter!" As a loyal mother of a peanut butter entrepreneur, she perished the thought of buying someone else's peanut butter product.
Ah there it is: my mom's real recipe. One part love, one part support, and a pinch of guilt for ever doubting her. No matter how my mother bakes, she parents from scratch.
The next day a tin arrived at the office with a dozen peanut butter cookies. They were in fact, tremendously delicious, and no one could tell they were semi-homemade.
So if you're preparing for a cookie swap and want to bring peanut butter cookies but take a few shortcuts, try this recipe. I even created a few variations for those looking for more spunk. (I highly recommend the third tip.)