I volunteered to bring cookies—lots of them—to Grandma’s 90th birthday fête this weekend. I had in mind to bake old-fashioned kinds of cookies; nothing too swishy, but rather the types of cookies she might have made in her cookie-baking heyday. I remember Grandma making snickerdoodles and peanut butter cookies (especially peanut blossoms, with the melty chocolate kiss in the middle). So peanut butter cookies were first on my list. But I wanted a different kind of peanut butter cookie recipe, something distinctly summery, as opposed to the peanut blossom, which in our family is a traditional Christmas cookie recipe.
I had just made a batch of homemade strawberry jam and another of blueberry jam, and I will go to my grave a die-hard PB&J lover. So I searched through my copy of The Art and Soul of Baking and found a peanut butter thumbprint cookie recipe, which I adapted by using jam instead of caramel as the filling.
peanut butter & jam thumbprint cookies
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup creamy salted peanut butter (see Note)
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup jam or jelly, preferably homemade
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Place butter and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is creamy (alternately, use a hand mixer). Add egg and vanilla and blend well. Add peanut butter and beat until well-blended. Add dry ingredients all at once and mix on the slowest speed until thoroughly combined.
Use a small ice cream scoop or two spoons to portion out dough in Tbsp.-sized balls; place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart. Make sure the balls are neatly formed. Using the rounded end of a wooden spoon, make a depression in each cookie, about 1/3-inch or so deep. Bake cookies for 14 to 16 minutes, until lightly golden brown all over and a bit darker on the edges.
Heat the jam or jelly in a small saucepan. When the cookies come out of the oven, carefully spoon a bit of warm jam into each depression, filling it neatly. The warm jam and warm cookies will cool together, setting the jam and giving it a nice glossy sheen. Makes about 50 cookies.
Note: I rarely eat major-brand peanut butter, instead preferring the fresh-ground, peanut-only peanut butter I get at our local market. But the cookbook recommended name-brand over natural peanut butter, noting that it gives a better texture. So I used Peter Pan, with good results.