One of the most common questions that I receive after telling someone the name of my blog is, "Oh, do you only do peanut butter recipes?"
Makes perfect sense, right?
So then I tend to go into this whole explanation starting way back in 2007, when I was still trying to figure out what a blog was. It was not easy to decide on a name for my brand new "web log." I wanted it to be fairly concise, to make some sort of sense and, most of all, to be memorable.
This led to one serious blog-brainstorming session on my trusty legal pads (which I still use--haven't quite made the leap to my iPad.) Every potential phrase, culinary term and adjective that I could think of filled up several pink pages (I love a pink legal pad.)
But still, nothing. Nada. Zilch. I still hadn't found "the name."
Then, one night (I believe it was roughly 3 a.m.), the name came to me out of nowhere: Peanut Butter and Julie. It was cute, witty, not too long and pretty memorable. Yesss!
So then I just needed to hope that the URL was available. It wasn't. Did you know that Peanut Butter and Julie was the name of a band? Me neither. Fortunately, since we were still back in the blogging stone ages and Peanut Butter and Julie (the band) wasn't yet selling out Wembley Stadium, I was able to get it for a bargain. Done and done.
The funny thing is, having a blog titled Peanut Butter and Julie has almost become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I've always liked peanut butter, but somewhere along the way I started to love peanut butter. As in "I eat at least a little bit of peanut butter every day" love. I put it in my smoothies, spread it on Mary's Gone Crackers before a workout and go old-school-after-school, pairing it with a crisp Granny Smith apple.
And I bake with it. Lots. Like these cookies. Yum.
One thing that I love to do is come up with new ways to translate peanut butter and jelly into a sweet treat. When I had my Julie Annes' Granola company (another one of my 9 culinary lives), it only made sense that I had a flavor called "Berry Yummy PB&J," featuring crunchy peanut butter granola, salty peanuts and jammy dried strawberries. It was my favorite snack. What really inspired the flavor was the strawberries, When their intense and concentrated flavor was paired with the peanut butter, the result truly mimicked a pb&j sandwich.
These easy cookies were inspired by the same flavor combo. Dried strawberries are becoming more and more common in stores. Look for them in the bulk bins or the natural foods section. If you can't find them, substitute dried cranberries.
Oh, and my mom always made her peanut butter cookies with those criss-cross fork marks in the top. Roll them in sugar or don't roll them in sugar but, to me, those fork marks are non-negotiable.
Inspired by everyone's favorite lunchbox sandwich, peanut butter and jelly, these cookies feature lightly salted crunchy peanut butter and jammy chewy sun-dried strawberries. Serve them with a cold glass of milk, or sandwich them around some vanilla bean ice cream!
- 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) dried strawberries, diced into 1/2-inch (1 cm) pieces
- 3 cups (750 mL) all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) baking soda
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) baking powder
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
- 1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (250 mL) dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (250 mL) crunchy salted peanut butter
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
- Line 2 or 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Place the diced strawberries in a medium bowl and cover them with hot water; set aside to plump up while you prepare the cookie dough.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter with both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in peanut butter.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla.
- Drain the water from the dried strawberries. Add the strawberries to the dough and mix on low speed until combined.
- Cover bowl and chill dough for 1 hour (optional--see note.)
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C degrees, and place racks in lower and upper thirds positions.
- Using clean hands, roll dough into one-inch balls and place them on the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2-inched (5 cm) apart. If desired, you can roll balls in granulated sugar to coat before placing on baking sheet. Gently flatten balls with the palm of your hand. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Use a fork to make criss-cross designs on top of the cookies, pressing down with the tines.
- Bake cookies until golden brown, 11-13 minutes, switching positions of baking sheets halfway through baking process. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Freshly mixed cookie dough can be too sticky to roll into balls, so chilling the dough for an hour helps the process. If you are in a hurry, simply drop the dough onto baking sheets with a spoon.