Making these Peanut Butter Cut Out Cookies is a Halloween tradition from my childhood.
The recipe was clipped (about a million years ago) from a Cleveland newspaper, The Plain Dealer. I remember the recipe was called, “Peanutty Pumpkin Cookies,” and employed the use of a one pound coffee tin lid as the large cookie cutter. It was probably a 5″ circle; once cut, we would then individually carve out each stem and a piece of the bottom to make the circle resemble a pumpkin. (Seriously…were there really no pumpkin cookie cutters back then? Maybe none large enough for the job…)
Once these jumbo sized cookies were baked, we gathered around the table to frost them with a simple powdered sugar icing. Then, came the good part, because these weren’t your average sugar cookie cut out, but a peanut butter cookie cut out. We used melted chocolate to make the faces, giving each cookie its own delicious personality.
The cookies are full of peanut butter flavor and, depending upon how thin you roll them and how long you bake them, a nice soft cookie. You don’t often see iced peanut butter cookies, but the icing works so well here. It adds a nice creamy sweetness to the slight saltiness of the peanut butter. It also helps keep the cookie soft. Of course, the chocolate is a perfect partner as well, and we use semi sweet or dark to balance the sweetness of the icing.
We rekindled this tradition with my own family when the kids were small. We used to set aside a day for pumpkin cookies and then we would carve our pumpkins. Now that they’re a bit older, they invite their friends over for cookie decorating and leaf pile jumping. I must mention, as fun as these cookies are to make and decorate, they are not just another pretty iced cookie meant for kid consumption. If you love peanut butter cookies, you will definitely love these. They are delicious! Every time we make them, I wonder why we only make them once a year. I think it’s time to change that…
I use smaller, albeit ready made, modern pumpkin and other cookie cutters for this recipe. If you want to go jumbo or be retro, all you need is the lid from a one pound can of coffee, a sharp knife to cut out a stem and shape the pumpkin, and you’re in business.
Peanut Butter Cut Out Cookies. This is one deliciously sweet tradition.
Click on the images below for some decorating inspiration from past years…
Peanut Butter Cut Out Cookies
For the Cookies:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 cups firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour see note to insure you're measuring this correctly
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the Icing:
- 3 cups confectioner's sugar
- Water or milk
- Food coloring
- 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- In a large bowl, cream butter and peanut butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- With mixer on low, add in sugar, eggs and vanilla until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture and stir until combined. (I used the lowest setting of my stand mixer for this, but it can be done by hand)
- Place plastic wrap directly on top of the dough in the bowl and chill for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Roll dough out on a floured surface and cut into desired shapes, flouring your cookie cutter between cuts.
- Place cut out cookies onto a greased cookie sheet or on a sheet lined with a silpat or parchment.
- Bake about 8-10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned and set. Time will vary widely based on your oven and the size of your cookies.
- Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes until set, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Mix the confectioner's sugar with enough water or milk to create your preferred spreading consistency. I generally use water for this icing. Color, as desired, with food coloring.
- Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring at each interval until chocolate is smooth and glossy. I sometimes add 1/2 teaspoon or so of shortening to loosen it up a bit.
- Transfer the melted chocolate to a zippered plastic bag and cut the corner tip off, or use a piping bag.
- Decorate cookies as desired.
*If you use salted butter, reduce salt to 1/2 tsp.
*My cookie cutters ranged from about 2 1/2" to 3 1/2". This recipe yielded about 45 of the smaller size and 13 of the larger size. If you use the coffee can lid, I would estimate you'd yield about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.
*Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. We've also frozen them, and while the decorations don't fare as well from a visual standpoint, the cookies still taste delicious.
*Update 7-17-16-There's a lot of flour in this recipe so please be careful to measure it correctly. Too much flour will result in a dry dough. I use the spoon and sweep method which leaves me with a cup of flour that weighs about 4.25 ounces. The spoon and sweep method starts with fluffing the flour to loosen it up. Then lightly spoon the flour into your measuring cup until it's overfull. Use a butter knife to scrape across the top to level the flour.
Adapted from The Plain Dealer, article by Mary Krohme
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