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Peanut Butter Cut Out Cookies

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Making these Peanut Butter Cut Out Cookies is a Halloween tradition from my childhood.

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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…)

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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Peanut Butter Cut Out Cookies.  This is one deliciously sweet tradition.

Click on the images below for some decorating inspiration from past years…

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4.34 from 3 votes
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Peanut Butter Cut Out Cookies

Servings 4 -5 dozen cookies, depending upon the size of your cookie cutters

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and peanut butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. With mixer on low, add in sugar, eggs and vanilla until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. 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)
  5. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the dough in the bowl and chill for 2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  7. Roll dough out on a floured surface and cut into desired shapes, flouring your cookie cutter between cuts.
  8. Place cut out cookies onto a greased cookie sheet or on a sheet lined with a silpat or parchment.
  9. 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.
  10. Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes until set, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Transfer the melted chocolate to a zippered plastic bag and cut the corner tip off, or use a piping bag.
  14. Decorate cookies as desired.

Recipe Notes

*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

The Merchant Baker Copyright © 2014

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Millie

Wednesday 27th of May 2020

Well mine were crumbly. I didn’t know what to do so scratched the whole bowl.

Ramona

Wednesday 27th of May 2020

Hi Millie, I'm sure the problem was with the flour measurement. It's a large amount of flour, so if every cup is over measured you'll end up with way too much flour and therefore a dry crumbly dough. I have notes next to the flour measurement and in the notes section to make sure the measurement is taking correctly. If you have a scale, that's best, but read the notes about fluffing the flour to lighten it and then use the spoon and sweep method. Sorry it didn't work out for you.

Larissa

Thursday 21st of December 2017

I would love to try this recipe! How long do the cookies last? Wanted to make them in advance

Ramona

Thursday 21st of December 2017

Hi Larissa, you can bake and frost them and they'll be good for 3-5 days if stored at room temperature in an airtight container. Or, if you need to make them much farther in advance, you could bake them and freeze them before decorating. Then, ice/decorate them the day before you need them. (Be careful to measure your flour correctly. Too much flour will ruin the cookie!)

Amanda

Sunday 10th of December 2017

Can you use self-rising flour instead of AP flour? If so, do you leave out the baking soda, baking powder, and salt? Thanks

Ramona

Sunday 10th of December 2017

I can send you to this link at King Arthur that tells you how and if you can substitute. I never use self rising flour in general. For me, I just don't like the way it works or tastes. But, you can try the sub using their tips. They don't say anything about salt, so I don't know how you manage that one. The other issue is you have to be really careful in measuring your flour. You don't want to over measure and end up with a dry cookie. If it were me, I would wait until I had AP flour on hand and then just follow the recipe. I can't guarantee how the self rising will really work and I'd hate for you to make such a large batch of cookie dough that doesn't turn out the way you had hoped. You'd really have to experiment and see if you like the result.

Ali

Monday 4th of December 2017

Hello, I was curious if the eggs used in this recipe are large eggs. I currently have medium eggs in stock in my refrigerator and am not sure what the conversion ratio would be between large and medium eggs…Thanks!!

Ramona

Monday 4th of December 2017

Hi Ali! Yes, they are large eggs. Check this link for conversions for future reference. For this recipe, you can just go with 2 medium for the 2 large. Be careful about not over-measuring your flour, especially since you have just a teeny less liquid from the medium eggs.

Kat

Wednesday 1st of November 2017

I attempted your fluff and spoon and knife flour measuring method and the dough still came out crumbly :( I managed to get a dozen cutouts as I promised them to my daughter for decorating fun but baked the rest as thumbprint cookies with a giant chocolate chip in the center for moisture. Maybe we use different brands of flour and that matters? I'm bummed as we all love peanut butter and this would be perfect instead of sugar cookies for the holidays!

CrackerjackHeart

Wednesday 8th of November 2017

Hi Kat!

Also be aware of adjusting for altitude and climate. I live high in the Rockies in a mid latitude desert, so I often need to add extra liquid and decrease the leavener. Also, different brands of flour can have different moisture content. And be sure you are using butter - margarine is unpredictable from brand to brand. Finally, natural or freshly ground peanut butter has different oil/water/sugar balance than a regular brand like Jif.

Hope this is useful!

Ramona

Wednesday 1st of November 2017

Hey Kat, I've read the recipe a few times now and I think it could be an issue with the butter. Was yours cold or room temperature? I'm going to add another note to make sure it specifies room temperature. If that was the issue, I apologize. I'm normally very careful about what temp the butter should be, but this is the original recipe, not one I personally developed, and I didn't change the wording. The butter should definitely be room temperature so that you create a creamy, fluffy mixture with the sugar. This is why it needs to be refrigerated and very possibly why it ended up crumbly. Try a half of the recipe with the softened butter and let me know how that works out for you. And, if you're at all uncertain about the amount of flour, and you have a scale, I would weigh it. You'll need about 19.1 ounces.

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