Inspired: Rethinking PB&J

I’m kind of apathetic toward peanut butter and jelly. There, I said it. I know, I know…who doesn’t love PB&J?! It’s a uniquely American thing that’s like mother’s milk to kids who grow up in this country. But I didn’t grow up eating peanut butter and jelly, so for me it’s been an acquired taste.Peanut butter cookies with blackberry jam

True to my Australian roots, I’ll choose Vegemite and cheese over peanut butter and jelly when it comes to nostalgic kid food. I didn’t have my first peanut butter and jelly sandwich until I was almost 10 years old when a friend made one for me. Sure, we had peanut butter at my house (Skippy, natch). And we had jam — we didn’t call it jelly. But they didn’t go together on a sandwich. The combination was as strange to me as Vegemite and cheese might be to an American kid. The sandwiches my mother made for school lunches were typical of what she would have made if we were still living in Australia: curried egg salad, Vegemite, or cold cuts. But no peanut butter and jelly.

Over time, the classic peanut butter-and-jelly-on-white-bread found its way into my school lunch repertoire. At home I tried different breads, different peanut butters, and different jams. I liked wheat bread over white, crunchy peanut butter over creamy, and strawberry jam over grape jelly. Still, it was a functional sandwich, and I didn’t love it the way my American friends did.

And yet today being National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, I was inspired to re-think the PB&J combo — to give it another chance. Maybe not as a sandwich, but as a sweet treat of some kind. (Yeah, the pastry chef in me loves a challenge.) Lots of fun ideas came to mind: frozen peanut butter custard with a fruit swirl, peanut butter ganache with a layer of pâte de fruit, and so on. In the end I decided on a nice little treat that was easy to make and gave equal play to both the peanut butter and the jelly. Why not put them together in a cookie? I’ve always thought that peanut butter cookies needed something more, and maybe that “more” is the jelly. Here’s how to add some jelly to your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Blackberry Jam


Sheet pan
Parchment paper
Seedless blackberry jam
Round measuring spoon about 1″ in diameter (or similar tool)
1½” ice cream scoop (handy if you have it, but not required)

How To:

  1. Make a batch of your favorite peanut butter cookie dough.
  2. Follow the instructions in your recipe for pre-heating the oven.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Form the dough into 1½” balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet, spaced evenly.
    Here’s where I like to use the 1½” ice cream scoop. The scooping and shaping process goes quickly, and you end up with uniform cookies — which means that they all bake evenly. Peanut butter cookie dough balls
  5. Using a round measuring spoon (or similar tool), press down on each ball of dough, flattening it slightly and making an indentation for the jelly.
    I used a metal measuring spoon (1 teaspoon) to make the indentation.
    Tip: If you use a measuring spoon, dip the back of the spoon in flour to minimize the spoon sticking to the dough.Indentations added to peanut butter dough balls
  6. Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator for a few minutes to chill the cookie dough (just until cool and firm).
    Meanwhile, prepare the jam.
  7. Using a teaspoon, fill each indentation with jam.
    If you have a piping bag, you can also fill the bag with jam and pipe it into each indentation.Jam added to peanut butter cookie dough
  8. Bake cookies according to your recipe’s directions, turning the pan halfway through baking time to ensure even baking.
  9. Allow cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet before serving or storing.
  10. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to three days.Peanut butter cookies with blackberry jam

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