A question about peanut butter cookies

I’ve been meaning to start this thread for a long time, but have never actually got off my duff to do it

I am a baker, IRL, professionally, and have searched for this, but haven’t found an authoritative answer.

Why do peanut butter cookies always, and I mean every single PB cookie I’ve ever seen, have those criss-cross marks on them? Most often done with a fork, but I actually have a little wooden press from a former job, that made the pattern.

Store bought, home made, wherever, even the pictures on packages of PB cookie mix portray them with the criss-cross pattern.

Does anyone know how, where, or why this happened?

From Wikipedia, for what it’s worth, here:
The early peanut butter cookies were rolled thin and cut into shapes. They were also dropped and made into balls. They did not have fork marks. The first reference to the famous criss-cross marks created with fork tines was published in the Schenectady Gazette on July 1, 1932. The Peanut Butter Cookies recipe said “Shape into balls and after placing them on the cookie sheet, press each one down with a fork, first one way and then the other, so they look like squares on waffles.” Pillsbury, one of the large flour producers, popularized the use of the fork in the 1930s. The Peanut Butter Balls recipe in the 1933 edition of Pillsbury’s Balanced Recipes instructed the cook to press the cookies using fork tines. The 1932 or 1933 recipes do not explain why this advice is given, though: peanut butter cookie dough is dense, and without being pressed, it will not cook evenly. Using a fork to press the dough is a convenience; bakers can also use a cookie shovel.

So, Baker, what is a cookie shovel?

Um, can’t say I know what a cookie shovel is.

Thanks for the article. How come I couldn’t find that? I guess, as some say about their searches, my google fu is weak.

Now, when scooping cookie dough at work, I use scoops of various sizes. Most people would look at them and say “Ice cream scoops”

They are numbered based on how many scoops you would get out of a US quart. So a # 8 is a really large cookie, with a half cup of dough. A #30 is smaller then, a little over two tablespoons of dough. For itty bitty one bite cookies I’ve used a #70, which is just short of a tablespoon.

When I do peanut butter cookies, I flatten the large ones first and scrape fork marks on them. The recipe I use doesn’t flatten on it’s own, and a big cookies needs to spread so it will bake evenly. Smaller peanut butter cookies I scoop the ball of dough and press it flat with the fork.

Looks like a large spatula with a sharper than average angle at the handle. http://www.amazon.com/kitchen-dining/dp/B0006ZKLKI

And that’s the answer. I’ve never had a peanut butter cookie recipe that does flatten on its own. Occassionally I’m too lazy to squish, and they stay pretty rounded like a snickerdoodle, and don’t entirely cook through the middle. Which I kind of like in my own kitchen, but wouldn’t sell d/t the salmonella risk. My guess is if you’d ask Alton Brown, he’d tell you it has to do with the fiber and protein content of the peanut butter, and how it doesn’t melt in the oven exactly like butter does.

It’s a pretty good system, tho - it helps you identify peanut butter cookies from say, a molasses cookie or even a sugar cookie if they all have the same hue.

And in this day and age of peanut allergies it’s probably doubly good that peanut butter cookies are easier to spot from a distance! :slight_smile:

I think, based on the above info, that the fork marks have just become the traditional way now to indicate that this is a peanut butter cookie as opposed to a sugar cookie or some other variety. Some drop cookies get flattened with a sugared glass, and several recipes I have recommend you use a glass with the divots or scallops on the bottom to make them pretty. That was probably the thinking behind those first tine marks…just a quick easy way to add some textural interest while flattening.

Every since my good friend Kim introduced me to the tiny ice cream scoopers for cookies, my life has never been the same! I guard those things with my life! We do an annual mass cookie baking day together making hundreds of cookies in a dozen varieties and the scoops are essential to getting things done quickly! We prefer bite-size cookies, so the two smallest scoops are our favorites…just wish mine had the size number embossed on them so I could remember! The plastic ones they sell in most kitchenware sections are too big! And a regular ice cream scoop is too gigantic!

Don’t you ever entertain? You make a batch of cookies, put them on a platter, bring the platter out to your guests and say “Dig in!”

ETA: :smiley:

Do you have a good restaurant supply place anywhere near? They would have them.

To be fair, I had a peanut butter cookie from Panera this week with no fork marks!

This is actually what I assumed–that it’s a mark to help disambiguate similar looking cookies.

Now this is getting away from the standard plain peanut butter cookie, but peanut butter thumbprints are also popular, used as the base of peanut butter & jelly cookies, or the chocolate fill or Hershey’s Kiss. Same concept, you’ve got to press them down to bake. Even though they’re supposed to be filled with something, often in my house we end up just eating the plain thumbprints, because you know … warm peanut butter cookies in the house, why wait?

I see it’s Cookie Week here on the Dope.

What is everyone’s position on chunky peanut butter in the dough versus smooth?

Well, they’re not cookies, but I made scotcharoo bars a few weeks ago with chunky peanut butter and I’m never going back to smooth. The bits of peanut were a great bit of added texture.

My mom has a fancy crystal glass in her kitchen that I’ve never seen her use for any other purpose.

I use chunky PB in cookies and as far as I am concerned that’s the only thing it’s good for. DH uses chunky on sandwiches but I think that is gross.

I’m pretty sure the peanut butter cookies I had from Subway yesterday were lacking the criss-cross mark, just fyi. But I wasn’t looking out for them, so I could be mis-remembering.

It’s to warn you off, much like a cross for a vampire. I love PB, but can’t stand the damn things.

Local supermarket chain Giant Eagle in NE Ohio/W PA sells all their peanut butter cookies without any criss-cross marks…

Is it really more complicated than “because peanut shells have those little criss-cross hash marks on them”?

You know, that makes an uncommon amount of sense.