Crossed-fork tops of peanut butter cookies

Someone brought a batch of peanut butter cookies to the office today, and it occurred to me that I’ve never seen any other cookie that had been smashed down with a fork, nor have I seen PB cookies that weren’t smashed.

Is there a culinary reason for this or is it just one of those things that’s always done?

And are there other baked (or any other style) items that have an identifying feature that’s just there because it’s always been that way?

And if you’re envious, don’t be - the cookies were just sorta meh - too soft and grainy. Maybe that’s why they were brought in for us?? :smack:

The first time I tried to make peanut butter cookies, I simply scooped and baked them without mashing them. The batter didn’t spread out as it should have and I just got rather disappointing lumps that never really cooked in the middle before the edges blackened. That being said, IMHO, that’s just one of those thing that’s done - because it’s simple and it works.

My family’s always done snickerdoodles and hermits (molasses cookies) that way too. It helps them cook evenly.

My ma’s always done a single fork smash-down for her PB cookies. Is there a difference in the final product if a cross-mash is used?

Cooking evenly makes sense - I’m guessing PB doesn’t melt the same way butter or shortening does in cookie dough.

I’d never do it on snickerdoodles, tho it would keep the balls from rolling off the cookie sheet. I do smoosh them down slightly to flatten the bottom.

There was a thread about the fork marks, and the most interesting theory was that they were meant to resemble the texture of a peanut shell.
I know nothing about the need to smash the dough down.

If nothing else, they make a brownish-tannish homogeneous cookie easily distinguishable from all of the other brownish-tannish homogeneous cookies.

I always do a thumb print in peanut butter cookies, it’s a place for grape jelly to go.

The feeling (for me) is that a single smash-down would result in an oval-shaped cookie. The second one restores the circular shape.

Probably bullshit, but there ya go…

This is what I always thought, though I cannot for the life of me recall where I heard / read it (it wasn’t here). That also aligns with distinguishing it from the other cookies.

"The first time that these fork marks were widely instructed to be placed on the cookie tops was in a recipe from a 1936 Pillsbury cookbook. There was no explanation given in the recipe as to why the fork hash marks were called for, but people made them anyways.

Peanut butter cookie dough is denser than a lot of other cookie doughs. Putting the hash marks in the cookie dough balls actually flattens them for more even baking. Without being pressed, the cookies will not cook evenly. And nobody likes a cookie that’s half burnt and half raw. When the cookies bake, they should come out soft with crispy edges.

Another potential reason (or just a benefit) for the fork mark is to warn people who have peanut allergies. When individuals with nut allergies see the grid marks in the cookie, they know which cookie(s) to stay away from."

Or a Hershey Kiss! :smiley:

My mother seldom did Hershey Kisses, she used the larger, flatter ones that look like they were squeezed through a star tip. I don’t know what they’re called. I always took them off, that’s a chocolate/cookie ratio that’s tilted far too much toward the chocolate end. I tend toward the “it bakes more evenly if it’s a little flatter, and the dough doesn’t spread as much as some other doughs” theory.

Those were probably Brach’s chocolate stars! My dad loved those.

We flattened molasses and certain sugar cookies with the bottom of a juice glass dipped in sugar. Maybe snickerdoodles too - I can’t remember.

I could really go for some snickerdoodles now.

Oh, yeah, a fancy crystal one with an interesting-shaped base. My family did that, too, but it’s been a while since we’ve made that kind.

That’s a great idea! I love PB&J and I love cookies. Best of both worlds!

The world’s first hash-tags!

I once had a cook book that listed, as an alternative to pressing with a fork, covering a glass with a waffle-weave dish cloth and using it to press. I don’t remember if the cloth was supposed to be moistened first.

Yup. Here’s the old thread: A question about peanut butter cookies. The “peanut shell resemblance” theory was mine.

I don’t buy the “so they’ll cook evenly” explanation. There are plenty of other cookies that are thicker than peanut butter cookies, and they cook just fine without flattening. There’s no property inherent to peanut butter that would require special segmented smashing before cooking.