No-measure peanut butter cookies. But how?

For this recipe, you’ll need no measuring cups, no measuring spoons, no scale

By Emma Laperruque
February 20, 2021 9:29PM (UTC)
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Prop stylist: Amanda Widis. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. (Rocky Luten / Food52)

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Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer — not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. Psst, did you hear we're coming out with a cookbook? We're coming out with a cookbook!

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We are told that baking is a science, that there's a right way to measure flour (fluff, spoon, level), that there's a wrong way to measure brown sugar (to pack or not to pack?), that weight is superior to volume, that grams are more precise than ounces. And all of this is true, but none of it matters right now.

For this recipe, you'll need no measuring cups, no measuring spoons, no scale. Not even a good night of sleep. And yet, still, somehow, with three ingredients that might already be in your kitchen, you'll bake up cookies that are pillowy and plush, with a fudgy center and mochi-like chewiness.

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Before they became an internet sensation, even more sought-after than many of their baked goods brethren, like chocolate cookies and M&M cookies and protein cookies (this is a thing?), three-ingredient peanut butter cookies popped up in cookbooks. Notably: "The Family Baker" (1999) by Susan G. Purdy, "BakeWise" (2008) by Shirley Corriher, and "Ovenly" (2014) by Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga, whose inspired addition of flaky salt was inaugurated into the Smitten Kitchen Hall of Fame.

To stick to three ingredients, all of these recipes ditch the usual suspects, like flour, butter, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla extract. Which leaves us with what? Just peanut butter, eggs, and sugar, be it granulated or brown.

Today, we're taking another route, one that keeps the ingredient list little, and makes the technique even lazier.

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Peanut butter? Check. Unsweetened, so the distinction between dessert and breakfast becomes blurry enough to fail an eye exam. Eggs? Check. Because, at least in my kitchen, they're never not around.

But — and this is where you ignore Google Maps directing you to stay on the highway, put on your blinker, change lanes, and zoom toward the billboard exit for an amusement park — sugar? Nope. Instead, we're reaching for a jar of jam.

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I don't need to tell you that peanut butter and jam are a power couple. But when you stir them together into cookie dough, they become more than the sum of their parts. Think of it like when Taylor Swift sings and then Bon Iver sings and then Taylor Swift sings and then Bon Iver sings and then, all of the sudden, Taylor Swift and Bon Iver sing, together, as one. That's the vibe.

While sugar serves up sweetness, jam delivers a fruity tang and, well, jammy texture. Peach and apricot both slap. But who's to stop you from enlisting apple or fig? Just stick to something that's orange-ish in color and humble in flavor, so the peanut butter can shine bright like a diamond.

I have a theory that if you give this cookie to someone who doesn't know that the just-so-goodness comes from jam, they'd never be able to guess. But I've only tested this on my husband and could use a bigger sample size. You can help with that, right?

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Recipe: 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes: About 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16-ounce) jar unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1 (13-ounce) jar apricot or peach jam
  • 2 large eggs
  • Flaky salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and line 2 sheet pans with a silicone mat or parchment. Add the peanut butter and jam to a bowl. Stir until combined. Crack in the eggs and stir again. Scoop the dough in heaping tablespoons onto the prepared pans, spacing each cookie a couple inches apart. Sprinkle with salt if you'd like. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until bouncy to the touch, browned on the bottom, and starting to crack on the top. Remove from the oven, wait a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Emma Laperruque

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