We have spoiled our kids and grandchildren with all the indulging goodies during the holiday season; and they loved it. Now, we feel guilty to cut them out from their lunch box completely; however, logic tells us that we cannot and should not continue to pamper them with high-sugar content snacks for the rest of the year (although, I am sure they will not object to it).
After a long day of thinking about how to select a middle road, I came up with a genius idea. Most kids love that simplest of treats, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. According to the National Peanut Board, the average kid eats 1500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before graduating high school.
I decided to channel the essence of the peanut butter and jelly (PB&J) into an even more delicious peanut butter and jelly cookie. This combines a healthy snack that is packed with many of the important B-complex vitamins and antioxidants, with the need to satisfy the cravings for sweets.
What goes better with peanut butter than chocolate? We all know by now the many health benefits of dark chocolate. There is a growing credible scientific evidence that dark chocolate has a host of heart-healthy and mood-enhancing chemicals, with benefits to both the body and mind. Chocolate cookies would be my sandwich bread.
I thought it would be easy, but I should have known better: just because something is simple it does not necessarily mean easy.
Interestingly, the “PB&J” got its first start not as a treat but as a desperation meal.
In the Depression, meat was hard to come by. Peanut butter had been a delicacy served in high-end restaurants until the 1920’s, when mass production brought down the price. Also invented in the 1920’s—pre-sliced white bread. Presto—when times were tough, peanut butter sandwiches proved the perfect protein solution. Peanut butters of this time were even stickier than today, so jams or jelly made it easier to eat, as well as offering what every child wants, sweet.
But the peanut butter and jelly sandwich only really made it when it received the blessing of the U.S. military. In World War II, the military used peanut butter as a cheap protein alternative, which when combined with wheat bread, makes a complete protein. Jelly was added to make it easier to eat. Meanwhile, back home, peanut butter was one of the few protein sources that weren’t subject to rationing. What started, as a necessity became habit and then affection. In the postwar years, the PB&J became the cultural icon it remains today.
For my first attempt at PB&J cookies, the cookies spread too much (apparently too much sugar) and lacked flavor. The peanut butter took control over the taste and texture. (I was so disappointed that I forgot to photograph the “ill” cookies). Nevertheless, I was ready for the improved batch.
Of course, I was going over the recipe and the method of preparation to find the source of the problem. The first thing I came up with (aside from the too much sugar) is the store-bought peanut butter (I used Jiffy). I also have to tell you that somehow during my traveling around I lost my scale and I did not have a chance to replace it yet.
I decided to buy a more expensive “au natural” organic peanut butter for my next batch. This one had the oil separated from the mixture, kind of floating on the top. I knew that I can mix it and most likely it will be creamy and taste “peanut buttery” with a touch of creamy milk chocolate.
Two things happened: first, I had a hard time to mix the oil and the peanut butter and most likely I did not mix the two well. Second, the baked cookies’ texture was too hard almost immediately after cooling. The next day, I needed a good set of teeth to be able to take a bite. I did not think that it is for children (especially young ones) with their primary teeth.
There could be a number of reasons for cookies to become tough (and that could be discussed in a separate report), but Good Housekeeping advocates placing a slice of bread into the jar where you keep the cookies to soften them. I question this method because I am not sure what else the bread will do to the cookies.
Although they did not look over baked, I cannot thing that anything else could have caused the over hardening. I also should have remember that in convection oven, what I used this time, you need to cut the baking time.
This time, however, I photographed some of the cookies, because they looked so nice and I worked hard to create a design on half of the cookies, so that when I made them into a sandwich, the design would add another attractive touch for the kids.