Posted in Baking With My Ancestors

Baking with My Ancestors: School Lunch Peanut Butter Cookies

I don’t know about you, but I have been doing a lot of baking during this stay at home time.  I love to bake anyway, but having to stay home on the weekends is making me more creative in the kitchen. Last week, I decided to take my baking skills to Facebook Live and share some recipes.  When deciding what to bake, I wanted to include my love of genealogy and history.  If you know me, then you know that baking and history are my two biggest passions.  Any time I can combine the two make me a very happy girl!

I stumbled across this recipe and read the history behind it.  It seems that peanut butter cookies (and this recipe in particular) became very popular during the Great Depression.  A time I feel that we can all relate to at the moment.  Peanut Butter became a star because it was a great source for protein and B vitamins.  Vegetable shortening was used because it was much less expensive than butter.

Peanut Butter cookies can thank lunch room ladies for their new-found popularity during the Great Depression and the years following.  Women were going to work and many of them found employment in the lunch room of schools.  The lunch ladies wanted an inexpensive, but nutritional, way to give the kids a treat.  Enter the peanut butter cookies.  Cookies were made in bulk on Monday and stored to be used through out the week.  The cookies had a longer shelf life than the average cookie, which lended itself to the penny-pinching mindset of the time.

Below, you’ll find a recipe for the School Lunch Peanut Butter cookie.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!  I’d love to see your finished product too!  Post a picture in the comments or on Social Media!  Make sure to tag @coolgirlgenealogy

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (can be light or dark)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons for pressing into the top of the cookies
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

How-To

  1. Place rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375F.  Set aside 2 ungreased baking sheets.
  2. Place the peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until creamy, about 1 minute.  Add the vanilla and egg, and beat on medium-low until the mixture is smooth, about 45 seconds.  Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  3. Whisk together the sifted flour, soda, and salt in a medium-size bowl and turn this into the peanut butter mixture.  Beat with the mixer on low speed until the dry ingredients are just incorporated, 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  4. Drop the dough in 1″ pieces spaced about 3″ apart on the pans.  Press the top of each ball twice with a fork dipped in the remaining granulated sugar, creating a crosshatch pattern.  Place one pan at a time in the oven.
  5. Bake the cookies until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies rest on the pan for 1 minute, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

(recipe c/o American Cookie cookbook)

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