Thursday, April 26, 2012

When you bumble at one thing, you can do something great with another!

One of the ways I try to cut costs is to make our own peanut butter. My husband likes natural peanut butter with no salt and no sugar added. Just ground up roasted peanuts. A jar of that (16ounces) is about $4 on up to $7 depending on where you find it. I can buy roasted, unsalted peanuts for $2 a pound. Grinding them takes just a couple minutes in the food processor and the big bonus is that then you don't have to stir up the peanut butter which, to me at least, is a huge pain in the butt.

So, I've been making my husband's peanut butter that way recently. Well, I got it into my head to try to make my version of Jif peanut butter. The rest of us in the household don't like the taste of natural, unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter. We like Jif. No, we love Jif. Jif is cheaper than natural, but it's still more expensive than making it at home. I can get two 40 ounce jars of it for $14.99. 80 ounces (or 5 pounds) to make fresh would be $10 plus the cost of sweetener. I decided on honey. Which, about wipes out the savings as honey is not cheap.

Anyway, so I tried to make Jif. Problem is, honey stiffens the peanut butter somehow. I got a very yummy blend of flavors with salt and honey and peanuts. But... it was solid. Kind of like the middle of a Reese's peanut butter cup, but even more 'stiff'. There was no way to spread that on bread. I tried in vain and all it did was sit on top like a blob with a gouged out hole in the bread.

Hmm... what to do, what to do. I now had 2 pounds of this yummy stuff that I couldn't spread on bread.

Well, I decided to make cookies with it. I had made these cookies the week before and they were delicious. Maybe with this homemade almost peanut butter, it would work.

Here is the recipe (though I tweaked it) Paula Deen's Monster Cookies. When don't I tweak recipes?

Here is what I did, which is doubling it too. I double it because that way I am using a full bag of chips and a full bag of M&Ms. They last a long time and freeze well. I would rather have that than half bags of things laying around. Then again, I'm in a household of two hungry boys and we go through things quickly. You can always halve what you see below:


  • 6 eggs
  • 2.5 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 12-ounce jar creamy peanut butter (since it had salt I didn't add salt)
  • 2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4s of a bag of 12.6 ounce bag of M&Ms (reserve a 1/4 of the bag for later - detailed below)
  • 1 11 ounce bag of white chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda (completely optional)
  • 4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not old-fashioned rolled oats)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.

In a very large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Mix well. Add the vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix well. Add the oatmeal. Mix well. Stir in the chocolate candies, chocolate chips, and if using the baking soda. Drop by tablespoons or use a small ice cream scoop. (I like the 1.5 tablespoon scoop.) Placing them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.  Then with the remaining M&Ms, dot the tops of the cookies. You'll see why below.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until edges begin to brown and center firms up a bit. Do not overbake. Let stand for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool. When cool, store in air tight containers. These are a moist/chewy cookie and will store well for a couple weeks.

These cookies are dangerously good. Like, I think these are now my favorite cookie and if you notice - they are gluten free.  Also notice I say you can use the baking soda or not. I did the first time, I forgot the second time. I notice no difference, but then the second time I made them I was using a much firmer, natural peanut butter, so maybe that's the difference? I guess I'll do it a third time to give a final verdict and then update this page. If in doubt, use it.

I always prefer to use a medium ice cream scoop with a lever for cookies. That way the cookies are all the same size, they look more professional and it's easy. You can see them below. All scooped and ready to go in the oven:
Now, about dotting the cookies with the remaining M&Ms. Kids (and who are we kidding, adults too) love to see the chocolate goodies in cookies and what's the point of using M&Ms unless you can see the candy covered chocolates? As you can see below, I have one that is not dotted with the spare M&Ms yet and one that is dotted. Big difference. No kid will pick the cookie that looks void of M&Ms. So, fix the problem to get a tray of cookies that look mostly the same (like above).

These cookies don't spread much when baking, but somewhat. I love a plump, chewy cookie, don't you?

 And up close and personal. The M&Ms crack from the heat, but they don't lose their shape or color:

We've also made them with semi-sweet chocolate chips, but we like the white chocolate chips best paired with the M&Ms. These particular M&Ms were their Easter candies. I got them 75% off, making them cheaper than regular chocolate chips. Kids like them better because they think they are extra special or something.

And this is the entire double batch (minus a few from nibbles from the bowl and one or two fresh from the oven the kids stole):

Later, when they were cooling, I went out to take a walk. When I came back, this is what greeted me from the front door. Good thing you can't smell them too. Is there a much better smell than peanut butter and chocolate? Well, OK, homemade bread!

(Racks are from Pampered Chef, btw).

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