Recipe: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies

I brought along some Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies to the LucciHouse Holiday Party last weekend and I thought I’d share the recipe here:

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies


  • 1 cup margarine
  • 2 cups white sugar [I used Splenda instead]
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter [I used creamy peanut butter instead]
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper.

  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and peanut butter until smooth. Combine the flour and baking powder, then stir into the peanut butter mixture. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the dough out flat on the prepared pan.

  3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the tops of the bars look dry. Cool in pan, then cut into squares.

I got the idea for blondies from a cookie run earlier that week — Leia and I walked to Eatzi’s to grab some cookies from their bakery section. In addition to a dozen peanut butter cookies, I also picked up a peanut butter blondie. It was pretty tasty and I pondered whether I could make some myself.

So, I checked AllRecipes’ cookie section and searched for blondie recipes. While there were a fair number of recipes for regular blondies, there were relatively few for peanut butter blondies (why, I have no idea). In addition to the recipe on which I decided, I also considered the recipe for Best Ever Chocolate-Free Blondies but I ruled that one out as I didn’t want to deal with peanut butter chips (at best they tend to resemble peanut butter).

I was pleased with how the blondies turned out, though their consistency was different than I had expected. The blondie which I had at Eatzi’s was fairly chewy but these were flaky in texture. Their texture was almost like that of a thick peanut-butter flavored sugar cookie. I’m curious whether swapping the sugar for Splenda, as I did, had any effect on their chewiness.

Carb Options Peanut Spread vs Natural Peanut Butter

There’s an Albertson's nearby our office at work and and I occasionally stop by if I’m going out for lunch anyway. And, I recently needed some peanut butter which I figured would be an easy purchase — I’ve only had natural peanut butter for the past couple years but it’s readily available in stores these days. Or so I thought.

I walked over to the peanut butter aisle and looked for the big glass jars of natural peanut butter (for some reason, natural peanut butters always seem to be in glass jars). But, I didn’t see any. I was about to give up when I saw a jar of Carb Options Creamy Peanut Spread. It had a small “Skippy” banner in one corner so it appeared to have a reasonable pedigree. And, while my previous gripe with regular peanut butters had been their sugar content, this one was sweetened with Splenda :).

The other issue I originally had with non-natural peanut butters was their trans fat from partially hydrogenated oils. Now, as it turns out, I later learned that even regular peanut butter may have negligible trans fat content; but, by then, I had become quite accustomed to the full-peanut flavor of natural peanut butter.

Getting back to the Carb Options Peanut Spread, I checked its label and, even though partially hydrogenated oils were listed among the ingredients, the Nutrition Facts portion confirmed that it had no trans fat. I figured that it would probably resemble the taste of regular peanut butter but without all the normal disadvantages; so, I added a jar to my basket.

Upon returning home, I decided to put it to the test. I still had a jar of natural peanut butter in the fridge and so I could compare them directly. It took me a moment to come up with a meaningful procedure, but then I recalled that a peanut butter & jelly sandwich — in addition to being tasty — would work well as a testing platform. So, I pulled out a slice of low-carb bread along with sugar-free jam. Then, I spread some natural peanut butter on half the slice and Carb Options Peanut Spread on the other half. Finally, I spread jam across both sides.

This dual-testing configuration allowed me to directly compare peanutiness bite-for-bite. I also had a glass of water on hand to cleanse my palette in between tastings. I started on the Carb Options side of the sandwich and took a bite. At first, it seemed fine: I could taste both the sweetness of the blackberry jam along with the peanut flavor of the spread. From there, I moved on to the natural peanut butter side — and I couldn’t help but notice a more intense peanut flavor.

I soon finished the sandwich and, while neither side was bad, the natural peanut butter side was more organically peanutty. As I looked more closely on the Carb Options label, I soon realized why it was called merely a “peanut spread” — it only had “65% peanuts”. And, considering that the natural peanut butter (Ingredients: Roasted Peanuts, Salt) was probably 99% peanuts, it was a little disconcerting to ponder what the other 35% was within the peanut spread.

The second stage of my testing battery was the sliced-apple test. I had some apple in the fridge that I had sliced earlier and I had hunch that it could be more nourishing with a little peanut butter on top ;). Once again, I made use of both peanut spreads — some slices had one and some slices had the other. And, even though the natural peanut butter was more intrinsically tasty, the Carb Options spread did have a slight edge in one sense. As it contained partially hydrogenated oils, it was a semi-solid product. So, while the natural peanut butter tended to flop over the sides of the apple slices (and even ooze off), the Carb Options spread obediently remained affixed to the slices as if it was some kind of peanut Jell-o.

Finally, I had to taste the spreads alone, without the influence of other food items. Spoon in hand, I dove in. At this point, there was no contest. The natural peanut butter was creamy (yet grainy) with a pleasant saltiness. And, the Carb Options spread, while resembling peanuts, just didn’t compare. In fact, it was as if I was eating some other food — it seemed like a familiar flavor. Finally, I figured it out: the Carb Options spread tasted just like peanut-flavored butter. Really.

Nutrition line-item for nutrition line-item, these peanut spreads are fairly similar: 190 Calories each, 16g fat (natural) vs 17g fat (spread), 4g net carbs (natural) vs 3g net carbs (spread) and 8g protein (natural) vs 7g protein (spread). So, if I ended up liking the spread more, I could have eaten it without guilt. But, the natural peanut butter was the easy winner in this case.

Recipe: Milky Way Peanut Butter Cookies

Among other gifts, Mike got some candy for Christmas, including some Fun Size Milky Way bars. In contrast to their peanut-filled cousins, Snickers, Milky Ways are relatively tame — mostly caramel and nougat. So, on a lark, I decided to check AllRecipes to see whether there were any Milky Way-based recipes. Sure enough, I found one: Milky Way Peanut Butter Cookies.

Since I had some free time yesterday, I decided to give it a shot. The recipe is fairly easy — just three steps — and the only thing to keep in mind is that the recipe needs bite-sized Milky Ways (a typo at one point mentions Fun Size, but the recipe’s reviews confirm that bite size is needed).

Milky Way Peanut Butter Cookies


  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 36 fun [bite] size bars Milky Way [If you have Fun Size bars instead, just cut them in half to create bite size.]


  1. Cream together white sugar, brown sugar, butter or margarine, vanilla, peanut butter and the egg.
  2. Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Wrap 1 heaping teaspoon of dough around a bite sized Milky Way candy bar. Bake 13-16 minutes at 350° F (175° C). Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

So, I mixed up the cookie dough and decided on 14 minutes cooking time (well, the directions said 13-16 minutes and 14 sounded like a good mid-point). And even though my oven doesn’t heat that unevenly, I swapped the two cookie sheets halfway through just to be sure.

I took out the cookies after 14 minutes and — as directed by the recipe — I let them cool for 5 minutes. It’s not that they were all that hot, but they needed those few minutes to firm up. And, as soon as the 5-minute timer beeped, I grabbed one and gingerly took a bite.

To my delight, the nougat/caramel had become warm and molten — similar in some ways but even better than a Caramello bar. The cookies turned out even better than I expected and I’m tempted to cookieify some Fun Size Snickers bars later this week :).

Do I Like Crunchy Peanut Butter?

With the recent news that regular peanut butter may not have trans fat after all, I’ve had peanut butter on the brain. Now that regular peanut butter is ok again, I’ve been contemplating the various peanut butters that I could try.

What first came to mind was that a sugar-free peanut butter could work well — there’d be the thick texture of regular peanut butter but without the typical sugars to get in the way. But, even though I haven’t been to the supermarket recently, I’m not getting my hopes up about finding such a product.

However, I got to thinking that maybe I should give crunchy peanut butter another chance. I’ve had creamy peanut butter for years and it’s been quite a while since I last had crunchy. Back when I was a kid, I preferred creamy since the nut bits in crunchy would tend to get stuck in my teeth.

So, on our last collaborative grocery run, I had Mike pick up both creamy and crunchy peanut butter for me (just the natural variety for now). Since I still had a few days worth of the old supply, I’ve only tried the crunchy just recently. And I’m not sure if the natural peanut butter itself is a significant factor, but this crunchy peanut butter had some good peanut flavor.

Of course, a spoonful of peanut butter is one thing, but I wanted to do some real-world tests as well. And, I couldn’t really come up with a canonical test for peanut butter. Sure, I could try something like apples with peanut butter (still a favorite of mine), but that only combines peanut butter with one other ingredient.

After some thought, it occured to me that peanut butter & jelly could work well. So, I whipped up an open-faced peanut butter & jelly sandwich for myself (though I actually used sugar free blackberry jam). Having made the sandwich, I paused to consider my testing method. Still, my main concern was whether the crunchy peanut butter would end up stuck in my teeth. So, I decided to not chew carefully to test whether I’d be able to induce some to get stuck.

Pleasantly, the peanut bits were fairly tender and they broke easily as I munched them. And, I didn’t really have any problems with the bits getting stuck. More than that, the peanut bits gave a degree of extra peanut flavor over creamy peanut butters. So, I may do some further testing, but perhaps crunchy peanut butter could become my peanutty spread of choice.

No Trans Fat in Peanut Butter After All

I’ve been enjoying natural peanut butter for about a year now. I first turned to it so I could avoid the trans fat in regular peanut butter.

Trans fat is created when liquid oils are turned into solids by adding hydrogen. And, food manufaturers like hydrogenated oils since they don’t separate like liquid oils. However, trans fat is also the worst kind of fat — it raises the “bad ” cholesterol while lowering the “good” cholesterol (even saturated fat leaves doesn’t affect good cholesterol).

You would think trans fat would be included on food labels, but that only goes into effect in 2006. So, in the meantime, you just have to look for “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils among the ingredients.

So, to avoid the trans fat, I went with natural peanut butter (which isn’t hydrogenized). However, I’ve learned that a study by the Agricultural Research Service — a part of the USDA — says that there’s no trans fat in peanut butter (natural or otherwise).

To see if the rumors had any validity, Sanders prepared 11 brands of peanut butter, including major store brands and “natural” brands, for analysis by a commercial laboratory. He also sent paste freshly prepared from roasted peanuts for comparison. The laboratory found no detectable trans fats in any of the samples, with a detection limit of 0.01 percent of the sample weight. […]

When I switched over, it took some time to get used to natural peanut butter; in particular, since its oil is in liquid form, the peanut butter can more easily slide off foods (such as apple slices). And, this study may be reason enough to switch back. In fact, just this weekend, I made an Elvis sandwich with regular peanut butter. And, that made for a tasty sandwich.

But, after tasting some regular peanut butter with a spoon, I realized that it didn’t quite have as much peanut taste as the natural peanut butter. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I soon realized that the sugar in the regular peanut butter may have masked some of the peanut flavor. So, I may look for some regular peanut butter next time I’m in Target, but I’m not sure if sugar-free regular peanut butter even exists ;).