Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Peanut Butter and Jelly CookiesWe moved into our home 18 years ago today. My kids, 7 and 2 years old, were the only young children on our street. That meant no spontaneous play dates with neighbors. It also resulted in very few trick-or-treaters on Halloween, but that never stopped me from buying several bags of candy “just in case”.

Peanut Butter and Jelly CookiesThere are two possible approaches to buying Halloween candy when you know it is unlikely that it will be given away. You either buy candy you love, so that you enjoy eating the left overs, or you buy candy you don’t like, so that you won’t be tempted to eat the left overs.  I need no willpower to ignore coconut or mint candy. Even plain chocolate is easy for me to leave alone. Add in peanuts or peanut butter though, and it’s a lost cause. Milky Way bars can sit. Snickers disappear mysteriously.

Peanut Butter and Jelly CookiesMy favorite trick-or-treat bounty as a child were Mary Janes. I am relatively certain most of you have never heard of them. Mary Janes are the kind of candy most kids put in the trade pile; stick-to-your-teeth peanut butter and molasses chews with a small creamy peanut butter center. They are still available today from vendors with names like, “Good Old Days”, making me feel quite ancient. When I began thinking of cookies for Halloween care packages (and leisurely at-home munching), my thoughts predictably went to peanut butter and evolved into Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies.

Peanut Butter and Jelly CookiesI seem to be making a habit of turning cookies inside-out. When I recently made Caramel-Chocolate Cookies, I found that in most caramel chocolate cookies, the dough is invariably chocolate and caramel is an accent. I turned those inside-out with caramel dough and chocolate accents. This week, I found that Googling “peanut butter and jelly cookies” gets lots of peanut butter cookie recipes with jelly thumbprints or jelly filling. Instead of joining the crowd, this recipe is for jelly/jam cookies. The peanut butter is in the frosting and not in the dough. These are convenient slice-and bake cookies. Make the dough ahead and have it on hand for holiday baking, care packages, and cookies-and-milk time.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Peanut Butter and Jelly CookiesThough some of these cookies are decorated in Halloween colors, peanut butter and jelly is a year round flavor combination. These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies are soft and chewy. Any flavor of jam or jelly can be used.  I used blackberry. If you use jam, there will be speckles of fruit pieces in the cookies. Google image and  Pinterest have photos of vividly colored jam cookies supposedly getting their color from jam. No jam, jelly, or fruit syrup I tried produced vividly colored dough. If you want pink, purple, orange, or whatever colored dough, use food coloring.

Peanut Butter and Jelly CookiesThe jelly cookies are delicious on their own, lightly fruity and chewy. For those who don’t like peanut butter (or are allergic,) change up the frosting by using a tablespoon of jam instead of the peanut butter.  Soy nut butter, sunflower seed butter, or other nut butters can also substitute for the peanut butter in this frosting. If you are baking these for eating at home (NOT mailing), another wonderful way to enjoy these jelly cookies is to turn them into sandwich cookies with a cream cheese frosting filling. Please do NOT mail cream cheese frosting. It is food poisoning looking for a place to happen. Cream cheese frosting should always be refrigerated.

Peanut Butter and Jelly CookiesPeanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Cookies adapted from

Frosting from Baked Bree

(Printable recipe)

Makes 24 cookies

Cookie ingredients:

2 ½ cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup jam or jelly

Frosting ingredients:

 ½ cup confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

1 tablespoon milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Cookie directions:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes).
  • Add the egg, vanilla, and jam. Beat until smooth.
  • Gradually add in the flour mixture until combined.
  • On a sheet of plastic wrap, form the dough into a log about 11” long. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to be shaped (about 20 minutes).
  • Remove dough from refrigerator and, while still covered in plastic wrap, press the dough against the counter to flatten the log into a rectangle about 11” long x 3” wide x 1 ½” high. Chill in the refrigerator or freezer until very firm (about 30 minutes in the freezer). Dough may be frozen for up to 1 month and used as needed.

When ready to bake:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Slice the dough into ¼” thick slices and place on the baking sheet about 1” apart. These cookies spread very little.
  • Bake for 9-11 minutes, until edges begin to brown. For less chewy cookies bake until golden brown all over.
  • Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then move to wire racks to cool completely.

Frosting directions:

  • In a small bowl mix the confectioners sugar, peanut butter, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth. If necessary, more milk can be added to thin the frosting or more confectioners sugar can be added to thicken the frosting.
  • Spread the frosting on the cookies. Decorate with sprinkles or sugar. Allow to dry completely before storing.
  • Cookies remain fresh for at least 1 week when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Packing tips:   Double wrap pairs of cookies (with bottoms together) in plastic wrap, then place in an airtight container or zip lock bag. For longer storage, vacuum sealing is recommended.


    • says

      Thank you! Peanut butter and jelly is an American childhood (and adult) standard. Sometimes, non-Americans, having grown up with the wonders of Nutella instead, think peanut butter is weird. I really think pb and j can be an acquired taste.The great part about these cookies is that the peanut butter is optional! :) Sprinkles make everything festive. :)

    • says

      Yes! Those are the ones! Jennifer, you made my day…perhaps week. Googling Mary Janes (on the same week as my birthday) and finding them available at Good Old Days candy company was a wee bit depressing. Please don’t tell me you know about Mary Janes because of a candy exhibit at the history museum! :)

  1. says

    Wendy these sound so good! I love peanut butter and jelly (still eat it all the time on toast for breakfast!). And I really like that you incorporated the jelly into the actual dough.

    Where we lived in DC we never had trick or treaters but in our new neighborhood here in NC we’ll actually get some – which means maybe we won’t end up with a giant bag of candy!

    • says

      Thanks, Ashley! The jelly dough is really versitile. Any flavor jelly,jam,or syrup can be used. Because they are soft, I think they might even work for ice cream sandwiches!
      A fun thing about Halloween in different states is that regionally there are different traditions. In many St. Louis neighborhoods, the kids have to tell a joke before they get their treat. In Iowa the kids go trick-or-treating on Oct. 30 and it is called Beggers’ Night. Let us know if there are any NC traditions….and maybe you should buy extra candy if you want to bake with left overs. :)

  2. says

    I’m in the country and average about 30 trick-or-treaters a year. I buy way too much candy…ha!! I remember Mary Jane’s, I liked them too. I like the idea of peanut butter and jelly cookies, so unique and fun!

    • says

      I am in a suburban neighborhood and we still don’t get more than 30 trick-or-treaters, Suzie! Every year I worry about running out of candy and every year I over buy! Its good to know other people remember Mary Janes! I don’t think about them any time other than Halloween but they will always be my favorite. :)

  3. says

    We dont’ get any trick or treaters in my building so i’m always left with the same internal debate! Maybe this year….I’ll skip the candy and just make these cookies instead!

    • says

      Ok, Joanne. Here is the plan. Go to your pinterest board that has mouth watering photos of candy laden brownie bars (we all have such a board). Buy the candy needed for your favorite pin. IF a trick-or-treater miraculously appears at your door, you are prepared. While you are waiting for that lone trick-or-treater, bake cookies for yourself and for the smell to guide trick-or-treaters to your door. Should no trick-or-treater appear, bake the candy into your pinned recipe and mail it to someone immediately. Maybe try one or two before mailing. That’s my plan. You are welcome to copy me. :)

  4. says

    Great. I’m reading this at 5:42a.m. and now I want cookies for breakfast…lol. They look delicious as always. And now I have a favor to ask. Someone asked for cooking shipping advice. I answered by referencing your blog and adding your shipping tip from this post. Could you look at the question and reply to “Samantha” as well? Want to make sure I give the most correct/thorough answer. Here is post:

    • says

      Thanks, Gina! I find that reading food blogs at any time of the day makes me hungry. Cookies for breakfast. Cake for lunch. Popsicles for dinner. Dangerous business this food blogging! :)
      I have added to your answer to Samantha, referencing a document recently posted on Soldiers’ Angels Bakers facebook page that shows in pictures and words a recommended method for successful cookie shipping. Debi Beall, the baker who created the document, has kindly given me permission to post it on The Monday Box. I plan to soon. If you want me to email the pdf to you, just in case it would work well on your shipping page, let me know. :) Thanks for your confidence in my shipping skills! I definitely have shipped a lot of cookies, but I am always open to suggestion. :)

  5. says

    first of all, MARY JANES! i LOVE that candy! I know it’s considered “nostalgia candy” at this point, but i even remember those from when i was little: that, and my mom always liked those bit-o-honeys. :)
    i love these cookies! and you’re so right: i’ve seen the colorful jam cookies on pinterest too, and there’s no WAY those colors come from just jam, unless it’s like, nuclear. :) pb + j cookies are right up my alley, for sure.

    • says

      I remember bit-o-honeys too! For some reason, I don’t think I was a fan. Are they honey flavored?
      I am philosophically opposed to nuclear cookies, so mine are plain brown. It’s disappointing when you are hoping for jewel tones. However, the mild brown exterior hides the fact that these cookies really taste like whatever flavor of jelly/jam you use. Peanut butter frosting is good on everything, including fingers. :)

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