Chocolate chip may be the top choice for American cookie lovers, but peanut butter is still a strong contender in that popularity contest. Introduced widely by George Washington Carver as part of a plan to promote peanuts, the cookie has remained a bakery staple since the 1910's.
The beauty of a peanut butter cookie is that it balances both sweet and salty, creating a truly crave-worthy baked good, and it has the added bonus of a touch of protein. Just don't try to pass these treats off as healthful, and for heaven's sake, don't tell your kids.
Peanut butter cookies can be served solo or as a sandwich with a rich and creamy filling, a la Nutter Butters. We searched around town and found that while no one particular style dominates, there are many very much worth trying.
6. McCall's Meat & Fish Company
If you've been paying attention, you know by now that McCall's is more than just a butcher shop. Karen Yoo has expanded the space to include pantry basics, high-end specialty foods and baked goods. One standout is her spin on a peanut butter sandwich cookie. The thin disks of sable-like cookie have a few flecks of rolled oats and a strong almond-extract flavor that somewhat masks the Arrow Mills brand peanut butter she uses to bake them. 2117 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz; (323) 667-0674.
5. Short Cake
While the mere mention of a cooking being gluten free normally has us running away, in this case, the rice flour mix used as a base for the cookie lends a distinct crunch that's unmatched. The peanut flavor also has a chance to really shine through. You won't be fooled in to thinking this cookie is made with wheat flour, but you won't care. Thanks to the additional starch, it mimics caramel and can pleasantly stick in your teeth. We are also suckers for the distinct waffle pattern. Available daily. 6333 W. Third St., #316, Fairfax District; (323) 761-7976.
4. Stella Barra
This is a monster-sized, soft and fragile cookie that falls apart almost on sight. Made daily with classic Skippy brand peanut butter, this sweet stands apart thanks to a scattering of peanut brittle on top, gilding the already delicious lily. At $3.50, it's the most expensive on this list, but it's worth it for sure; it's the closest to home-made we found. 6372 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 301-4001.
3. Larder at Maple Drive
This cookie is a best seller from the top-notch bakers at Larder — bested only by their excellent chocolate chip cookies. The visually stunning three-biter is comprised of two hard cookies sandwiching a thick layer of stiff, but smooth, filling, which is then rolled in unsalted nuts. This was by far the most adult-friendly/least sugary version we tried. 345 N. Maple Drive, Suite 100, Beverly Hills; (310) 248-3779.
Turn the page for the final two cookies on our list of greats, including another sandwich cookie.
2. Playa Provisions
Pastry Chef Kristin Feuer makes all of her baked goods with a healthy dose of whimsy — Funfetti snow-balls anyone? — but her peanut butter sandwich cookies are nothing to giggle at. While the restaurant is somewhat new, she's been making and selling these burnished beauties for several years. The large, pliable cookies are rolled deep in coarse white sugar and baked with a thin layer of Skippy brand peanut butter sandwiched in between. They are available from the case all day. We recommend pairing one with some of the place's house-made ice cream as an extra perfect summer treat. 119 Culver Blvd. Playa Del Rey; (310) 683-5019.
This rustic cookie sandwich hits that heady sweet balance, punched up with a hit of salty and pleasantly rich buttery goodness. Baked with Once Again peanut butter and a touch of rolled oats, it's five crumbly-messy bites of happiness. The texture is half way between soft and crunchy with a perfectly smooth filling. It is a swoon worthy after-school (or, any time) cookie. 1549 Echo Park Ave., Echo Park; (213) 250-1900.