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Peanut butter cookies are a true treat that lots of people enjoy having on the weekends. You might only enjoy them on occasion, but you probably look forward to them every time you decide to make them or buy them from the store.

If you don’t bake your own cookies very often, then you might not understand certain things about peanut butter cookies. For example, when you get peanut butter cookies you will generally notice that they have marks on the top of the cookie.

Some people refer to these as fork marks because forks are usually used to make the marks. Why do peanut butter cookies have fork marks when so many other types of cookies don’t?

Is there a purpose to these fork marks or is it just some sort of decorative touch that people do? Read on to learn the significance of fork marks on peanut butter cookies.

It’s Meant to Flatten the Cookie Dough

The purpose of the fork marks involves flattening the cookie dough for more even baking. You see, peanut butter cookie dough is very dense when compared to other dough, and this means that you could encounter issues with the cookies not baking evenly throughout the entire cookie.

This would be a problem, but it can be easily solved by just flattening out the dough a bit with a fork. The most common method that people use to accomplish this involves using a fork and creating a hash mark pattern on the top of the cookie.

So you press down on the cookie with the fork and then you press down again with the fork at another angle to create the hash mark. This makes the cookie a bit flatter and it helps the peanut butter cookie to bake all the way through like it should.

Doing this isn’t just something that helps the cookie to stand out visually. A lot of people do this with peanut butter cookies without even knowing the true purpose, though.

Some people just think it’s a traditional thing and don’t realize that it actually has an important function. This is because old recipes were printed without an explanation of why you should make the fork marks on the cookies.

People just did it because the peanut butter cookie recipes said it was supposed to be done. They didn’t question it even though they never had a reason explained to them.

You might have grown up in a household where this was part of your family’s peanut butter cookie recipe. If your elders never explained why the fork marks were needed, then you’d never know without taking the time to look it up somewhere.

What Happens When You Don’t Use the Fork Marks?

When you don’t use the fork marks, it’s possible that the cookies could turn out wrong. If the cookie isn’t flattened in some way, then it might wind up baking unevenly and tasting bad.

You could wind up having cookies that are partially burnt or ones that are only half-baked. It’s not going to be ideal, and you can avoid it by just flattening the cookies a bit using the fork mark technique.

Of course, you can also do other things to flatten the cookies. You could use a spoon or something to flatten the cookies out and that would look completely different than using a fork to make the traditional marks.

So it isn’t completely necessary to do the fork mark thing when baking these cookies. The only necessary thing is to take the time to flatten the cookies out a bit so that they will bake properly.

That being said, the fork mark trick is probably the fastest and most practical way to accomplish flattening the cookie. If you don’t have any clean forks for whatever reason, then you could flatten the cookie using another method and it’d be fine.

However, there might be something else to consider when you’re thinking about whether fork marks are necessary. They’re traditional, but they might also help to identify the cookies as peanut butter cookies, and that might matter more than you realize.

Fork Marks Can Also Act as a Warning

Another thing to think about is that fork marks could potentially act as a warning to people. You might not have thought of this, but many people in the world are allergic to peanuts.

People who have peanut allergies need to be very careful to avoid eating anything that contains peanuts. Eating a peanut butter cookie when you have a peanut allergy could be deadly, and it’s definitely something that you want to avoid.

Placing fork marks on peanut butter cookies is a way to differentiate the cookies from other types of cookies. Peanut butter cookies are unique because they’re generally the only ones that have these fork marks on them.

It’s definitely a good thing that people with peanut allergies can know to avoid peanut butter cookies. Otherwise, they might grab for these cookies not knowing that it will be something that could endanger their lives.

Always remember to place the fork marks on your peanut butter cookies. It’s important for the baking process, but it also helps to identify the cookies for the sake of those with peanut allergies.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know more about peanut butter cookies and why they have fork marks, it’s going to be easier to appreciate them. These cookies are undeniably delicious, and they also have a unique look that allows you to identify them at a glance.

This winds up being more important than you might have expected when you take peanut allergies into consideration. People with peanut allergies have to be so careful, and it’d be a shame for someone to accidentally bite into a peanut butter cookie because they thought it was another type of cookie.

The fork marks are sort of iconic when you think about it from the right perspective. They’re also somewhat necessary when you’re trying to get the cookies to turn out just right.

You could flatten the cookies in another way that won’t leave fork marks, but why bother to ruin the tradition? Keep making the fork marks when you bake peanut butter cookies at home so that you can enjoy the cookies properly and make it easy to identify them.

Author

I have a bachelor's degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I'm home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard.

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