I’m a sucker for cookies. I have to enforce a pretty solid rule when they’re around for the taking. One a day, like the vitamins. Honestly, if I loosen up on the rule, I end up losing count. And given my new love affair with spinning classes at the gym, I don’t want to undo all the good by eating endless numbers of the little buggers. But I could, trust me.
I’m teaching a Gluten Free Baking Class at the end of April. I’ll be sharing some of my gluten free recipes at a small market in Concord, MA called Debra’s Natural Gourmet. The owner of the class asked that I only use unrefined sweeteners like agave, honey, sucanat, and coconut sugar. When she first made the request of me, I agreed, but not having much experience baking with these sweeteners, I wasn’t sure where to start. I swung by her store, picked up some coconut sugar, googled and learned a whole bunch about it, did the same with sucanat (which I happened to have in my pantry though never used) and then began experimenting. The end result: I absolutely love both of these sweeteners. So far, I’ve combined them in my baking efforts and have been quite pleased with the results. I find the sweetness that they both impart much less cloying than refined white and/or brown sugar. I’m eager to continue experimenting with them.
In a word, I’m psyched. These two new players in my kitchen offer a decent array of nutritional benefits as opposed to conventional white sugar which offers nothing but empty calories, zero, nada. Brown sugar offers a little something, given that it contains molasses. But for my money, I’m going to keep playing with these new babies.
One of my recent gluten free, dairy free cookie experiments was a cookie that used to rock my world back in the oldy moldy days of gluten. Did you ever have a Peanut Butter Blossom? Ya’ know, the peanut butter cookie with the Hershey’s kiss on top. I’m not sure if they invented the cookie, but there’s a recipe for them at the Hershey’s website. Take a moment and visit this Hershey’s kiss webpage. If it doesn’t remind you of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, I’ll eat my hat. It’s adorable.
Anyway, for me, Peanut Butter Blossoms delivered a shortbready sorta experience which, coupled with the peanut butter and chocolate combo, used to set off fireworks for me. I love shortbread type cookies. Not that my Peanut Butter Blossoms could be mistaken for shortbread. But this cookie has that crumbly sort of melt-in-your-mouth texture that sends me to the moon. One of these washed down with a glass of almond milk and I’m in heaven.
I suppose I really shouldn’t call them Peanut Butter Blossoms in that the cookies aren’t topped with a Hershey’s kiss. I’m avoiding dairy as much as possible, so the kiss had to be replaced, though I didn’t dare lose the chocolate. Instead of the kiss, I melted chocolate chips and spooned them into an indentation in the top of the baked cookie. Voila!
If you have any creative ideas for what to name my cookie, I’m all ears.
Oh yeah, and one more thing. Look at the ingredient list. Yup, I know. It’s long. Welcome to my world of gluten free baking. I’ve been baking with high protein hearty-grain gluten free flours, of which there are many. They all serve a purpose, they’re all important to the whole. However, having said that, I imagine you could replace a number of them with one single flour like brown rice flour. But heck, if you’re crazy and adventurous like me, and you happen to have these ingredients on hand, give this cookie a spin. And let me know if you can stop at just one!
Peanut Butter Blossoms
Â¼ cup Spectrum vegetable shortening
Â¼ cup coconut oil (solid, not melted)
Â¾ cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup sucanat
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1 Â½ tsp Ener-G egg replacer powder plus 2 tbsp warm water
2 tbsp soymilk (or other milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Â½ cup potato starch
Â¼ cup almond flour
3 tbsp teff
3 tbsp sorghum
3 tbsp millet
3 tbsp buckwheat flour (I prefer light)
Â¼ tsp xanthan gum
Â¼ tsp guar gum
1 tsp baking soda
Â½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp pectin
Evaporated cane sugar for rolling cookies
3 oz gluten free and dairy free chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the shortening, coconut oil, and peanut butter. Add the sucanat and coconut sugar and mix until fluffy. Add the egg replacer mixture, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk the potato starch, almond flour, teff, sorghum, millet, buckwheat, xanthan gum, guar gum, baking soda, sea salt, and pectin until thoroughly blended.
Add the flour mixture to wet ingredients in the stand mixer bowl. Blend at medium-high speed for up to 1 minute, until well combined. The mixture will appear considerably dry, but you will see that it will hold together when you roll it into balls.
Form the dough into balls â€“ this works best if you squeeze a small amount of it in the palm of one hand, massaging it with the hand that is holding the dough, (eventually you can roll it between the palms of both hands) until youâ€™ve formed it into a ball. Roll in sugar (I used evaporated cane sugar) and place on the cookie sheet about 1″ apart. Bake 8 â€“ 10 minutes, switching shelves and back-to-front halfway through.
While the cookies are baking, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler. When the cookies are done, transfer them to a cooling rack. While the cookies are still hot, press the back of a spoon (I used a tiny spoon that I use for serving jam) into the top of each cookie, forming a little indentation. Use the same spoon to pour a little bit of the melted chocolate into the indentation. The chocolate will remain soft, but it will harden if you leave them for several hours before eating them (overnight is best). And if you put them under intensely bright lights in order to take pictures, work fast, otherwise the chocolate begins to melt!