I love peanut butter and I am not alone. We Americans annually eat 700 million pounds—that’s just over 2 pounds per person per year! Good thing that peanuts, having the qualities of both nuts and legumes, are nutritionally rich. Their wide variety of health benefits are best enjoyed in “natural” peanut butter (the kind that you need to stir) made from just peanuts and salt and nothing else.
To celebrate the healthy peanut, try this way-healthier-than-most Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. Free of eggs, dairy, gluten and refined white sugar, these cookies are very easy to make, freeze well, are crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside and not too sweet.
When expected or unexpected guests come by, it is so easy to bake off some peanut butter cookies from previously frozen balls of dough. Just take out the desired number and place them on a cookie sheet. Once they defrost, flatten them, brand them with the “traditional crisscross” pattern and bake.
You can tell a peanut butter cookie by the marks on top
I just looked up that traditional crisscross pattern and discovered the website New England Recipes. They credit the first mention of this pattern on peanut butter cookies to the July 1, 1932 Schenectady [NY] Gazette : “make balls … press each one down with a fork, first one way and then the other, so they look like squares on waffles.” And now we all know.
Makes 12-14—2 ½ -inch cookies
1 cup “natural” peanut butter, creamy, roasted and salted (stir well before measuring)
½ cup light, local honey (i.e., clover honey)
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup brown rice flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with baking parchment, or lightly spray with vegetable oil spray. (Note: For even top and bottom browning, I use and recommend cookie sheets that have air between them, or two identical cookie sheets sitting on top of one another so there is air between the two pans. This increases the baking time, which is the reason these cookies bake for so long. With just one pan, check after 13 minutes.)
Using a food processor or an electric mixer, mix the peanut butter, honey, applesauce and vanilla until combined. Sift the flour and baking soda over the peanut butter mixture. Use the pulse button (or the mixer on low) to incorporate the flour, scraping the bottom of the work bowl as necessary.
Use a 1-ounce (2 tablespoon) ice cream scoop to form cookie balls, placing the flat side on the prepared baking pan, about 2 inches apart from one another. Flatten the cookies with the palm of your hand until about 1/3-inch thick. Then, use a fork to press the “traditional” crisscross pattern into each cookie. Wiping the fork with a damp cloth will keep it from sticking to the cookies.
Bake one double-pan or air-pan at a time. Bake for 10 minutes; then turn the pan 180 degrees. Bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. The cookies should be lightly browned. They will get crisper as they cool though the centers will remain chewy.
Variations: try substituting orange marmalade (made without refined white sugar) for a subtle and delicious taste. Or add 1/3 cup chocolate chips for a not-so-subtle and delicious taste.
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