Friday, June 14, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies (yes, they're gluten free)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies - made dough June 7, 2013 from Averie Cooks
So....confession time.  I know gluten-free is all the rage, especially with so many people having issues with wheat digestion.  Not me.  Iron stomach and all (er, not to be confused with "rock hard abs" - still working on those), I have no problems with wheat, dairy or sugar.  Subsequently, I always give recipes that proclaim to be gluten-free or vegan the side eye, thinking they can't possibly be as good as a "regular" recipe.  No flour, no white sugar, no dairy?  No point.  I know, I know, how politically incorrect and insensitive of me.  But I pass them up all the same.  Except for this one.  I've made recipes from Averie's blog before and they've been pretty fabulous.  Her pictures suck me in first.  Spend 5 minutes looking at her blog and you'll be drooling too.  The pictures of these cookies convinced me I needed to get over my gluten-loving prejudices and give them a try.  They do contain 1 egg so they're not vegan but they are gluten free.
I was going to a bridal shower last weekend and wanted to bring a cookie plate as part of my shower gift so I thought it would be a good time to include this cookie as part of the offering in case any of the guests ate gluten-free.  Plus, if they didn't turn out, I would have other cookies to fall back on so it seemed like minimal risk.
This recipe was actually harder than it looks to make.  The first time I made them, I used Scharffenberger unsweetened cocoa powder but the cookies turned out a little bitter.  So I made a second batch and this time - one of the rare times you'll see me do this - I used half Scharffenberger and half Hershey's cocoa.  It helped alleviate the bitterness factor since the Hersheys is more bland.  I also beat the peanut butter and brown sugar longer as Averie's blog says to but I ended up with a much more crumbly mixture the second time around rather than the moist mixture that I had achieved with the first batch when I didn't beat it as much.  I ended up using more peanut butter in the second batch and even then, the mixture was crumbly in the mixing bowl.  However, when I gathered handfuls of it to shape into dough balls, the mixture held up just fine. This makes for a rich cookie so you may want to make them small; think of it as a flourless peanut butter chocolate cookie or, as I like to view it, as baked peanut butter fudge.
I took the second batch to the bridal shower but I didn't want the first batch to go to waste so I baked those for work the next day.  To offset the bitterness of the cookie, I fancied it up by sprinkling chopped up Reese's peanut butter cups and peanuts on top of the hot cookies as soon as they came out of the oven and drizzling them with warm chocolate peanut butter.  I didn't try the fancy cookies since I already knew what the base cookie tasted like but they went pretty fast from the communal kitchen at work when I brought them in so I assume they tasted okay.

1 cup + 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (i.e. one heaping cup - plain or crunchy may be used; do not use natural or homemade peanut butter)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed (dark brown may be substituted)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (Dutch-process may be substituted)
1 teaspoon baking soda
  1. To the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well-combined and the sugar is fully incorporated and is mixture is no longer gritty or granular, about 5 minutes. Stop to scrape down the bowl as necessary.
  2. Add the cocoa powder, baking soda, and beat to incorporate, 1 to 2 minutes. Dough may be a bit crumbly in pieces, but pieces should all stick together forming a large mound when pinched, squeezed, and pushed together. If your dough seems dry, adding 1 to 2 additional tablespoons of peanut butter will help it combine.
  3. Using a 2-inch medium cookie scoop (about 2 heaping tablespoons of dough or 1.80 ounces by weight), form dough mounds or roll dough into balls. Recipe makes 13 cookies; dividing dough into 13 equal portions is another way to do this. Place dough on a large plate and flatten each mound with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern on top. Slightly flattening the mounds before baking ensures they don't stay too domed and puffed while baking because this dough, when properly chilled, doesn't spread much; just don't over-flatten. Cover plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking. Do not bake with warm dough.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F, line 2 baking sheets with parchment parchment; set aside. Space dough 2 inches apart (8 to 10 per tray) and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until edges are set and tops are barely set, even if slightly underbaked in the center. It's tricky to discern if they're done or not because they're so dark, but watch them very closely after 7 minutes. I recommend the lower end of the baking range. Cookies firm up as they cool, and baking too long will result in cookies that set up too crisp and hard.
  5. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.


  1. These look and sound delicious. My favorite brownies are Cookie Madness Almond butter brownies which are gluten-free. Almond butter is almost 3 times as expensive as PB so I'm going to try them with PB next time.

    1. Where do you get your almond butter? I buy mine from amazon and it's a little more expensive than peanut butter but not quite that much :). I have a recipe for almond butter brownies I want to try sometime. I've only baked cookies with it.