I have a confession to make. I have never eaten what is perhaps American’s favorite flavor combination – peanut butter and jelly. While I love peanut butter, and I like all sorts of jams and jellies, I have never understood the cult-like obsession America has with this pair. In fact, the combination was utterly unappealing to me, and the more my friends tried to get me to eat it, the more I pursed my lips shut, folded my arms tightly and stomped my feet in defiance.
I started out making peanut butter cookies, but as I often tweak recipes, I wanted to add some other ingredient, like chocolate or something, to make it more my own. Imagine my surprise when I inexplicably reached for the strawberry jelly. Perhaps, I was subconsciously thinking of my husband, who loves peanut butter and jelly; I’m not really sure. In any case, I must have really lost my head because a little later I picked up one of the peanut butter and jelly cookies cooling on the rack and actually took a bite of it…and ENJOYED it! Amazing!! I have finally done it. I’ve finally taken my first bite of peanut butter and jelly together. It figures it would be in the form of a cookie.
I adapted this recipe from Joy the Baker, who, in turn, adapted it from The Gourmet Cookbook. While I added a few more ingredients, the basic recipe is great on its own and calls for only four ingredients – peanut butter, sugar, egg, and baking soda. I bet without even getting up from your computer you know whether or not you have these four ingredients in your kitchen right now! You probably should make sure you have milk, though, because you’re going to want a tall cold glass of it with these cookies.
Obviously, these cookies have a strong peanut butter flavor since they don’t have much else to mask the taste. They are crumbly and more delicate than cookies made with flour. They are beautifully crisp and chewy but let them cool and set up a little before you pick them up.
Another thing I like about this recipe is that it’s naturally gluten-free. (I checked all my ingredients, bought at Trader Joes, to make sure they are all gluten-free just to be sure.) I’m always on the hunt for easy gluten-free recipes as I have two nieces who were diagnosed years ago with Celiac Disease and an aunt who has become gluten-intolerant. Actually, I’ve learned that more and more of my friends and co-workers are gluten-free, so it’s nice to be able to make a flavorful treat for my friends and family who have this dietary restriction.
Flourless Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies
Yields 16 medium-sized cookies
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar (either all granulated sugar or 1/2 cup brown sugar + 1/2 cup granulated sugar, which is what I used)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
strawberry, grape, or your favorite jelly, optional, for thumbprint cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat and set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat peanut butter and both sugars together for about 2 minutes, until well combined. Combine the egg and vanilla extract and add to the peanut butter/sugar mixture. Add baking soda and salt and mix for another 2 minutes.
Roll into walnut-sized balls and create a cross hatch pattern with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
For peanut butter and jelly thumbprint cookies, roll the walnut-szied balls and make a small indentation with your thumb to create a small crater in the center. Fill with a small amout of jelly. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
Cool on a baking sheet for at least 10 minutes to let the cookies harden a little.
Adapted from Joy the Baker.
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