Easy PB & C Cookies

Easy PB & C Cookies

When I saw these cookies featured on Cup of Jo, my first thought was, “I have to make those gluten-free!”

Then I clicked on the link, scrolled down the page, salivated at the scrumptious-looking pictures, and started reading over the recipe.

It took me a minute to figure it out (somehow I missed the “gluten-free” right after the title), but these cookies are flourless! (read: naturally gluten-free). Thank you Averie for making my life so easy.

I think this is a great recipe for people who do not usually bake gluten-free or who are new to it, or someone who wants a quick gluten-free dessert with ingredients they already have in their kitchen. And people who like peanut butter.

Easy PB & C Cookies

Averie, from Averie Cooks, who developed the recipe, is a serious peanut butter lover. Just scroll through the selection of peanut-buttery desserts on her blog (seriously: do); it’s rumored she has a rotating number of roughly twenty jars of all different kinds of peanut butter in her pantry at all times. And though she has a wonderful tutorial on making your own homemade peanut butter, Averie suggests using store-bought for this recipe (her favorite is Peter Pan Honey Roasted).

My favorite commercial peanut butter, and the one I used for this go-round, is Skippy Natural Creamy. It only has a few ingredients and no hydrogenated oils. And it’s incredibly tasty (like eat out of the jar with a spoon tasty).

If the dough is not coming together, Averie says to add more peanut butter one tablespoon at a time. Since I live in a drier climate, I had to follow this step, and the cookies came out perfectly.

Easy PB & C Cookies

Recipe here. Enjoy these with a tall glass of milk.

Really Good Oatmeal Cookies

Really Good Oatmeal Cookies

I never thought I could like a cookie this much that didn’t contain any chocolate. But wow, these cookies are good! These are oatmeal cookies for people who don’t like oatmeal cookies.

When Jarron first requested oatmeal cookies (he’s never had them before), I thought: chocolate chip. 

“No, not chocolate chip,” he said. “Raisin.”

Now raisins have always been my idea of a good way to ruin a perfectly good oatmeal cookie. But upon that point—of raisins—he was insistent.

Grumbling, I set out to develop an oatmeal raisin cookie based on my original chocolate chip cookie recipe (I do almost always get my way around here; you’d never be able to tell from the array of desserts we eat, but Jarron is not himself all that crazy about chocolate).

Since the recipe would have raisins in it, and therefore I would be eating almost none of the cookies (except to sample the texture), I felt pretty confident about making a small experimental batch. After all, I had been turning my nose up at oatmeal raisin cookies my whole life.

I made a half batch of dough and decided to bake up just six cookies to test the baking time and temperature. Jarron had a blood test to take the next day and needed to fast for twenty-four hours, so he wouldn’t be able to taste any of the fresh out-of-the-oven cookies; but he did want to take several with him to work the next day.

I baked up the six cookies and let them cool on a rack before I sampled my first one. The smell was heavenly, and I was surprised to find myself looking forward to tasting this cookie.

“Oh, wow! These cookies are good!” I said, as I ate first one cookie and then another.

“Okay,” Jarron said, hearing my moans of pleasure from the other room, “Don’t forget to save some for me!”

I ate a third cookie.

“How many do you want to take to work with you tomorrow?” I asked, eyeing the three remaining cookies on the sheet. I reached for the smallest of the three. “How about two?”

“I was thinking three,” Jarron said.

I had half of the third cookie in my mouth. I finished chewing and set the rest of it down. “How about two and a half?”

“Why would I want to take half a cookie?”

“Because that’s all that’s left.”

Really Good Oatmeal Cookies

A note on oats: For this recipe, make sure you use 100% certified gluten-free oats. As a grain, oats are naturally gluten free, but most commercial brands of oats have been contaminated by gluten in the processing facility. Bob’s Red Mill sells certified gluten-free oats, and I used those.

Add-ins: As much as I enjoyed this version with raisins, I don’t think I’m going to be able to stop myself from experimenting with these—namely, adding chocolate to the next batch.

Maybe even raisins and chocolate chips. And nuts. I think white chocolate chips and craisins would be great, too. I will let you know what I try, and I would love it if you would do the same. This is an excellent cookie base for playing around with.

To make the cookies non-gf: Substitute 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour for the buckwheat, millet, sorghum, brown rice, potato starch, sweet rice, and tapioca flour, and use whatever brand of oatmeal you have on hand.

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp each of buckwheat, millet, sorghum, and brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups gluten-free oats
2 tbsp sweet rice flour
1 tbsp tapioca flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
large pinch of nutmeg
2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup raisins

  1. If you haven’t already, take your eggs out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature.
  2. Combine the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl and whisk, aerating and blending until cohesive. Add the oats and stir to combine.
  3. Take the butter out of the fridge and cut into about eight pieces per stick, roughly the size of a tablespoon. Immediately place butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine on low speed, then cream on medium speed until the mixture comes together and is fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla; scrape down the bowl.
  5. Add the flour mixture in three installments on low speed, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  6. Once the flour is thoroughly incorporated, remove the bowl from the mixer and add the raisins, mixing by hand until incorporated.
  7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and use a tablespoon measure to scoop six balls of dough, spaced in two rows of three.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes.
  11. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and bang on the counter top to flatten the cookies.
  12. Immediately remove the cookies from the cookie sheet and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  13. Cool five minutes before eating or completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes four dozen chewy oatmeal cookies.

Really Good Oatmeal Cookies

Roasted Corn, Cheddar, and Bacon Chowder

One of my dearest friends, the one whose birthday we celebrated with ice cream cake a few weeks ago, just gave birth to a sweet baby boy. I made this for dinner, with homemade cornbread and a killer bacon, mushroom, and spinach salad.

Normally I find chowders bland, so I worked hard to make sure this one was the very opposite. A perfect crossover recipe for the first days of fall: the sweet corn of summer in a warm, smoky, stick-to-your-bones chowder.

Trader Joe’s has a great frozen, roasted corn that’s perfect for keeping in the freezer for times like this. Of course fresh corn would be delicious as well: stand the cobs on end in a big bowl and run a serrated knife down the side to shave off the kernels; toss the kernels in 1 tbsp olive oil and roast in a thin layer on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. If you like, you can roast the bell pepper with the corn; just add a touch more olive oil.

Roasted Corn, Cheddar, and Bacon Chowder
Serves: 8-10

9 small red potatoes with skin, diced
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 cups roasted corn
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
6-8 slices bacon
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
Rosemary, salt, red pepper flakes to taste
Sweet rice flour or cornstarch for thickening
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Green onions for garnish

1. In a small pot, boil the potatoes in the chicken broth for 10-15 minutes or until just tender.

2. In a large stock pot, melt the 2 tbsp butter and cook the bacon until crispy. Set the cooked bacon aside.

3. Caramelize the onion in the bacon fat and butter: add the onion and cook, covered, on medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until the onion is golden.

4. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned. Add the bell pepper, green chilies, roasted corn, rosemary to taste (I added about 1 tbsp), a pinch of red pepper flakes, and the boiled potatoes (but not the chicken stock yet). Cook for 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

5. Add the chicken stock, milk, and cream and bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes.

6. While the soup is simmering, grate your cheddar cheese and chop the cooked bacon into chunks for garnish.

7. Remove the soup from heat. Use a spoon to transfer about 1/4 cup of the hot liquid from the soup to a small bowl. Add about 2 tbsp sweet rice flour or cornstarch to liquid and whisk until there are no lumps, then whisk this mixture back into the soup; repeat as necessary until desired thickness is reached.

8. Use an immersion blender to blend soup to desired consistency; or transfer portions of the soup to a standing blender and blend in batches until desired consistency. I like a mix of thick, creamy soup and chunks of whole corn and veggies.

9. Season with salt and pepper and additional rosemary if desired.

10. Add the grated cheese and stir. Serve soup with additional grated cheese, crumbled bacon, and chives.

Perfectly Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve been a bit obsessed these past few years with making the perfect gluten-free chocolate chip cookies; or, heck, something gluten-free even mildly resembling a chocolate chip cookie.

I tried converting my favorite all-purpose recipes; I tried other peoples’ gluten-free recipes. They came out with a variety of problems: oily, gummy, nasty. The most common problem? Too flat and crispy.

I know some people prefer a flat and crispy cookie—these were so beyond that. They spread out like lace cookies (which I wouldn’t mind making gluten-free, but even a perfect lace cookie is no substitute for a chocolate chip cookie). I should have just dipped the bottoms in chocolate and gone with it.

My husband, ever the good sport, would just smile, happily eat another one. “I like these,” he’d say.

“But they’re not chocolate chip cookies,” I’d say.

You have to understand, my husband was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of five, in the dark ages of gluten-free: the 80s, when pre-made gluten-free products simply did not exist. He ate rice cake sandwiches. He has no memories of cookies and milk after school, no concept of whipping up a batch on rainy days and Saturdays, no concept of what a chocolate chip cookie should even taste like.

Whenever I’d browse a new cookbook, gluten-free or otherwise, and see a chocolate chip cookie recipe, my eyes would glaze over. “What do you think about chocolate chip cookies this weekend?” I’d ask.

Jarron would shrug, thinking of my wafer-thin, cracker-crisp previous attempts. “I’m a little over chocolate chip cookies,” he’d say.

He changed his tune once I perfected this recipe. “These are the best cookies I have ever had in my whole life,” he said, licking his fingers. “I think this is my new favorite dessert.”

Even my mom, who is a dyed-in-the-wool, all-purpose flour, baking traditionalist, gave these a nine, with ten being her idea of the best ever made in the entire world wheat flour chocolate chip cookie. But even she admits she has never baked a ten in her own kitchen.

To get this recipe, I had to start completely from scratch; as in, with a blank Excel spreadsheet. I realized there is a lot more chemistry to a chocolate chip cookie than you would think.

Take for example the flour content: I know the amounts are weirdly specific. Usually, I’m a lot more flexible in my baking, substituting and exchanging for what I have on hand. But these flours were specifically chosen for their individual properties of flavor and are carefully balanced for protein content. When it comes to cookies, protein is vital for chew. 

You may have seen different versions of Jacques Torres’s chocolate chip cookie recipe floating around the Internet. These recipes use a combination of bread flour (high protein content) and cake flour (low protein content) to achieve a specific texture; the same principle applies for these cookies. So if you substitute the flours, I can’t guarantee your results. The nice thing about this flour mixture though, is that it is almost completely whole grain, without tasting that way. And, of course, free of weird gums.

I hope you enjoy the recipe, and that you like it enough to make it a part of your family traditions, as we will. I want all of my children, gluten-free or not, to grow up with chocolate chip cookies: after school as a snack with milk and on rainy days, Saturdays, and Sundays.

A not-at-all-gratuitous side note: This chocolate chip cookie dough is delicious as well. I’ve tried recipes for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies that had so much leavening in them, the dough tasted like a science experiment—blegh! In my opinion, eating cookie dough is one of life’s great pleasures, so this is an important element for me. This dough is caramely, buttery, and tasty—perfect for eating raw right out of the mixing bowl. Try some before you slip it into the fridge to chill (and then try not to eat all of it before it makes its way to the oven).

On chilling: You chill the dough for two reasons: to keep the batter from spreading in the oven and to let the ingredients meld, contributing to flavor and consistency. A lot of chocolate chip cookie recipes floating around the Internet as “best,” have the 36 hour chilling time as their secret weapon. I like to use the 36 hour chilling time, which contributes to an excellent flavor and consistency, and I highly recommend it. The next most acceptable chilling time is at least overnight or twelve hours, which is the chill time for the original chocolate chip cookies at Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Inn. But if you want cookies NOW, Alton Brown says you can go as low as four hours. Totally up to you.

chewy chocolate chip cookies

Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Active time: 30 minutes
Chill time: 4-36 hours

½ cup each buckwheat, millet, sorghum, and brown rice flour
2 tbsp potato starch
1 tbsp sweet rice flour
1 tbsp tapioca flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ tsp vanilla
2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

1. Take your eggs out of the fridge to come to room temperature. I’m usually always in a hurry, so I put my eggs in glasses of hot water to come to room temperature faster. (bonus: if your eggs sink, you know they are still good; if they float, toss them out).

2. Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk, aerating and blending until cohesive. In a second smaller bowl, combine white and brown sugars, and whisk until cohesive.

3. Work quickly: it’s important that the butter does not get too warm. Take the butter out of the fridge and cut into pieces (about 8 pieces per stick, or the size of a tablespoon). Immediately place in the bowl of a stand mixer with sugars and cream at medium speed until the mixture pulls away from the sides and comes together in a ball.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla; scrape down the bowl.

5. Add the flour mixture in three installments, adding on low, and then turning up the speed just until combined. Scrape down the bowl.

6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the chocolate chips, mixing by hand until just incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill.

8. After chilling, set your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit with the rack in the middle of the oven (I like to bake one sheet of cookies at a time for most even heat flow and best consistency). While the oven is preheating, you can even place your bowl of cookie dough in the freezer to make scooping easier.

9. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. When the oven is fully heated, take the cookie dough out of the freezer. Shape cookies with a tablespoon measure, scooping like ice cream to make fully rounded scoops.

chewy chocolate chip cookies

Use another spoon to dislodge cookie dough onto parchment paper. The balls of dough will be slightly smaller than golf balls. Space six balls of dough evenly, in two rows of three.

chewy chocolate chip cookies

10. Place on center rack in oven, and bake for 9-11 minutes (I bake mine for exactly 10), or until center has dropped and edges are golden.

11. I like to bang the cookie sheet on the counter immediately after removing from the oven; this makes the centers drop even more and contributes to a chewier, gooier center. Immediately remove cookies from cookie sheet and place on cooling rack, away from the oven. You can move the cookies individually with a spatula, or pick up all six at once, transferring parchment paper to cooling racks. Cool at least 5 minutes before eating, and store in an airtight container once completely cool.

chewy chocolate chip cookies

12. Use a second, completely cool cookie sheet for the next batch. Makes 24-30  chocolate chip cookies.

chewy chocolate chip cookies

Honey-Glazed Cornbread

honey-glazed cornbread

I almost never make the same chocolate cake twice. And I have made a lot of chocolate cake (chocolate cake is up there on my list of favorite desserts). It’s the same with brownies. Sometimes you want a brownie that cuts like fudge, or a cake-like brownie with a cocoa-buttermilk frosting, or a brownie with a gooey molten center, or one stuffed with nuts and chips. It’s hard to make old favorites when there are so many new recipes to try.

But I can’t foresee needing, or wanting, another recipe for cornbread. As far as I’m  concerned, this one is it. It pairs perfectly with all kinds of chili, white sauce enchiladas, carnitas, corn chowder and other hardy soups. Without the glaze, it is lightly sweet and mellow corny; with the glaze, sticky and lick-your-fingers/scavenge-for-crumbs good. It has a moist, tender crumb and a texture almost like pound cake—buttery and springy and delicious.

honey-glazed cornbread

I like to use whole-grain cornmeal for this recipe; for the same price as the refined stuff, whole grain has its original vitamins and minerals instead of having them removed and put back in again. Bob’s Red Mill makes one that is certified gluten free. It’s medium grain, which will give your cornbread a nice rustic chew. If you prefer a finer grain, just stick it in the food processor or blender and whirl it around a few times.

This will make one 9 x 13 pan of cornbread, but the recipe halves beautifully into an 8 x 8 (bake for 30 minutes total, instead of 40).

*To make the cornbread non-gluten-free, substitute 3/4 cup all-purpose flour for the brown rice, millet, and sweet rice, and substitute 1/4 cup cake flour for the potato starch.

Gluten-Free Honey-Glazed Cornbread

1 cup whole-grain yellow cornmeal
¼ cup corn flour
¼ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup millet flour
¼ cup sweet rice flour
¼ cup potato starch
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt
4 eggs, room temperature
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
½ cup buttermilk (or 1 ½ tsp vinegar plus enough milk to make ½ cup total, left to sit 5 minutes)

Glaze
6 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup honey
2 tbsp water

  1. Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with baking spray. If you wish to remove the cornbread completely from the pan, leave a three-inch overhang of foil on each side. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flours, baking powder, sugars, and salt; whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. Melt the butter and whisk into the eggs in a steady stream. Whisk in the oil, milk, and buttermilk.
  4. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the cornbread is baking, make the glaze.

  1. Melt the butter. Add the honey and water and whisk together.
  2. When the cornbread is done, use a toothpick to prick the surface with holes, about ½ inch apart.
  3. Pour the glaze over the surface of the cornbread and brush to coat evenly.
  4. Allow to cool in the pan.

honey-glazed cornbread