Gluten Freak

Flourless Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies [gluten free]

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My favorite type of gluten-free baking is the kind that’s naturally gluten-free.  You know, like how bottled water is naturally gluten-free — you  wouldn’t put flour in it anyway (unless you were making glue), so there’s no finagling needed to make it wheat-free and Celiac-safe.   In other words, I like to bake foods that are, what I call, “P.S. Gluten-free” — not the primary goal, just a happy consequence!

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I completely understand and respect the desire to recreate gluten-free versions of traditionally-wheaty foods.  I can only imagine that many of those who cannot consume these glutenous foods have a natural, reactionary desire to do so (especially if they loved eating Kraft Mac & Cheese and Little Debbie Zebra Cakes prior to their diagnosis) — we humans tend to want that which we cannot have.  So, I’m definitely an ardent supporter of things like gluten-free bread and gluten-free pasta (for those who need it);  however, since I am less comfortable baking with ingredients like tapioca starch and xanthan gum, I prefer to stick to what I know.  Plus, many gluten-free recipes have to rely upon larger quantities of sugar and/or salt to mask the “off-taste” that some GF flours have.  As much of a kitchen experimenter as I am, sometimes (very rarely), I actually know my limits.

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The luxurious and crazy-simple dough for these cookies was inspired by a recipe I saw in a magazine in my dentist’s waiting room.  In my opinion, a good peanut butter cookie is all about the peanut butter, and what recipe could better spotlight the peanut butter than one calling for only 5 simple ingredients:  peanut butter, sugar, egg, salt, and vanilla?  None!  These minimalistic cookies get their structure from the peanut butter, sugar, and egg, with the only other additions being salt and vanilla for flavor enhancement.  After finding the recipe, I made them as was (that’s a lie…I added peanut butter chips and white chocolate chips because I can’t leave well-enough alone), and they instantly became a favorite.

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Further evidence that I can’t leave well-enough alone:  Upon discovering that the humble Reese’s peanut butter cup (a.k.a. the most delicious, simple, classic candy of all time, forever and ever) is gluten-free, I decided to swaddle a bisected peanut butter cup inside this perfect dough, and boy was I glad I did!  Moral of the story:  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it isn’t always the best policy.  Disclaimer:  It usually is the best policy.
Also, CVS was having an All-Reese’s Must Go, Buy-One-Get-Two-Free sale to make way for the Easter candy, so I had a bit of a Reese’s surplus on my hands.  My life could be worse, I suppose.

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Flourless Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies [gluten free]

Yield:  28 cookies
1 cup natural no-stir creamy peanut butter
Scant 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons non-packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
14 fun-size (i.e. single cup) Reese’s peanut butter cups, unwrapped (duh) & cut in half
Kosher salt, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit, and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.  In a mixing bowl, use a rubber spatula to mix together all ingredients until smooth.  Pinch off ~2 teaspoons(ish) of dough, and use your hands to press the dough around one Reese’s half, ensuring all edges are sealed and no chocolate is exposed.  Repeat with remaining dough/Reese’s, spacing cookies ~1″ apart on the baking sheet — they won’t really spread whilst baking.  Freeze for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle tops with kosher salt.  Bake chilled & salted cookies for 9-10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through bake time; tops of baked cookies should no longer appear wet, and tiny microcracks should be visible on the surface.  Let cookies cool on sheet for 7 minutes, before carefully transferring to wire racks for complete cooling.  Cooled cookies may be stored at room temp, in airtight containers, for up to 5 days.
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A grown-up Mint Monster Sundae!  (Any other Friendly’s kids out there?)

 

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