Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Double chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies

Hello, fellow lazy foodies! After an extended spell of putting the slacker in Slacker Gourmet, I'm back! Don't worry, I hadn't forgotten about this humble little corner of the food blogosphere.

What have I been up to? Well, here's the thing. A few months ago, my husband was diagnosed with a whole slew of food intolerances, including gluten, wheat, rye, yeast and casein. The doctor put him on a strict elimination diet to avoid all of the trigger foods, which ended up lasting 3 months (right through the holiday season - yikes!). So I was cooking, all right, but much of it was far from Slacker Gourmet - there was a lot of experimentation and substitution. For the most part, I stuck with recipes that other, far smarter, bloggers and chefs had developed.

The hubby is off the elimination diet now, but has discovered that he does indeed feel better when he avoids dairy and gluten most of the time. Since this is now a part of our everyday lives, I've started to adapt and streamline recipes to fit into our busy schedules, and I'm looking forward to sharing them! I've also restarted Project 365, so I'm taking more and more photos (and learning how to take proper food photos). Now that I keep my camera close to me at all times, it's much easier for me to remember to grab a few photos of something I've made so I can write about it! I'm hoping to settle into a weekly update schedule eventually.

Anyway... enough about me! Let's talk about cookies, shall we?

I'm not much of a baker to begin with, but add in the constraint of staying gluten-free and dairy-free, and I'm ready to just break out the box mixes and be done with it. However, there were some recipes that the hubby really loved that I wanted to try to adapt. In general, the less reliant a baked good was on flour, the better chance I had of adapting it successfully.

One of the recipes that worked really well was this recipe for Healthy Peanut Butter Chunk Oatmeal Bars. It was already dairy-free, so I only had to use gluten-free oats and swap in a gluten-free AP flour blend (I've been using Namaste), and it worked beautifully.

There are a couple of drawbacks, though. When I make bars, brownies, etc., I really love using my Chicago Metallic Slice Solutions Brownie Pan - it's got the convenient sling to lift the bars out, and the cutting grid gives me beautiful bars every time (if I try to cut them myself, I inevitably end up with a crumbly mess). But the darn thing is a pain to grease (even though it's nonstick, i don't trust it that much), and even more of a pain to wash.

The bars themselves are also pretty serious. They're thick and filling, which is great sometimes, but not always what you're looking for. I've taken to cutting them in half from the original bar size, but... see above about the crumbly mess. Yeah.

I got to thinking - can I adapt these into cookies instead? Parchment-lined cookie sheets don't need to be washed (usually). If I could make cookies... then all of my equipment could go into the dishwasher. Plus, I could make them a little more manageably sized. For cookies, though, I was afraid that the amount of flour in the bars would make for a crumbly, dry cookie, so I swapped out 1/4 of it for raw cacao powder.

The results? A resounding success, I'd say! These cookies come together quickly with a stand mixer - you can have these mixed, baked, and cooled in well under an hour. They're also perfect for nearly any food restriction (well, except for a peanut or chocolate allergy) - no one would be able to tell that they are gluten-free or vegan unless you tell 'em. Plus, you can go ahead and eat the uncooked dough - no raw eggs to worry about!

Double chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
Yield: approximately 2 dozen 2" cookies
Adapted from Healthy Peanut Butter Chunk Oatmeal Bars

  • 1 cup peanut butter (see below for measuring tips)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free AP flour OR oat flour OR whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder OR cocoa powder
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy OR dairy milk
  • 1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (check the label to make sure they fit in with any food restrictions) 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a couple of sheet pans with parchment paper.

Add peanut butter and brown sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add vanilla extract and beat until mixed in.

Stop the mixer. Add the flour and cacao powder, and mix on a low speed until just combined. Stop the mixer again, add oats, baking soda, and salt and mix again on low speed until just combined. Stopping and starting the mixer keeps you from throwing the dry goods all over the kitchen - don't ask me how I know that.

The dough will look very dry and crumbly now - that's okay! With the mixer running at a low to medium speed, add the milk in a thin stream. By the time you finish adding the milk, the dough should come together and pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Stop the mixer, remove the bowl and mix in the chocolate chips with a spoon. Using a cookie scoop (I used my OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop) or 2 spoons, drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough a couple inches apart on the prepared sheet pans. Smush 'em down a little bit - they won't spread much in the oven.

Bake for 10 - 12 minutes (13 minutes in my oven, but I tend to always need another minute past the upper bound of recipe times) - the tops of the cookies should look slightly dry and may be starting to just barely crack in places. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Try not to eat all of them in one sitting.

Print this recipe!

Let's discuss the elephant in the room - peanut butter.

I hate measuring peanut butter. Even with a handy little plunger-style measuring cup (like this one from OXO), it's still a sticky mess. I've found a couple of ways to lessen the pain, though.

If you have a kitchen scale, a cup of peanut butter is 9 oz by weight, so you can just put your stand mixer bowl on the scale, zero it out, then scoop 9 oz right into the bowl. In fact, go right ahead and add 3 5/8 oz of brown sugar in there too - now you don't have to pack it into a measuring cup!

My other sneaky peanut butter measuring trick? Well, most jars of peanut butter are 16 oz, which is not quite 2 cups. But Whole Foods sells their peanut butter in 18 oz jars, which is exactly 2 cups. If you want to be really efficient, go ahead and make a double batch of cookies (though I will warn you that you will be pretty much at max capacity in the classic 4.5 qt KitchenAid mixer).

Double chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies

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