gluten-free peanut butter cookies

There is a classic Christmas story, The Gift of the Magi, about a young couple that is poorer than poor. The wife, with only a dollar and eighty-seven cents to her name, sells her beautiful hair to afford a gift for her husband—a chain for his pocket watch. Meanwhile, he sells the pocket watch to buy tortoiseshell combs for her hair. On Christmas Day, they exchange gifts and see the tender irony.

I recently went to a cookie exchange in the same spirit. Three of us baked gluten-free cookies for a fourth friend with an intolerance to wheat, and she generously baked a batch of flour-ridden goodies for us. (Though perhaps this was a strategic move to spare her hips…)

winter branches

winter branches

As it seems everyone knows someone who has cut gluten out of their diets, I wanted to pass along this winning recipe.

Baking tends to be a precision sport, but this is a recipe that tolerates imprecision. Which is good in my world these days. With a three-and-a-half-month old who naps best on walks rather than in his crib, I’m spending more time meandering through neighborhoods photographing trees than in the kitchen. When I do hazard a recipe, it’s often a forgetful, one-handed blitz with a baby on my hip.

cookie ingredients

mixing cookies

I’ve made two batches of peanut butter cookies so far. The first time I ran out of the star ingredient so I supplemented with almond butter. And I had used the wrong type of peanut butter (sweetened, with palm oil and other undesirable additives—be wary of the “no stir” varieties) so I halved the sugar. The second time I had to set the dough aside in the fridge. No matter. We happily devoured all the chewy, peanut-buttery results.

The recipe also uses only five ingredients, kitchen staples that you likely have on hand, which is a boon during this busy time of year whether you eat gluten or not.

As a side note, there was an interesting article in Whole Living magazine on why gluten intolerances seem to be on the rise. Food for thought.

gluten-free peanut butter cookies

winter branches

gluten-free peanut butter cookies

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Recipe courtesy of Whole Foods Market

Yield: 3 dozen cookies, less if you pilfer the dough

1 egg

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup creamy unsweetened peanut butter

½ teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract (I believe most pure vanilla extracts already are)

1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional—I skipped)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat together egg, sugar, baking soda, and vanilla in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand-held mixer. Beat in the peanut butter. Stir in chocolate chips if using.

Some cookie doughs benefit from refrigeration; this isn’t one of them. It’s best to bake the cookies as soon as you’ve mixed the ingredients. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet, pressing lightly with the back of a fork. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly set. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.