I can't even remember the last I time I had a good, homemade cookie.
Not the crunchy, flaky, type but a real, soft cookie. With the first bite into its moist centre I immediately remember those days mum and I would bake together, me as a little toddler, and my eyes couldn't yet see over the edge of the counter. It was before I became caught up in life outside of the comfort of my home, and the warmth of the kitchen where we baked.
There's one photo from my childhood that a freshly baked cookie, still warm from the clutches of the oven, reminds me of. It's in one of three photo albums from before digital cameras changed the process of documenting life neatly into books, right at the back where other photos of me with chicken pox remain. I laugh now at the contrast of one photo of me painfully lying in the bath tub, covered in red spots and looking extremely unhappy. Next to it, it's of me sitting happily atop the counter with a cookie dough covered spoon in my mouth and round cheeks full of happiness. My little belly full of cookie dough bulges, and flour and other ingredients have spilt around where I am sitting.
I must have loved cooking even as a young child, as another photo rests in my album of me sitting beside a cupboard in the kitchen, a bag of flour spilt across my lap, and an eager smile still gleaming across my face. My pink tights are barely visible under the whiteness of the flour, and it cascades across the floor.
A cookie is packed with love, its not to be unrecognised - it holds so much more than it appears. I mean, you give cookies to new neighbours as welcoming and make lifelong friends, cookies make perfect gifts, and they're always there to comfort and make a good day great. I remember when my best friend and I would spend the afternoon baking together at her house, enjoying the sweet smells wafting from the oven as we sat excitedly waiting for the timer's ring, rocking our feet back and forth as we sat on the counter recounting the first time we met. Biting into a cookie and reading gluten-free cooking blogs this afternoon, as the day became darker with heavy rain, I came upon this perfect quote from Karina of Gluten Free Goddess:
"A good cookie can make you smile, even after a tiresome, irritating day. Yes, I know it's food not love. But a cookie can be. Love I mean. A kind of culinary hug, when baked with affection.
A good cookie might even bring you a kiss. Or tender arms of appreciation wrapped around your neck. A good cookie might even make you a new friend... A good cookie can make you feel like you belong."
And I did, sitting around the table with mum and dad, our cookies on a small plate in the centre, and mugs of tea in our hands. I felt perfectly relaxed at home. The day had been dark and rainy from the moment we awoke, the pitter patter of raindrops became the soundtrack to the day, a melody for naps in the afternoon and a comforting beat to read lines in our books.
I set to making cookies fearing that I would forget a vital ingredient again, at the very least that they wouldn't rise, or the very worst, not cook at all. However, using My Nana's Gluten-Free Flour Recipe and with a little patience, they came out in perfectly round shapes, even holding the designs on top, and tasting like every girls dream cookie. Every child's favourite cookie, and especially dad's favourite cookie, who recommended peanut butter when I wondered about what to bake.
Never neglect a need for a good cookie, it makes everything so much better. I swear.
Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour's Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe
If you want a smoother cookie, use smooth peanut butter, but I quite like the bits of peanuts in mine, they make for little crunchy bits. I'd like to try different types of butters for a different flavour next time too, maybe cashew, hazelnut, almond or a mix of two!
I used half butter and half shortening for this recipe, using all butter will cause the cookies to be crunchier and shortening will result in a much chewier and softer cookie. For a little in between, a soft interior with a bit of crunch, do as I have done below.
Makes between 20 and 24 cookies, depending on size.
40 mL shortening, I used vegan shortening for these cookies
1/4 c butter, or replacement
3/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c raw peanut butter
175 g Gluten-Free Flour Mix
1 tsp baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
In a large bowl beat together shortening, butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla and peanut butter until smooth and thoroughly combined. If the butter and shortening is firm, microwave for 20 seconds to soften before adding other ingredients.
Add the gluten-free flour and baking soda, stirring to cover flour and then beat.
Pinch of small pieces of the dough and roll it into a ball with your hands, pressing it onto the baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough. With the edge of a fork press down to create little ridges and flatten the cookies.
Bake the cookies for 12 - 16 minutes, they will begin to brown at the edges but the tops should not. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack for 5 minutes.
Labels: baking, butter, cookies, flour, flour mix, gluten free, homemade, peanut butter, shortening, sugar, sweet, warm