Now … on to a very important matter at hand: These gorgeous gluten free peanut butter and banana cookies are just the thing to round out our gluten free Christmas cookie offerings. Peanut butter cookies tend to be crunchy, since, well, that's mostly how peanut butter behaves in baking. Bananas, on the other hand, tend to make baked goods soft and fluffy. Elvis taught us all a lesson about the deliciousness of peanut butter and bananas together, but did The King know that baking with them both together makes for a soft cookie that's also chewy? Probably not.
They don't spread much during baking, but they do puff up in the most pleasant way. And you can just imagine how they smell during baking, right?
A note about bananas: I happened to have some truly perfect baking bananas (quite ripe but not mushy), but I never count on that for banana baking. When I have bananas that are about to turn, I peel them, chop them roughly and place them in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the bananas are frozen solid, then pile the frozen banana chunks into a zip top bag and return to the freezer. They'll keep like that for months, and they'll thaw quickly if you need to mash them. (They'll also make the best smoothies ever if you blend them while still frozen.)
A note about peanut butter: I usually use Skippy Natural creamy peanut butter, since I can buy big containers of it and it's great for baking. Creamy almond butter would probably work well, too, although I haven't tried it. I don't know whether a nut-free nut butter alternative would work, but if you try it, let us know how it goes!
Gluten Free Peanut Butter Banana Cookies
1 3/4 cups (245 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/4 cup (36 g) cornstarch (or try arrowroot)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (128 g) smooth peanut butter
2 eggs (120 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten
3/4 cup (140 g) mashed ripe banana (from 1 medium to large banana)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (100 g) coarse sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw), plus more if necessary (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.
In a medium-size bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and whisk to combine well. Set the bowl aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer), beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, peanut butter, eggs, banana and vanilla, beating to combine well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients, and mix by hand until just combined. The dough will be thick but soft. Place the cookie dough in the refrigerator to chill for about 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into golf ball-sized portions (each about 1 1/2 tablespoons) and place about 1 1/2-inches apart from one another on the prepared baking sheets. Using wet hands and a light touch, roll each portion of cookie dough into a ball, place in a small bowl with the coarse sugar, and press gently into a disk about 1/2-inch thick. Press the disk on all sides into the coarse sugar so the sugar adheres to the dough. Return to the baking sheet. (If you’re not using the coarse sugar, just press into the proper size disk and return to the baking sheet).
Place the baking sheets, one at a time, in the center of the preheated oven and bake until lightly golden brown on the sides and set in the center (about 9 minutes). The cookies will puff up, and will spread only slightly. Allow to set on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.