I need a favor. You up for it?
Yesterday, I learned from someone I trust that the phrase “good, for gluten-free,” and the attitude it represents, just isn't going to budge any time soon. I heard that it was uttered by some of the most important food writers in the U.S. They said it because that's what they still think. They weren't trying to be elitist or unfair or unkind. They weren't trying to hurt anyone's feelings, and they weren't trying to dumb us down. It's just that that's what they think it is supposed to be like. Their standards are very low, which means that the food media doesn't want to cover gluten-free food much at all. Gluten-free is still the ugly stepchild of the food world. And it's driving me up the WALL.
That media and cultural bias is part of the reason that I love making gluten-free clone recipes. Like gluten-free Milano cookies. And gluten-free Chips Ahoy! cookies. And gluten-free Ritz crackers. And gluten-free Thin Mints.
And like these Nutter Butter-style cookies. So here comes the favor: I need you to bake, and I need you to share. I need you talk about it with everyone and anyone. Know anyone in the media? Get them to write about it. My books sell (thank you I love you thank you keep buying them please!!), but they really don't get a lot of press. Not because you don't want to hear about them, but because the media doesn't really want to talk about gluten-free food. And so the gluten-free marketplace is still crowded with products that aren't nearly good enough, for tons and tons of money. Nobody knows!! We know. But no one else knows. I really need you to spread the word. For real. I'm impatient for a better gluten-free marketplace, and now I'm really kinda mad. Not at you! But at the establishment. Now I'm a rebel! I know. A rebel with clone cookies. Not too scary.
Oh, and unless I sound like I think I'm all noble and stuff, I have to confess that it took me a truly embarrassingly long time to figure out that, to make a peanut shape out of these dead-ringer-for-the-real thing clone cookies, all I had to do was to use an oval cookie cutter (Ateco makes a whole set of them and I love sets of cookie cutters I really do) and just … pinch in the center. Duh, right?
And also I didn't make up how to make the criss-cross pattern on the tops of the cookies, so they even look just like the real thing. I read that someplace on the Internet, but I can't for the life of me remember where since I've been planning these cookies for a long time but was still hung up on the peanut shape. Don't ask.
So after all that, even if you're too tired or too busy or really really too tired to become a Gluten-Free Evangelist, you should totally make these cookies. Don't like/can't have peanut butter? Make them with no-stir almond butter instead. They'd be maybe even, dare I say it, better??
I couldn't show you a big photo of the inside of the cookies, because, well, the filling just doesn't look very pretty until it's covered. You know how some people just look amazing in clothes, but then you see them naked and you're like … meh? It's like that. Don't judge. Just bake. And spread the word!! Ugly stepchild no more. (If I came on too strong, I'm sorry and it's only out of l-o-v-e really it is).
Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies (& a favor)
1 cup (256 g) no-stir natural peanut butter
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter
2 cups (280 g) high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (109 g) packed light brown sugar
1 extra-large egg (60 g) at room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (192 g) no-stir natural peanut butter
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (115 g) confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons cream
Make the cookie dough. Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside. In a small, heavy-bottom saucepan, place 1 cup peanut butter and 8 tablespoons butter. Melt, stirring frequently, over medium heat. Once the mixture is melted and smooth, remove from the heat and set aside to cool briefly. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar and brown sugar, whisking to combine well and working out any lumps in the brown sugar. Add the melted peanut butter and butter mixture, and stir to combine. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix until the dough comes together. Knead until smooth and flatten into a disk.
Shape the dough. Place the cookie dough between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper, and roll out into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Cut out oval shapes with a 2-inch oval cookie cutter (Ateco sells a set of concentric oval shaped cookie cutters). Pull away the scraps of uncut dough, gather the scraps and set them aside. Carefully transfer the ovals to the prepared baking sheets, placing them about 1 inch apart (they will not spread much during baking). With a moistened thumb and forefinger, carefully pinch each oval on either side of the width of each oval’s center to create a peanut shape. Reroll the gathered scraps of dough and repeat the process, reserving about ¼ cup of dough. Place the reserved dough in a small bowl and mix with hot water by the tablespoon and stir until you have a thick paste. Transfer the paste to a pastry bag fitted with a #2 tip, and pipe a crisscross pattern on half of the cut-outs.
Bake the cookies. Place the baking sheets in the freezer until the cut-outs are firm (about 5 minutes), and then place each, one at a time, in the center of the preheated oven and bake, rotating once, for 9 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden brown all over. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheets.
Prepare the filling. While the cookies are cooling, heat the 4 tablespoons unsalted butter and ¾ cup peanut butter in a small, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until just melted. Remove the pan from the heat and add the dash of kosher salt and stir to combine. Add the confectioners’ sugar, and stir until well-combined. The mixture will be very thick. Add one tablespoon of cream, and stir to thin the filling. Add another tablespoon of cream if necessary to create a thickly pourable filling. Allow the filling to cool until no longer hot to the touch.
Assemble the cookies. Place the filling in a pastry bag fitted with a medium-sized plain tip (I used a #12 tip). Turn over the half of the cookies without the crisscross pattern, and pipe a generous amount of filling on each overturned cookie. Top with the decorated cookies to create sandwiches, pressing down gently to force the filling to the very edge of the cookies. Allow to sit at room temperature (or in the refrigerator) until the filling is set. Serve chilled or at room temperature.