Vegan | Gluten-Free
Recipe & blog post courtesy of Yes Please Baked Goods.
In the world of food, there are many dynamic duos. Peaches and cream. Caramel and pecans. Apples and cinnamon. But perhaps the most loved duo of all (at least for me): peanut butter and chocolate. I consider peanut butter and chocolate to be two of my main food groups. There is no better pairing that the creamy, salty-sweet peanut butter and the smooth, fruity, slightly bitter chocolate. Put the two in my favorite dessert, a cookie, and I am in heaven.
When the holidays roll around, nothing goes better with the holiday spirit than cookies. While many will be going for gingerbread, chocolate mint cookies or sugar cookies, I will be going for these Orange Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies. The salty-sweet, vanilla White Chocolatey Wonderful peanut butter from Peanut Butter & Co. is enhanced by the floral citrus of orange, and both are balanced out by the earthy, lightly bitter Taza Almond Milk Chocolate. And yes, these cookies happen to be vegan AND gluten-free.
Let’s talk about a few of the key ingredients in there cookies and you can be one stop closer to cookie heaven.
Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolatey Wonderful
When I first moved to New York City back in 2009, I worked a short 10 minute walk away from Peanut Butter & Co.’s Sullivan Street cafe. I must have devoured a fluffernutter, made with their maple peanut butter, at least twice a week. It was peanut butter heaven. Peanut Butter & Co. introduced me to the world of flavored peanut butters. From Cinnamon raisin and maple to dark chocolate, I loved them all. When it came to making these cookies, I opted for their White Chocolatey Wonderful, which has vanilla, cocoa butter and cane sugar mixed right in. While most white chocolate flavored nut butters contain dairy, this one does not; so, it is perfect for these vegan cookies.
Using the vanilla-sweet peanut butter in these cookies gives you a boost of flavor along with the characteristic salty-sweetness we expect from peanut butter. Not to mention the natural fat from the peanuts and cocoa butter ensure that you will get a deliciously moist, soft and chewy cookie.
Gluten-free baking can be tricky. Gluten is an essential part of baking chemistry (yes, it is a science) and without it, things can get funky. While you can use a pre-made gluten-free flour mixture, I find that they can create dry cookies. The mixture in these cookies ensures a wheat-like flavor, soft crumb and moist center.
Oat flour is a great gluten-free flour option because it behaves similarly to wheat flour and even tastes similar to many whole wheat flours. But oat flour needs a little help from gluten-free flour friends to truly deliver a perfect cookie. Almond flour helps to add additional fat and protein to the dough, which ensures a moist cookie. One characteristic that I require in a cookie is a slight chew. Let’s call it toothsomeness. Potato starch is the flour that will give you that chew along with the added benefit of retaining moisture.
All of these flours can be found at most super markets such as Wegman’s, Whole Foods or online. If you are doing a lot of gluten-free baking, I highly recommend keeping this trio in your pantry.
Taza Chocolate Almond Milk Chocolate, Crunchy Cashew
I will not share the amount of chocolate I eat in a week, but I will just say, it is more than 3 bars. I especially love dark chocolate; the perfect amount of sweetness with just a little bitterness. However not all chocolate is created equally. While a lot of dark and milk chocolates are full of stabilizers, refined sugars and hydrogenated oils, Taza Chocolate is a brand I know will never put anything funky in there.
I have been demolishing bar after bar of Taza’s dark chocolate for years, and their Almond Milk Chocolate is my new obsession. You get the smooth, velvety texture of milk chocolate with the fruity bitterness of dark chocolate, all in one bar. All of that comes with no refined sugars or dairy added. I love to eat it as a snack, but in cookies the chocolate melts into a delectable goo that hides in the cookie center. Using the Crunchy Cashew flavor means that I will not only get that luscious, smooth chocolate, but a little crunch to provide textural variety. It really is the perfect chocolate for your holiday baking season. Or just to eat after your holiday meal.
You can order Taza Chocolate online or find it in select specialty stores, Whole Foods or Costco.
Makes around 18 cookies
150g (1/2 cup) Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolatey Wonderful
60g (1/3 cup) olive oil
81g (1/2 cup) coconut sugar
38g (2 tbsp) maple syrup
67g (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) warm water
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g (3/4 cup) gluten-free oat flour
83g (2/3 cup) super fine almond flour (not almond meal)
45g (1/4 cup) potato starch (not potato flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
70g (1 bar) chopped Taza Chocolate Almond Milk Chocolate Crunchy Cashew
In a medium bowl, combine the oat flour, almond flour, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Whisk together, making sure to get out any clumps in the almond flour. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter and olive oil until combined. Add the coconut sugar, maple syrup, warm water, orange zest and vanilla extract. Whisk again until the mixture is smooth and everything is incorporated.
Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and combine with a spatula. When the flour mixture is almost fully incorporated, add the chopped chocolate, Keep mixing until all the dry ingredients are absorbed and the chocolate is evenly distributed.
Cover the dough and chill in the fridge for 1 hour. This makes the dough easier to scoop and gives the flours a chance to absorb excess moisture. It will still be a sticky dough even after it is chilled.
Preheat your oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop or two spoons, dollop the dough onto the baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until the edges turn golden brown. If you want a soft cookie, bake for 13 minutes. If you want a crispier cookie, bake for 15 to 16 minutes.
Enjoy these cookies with a tall glass of your favorite non-dairy milk, lathered with more peanut butter and topped with an extra square or two of chocolate.