Friday, January 8, 2010

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies

Dessert is always my favorite starting place, so I figured I'd kick it off with some cookies. A quick disclaimer, though: I am not a baker. In the world of cuisine, usually there are cooks, and there are bakers. I am the former. Baking is far too sensitive to carefully-measured proportions of ingredients for my usual style of grabbing a handful of something and tossing it into a bowl. I also live at 6000 feet, which usually means that muffins burn and cookies flatten down into gooey messes.

But these beauties turned out lovely. These are light, delicate, crumbly shortbread-style peanut butter cookies, not soft and chewy peanut butter cookies. I like both styles, but the texture of these is just delightful with a cold glass of almond milk.

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies
Adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

  • 1/2 c. vegetable shortening (non-hydrogenated is best, but Crisco works)
  • 1/2 c. natural smooth peanut butter (preferably no-stir; otherwise, stir really well first)
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. agave nectar
  • 1-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together shortening, peanut butter, and sugar until light and fluffy, around 2-3 minutes. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl periodically. You can also do this by hand with a fork or heavy-duty whisk if you have lots of patience and massive forearm muscles.
  3. Stir in vanilla and agave nectar.
  4. Mix in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Use your hands to really work everything together. The dough should hold together and be able to be formed into balls. If it's too dry to stick together, add a tablespoon or two of your preferred nondairy milk, but be careful here - to get the cookie texture right, you want as little liquid in the dough as possible.
  5. Roll the dough into 1-1/2" diameter balls (the size of the center indent of your palm). Flatten them a bit in your palm, then place on a cookie sheet and flatten them more with the bottom of a mug. (These don't spread out while baking, so you pretty much want to get them in their final shape before you stick 'em in the oven.) Use the tines of a fork to make crisscrosses on the tops of the cookies.
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven, and let them cool on the sheets for at least 10 minutes (if you don't, they'll crumble into oblivion). Then transfer them to wire racks to finish cooling.
Yields about 3 dozen cookies.

Enjoy these within a couple of days for maximum deliciousness, and make sure you store them in a tightly-sealed container. I hope you love the tender, flaky texture as much as I did.

Happy eating.

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