Unassuming from afar, tempting upon closer inspection, and hauntingly delicious at first bite. All the signs would seem to say that these are your typically tasty peanut butter cookies; Full of nutty flavor, soft and chewy, yet still satisfyingly crisp. Certainly every aspect of this classification is accurate, although there is something slightly different about these that most people wouldn’t even venture to guess.
Before I give away the secret ingredient, allow me to preface expressing my disdain for the general reaction when you label something as “healthier.” The first thought that passes through the American mind is that something essential to the overall flavor has been removed, so it must therefore be not nearly as good tasting. Despite the fact that vegan baking and cooking still makes use of plenty of sugar, oil, and other items with less-than-stellar reputations, the uneducated public still see veganism as consisting only of sterile, bland health food, which is no where near the truth. Connecting these dots, I almost never divulge the fact that my baked goods are all vegan before handing them out to anyone. There’s nothing that makes vegan food any more or less inherently tasty than the alternative anyway – It all comes down to the same basic ingredients to contribute flavor, and it’s just a matter of how you choose utilize them. That’s why I will never accept the response that something is “good for vegan food;” Perfectionist that I am, I will continue working at a recipe until it is delicious in its own right.
That said, due to a growing demand for delicious food suitable for those with usually limited dietary constraints, the pressure to make more healthful treats was on, big time. Without suffering from any medical limitations other than lactose intolerance as a child, (Obviously, no longer an issue) I frantically read through stacks of articles and recipes, trying to gather more information about celiac’s disease. Although this is only my first attempt at fulfilling such a daunting task, I plan to delve further into this field should it be requested in the future.
So yes, these cookies are indeed not only vegan as per usual, but also gluten-free. In addition, if one were baking for a diabetic, I could imagine the sugar can even be replaced with Splenda or stevia, although I’m not sure the exact conversion from stevia to regular white sugar, as the former is much sweeter than the later.
Health food? I guess you could say that. Delicious? You could say that one again. In such a biased and prejudiced world out there, millions would write this one off because of its secret ingredients, which is why I’m not going to focus on that. See for yourself, but I don’t think they should be looked upon any differently than white flour or salt; Ingredients are just that, better or for worse, and even the most unexpected ingredients can be used the right way to create something amazing.
Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies
1/2 Cup Red Lentils, Dry
1/4 Cup Instant Mashed Potato Flakes
1/2 Cup Soymilk
1 Cup Crunchy Peanut Butter
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Cornstarch
2 Teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Begin by grinding up your dry lentils in a food processor for a good 5 – 10 minutes, or until it is a fine powder. This step is crucial, as any remaining pieces of whole lentils will contribute a slightly off texture to the finished cookie. While that’s churning away, combine the soymilk and mashed potato flakes in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for one minute. Let it cool for a minute or two, and toss it into a stand mixer along with your lentil flour.
Mix in the peanut butter and sugar next. Sprinkle in your cornstarch while keeping the mixer at a low speed, bringing it up faster once it’s well combined and no longer threatens to send starch flying out. Make sure that it’s thoroughly mixed at this point, because lumps of cornstarch do not make nice prizes.
Add in the remaining ingredient, combine, and spoon out onto silpat-lined baking sheets.
Leave a good amount of room between cookies in case of spreading, but they shouldn’t go too far. Slide the dough lumps into the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes. Removing them from the hot box, allow them to sit on the hot tray for another 5 minutes before pull the silpat off onto a cooler surface, where they should come down to room temperature.
Depending on the size, you will end up with approximately two dozen cookies to enjoy and share with all.