Monday, February 3, 2014

Peanut Butter (and Almond) Cookies--Raw and Vegan and Gluten-Free and Awesome

I could have called these sugar free as well. Because they use dates instead of sugar. But I'm tired of going to all those recipes that say "SUGAR FREE!!!" only to find that the recipe uses 1 1/2 C of maple syrup or something (I'm sorry, but I do not count maple syrup/honey/agave as sugar free; maybe refined-sugar free, but seriously people--maple syrup is not sugar free). So anyway, I thought I'd spare you the hype. Still, come on, a cup of dates is totally better than a cup of maple syrup or honey or agave or, yes, sugar.

These were delicious. They could be eaten for breakfast. But guess what? I didn't tell my kids that and I didn't make them for breakfast. I made them for dessert. And then fed them to my kids for dessert. And my kids ate them as a dessert. And never even questioned whether or not they were really dessert material (because they totally rocked). And if there's something in the food world that really makes me happy, it's a cookie that can pass for breakfast AND dessert.

These are raw, though if you use toasted nuts, they'll turn out fine too. They're gluten free. They're vegan, but I'm not vegan so I don't post a vegan recipe unless I find it pretty incredible. They're fabulously satisfying. They're not crispy on the edges or low-cal because you read the parts about them being raw and containing peanut butter right. So we won't fault them too much.

These are also easy to make. Although you do need a good food processor to make them--one capable of processing nuts and handling the sticky dates. (It's possible that a nice blender could also work, but I don't have one so I can't promise anything.)

Note for those who want their brains to twist in a knot with overmuch detail: I made these by combining everything but the dates and then adding the dates in and processing. However, the dates made it clump up in a motor-threatening sticky ball where the dates were still big and clumpy. So I ended up taking out half the dough and processing, then putting the other half in and processing. Then combining the two. If I did it again, I'd process the nut parts, then take them out and process the dates. Then add the nuttish-butter back in. I think this would work better for getting the dates all chop-mashed up and then incorporating the other ingredients into the smooth texture you want. However, below I'm going to give instructions for how I actually did it since I know it works, even if you do have to do things in batches.

Peanut Butter Cookies--Raw, Vegan, Gluten-free
adapted from A House in the Hills
makes 12-15 cookies
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cost: $2.65 (about $.22/cookie)
almonds: 1.00, peanut butter: .50, dates: .75, chocolate chips: .40

1 C raw almonds (I used regular non-raw almonds)
1/2 C peanut butter
1 C pitted dates (be sure there are NO pits)
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 handful chocolate chips if you want to throw raw, veganism to the wind (preferably dark--yum)

Put almonds in food processor. Pulse and pulse and pulse until they're chopped enough to process. It's loud at first, so brace yourself. Eventually the nuts will be not quite a nut butter, but getting there--incredibly chopped and starting to stick together and release a few oils. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and pulse then process until it's combined and pretty smooth.

At this point, I added my dates and they just seemed to clog up the food processor (made a big sticky ball) without ever getting sufficiently chopped up. So I took out half the batter and then was able to process what I had until it was a smooth, dough-like concoction. I took that half out and did the other half of the dough. Then I combined the two. (Note: As stated above, I think that if you processed your nuts and dates separately, then combined them you wouldn't have this problem, but I haven't tried it yet, so I'm going with what I did do.)

Take dough out and add chocolate chips. Or skip them (because this is raw and vegan, right). You can add a sprinkle of sea salt on each cookie, which I think would be amazing, but I wasn't sure how well the minions would react, so I took the low road and added dark chocolate chips.

Roll into balls and press with a fork. Or just eat as clumps like some type of paleo monster.


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