The summer I was 14 I worked at Cookies By George in West Edmonton Mall. I loved the place despite the fact that I was let go at the end of the summer for habitually failing to have the kitchen cleaned up by closing time. Their cookies were fat and soft with outsize chocolate chunks that were perfectly appropriate for the 1990′s. The manager taught us a technique of pulling a couple of big chunks out of the dough and scraping the face of them clean with an ice cream scoop to garnish the cookies’ tops. Somehow the chocolate tasted more chocolate-y when you caught a big eyeful of it right up front.
One of the nice, I think, things about being in a tiny town in West Virginia as I am at the moment is that when I’m hankering hard for a particular food I’m forced to get creative. Generally, I’m not a huge fan of traditional baked goods because all the refined sugar and flour makes me feel awful but I had a Cookies By George craving that would just not quit. I think I was a little homesick.
A quick internet troll turned up a vegan peanut butter cookie recipe at the excellent 101cookbooks.com. I swapped out the olive oil in that recipe for virgin coconut oil to help maintain a soft texture and because it is the healthy oil de jour. And of course, I added some chunks. Don’t worry, they don’t taste at all ‘alternative’.
These were even tastier that day after I baked them so content yourself with some dough and hold off on the serious eating till tomorrow.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies (That Happen To Be Vegan)
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees
2 cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter(if you can only find sweetened reduce the maple syrup by a tablespoon)
1 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 ounces baking chocolate or good quality dark chocolate, chopped into large, flat chunks(most dark chocolate is dairy-free but check the label if you are devoutly vegan)
1/4 cup of raw peanuts with husks removed
You will need two bowls: one medium, one large. In the medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. In the large bowl combine peanut butter, maple syrup and coconut oil. Once it is largely combined switch to a whisk to break up the little chunks of coconut oil. A few won’t matter, they will just melt into the cookie but try and get as many as you can.
Add the flour mixture to the maple syrup mixture a little at a time and mix until just combined. Chill at least 40 minutes. Drop generous heaped tablespoons onto parchment lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Using a fork, mash the cookies down gently in a cross pattern, they should remain quite thick. Press a couple of chocolate chunks and 2-3 peanuts into each cookie. Dust very lightly with sea salt if you wish.
Bake 12-13 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.