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One of the first things newly gluten-free people learn how to bake is flourless peanut butter cookies. They’re easy, taste familiar, and comfort you that just because you can’t eat gluten anymore doesn’t mean that you’ll never enjoy homemade cookies again. However, since I was taking dessert to a party that was going to be attended by several hot-stuff bakers, I didn’t want to show up with plain old peanut butter cookies. I needed something with a little wow and a lot of decadence. There needed to be crunch, sparkle, a hit of salt. There needed to be chocolate.

Peanut Butter Cookies

3 cups crunchy peanut butter
2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup any GF flour mix
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs

Cream together peanut butter and sugars, stir in baking powder and flour until incorporated. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Refrigerate dough for an hour.

Scoop dough up by rounded tablespoons full, roll in white sugar, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Criss-cross with a fork. Bake at 325° for about 8 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool the rest of the way.

Chocolate Frosting

This chocolate frosting recipe is right off the side of a Hershey’s cocoa box.

1 4-oz stick of butter
2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt butter and stir in cocoa until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, alternating with milk, until desired texture is reached. Beat in vanilla and salt.

Assemble cookie sandwiches:

Place about a tablespoon of frosting on the flat side of one cookie. Put another cookie on top and gently press down until the frosting comes nearly to all edges. Place on a cookie sheet. When all sandwiches are made, refrigerate for about 30 minutes to set frosting. Before serving, sprinkle a little coarse kosher salt over each sandwich.

Stand back and watch fisticuffs ensue. Makes about 2 dozen cookie sandwiches.

 

 

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Fig upside-down cake

No spam was harmed in the taking of this picture.

We have this thing in our house. Whenever the kids are giving us a hard time about food — you know, won’t choose a snack, can’t decide what they want — we offer them figs. Figs figs figs. Sometimes we throw in some Spam. Figs and Spam Spam and figs. For some reason lost to time, they find the idea of figs hilarious and kind of disgusting. Figs figs figs. Read the rest of this entry »

tartredux1

Of course they were on sale. Strawberries, $1.25 a pound; blueberries, $1.25 a pint. I bought five of each and made the hell out of some jam, and when I was done, there were leftover berries. What to do with them? The answer seemed obvious: Make a tart.

I live about two blocks from my office, and smack-dab in the middle of that short distance is the Whole Foods, a gleaming, delightful emporium of products that someone more ethical than me would be able to figure out a way to afford. I, on the other hand, merely wander its aisles occasionally marveling at the otherworldliness, and/or run in there begrudgingly when I realize I’ve run out of sugar halfway through jam-making and don’t have time to drive to a cheaper store. Whole Foods: my corner bodega.

Anyway, one of the many things I covet at Whole Foods is their tarts. Behind the gleaming, curved glass of the pastry counter, they beckon me with their bright colors and perfect sugar glaze. And they are like $4.99 for a two-bite tart. Now, I will not lie and tell you I have never succumbed. Even the stingiest coupon maven has to throw caution to the wind sometime. But I simply cannot justify the frequent consumption of those tarts.

When berries are on sale, though, I can damn sure make my own.

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