My love of peanut butter runs deep, twined in the double-helixes of my DNA. I know this because my beloved grandfather never turned down a handfulorthree of peanuts. Family lore has it that he favored peanut butter-and-horseradish sandwiches. (I firmly draw the line at that one.) Dad keeps a 55-gallon-drum-sized container of roasted peanuts in the pantry. Me, I drove my mother nearly to madness by requesting a PB&J sandwich for my lunch. Every. Single. Day. Her: Chicken salad, maybe? Me: PB&J. Her: Ham and cheese? Me: PB&J.
Guess what I’m having for lunch today? Youbetcha.
I’ve spent the past week or so expanding my nut boundaries, researching an article for SparkPeople.com about nut butters that aren’t peanut. Almond butter, cashew butter, macadamia butter (not sure about that one), even seed butters made from sunflower and pumpkin. While fairly high in calories, these nut butters are also high in protein and “good” monounsaturated fats and nutrients like calcium, iron and potassium. In moderation (which, for me, is always the problem), nut butters are reasonably nutritious.
Never having eaten anything other than PB, I decided to try one of these other B’s: almond butter. I bought a jar of lightly salted, creamy almond butter at Trader Joe’s with the aim of making an almond version of traditional peanut-butter cookies. When I opened the jar, I encountered a rush of nutty, toasted aroma—not as sweet as PB, but more deeply, well, nutty. The taste was less like almond extract or almond paste, and more like, well, just almonds. Delicious. It worked quite well in this cookie recipe, which I adapted very generously from Good Life Eats.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks butter, softened (but not too soft)
1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (see NOTE)
1 cup almond butter
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; place a sheet of parchment paper on your cookie sheet. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, cream butter until light. Add sugars; cream until fluffy about 3 minutes. Beat in almond butter, then add eggs, one at a time, and mix to blend. Add vanilla and mix. Add dry ingredients (about 1/3 at a time) and mix slowly to thoroughly combine. Stir in chopped almonds.
Roll dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter; place on parchment-lined cookie sheet and press with the tines of a fork into the classic cross-hatch pattern. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, until set and lightly brown. Cool a bit on the cookie sheet, then remove to a wire rack. Enjoy with a glass of ice-cold milk.
NOTE: The original recipe calls for 1 cup each of brown and granulated sugar. I like my cookies to be not so teeth-shatteringly sweet, so I adjusted the recipe by using just 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. The cookies taste predominantly of nuts, not of sugar. I like.