Who knew making healthy vegan peanut butter cookies was such hard work?
I didn’t. Before I set out to make them, I thought it would be easy. But now I know.
After many attempts of baking, I have much more respect for people who come up with baked good recipes. Especially vegans.
Ignorance is bliss
Before starting my quest to make the best peanut butter cookie recipe I could, I thought baking was easy. I thought it was like cooking. You throw some ingredients together, make sure the flavors match up, you get a yummy meal. Making savory dishes to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner is easy.
Comparatively, making sweet baked goods is hard.
I thought making cookies was going to be a breeze. After all, most of the recipes that I publish are delicious creations. I accidentally make something super yummy then decide that it needs to become a recipe. I tinker the recipe to make it perfect for the website.
That didn’t work for these peanut butter cookies.
Try and try again
I used a lot of ingredients my first attempt at peanut butter cookies. Oats, chickpeas, baking powder, baking soda, Splenda, flaxseeds. I usually ascribe to the philosophy that more is better. More ingredients and more work makes a better product.
I know this isn’t always the case. But it’s what I gravitate towards.
Anyways, the cookies. They came out… rather odd. They didn’t look like cookies because they were a big, crumbly mound of oats and peanut peanut butter. Plus all the other ingredients I checked into the dough.
The taste was good, but they didn’t look right. The texture wasn’t right.
My “best peanut butter cookie recipe” needed a LOT of work.
The second time I ground up the oats before mixing with the wet ingredients. Rob and I liked them better but they still weren’t the cookies we wanted.
For the third trial of cookies I switched over to sourdough wheat flour instead of oats. I also added a mashed banana. Again, the cookies improved but they still weren’t the cookies we wanted. We wanted flatter cookies. I thought adding some more liquid to the batter would help.
The fourth trial of the cookies yielded cookies that actually looked like cookies, which was a plus. On the downside, the extra moisture made the cookies into cakies. The texture was totally off. Way too fluffy.
At this point I was downright frustrated. I’d never had to work so hard on a recipe before. Maybe that’s why they call something a piece of cake instead of a cookie.
I decided to get serious.
My best peanut butter cookie recipe
Getting serious meant research.
At first the research was disheartening. All the recipes had refined sugar or oil. Neither of those options were acceptable. I kept searching.
I looked all over the internet for both vegan and non-vegan cookie recipes. I got insight into what makes baked goods do certain things. I checked out The Science Behind Baking the Most Delicious Cookie ever. It was somewhat helpful.
After combing through dozens of cookie pages, I finally came up with a new strategy. My two changes that made the most impact were:
- Going minimalistic. Getting rid of anything and everything that wasn’t needed.
- Making roll-out cookies.
As I carefully made my fifth round of cookies, I felt that these cookies would be different. I had hope that these peanut butter cookies were going to be my best peanut butter cookies.
And I was right.
It took a lot of work. But now I’m happy with this simplistic and delicious peanut butter cookie recipe. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. It’s the best peanut butter cookie recipe I could make.
Minimalistic peanut butter cookies at your service. Make a quick batch of these cookies whenever you’ve got a craving for something sweet and peanut-buttery. They’re best eaten fresh out of the oven.
Vegan and free of added salt, sugar, oil, and soy
Reasons to love this recipe: simple, naturally sweet, just 5 ingredients, healthy
Yields around 10 cookies
- 105 g water
- 135 g whole wheat flour
- 1/4 c creamy peanut butter
- 6 dried dates (I used deglet noor)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
Soak the dates and the water in a cup or small bowl overnight.
Preheat a pan and oven to 365° F (185° C).
Combine the dates, soaking water, peanut butter and vanilla in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth and no large chunks of dates remain.
Add the flour to a mixing bowl. Add the wet mixture to the flour. Mix until a dough forms.
Lightly flour the counter and turn the dough onto the counter. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into 1/4 of an inch (6 mm) thickness. Use a cookie cutter (or a clean aluminum can in my case) to cut cookies from the dough. Repeat rolling and cutting for the scrap dough until you have no excess dough remaining.
Quickly transfer the cookies to the hot baking pan. Bake for 10-14 minutes (mine were done in 12) until the edges are just starting to turn golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.
Note: If you allow them to fully cool before eating, I recommend warming them back up before eating. The texture is better after being toasted or warmed in the microwave/oven.
Unlike most of my recipes, this recipe isn’t low fat. These cookies are a treat, so please eat them as such.
In addition, because these cookies are made with a grain and peanut butter, they’re super high in omega-6 fatty acids. If you eat lots of these cookies, I recommend you balance your omega 3:6 ratio by eating a tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds.