Growing up, there were always 2 jars of peanut butter in the cupboard – one small jar of Skippy creamy, and one giant jar of Jif crunchy. I was a Jif girl. It wasn’t because I liked crunchy better than creamy. Actually, I preferred creamy. But, Jif was sweeter than Skippy, at least back in the day, and I had the most massive crush on all things sweet. These days, both Jif and Skippy sport 3 grams of sugar per serving. They also both contain hydrogenated vegetable oils, and Jif has the added bonus of mono and diglycerides. Yum!
When I first started eating a more natural diet, I discovered that peanut butter really only needs 2 ingredients – peanuts and salt. Now, I’m no longer tied to a brand. I’m tied to an ingredient list. Peanuts and salt – whether it’s ground fresh by me at the food cooperative or bought in a jar, my go-to peanut butter is nothing but peanuts and salt.
Except when it isn’t.
You see, there are one or two traditional family recipes that still tug at my apron strings that simply must be made with a Jif-like peanut butter. And, thankfully, now you can get Jif-like peanut butter with a less scary ingredient list – typically, peanuts, palm oil, sugar, and salt. Okay, still not spectacular. But, better than the chemical nastiness.
After the holiday baking this year, I had some of the “nearly natural” peanut butter left, so I decided to do a little experiment and bake the same recipe twice – once with each kind of peanut butter. My theory was that most of my baked good recipes work with either, but that the natural PB might result in a looser dough and more spreading.
I was a little surprised by the results. For the most part, the differences were not huge. The natural peanut butter cookie is darker in color, has a more pronounced peanut flavor. But, what really surprised me was that it spread less. The “nearly natural” cookie was a little sweeter due to the added sugar. But, not radically so.
In a head-to-head comparison, the kiddo picks the nearly natural cookies. But, I swear it’s because they look bigger. Seriously.
I’ll be sticking with the natural peanut butter most of the time. How about you?
Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/4 cup (56 g) coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup (128 g) peanut butter
1/3 cup palm sugar
1 t. psyllium powder + 3 T. hot water (mix and let sit for a minute)
1 t. vanilla
2 T. almond milk
1 packed cup (128 g) almond flour
1/2 cup (56 g) tapioca starch
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, beat the coconut oil and peanut butter until fluffy. Beat in the sugar. Add the psyllium mix, the vanilla and the almond milk and beat well. Beat in the flour, starch, baking soda and salt. The dough will be greasy and crumbly. Keep beating until it starts to come together. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop spoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets, and flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
I stick with natural nut butters. If they have more than the nuts or the salt, I don’t touch it. We have a few jars of almond butter and cashew butter we are trying to use up and after that, I’m making it myself. 😀 Total control of what goes into it. When I make grain-free cookies using nut butter as the primary ingredient, I always press the cookie down a bit with the back of a spoon or ice cream scoop (whatever I’m using to put them on the cookie sheet) since they don’t spread.
Yah, I always press the cookie down, too. Both of those cookies were pressed down the same way/same amount.
I’ve made my own nut butters before, and still do sometimes. But, I can’t get them as smooth as the commercial ones. I wish I had one of those fancy schmancy stone grinders.
If only we had what the commercial food producers have. 😀