My George Washington Carver Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten Free)

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When I was in elementary school in West Tennessee we had a “real lunchroom”. There were home cooked, seasonal meals for lunch every day. The ladies who cooked wore simple white uniforms with nets covering their hair. There was a cafeteria line and you could see into the kitchen in the background with all the food prep and cooking going on.

 Peanut Butter Cookies appeared as a dessert for our school lunches at about the same time as we were  studying George Washington Carver and his peanuts. For years I actually thought he invented the peanut! I remember a black and white photo of Mr. Carver in one of our school books standing in the middle of a field of peanuts. I took to calling these school cafeteria cookies “George Washington Carver Peanut Butter Cookies”.

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Mr. George Washington Carver standing in a field of peanuts.

This mental collision of a particularly loved food (peanut butter cookies), being able to watch the ladies cooking in our school kitchen every day and the awareness that the legume in the cookie I loved so much were directly connected to a botanist at the Tuskegee Institute down in Alabama was just the first of many such childhood food epiphanies.

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  On “George Washington Carver Peanut Butter Cookie” days I would attempt to swap my real food for someone else’s cookie. There were always a few friends who did not like peanut butter. On a good cookie swap day I might have up to 4 to eat later on. They were worth giving up my homegrown tomato slices or creamy mashed potatoes for. Those cookies set the bar very high. I have looked for that cookie since and have never found anything even close. Divine is what they were with just the right amount of crisp edges and softness in the center.

These little gluten-free cookies are very peanut buttery and crispy (I wish they were a bit softer, but I will work on that). They have sated my quest for a while. This recipe is based on one I made for a client recently for an editorial photo shoot. It is gluten-free and very easy.

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Easy to mix….1 inch balls…

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… the traditional “fork marks”!

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Ready to bake.

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Bob’s Red Mill Golden Flaxseed Meal instead of flour.

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Sprinkled with a bit of sanding sugar ready to eat still warm from the oven.

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 There has not been a time in my life that I do not think of Mr. Carver whenever I eat anything with peanut butter. I wonder if he liked peanut butter cookies and what he would think about making a cookie “gluten-free”? Did he have Peanut Butter and Jelly on white bread for lunch while diligently working in his lab or surveying the fields upon fields of peanuts that helped to change the way we now eat?

George Washington Carver Peanut Butter Cookies

  • Servings: 24 cookies
  • Print

pnut butter cookies GWC

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup raw/turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (baking sugar)
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • sanding sugar for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a couple of baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the egg whites & sea salt in a bowl until frothy.
  3. Into egg whites stir peanut butter, raw sugar, brown sugar & flaxseed meal. Mix well. Batter will be stiff and may appear to “seize”, but just ignore this and mix until ingredients are well incorporated.
  4. Using a tablespoon measure, shape batter into balls and place about 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets.
  5. Using a fork, make criss-cross marks on each ball pressing slightly to flatten.
  6. Bake 20 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Sprinkle cookies generously with sanding sugar & cool on a wire rack.

Blackberries, A Snake and An Upside Down (Gluten Free) Cake

Fresh Blackberries Please

I will bet most of you do not think of Blackberries and immediately think of Snakes…yes real live Snakes! Let me just say I am pretty crazy about freshly picked Blackberries, but not so crazy about snakes (sorry snake lovers). Why, you might ask, do I think of these two things simultaneously? Let me tell share with you a very short vignette….

….West Tennessee on a dry, dusty, hotter-than-Hades kind of day…lots of years ago when I was around 9 or 10…

I loved doing anything with my Grandmother (Granny) no matter if it was work or play.  I always wanted to tag along. The wild blackberries hung heavy & ripe all around so it was time to go berry-picking, the wild kind not the kind of blackberries planted in neat rows.  We were cautioned to wear “real shoes” &  to take care when blackberry picking as snakes liked berry patches.  This caution, along with many others doled out on such occasions, was met with a certain nonchalance on my part. Before this particular day, not after, nor since.

The sun was relentless as we began to pick around the outer edge of the very dense berry patch. At first reaching what was easy. But so very many large juicy black berries were just out of my reach a few feet into the patch. I wanted those berries. I boldly stepped forward with one foot lifted off the ground when I “felt” something move liquid smooth, quietly, directly beneath where I was about to plant my foot. I froze, foot midair.  Looking down I saw the snake slithering, very large & fat right underneath my berries & my foot. I am convinced to this day that I did levitate, backwards, out of the berry patch. There is something very Biblical about levitation isn’t there? And Fruit? And Snakes?

I did not pick anymore berries that summer.  I have picked since, I have bought many berries that others have picked, I am still pretty crazy about blackberries, but still not so much about snakes.

Here is a really easy not-so-sweet upside down cake that I made last Sunday using fresh local Blackberries picked by others, along with a few Pluots.

Cake

Here is what you will need to make this very dense moist gluten-free cake:

Ingredients for Upside Down Cake

1/2 stick Butter, 1 pint of Blackberries, 2 Pluots (or plums or peaches), 1 cup Raw Sugar/Turbinado, 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix, 1 cup Almond Meal Flour, the zest of 1 Lemon, 3 eggs, 2 cups Buttermilk, Sliced Almonds

Here is how you make it:

Skillet with Browned Butter

1. Place a 10-12 inch cast iron skillet with the 1/2 stick of butter over medium high heat until the butter is browned. Remove skillet from heat & set aside to cool somewhat. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let me take a moment to say that if you do not have an iron skillet get one. A good seasoned cast iron skillet is just the best thing to use for all sorts of cooking. Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron skillets can be purchased very affordably on-line. I have many of their skillets in various sizes that I use daily.  For this recipe I am using my Great Grandmother’s iron skillet which is amazing well seasoned and is one of the reasons this cake will slip right out of the pan after it is cooked with no sticking.

Blackberries & Pluots in Iron Skillet

2. Slice Pluots & arrange in the bottom of the iron skillet over the browned butter. Sprinkle the Blackberries to cover bottom of skillet between & around Pluot slices.

Batter for Upside Down Cake

3. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the cornmeal, almond flour & sugar.  Add eggs & buttermilk & lemon zest.  Blend until batter is smooth. Spread batter over fruit in the skillet. Sprinkle with a generous handful of sliced almonds.

Upside down cake batterUpside down cake batter over fruit

Batter in skilletSliced Almonds over Upside Down Cake Batter

4. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes until golden brown &  bubbly around the edges & set in the center. Let cake cool in the skillet for about 10 minutes.

Upside Down Cake Baked

5. The “reveal” of an upside down cake is always the fun part. Place a plate or platter larger than the skillet face down over the skillet & then quickly & carefully invert plate & skillet right side up.

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See how easy that was?

Blackberry Upside Down Cake

The crunch of the cornmeal combined with the browned butter, lemon zest & almond flavors & not too much sugar meld to make a very satisfying breakfast cake. Dust with a bit of powdered sugar if desired.

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Have you ever picked wild berries? Have you ever almost stepped on a snake? Do you connect foods you eat to events  from your past?

After I posted this my friend Diane Stopford, a Dubliner, left me a comment and a link to a poem by Seamus Heaney “Blackberry Picking” which I wanted to share with you. Thanks Diane.

Eat more Cake.