Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies


     Let’s get right to it: these things are gluten-free AND vegan! But these cookies aren’t GF and V to be accommodating; they’re really just good cookies disguised as healthy. Who said you need anything more than peanut butter and sugar in a good cookie, anyway?



      I was watching Unique Sweets (explanation of the show here) and they were showing the process for a bakery’s flourless peanut butter cookies, so naturally I tried to make some myself. They came out pretty great.



     There are only four things in these cookies, if you count water: peanut butter, powdered sugar, and a flax egg, made from flaxseed meal and water. Make sure you sift the sugar so you don’t have to deal with squashing tiny lumps later.



Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 12 3-inch cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon + 3 tablespoons water)
Optional: coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Combine the peanut butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the flax egg and mix until smooth. To make the dough easier to handle, you can chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Scoop out dough to form balls of desired size and flatten with hands. Use a large fork to make cool patterns, so people know they’re peanut butter cookies. Bake at 350° for 9 minutes, or until edges look crispy.

     Evidently, you don’t have a real peanut butter cookie in your hands unless it has those fork marks. And if there’s a cookie with fork marks in your hands, it must be a peanut butter cookie.
     Potential variations include covering the dough in granulated sugar before baking, and using brown sugar in the dough. Hooray for peanut butter!


As Seen on "Unique Sweets": Z Cioccolato

     According to tvfoodmaps.com, there are actually THIRTEEN locations visited by Unique Sweets in San Francisco. This does not include the two locations that have since closed. I knew it had to be more than six…exciting that Brenda’s French Soul Food is also one of these locations, that, again, I already wrote about. Seems like I’ve made some good progress here.

     I could smell this place before I laid eyes on it. I’m serious! Sickly sweetness leading me to their door.

     Here’s a place you don’t want to go when you’re fasting. When I told the girl behind the counter that I couldn’t sample anything after grilling her with descriptions of half the flavors, she gave me a confused “ohhhkay…” response. SMH – don’t worry about it…

      You step into Z Cioccolato and become overwhelmed with the color and abundance of salt water taffy, and much more candy. But they don’t exactly stop at the candy. Z Cioccolato doubles as a toy store, with obscurely large googly eyes and classic tin lunch boxes.

     Barrels of salt water taffy take up the whole second half of the store. I don’t know many people who are into this stuff, but if you are, this is the place to find your strange and unique varieties.

     Did I mention Ghirardelli is from San Francisco?

     These guys have some odd flavors going for them, but I guess that’s how they made it to Unique Sweets. I kept it simple with White Tiger.

     White chocolate with a strip of milk chocolate in the middle, and sea salt caramel drizzled over the top.
     Yes, I did say simple. I didn’t say reasonable.

The trip reminded me where the limit of my sweet tooth will take me (I know I know, I do have limits, be they far). Glad I made it, though.

As Seen on "Unique Sweets": Craftsman and Wolves

See Dandelion Chocolates back there? Yeah, they were on the same episode.

     Unique Sweets is truthfully my favorite TV show, period. It’s on the Cooking Channel, the hipster and unconventional teenager of the Food Network, and it’s full of national gems. A spin-off of the original “Unique Eats”, this show exhibits different cafés, bakeries and restaurants in the country with crazy cool desserts and sweet treats. What’s better than offbeat confectioneries? The only thing I can think of is being in a city with so many! I’ve counted six locations in San Francisco that “Unique Sweets” has been to, talked about and aired on their show. Dynamo Donuts, which I wrote about before, happens to be one of these places. Another of these places is Craftsman and Wolves, in the Mission District. They’re known for “The Rebel Within”, which is a soft-boiled egg inside of an asiago sausage muffin. But once you walk up to their counter, you’ll see why else they’re famous and unique.

Caramelized hazelnut financier (French cake). $3.
Cashew curry and Valrhona (also French) chocolate chip cookies. $3
Chocolate croissant stack. $3.50

     Everything they make is beautiful. Look at that chocolate stack. Would I buy it for $3.50? Maybe not. I had a grand old time in there fangirling behind my camera, though.

The Rebel Within. $7

     Look at that muffin. This I might shell out 7 bucks for if just for the experience (if not for the sausage part).  Inside your asiago muffin, you get a soft-boiled egg. Whoa. What an adventure to bite into.

Savory tart: Charred eggplant purée, quinoa, smocked almonds and raisins (sic?). $5.50.
They omitted the “fromage blanc” on the little card there, but seen on their online menu.
Also, if you know that smocked is a real term, please fill me in.

     Moving left towards the cash register, we see potential lunch contenders. A garden of choices. A display of attention to detail.

Hard hitters corner. Proceed with caution.

Haute Dog: Beef frank, mustard seed croissant, salt & vinegar beet chips. $6.50.
Now they’re just getting ridiculous. Or no? Maybe it’s incredible.

“Sandwich”: Shitake, bok choy, kimchi savory cake, peanuts (sic). $8.
I’m not even sure what some of that means. Was the kimchi baked into that toast?

     There’s where the “crazy cool” comes in, sweet or not. These could just as well be life-like ceramic sculptures of very talented artists, but this is really what these lunch menu items look like. I don’t know that I would ever go for the toast set up, but I would consider the haute dog.

Coupe: Blueberry, Earl Grey. $4.50
Tart: Sweet corn, blonde chocolate, coconut, caramel. $6.50

     I would buy this spherical tart just out of curiosity on how to eat it. Seriously, how do you eat that? Is it soft and moussey? Hard and fudgy? But you have to applaud how they put these things together to make them look like bird nests. And that petal of whatever it may be.

(Mini) Black Frosting: Blackberry, vanilla, semolina, lavender. $8, $27.

(Mini) Cube Cake: Strawberry, honey, yogurt. $8, $30.

     Their cakes are also other-worldly. They change varieties every so often as well.

     I went for a morning bun, because it was “only” $4. It was nothing particularly special, but it had a nice flavor of vanilla like I was eating ice cream. Morning buns seem to be more of a west coast thing, and definitely a San Francisco thing. No crazy citrus flavors like most morning buns have, though. The center was soft and chewy and the outside was crunchy from the sugar and maybe salt coating. I don’t think you can really go wrong at Craftsman and Wolves: anything you get will be really good, or at least an experience.
     If you ever get the chance, do make it to Craftsman and Wolves. They made it to Unique Sweets for a reason. Apart from the occasional typo, they know what they’re doing. Check out their website, or better yet, their Instagram for more ridiculousness. Whether you get a Rebel Within or a bird’s nest, CAW will have something to spark your curiosity.

Editor’s note: I have since consumed six dollars worth of the Valrhona chocolate chip cookies for free (serious perks of interning for one of the best food photographers in the city). Surprisingly, I found the Valrhona chocolate to be too dark…I guess my palate hasn’t grown up as much as I thought.  Which would explain the reactions of all the adults around who fell in love with the cookies. Don’t get me wrong – apart from the chocolate, I did really enjoy the cookie. It was chewy and thick. But seriously, I could have eaten one for breakfast – so dense, so big!