I’ve always considered myself a bit of an amateur when it comes to the photography on this site. I get by, but I would be lying to you if I said I had a real grasp on what I’m doing. Like most of my professional life, I go by the motto: fake it till you make it. In the case of photography, it’s all a matter of trial and error, and through a lot of futzing around, I’ve landing on my current camera settings, the perfect lighting nook on the far side of my coffee table (or on the floor next to my desk), and a handful of plates and things that flatter my food.
Recently, through some recipe development projects in the works, I’ve had to up my game a bit more. It’s the sort of thing that happens when someone starts paying you for your work, and you realize that that technically makes you a professional. Yikes.
For each new paid project, I’ve tried to invest in new props to help with styling. Usually for the blog, I don’t have time to perfectly style each dish, though I’m attempting to build in more time for this now. But it’s actually the part of shooting food that I really enjoy. And as I’ve found with private cooking classes, you don’t realize how much you know until a time comes to teach someone else how to do it.
Enter my friend Bryce.
Bryce is currently working on an awesome cooking start-up called Kitchen Letters. You can read her pitch here, and also sign up for the service. If you do, you just might be getting a letter from yours truly in your mailbox. Winky face. Bryce is an amazing photographer and travel writer, but she hasn’t had a ton of experience shooting food. A few weeks ago she asked for a little lesson, and came over to collect. Luckily, she brought with her some incredibly delicious flourless peanut butter cookies to be the star of one of her glamour shots.
I’d seen versions of these cookies floating around the blogosphere, but somehow I had never actually tasted them. Holy moley. I ended up inhaling the whole tray, and then making more for myself the next day with some leftover dough Bryce left behind in my fridge. The ingredient list is beyond paired down and simple – my kind of gluten-free baking – and the cookies that result are thin and chewy, the kind of texture I’ve been missing in my GF treats.
Anyhow, I thought there was no more perfect flourless confection to share for Passover. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to attend my family’s seder in CT – and it might be the first year since I was a kid that I haven’t gone. If not, I’m going to be sure to whip up a batch of these cookies to bestow on some poor temporarily gluten-free Jew who knows not the pain the rest of us glutards suffer year round.
Check out Kitchen Letters, and eat up!
Bryce recommends creamy honey roasted peanut butter, plain or crunchy. Although natural peanut butter or homemade peanut butter may work, she recommends using store-bought peanut butter like Jif, Skippy, Peter Pan or similar so that cookies bake up thicker and spread less. Unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 ounces semi-sweet, dark, or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- Combine peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and beat until the sugar is fully incorporated and the mixture is no longer gritty or granular, about 3 minutes.
- Add the baking soda and beat to incorporate. Stir in the chocolate; don't overmix or the nice chocolate chunks will break down. Transfer dough to airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 5 days, before baking. Refrigeration is key.
- 3. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
- Using a 2-inch cookie scoop (about 2 tablespoons of dough or about 1.60 to 1.75 ounces by weight), form dough mounds and place on prepared baking sheet, spaced 2 inches apart (8 to 10 per tray). Slightly flatten the mounds before baking so they don't stay too domed.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until edges are set and tops are barely set, even if slightly underbaked in the center. Watch them very closely after 7 minutes and I recommend not baking longer than ten minutes. Cookies firm up as they cool, and baking too long will result in cookies that become too crisp and hard (I cook mine for 10 minutes exactly because my oven temp runs low. I rotate the trays at the 5-minute mark if I remember, and they end up with chewy edges and pillowy soft centers). Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.
- Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.