Every quality I look for in a cookie, I made sure these Healthier Bakery-Style Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies had: chewy, soft, sweet and salty, and not at all shy of rich peanut butter flavor. They’re the kind you’d find in your favorite corner bakery with some healthier twists, like oat flour, coconut oil, and unrefined sugar.
I like to begin my week in the early Sunday evening. Kiss the weekend goodbye and line up the week ahead of me. First on my to-do list: make note of any assignments, quizzes, exams, meetings, and recipe days. Next: make to-do lists for the upcoming 2-3 days. You know, workouts, grocery shopping, email this person, don’t forget to take a deep breath and smile and take life less seriously - pretty much anything I can put a check mark next to and with confident aggression cross off the list throughout each day will go on the list. It’s fun.
Last, but cerrrrrtainly not least, what’s my snack for the week? Not the whole meal plan. Just the snack because snacks. are. important. Metabolically, yes. Mentally, emotionally, yes yes yes yes.
I popped open my laptop and two of my favorite sweet-centered cookbooks (I’m talking to you, Displaced Housewife, and Zingerman’s Bakehouse) in search of some inspiration. Flavor combinations don’t always come easily to me, and I can rarely ever decide immediately whether I want a bar or a cookie or something else, so these cookbooks help guide my thought process.
Now, we need to talk about these snacks. They’ve evolved over the years. They aren’t just any old mid-afternoon snack to munch on with my cup of coffee. Like I said before, snacks. are. important. and they deserve their eater’s full attention. Are you committed? This your pick-me-up. This is your boost of energy. This is your multiple-bites-of-sweetness to get you through the last few hours of working. Or maybe you’re relaxing? Lucky you. Point is - snacks. Important.
Of utmost importance here is the sweetness level. I’m not usually looking for something as sweet as cake or candy, but I’m also not into, like, carrots and hummus right now. Or worse - “sugar-free” snacks. No. Bye. What I am going for is something to compliment the rich coffee, something that feels juuuuuust sweet enough, like a two-year-old is irresistibly adorable, but also has an ambitious, slightly intimidating attitude. Somewhere in that range of sweetness.
Next, texture. Chewy protein bars have their place in my pantry, and occasionally in my diet - perhaps in the post-afternoon-workout context - but they’re about as rare as me in a yoga studio. Protein is an essential component in the diet, but for the average, healthy person, not every morsel of food needs a protein-boost. My afternoon sweet treat certainly does not. Thank you, next.
And, of course, flavor because sweetness does not stand alone. Chocolate? Banana? Nutty? Cinnamon-spiced? Peanut butter? This is the point in the process in which I scroll through existing recipes on the blog, looking for common and not-so-common flavors to help me decide. How do I have only ONE peanut butter cookie recipe here? I was in disbelief of what I’d let happen, and knew immediately the task at hand.
A peanut butter cookie - duh - but not just any peanut butter cookie. No, no. This cookie was to be the kind you’d see in a baker’s case at your local coffee shop. You know, the one your eyes land on as you peruse the handmade, baked-with-love goodies. The one that boasts a sweet peanut butter aroma so strong you might wonder if you’ve got peanut butter cookie deodorant on or something? Does that exist? Because I want it to.
Like many other things in my life, I knew exactly how I wanted this cookie to look, smell, taste, and feel, so I set all my electronic devices to Do Not Disturb mode, played some light jazz, got all my ducks in a line (mise en place), and hit the ground running. It was time. Bakery-style-peanut-butter-oatmeal-cookie time.
Some notes on this recipe:
If your peanut butter is already salted and you’re a little sensitive to the flavor, you can leave the sea salt out. I, however, like my sweets with an extra touch of salt, so I added it.
Yes - you must use a natural creamy peanut butter for this recipe. I recommend Smucker’s Natural, Laura Scudder’s, 365 by Whole Foods - pretty much any brand that doesn’t add any sugar or oils. “Peanuts, sea salt” should be the ingredients.
I have not tried to make this recipe vegan, but I’d image you can swap the pasture-raised egg for 2 tbsp. flaxseed meal mixed with 1 tbsp. filtered water (let sit to thicken).
I prefer coconut sugar here because I like the depth of flavor it lends. Granulated sugar and brown sugar both have different moisture levels, so they might not be easily exchanged in. Something to consider. If you can get your hands on coconut sugar, it’s a common ingredient in many of my recipes - I highly recommend!
Dates! I love them. I love them more than I love raisins, in fact. You can use whichever.
You can always add chocolate chips. You don’t even need to ask.
Makes about 18 cookies
1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 pasture-raised egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt*
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4-5 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
Prepare the dough. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the peanut butter, coconut sugar, and coconut oil for 2-3 minutes until smooth. The sugar may not fully incorporate into the mixture, but it should look mostly homogenous.
Next, add the egg and vanilla extract and beat again until these are incorporated. Set the mixture aside.
Prepare the dry ingredients. Stir together the flour, oats, baking soda, sea salt, and cinnamon in a medium-size bowl. Add in the chopped dates and toss to coat - this will prevent them from clumping together in the dough.
Finally, gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet 1/2 cup at a time until no clumps of flour remain. The dough will likely be very soft, so you’ll want to refrigerate it for at least an hour before you scoop it into cookie portions.
When the dough is firm enough to handle, remove it from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
If you have a medium-size cookie scooper, use this to scoop the dough onto the cookie sheet. If you don’t have a scooper, use a large soup spoon to create portions just larger than a golfball. Leave 1-2 inches between each cookie on the sheet.
Bake for 11-13 minutes. You’ll know they’re finished baking when the edges are a golden-brown color - use a spatula to carefully lift a few cookies of the sheet to check the color. The center will look doughy still, but leave them on the sheet for about 10 minutes after removing them from the oven to allow them to firm up a bit. Patience!
Serve immediately and store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Enjoy!