{gluten-free} Peanut Butter Krinkles and Holiday Kindnesses

I’ve made these classic crinkly peanut butter cookies every holiday season for as long as I can remember. As a child, I’d help unwrap Hershey Kisses and plop them onto still-warm cookies that were made by the hundreds in my family home. For years they were (by far) my favorite out of the many on my mother’s holiday plate and, as an adult, friends request these more than any other from my own kitchen.

In order to “save my spoons” (see here and here for what that means), I’ve cut back on baking a lot in the past year or so. But this Christmas I was gifted with such kindness that I popped into the kitchen to make them as a “thank you” to someone who particularly enjoys them. Someone who has shown me not a passing bit of kindness, but one that is sustained and repeatedly generous. One that, especially during this beautiful but stressful time of the year, I’ve greatly appreciated. One that was folded into another kindness, and two very special people to thank with something sweet.

I consider sustained kindness something neither particularly deliberate nor particularly easy to do at length. It’s the difference of sending a sick friend flowers (wonderful, always, but brief and deliberate) versus letting that sick friend complain on the phone to you at length without you judging or trying to fix anything, or doing their laundry every week, or advocating for them with family members who are too emotionally involved to cope clearly. It involves actively listening to what someone says, and giving to them in a way that serves them – not you – the best. It may not be something that we would want or need for ourselves, but something that we know will make a huge impact on someone else.

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Krinkles - The Dusty Baker-2

Living in a chronically ill body is not easy. I’ve been far sicker than where I am now, and I’m thankful for the little spurts of energy I’ve seen increasing, but the level of health I keep steady is a result of many choices: What do I eat or not eat? How long do I sleep or should I push myself to wake early today? Do I go to that event or stay home? Do I take on that job or give one up? Do I try that doctor? Do I lay in bed for ten hours today, or do I go to the gym and jog? How do I preserve my energy, and when should I let myself use it? How do I keep myself from getting sicker, and how healthy should I expect to be again? When do I ask for help, and when do I barrel through alone?

It’s a lifestyle I largely keep to myself, other than those in my close circle like my family and roommate and significant others and the like. It’s not easy to face, sometimes, and it’s always hard to ask for help. So when someone steps in and does something without asking – insisting in a way they know will be significant to my body or spirit because they’ve listened to me express it – they’re gifting me a little miracle.

Two people close to me offered their help in incredibly kind ways these past few weeks. They know who they are, and they know how much their kindness resonated with me. They both made hard situations I was facing a little easier by supporting me with generosity and without judgement. They didn’t make me feel “less than” for the struggles I was facing (a feeling that all of us, illness or no, feel now and then) but, rather, lessened the severity of the situations by giving their time and support. Neither of these kindnesses were material expressions, like a physical gift or anything. Rather, they gave me engagement.

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Krinkles - The Dusty Baker-1

In doing so, they also gave me the gift of enjoying baking. I moved gently, basking in the colorful glow of Christmas lights and the hum of holiday movies, thinking about how lucky I am to have such people in my life. I was warmed by generosity and love, two things we try to bring about more during the holiday season, but things we should truly be manifesting throughout the year.

I am so, so fortunate to be surrounded by such kindness, and such loving friends. They inspire me to be more of the same; to listen to those around me struggling through something, to be aware of how I can best serve them, and to lighten the load off of my own shoulders and the shoulders of others, just by weaving webs of support and love.

I very much wish that for you this holiday season, and hope you’ll join me in manifesting sustained kindness through 2015.

Hohoho,

– Jacqueline

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Krinkles - The Dusty Baker-3

{gluten-free} Peanut Butter Krinkles

  • Servings: About 5 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Notes on the recipe:

As you can see in the photo above, temperature and time will affect these cookies, and you can choose your outcome. The cookie on the left was baked at a lower temperature – my oven was fluctuating between 325-350 degrees F – for a longer period of time, averaging 10-12 minutes. They were slightly toasty and crispier, and spread a bit more. The ones on the right were baked more around 400 degrees F for about 7 minutes. Because of the high heat, the butter steamed faster and they rose a bit more, then were baked just enough that I could remove them when slightly soft, keeping their puff. They’re ever so slightly chewy in the center. Both are awesome.

I’ve used several flour blends throughout the years for these, and this is my favorite; simple to put together and trustworthy in result. If you don’t have millet flour, sub with another nutty flour of your choosing. If you’re using another blend chances are this will still work, as cookies are rather forgiving, but I can’t promise on the exact balance of texture. If using your own blend and the batter seems a little soft for you, stick the bowl in the fridge for a bit to firm up. Again, no promises.

Over the years I’ve done them with various brands of peanut butter. Organic, crunchy ones are awesome, and will pack amazing flavor and texture. My hands-down, go-to grocery store brand is Jiff; they definitely smell and taste the best over other common brands. And I always use real butter; margarine or butter replacements mean far less flavor, and less complex texture.

And I grew up with my mom using milk chocolate kisses but, as my friends and I have aged, I transferred to dark chocolate. I can’t eat kisses anyway, so I simply leave a few aside for myself un-kissed. Pressing a shotglass into the warm cookies and filling with melted chocolate of your choice is a fun option, too.

Happy baking!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups brown or white rice flour
  • 3/4 cup millet flour
  • 3/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, soft
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, soft
  • 2 eggs, whisked together
  • Hershey kisses, unwrapped
  • white sugar / colored sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (see note above about oven temperature / time).

In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk flours, starch, xathan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together on medium/high speed the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and soft, about 2 minutes. Whisk the eggs, and stream them in until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and cream on high for another 2 minutes – don’t be too precious about it. These are sturdy cookies.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Set the mixer on low, and slowly incorporate the flour blend until no traces of flour remain.

Roll into walnut-sized balls, then roll in white or colored sugars. Set a dozen to a baking sheet, and bake for 6-10 minutes, depending on desired heat and crispness. They’re done when they puff and crack, feeling only slightly firm, but you can bake until they’re lightly browned on top as well for crisper cookies.

Let cool for about 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then remove to a cold baking sheet or flat surface. Press a Hershey Kiss in the center, if desired, and cool completely, moving to refrigerator to harden the chocolate if desired.

These last a good long while, and freeze well.

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