I can’t say I’m wholly sold on this whole “Australia” thing, but I will say this – it is so sunny and warm and beautiful. A little too windy down on the beach, maybe, but after a childhood spent on Northern California beaches (where you always need a sweatshirt and the water is so cold it hurts your bones), I can’t really complain about that either. And it’s only getting hotter and more summery.
(Okay, that photo’s actually from up near Cairns because I haven’t shot much of Byron Bay yet, but you get the idea.)
I don’t mean to brag (I totally mean to brag), I’m just trying to explain how busy I have been at work lately. The tourists are starting to flock to Byron Bay, and everyday the little cafe I work at is packed out from about 9:30 am until sometime in the early-mid afternoon. Between the ever-busier days and some abrupt staffing changes, I have been pulling some long weeks. So the last time I went to bake, I just wanted something quick and easy and mindless. That’s what these cookies are for. The gluten-free thing is a nice bonus, but mostly they’re just so wonderfully simple. Not in a gross microwave-cake-in-a-mug (do you guys remember that fad?), just in a delicious, sometimes-you-only-need-three-ingredients way.
And then if you’re like me, you make it all a bit complicated and coat everything in chocolate. But that’s optional.
Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup sugar
1. Preheat oven to 175 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). Line a cookie sheet with baking parchment.
2. Combine all three ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir well and taste – you might want more sugar, or an added pinch of salt. I was using salt-less peanut butter, so I added some sea salt here. If you add anything, mix again until fully combined.
3. Separate the dough into 1 tablespoon balls and place on the cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork or your fingers. These will hardly spread at all, but still leave a good inch or so between cookies.
4. Bake until set and golden around the edges, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheets, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. If you’re coating them in chocolate like I did, I even like to give them some time in the freezer to get good and cold. Just makes the whole process easier.
Optional Chocolate Coating
200 grams milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
Coarse sea salt
1. Place a fresh piece of baking parchment on your cookie sheet.
2. In a double-boiler (or a heatproof bowl over a small pot of boiling water), slowly melt the chocolate, stirring frequently. When all the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and give it a minute to cool.
3. Coat the cookies one by one. I find this easiest using two forks – drop the cookie into the chocolate, then lift up with one fork and use the other to scrape excess chocolate off the bottom. Transfer to the cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat with the remaining cookies. You may need to reheat the chocolate at some point.
4. Chill until set, then serve.