Sometimes, I just need something sweet. Others, I just fancy half an hour or so in the kitchen to wind down and heal the soul after a long day. In either case, this is always my go-to recipe, day or night, rain or shine. I remember when I first encountered these cookies in Nigella’s Simply Nigella, and being bewildered by the recipe – these cookies are naturally gluten free and contain no flour at all. I’d come across flourless cakes hundreds of times, but flourless cookies seemed almost like a paradox. Indeed, to this day – having made these cookies more times than I care to count – it never ceases to amaze me how a flourless cookie dough can be so, well, dough-y. As you beat the egg into the sugar and peanut-butter mix, something magical happens and all of a sudden the mixture transforms from being wet and smooth to starchy and thick. It doesn’t matter how or why it happens, all that matters is how damn good the cookies are.
I don’t exaggerate when I say the dough takes literally 5 minutes to make, and you don’t need any fancy equipment at all – literally a bowl and a wooden spoon. After that, it’s just 10 minutes in the oven and you’ve got a batch of the most perfect cookies imaginable – soft yet chewy, with a perfect harmony of sweet, salty peanut and bitter dark chocolate. I’ve taken the liberty of doubling the prescribed quantity of chocolate here from 50g to 100g – sorry, Nigella.
Makes about 12.
100g soft light brown sugar.
225g smooth peanut butter (needs to be something cheap, like SunPat – organic just does not work here).
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
A pinch of salt.
1tsp vanilla extract.
1 large egg.
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, peanut butter, bicarb and salt with a wooden spoon. Once nicely combined, gently beat in the egg and vanilla. When the mixture has formed a dough, mix in the chocolate.
Form the dough into golf-ball sized balls, and arrange on two large baking sheets lined with baking parchment, leaving plenty of space for the cookies to spread. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown – the sheet on the bottom layer will need a little longer than the one on top. As soon as you have taken the tray out of the oven, give it a sharp tap against the side to spread and flatten the cookies. Leave to cool completely on the trays (they will firm up as they cool). Store in an airtight container.