There was a point this week that I ran out of cake in the house, and on top of that only had frustratingly small amounts of lots of different sugars and no flour. I had to put a lot in to coming up with a sweet treat with the meagre spread in my cupboards.
Luckily it's that wonderful time of year when British produce starts to shine.. and we're packing in as much asparagus and as many berries as possible while they're around. Don't worry, I'm not making an asparagus dessert. Although I had one at a restaurant once (I've not been back).
Here it's strawberries - mainly because the ones in the fridge were a few days past edible, but with some careful hacking and trimming yielded enough pulp to line the bottom of a saucepan - seemed silly not to make some jam and stick it between some sort of chewy peanut cookie. As much as we Brits may protest, the truth is PB&J is bloody delicious - and it's a combination that translates perfectly into desserts / sweet bakes. This one has a real breakfasty quality with the added oatbran in the cookies.
We make some yummy vegan, no flour, no refined sugar fennel & cardamom cookies at the bakery, and whilst these are not vegan, they're loosely based on the principal we use for that way more virtuous recipe - using nut butter and coarse, unrefined sugar to give all the chew and texture of traditional cookies.
Note: Once you've put jam in the middle they will go soft after a day, so eat them immediately. Otherwise, you can prep the jam and biscuits ahead of time, and bake them and store them without filling them, and put the jam in just before you need them.
Peanut butter & strawberry jam sandwich cookies
Recipe (makes 6-8 sandwich cookies depending on size)
For the cookies:
75g crunchy peanut butter (we only use 100% peanuts with the skins, definitely no palm oil)
25g unsalted butter at room temperature
25g unrefined caster sugar
25g light muscovado sugar
50g demerara sugar
50g oat bran
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the quick strawberry jam:
100g strawberries (hulled / trimmed weight)
80g unrefined caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Place a small plate in your freezer.
1. Place the butter, peanut butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat to combine. Mix in the egg.
2. Mix the oat bran in a separate bowl with the salt and bicarb. Mix into the butter / sugar / egg mixture. You'll have a really soft sticky dough. Stick the bowl into the freezer for half an hour or so to allow the dough to firm up.
3. Meanwhile make the jam. Place the strawberries in a saucepan and mash with a potato masher to get a rough puree. Add the sugar and place the pan on the heat, mixing to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the mix to the boil, add the lemon juice and cook to setting point. To test if it's set, place a drop of the jam onto the plate that you put in the freezer. Return the plate to the fridge for a minute or two. Once the jam has cooled on the plate, run your finger through it - if it wrinkles as you do this, then the jam has reached setting point.
4. Once at setting point, transfer the jam to a bowl and stick in the fridge to cool and firm up so you can fill the cookies.
5. For the cookies - divide the frozen mix into 12-16 even sized portions (weigh them if you want to be really precise) and roll into balls. Stick these on a tray lined with baking paper and return to the freezer.
Preheat the oven to 180C
6. Once the cookies are frozen quite firm, transfer them onto a lined baking tray, leaving plenty of space for them to spread. Bake for 10-12 minutes turning halfway through to get an even colour. Once they're cooked, slide the whole paper off the tray onto your work surface so the cookies can cool without dying out and going too crisp.
7. Once the cookies are totally cooled and the jam nicely set and cold, you can pair the cookies and dollop a dessert spoonful of jam onto one of the halves. Spread it a little, then sandwich it and use the cookie you place on top to help squeeze and tease the jam to the edges of the cookie.