Peanut butter is unquestionably the go-to nut butter in the kitchen. It has a lot of flavor and it’s readily available, usually at a much better price than other nut butters. But as with all things food-related, it’s nice to have some other options and deviate from the standard from time to time. In this case, that means experimenting with some non-peanut butter nut butter (boy, is that phrase a mouthful!), whether just to get some new flavors into the mix, because you find that you need to avoid peanuts because of allergies, or some other issue.
I’ve used cashew butter before with good results in cookies. For today’s batch of cookies, I opted for sunflower seed butter. This is a good choice for people with peanut allergies, since it is actually completely nut free. The cookies are much like peanut butter cookies, with a chewy and crumbly texture – I even used a fork to score the top, so they look quite similar, too. They don’t quite taste like peanut butter cookies, however. The best way to describe the flavor of sunflower butter is to say that it is somewhere between the flavor of peanuts and sesame seeds, but fairly mild. It’s unique, but unless you have a strong aversion to regular sunflower seeds, most people will find it to be quite appealing.
The cookies have a subtle nuttiness and a hint of sunflower seed flavor, and the end result is that they taste like very subtle peanut butter cookies. If you don’t tell people that they’re not peanut butter cookies, they might not be able to guess. To give the cookies a little more dimension, I topped them with a cinnamon sugar mixture that, in addition to being a bit generous on the cinnamon, had a big pinch of salt added to it to bring out the nutty flavor of the butter.
Sunflower Butter Cookies
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
1/4 cup sugar + 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Beat in egg, blend in vanilla and sunflower seed butter. Add in dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined..
Drop dough into 1-inch balls on prepared baking sheet. Dip a fork in water and press down gently to flatten each cookie. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar-salt mixture.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just beginning to brown on the edges.
Cool on baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen