Peanut Butter and Jelly Coconut Cashew Sandwich Cookies – A fast, easy, vegan, gluten-free, and healthy twist on peanut butter and jelly – and on sandwich cookies.
I’ll never tire of peanut butter and jelly in any combination.
This combination is no-bake, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, with no added sugar, and no added oil or salt. And it actually tastes better than good.
I think mini food or sandwiched-food of any kind automatically tastes better anyway.
The cookie dough comes together in about 1 minute in the food processor. Simply combine cashews, walnuts, coconut, agave, cinnamon, and blend. That’s your cookie dough. It’s a small batch recipe, yielding just 8 sandwiches. Something fun to munch on, but no worries of lingering leftovers.
Normally I don’t like whole nuts and big chunky pebbles in my desserts, but when they’re blended in submission and used to create a raw vegan dough, I’m all about them. In this recipe I used both cashew and walnuts. I think of cashews as plant-based butter. Smooth and creamy, soft and easily blended, with fairly neutral flavor that can be played up or played down, and mixed with just about anything else to give a richness like you’d get from butter. Walnuts are much bolder and have a more distinct flavor, and they’re a softer nut, full of natural oils, and are easy to blend.
You can likely mix and match the nuts used, but I recommend keeping in some cashews for their highly blendable, buttery, richness. Peanuts are fine but have a distinct, discernible flavor. For their neutral-flavor status and all around smooth blendability, cashews are hard to beat.
Almonds are not my favorite in no-bake cookie dough recipes because they’re harder, firmer, and are like trying to blend up rocks. They do ultimately break down, but don’t have that same buttery, smooth, rich flavor that cashews, walnuts, or macadamia nuts have. Use softer, fattier nuts for best results.
I used sweetened shredded coconut. You may use unsweetened, but the only sweetener added to the entire recipe is just one-quarter cup agave; so minimal. Therefore, the dough isn’t very sweet and is more on the natural, nuttier side, and the sweetness from the sweetened coconut flakes helps the cookies taste like cookies rather than a bland mass of nuts.
After combining the ingredients and blending, the mixture will resemble something like this Cinnamon Oatmeal Date Bar dough (below)
The dough should come together in a well-formed mass. It’s a good sign if turns into a ball that slaps around the food processor like a tennis ball in the dryer. Because ingredients vary and not all nuts and coconut have the same moisture levels, you may have to play around with the ratios slightly, adding a pinch more coconut or more nuts, or an additional drizzle of agave.
Proper dough will be dense and when squeezed between fingers, it should hold it’s shape, not fall apart, nor be crumbly. The goal is a dough that is dense, thick, holds it shape, can be packed into a pan, and when sliced, will hold it’s shape in bar form. Because the nuts release their natural oils after being blended, don’t be alarmed if it seems a touch oily, which diminishes in time.
As a reminder, make sure not to set-it-and-forget it with your food processor, because after 45 seconds you’ll have have nut-based cookie dough for the sandwich cookies. And after 4 minutes, you’ll have nut butter. I’ve accidentally made Peanut Butter and have frequently accidentally make cashew butter.
Transfer the dough to a foil-lined and cooking sprayed 8-by-8-inch pan. With your hands or a spatula, press it down, packing it into the corners, and smooth the top with a spatula. The dough layer will seem a bit thin and skimpy, but remember it’s later doubled up for sandwich cookies. You don’t want to make it too thick now, or it’ll be quite the wad to bite into later. Make sure you use an 8×8 pan and not a 9×9 pan, or the dough will likely not fully cover the pan.
Refrigerate the pan for at least two hours, or overnight, until dough firms up and can be sliced. You could probably shortcut this by placing it in the freezer briefly; just don’t let it freeze.
Slice dough into 16 equal-sized 2-inch square pieces. You could theoretically slice them after assembling and filling them with PB & J, but the splooge-out risk is higher, and I slice before assembly.
Add a layer of peanut butter to half the pieces. Add your favorite jelly to the other half. Pair them up and make sandwiches. The thicker the smears of peanut butter and jelly, the messier, but also the tastier, they are.
The slip-and-slide factor increases, but that’s what napkins are for.
The cookies are loaded with earthy, nutty, robust flavors from both the walnuts and coconut, with the walnut flavor dominating. If you like texture, these are jam packed with tons of it, and you’ll find yourself picking coconut flakes and tiny, nutty pebbles out of your teeth hours later. There are worse things.
The cookies themselves are very chewy, dense, and not too sweet. The overall sweetness of the sandwiches as a whole comes from the sweet jelly. Use your favorite flavor, but something about strawberry jelly and peanut butter is always a winner for me.
The creamy, smooth, rich peanut butter adds more nutty flavor to an already nutty-flavored dessert. Everything is better with peanut butter.
My new favorite way to eat PB & J.
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Peanut Butter and Jelly Coconut Cashew Sandwich Cookies
- 1 ¼ cups cashews, I use raw, unsalted from Trader Joe's
- 1 cup walnuts, I use raw, unsalted from Trader Joe's
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, loosely packed
- ¼ cup agave nectar, honey may be substituted
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch salt, optional and to taste
- about 1/4 cup peanut butter, divided
- ¼ cup strawberry jam, or your favorite flavor, divided
- Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- To the canister of a food processor, combine 1 cup cashews, walnuts, coconut, agave, cinnamon, vanilla, optional salt and process for about 30 seconds, or pulse as needed until mixture breaks down and combines. Mixture will likely be on the wet side and if so, add the remaining 1/4 cup of cashews and pulse to incorporate.
- The dough should come together in a well-formed mass; it's a good sign if it's slapping around the food processor like a tennis ball in the dryer. Because ingredients vary and not all nuts and coconut have the same moisture levels, you may have to play around with the ratios slightly, adding a pinch more coconut or more nuts, or an additional drizzle of agave, for dough to combine. Dough will be dense and when squeezed between fingers, it should hold it’s shape, not fall apart, nor be crumbly. The goal is a dough that is dense, thick, holds it shape, can be packed into a pan, and when sliced, will hold it’s shape in bar form.
- With your hands or a spatula, press dough into prepared pan, packing it down, pushing it into the corners, and smooth it with a spatula. Dough layer will seem a little thin and a bit skimpy in the pan but is later doubled up for sandwich cookies. Refrigerate pan for at least two hours, or overnight, until dough firms up and can be sliced. You could probably shortcut this by placing pan in the freezer briefly; just don't let it freeze.
- Slice dough into 16 equal-sized 2-inch square pieces. Add a layer of peanut butter to half the pieces. Add jelly to the other half. Pair them up and make sandwiches. Cookies will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container at room temperature, or up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. I store mine in the refrigerator.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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Do you have a favorite no-bake recipe?
I love tossing nuts, dates, coconuts, oats, agave, peanut butter and various combinations thereof in the food processor and making no-bake bites, balls, and bars. So easy and there’s no wrong way to combine ingredients. Sometimes I use peanut butter, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I use only oats and dates, no nuts; just depends what I have on hand and what I feel like.
What’s your favorite way to eat peanut butter and jelly?
And I wrote a Peanut Butter Cookbook here