Where’d They Go!? Choco No-Bake Cookie Chews

December 21, 2011 § 3 Comments

My mom refers to these cookies as the “disappearing choco-balls.”  My aunt told me the word “dream” had to appear somewhere in the title because, as the suggestion implies, she dreamt of them.  I’ve taken a liking to eating two of them after every meal.  And let me quell any concerns if you’re not in Camp Coconut (my mom and I join you, there) – the coconut imparts great texture and only a mild flavor that’s superseded by the chocolate.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup rolled oats*
3/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup natural peanut butter, chunky

*If following a strict gluten-free diet, be sure to purchase oats that have been processed in a facility without wheat to avoid cross-contamination.

Method:

Combine dry ingredients and toss with a fork.  Stir in honey and peanut butter with a large wooden spoon, electric mixer or by hand.  Roll into balls about 1″ in diameter and refrigerate for at least an hour before eating.  These freeze and thaw well, too.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free

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Snappy Ginger Cookies, with Almond Flour

December 8, 2011 § 2 Comments

This weekend I’ll be traipsing around one of my old stompin’ grounds with two chums.  We’ll drink coffee, bundled up in a dozen layers, and ogle over this weeks’ farm bounty.  I made my ladies a batch of these snappy cookies (inspired by a favorite nook on the interwebs: ComfyBelly) so we have something to nosh while vegetable perusing.

I made a few batches of these cookies yesterday and left one sheet on the countertop for my family to nibble.  This morning, as I blearily headed into the kitchen to put on a pot of hot water, there wasn’t a cookie crumb to be found.  To put it another way: They’re addictive.  Hot, out of the oven, they’re chewy and soft; let them cool and they’ll harden and “snap.”

One thing to note: I grind my own almond flour.  As you can see from the photographs, my flour is chunky and not as finely ground as almond flour purchased at the grocery store or blended in a VitaMix.  Head over to ComfyBelly’s site to see how these cookies look with almond flour that is more finely ground.

Ingredients:
2 cups almond flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 + 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all spice
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees on convection.  Grease two cooking sheets and set aside.

2. Combine all dry ingredients, including spices, in a large bowl.  Toss with fork.

3.  In a small saucepan, melt butter on the stove.  Remove from heat, add honey and mix.  Combine with dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

4.  Shape dough into small, quarter-sized balls.  Flatten them, using your fingers, on cookie sheet, about an inch apart.  Bake 18-20 minutes, or until golden around the edges.  Cool on the sheet pan at least 5 minutes to set.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (zippo fat)

April 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Hello, chocolate meringues!  After I cleaned away the remnant crumbs from my first two batches, my dad suggested I continue the experimentation into the evening.  These crackle-bites are so light, I tested four cookies from each “batch” without feeling the slightest bit sluggish!  My only word of caution: Because the primary ingredients are mostly confectioners sugar and egg whites, bake the batter immediately after it’s quick chill in the fridge.  The eggs will deflate after a longer period of time and you’ll be left with less-crackly, flat hockey pucks.

Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons cocoa, sifted
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon coffee grinds
3 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate shavings

Methods:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease cookie sheet and set aside.  In a mixing bowl, sift dry ingredients (powdered sugar, cocoa, sea salt and coffee grinds).

2.  Using a whisking attachment, beat dry ingredients, adding egg whites one at a time.  Whisk on high for approximately 1.5 to 2 minutes until soft peaks form.  (When you lift the paddle attachment from the batter, the mixture will fold back onto itself, like a ribbon.)  Beat in vanilla.  Beat in chocolate chunks.

3.  Refrigerate batter for 20 minutes.  Afterward, scoop one heaping tablespoon of batter onto the baking sheet two inches apart (they’ll spread).  Bake 11-12 minutes.  The tops will be crackly and soft in the middle.  Let cookies sit on the hot baking sheet for one minute before removing to a cooling rack.  Cool completely before packaging.  Enjoy warm out of the oven or at room temperature.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free

GUEST POST: Mom’s Valentine’s Day Rescue

February 19, 2011 § 2 Comments

With most of my cooking adventures, the end result rarely resembles the initial goal, and I mean that not in a good way.  But this time was different.  It all started when my friend showed me a Valentine’s Day recipe in USAWeekend. It appeared to be a simple, fool-proof recipe using ready-made short cake cups (the kind you can buy in the produce aisle, next to the strawberries), raspberry preserves, chocolate and whipping cream. Sounded like a winner. But I didn’t plan on Safeway running out of the little ready-made cups the night before Valentine’s Day.  Now what?   “Plan B” — making my own shortbread or biscuits — was Regina’s suggestion from the get-go.  For Regina, making things “from scratch” is the preferred method as well as the “easy” method.  For me, it ranks right up there with cleaning the mini-blinds or flossing my teeth.  After all,  I was trying to keep this dessert simple and quick.   Plan B prevailed, with Regina convincing me that it would take no time all, and reminding that, after all, “Dad loved the way his mother made biscuits from scratch.”  Arghhhhh…

Once the decision was made to make biscuits from scratch, I decided the companion ingredients should be worthy.  I selected high quality strawberry preserves and used one of my favorite chocolate sauce recipes. The end result was a winner! Thanks for talking me into it, Reg!

P.S. Full disclosure to Regina: When I told Dad that I would be blogging this recipe, he suggested a “minor” tweak. He would have preferred the chocolate drizzled on the biscuit, rather than smothered. (I know, crazy!)

Mom’s Valentine’s Day Rescue Ingredients:
Biscuits from Scratch  (recipe below)
Chocolate Sauce  (recipe below)
1 small jar of high quality preserves (I used Bonnie Mamam’s Strawberry Preserves)
fresh fruit for garnish
whipping cream

Mom’s Valentine’s Day Rescue Method:

1.  Slice one heart-shaped biscuit in half.  Spread strawberry preserves on one side.  Place “top” on bottom layer.

2.  To the side, garnish with fresh whipping cream and fruit.

3.  Just before serving, drizzle (or pour!) warm chocolate sauce over the biscuit.  Serve immediately.

 

Biscuits From Scratch
(Adapted from Simply Recipes, originally adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, July 2003)

Ingredients:
3 cups white flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 +1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold butter, unsalted, cut into small pieces
1 cup regular cream
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1 +1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:
1. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.  Toss with a fork to combine. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or a fork until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas.  (Or pulse several times in a food processor.)

2. Combine the cream, milk and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour the cream mixture into the well. Mix with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened and just combined; it should look shaggy and still feel a little dry. Gently knead by hand five or six times to create a loose ball.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat into an 8 inch square, 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat, cover with plastic and chill for 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the dough from refrigerator. Cut the dough with a heart-shaped cookie cutter and place them about 2 inches apart from each other on a baking sheet. Reshape the leftover pieces to make additional biscuits.  Bake until the biscuits are medium golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes.  Makes approximately 9 biscuits.

Memere’s Chocolate Fudge Sauce
Ingredients:
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 +1/2 cups sugar
1 can (13.5 oz) evaporated milk
8 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vanilla

Method:

1. Start with a heavy-bottomed saucepan, at least 2 quarts because sauce doubles in size. Place sugar in pan with cocoa powder. Stir with wooden spoon until well-incorporated. Add evaporated milk. Continue to stir until mixed. Then, turn heat to medium.

2. Stirring constantly, bring mixture to boil (about 5 minutes). Let it boil for another five minutes, stirring constantly. Make sure chocolate doesn’t burn. Pull sauce off heat and add butter. Stir sauce until butter is completely melted. Add vanilla and serve over ice cream. Store sauce in refrigerator and reheat in microwave or water bath.

Good for the Heart & Soul: Pumpkin Spice Latte

December 18, 2010 § 3 Comments


A few days ago I putzed around a nearby market, ambling in and out of the bulk bin aisles.  Each time I turned the corner, I noticed another stack of canned, organic, pureed pumpkin on sale — above the roasted almonds, next to the tamari-flavored pepitas, underneath the bins of flaky nutritional yeast and clumpy falafel mix.  Pumpkin pies, breads and muffins are on their way out; eggnog, citrus-anythings and biscotti are on their way in.  While I wholeheartedly embrace these sweet, seasonal additions, I’m not quite ready to give up my favorite pumpkin recipe.  A few weeks ago I caroled and crooned over morning mochas.  This piping hot, pumpkin beverage is on par with it’s chocolate-y counterpart.  A few times a week, I fill up my leaky travel mug and perfume my little office with smells of pumpkin and cinnamon.  My shelves are now stockpiled with pumpkin puree and I just refilled my mini, glass jars of autumn spices.

Ingredients (serves 1 large or 2 small cups):
1 cup almond milk (plain)
1/2 cup coffee, strongly brewed
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin butter*
1/2 teaspoon honey (or more, to taste)**

*I use Trader Joe’s (it’s my favorite!) but you can also make your own.

**If following a vegan diet, swap honey with maple syrup.

Method:

1. Prepare coffee.  My method, using a french press: Place 2-3 tablespoons of ground coffee beans in the bottom of the glass jar and heat water on the stove until boiling.  Remove boiling water from heat and let cool for just a moment (so it stops bubbling), then pour water into french press and steep 4 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, combine almond milk, pumpkin puree, spices and pumpkin butter in a small saucepan on the stove.  Heat on medium-high heat and whisk, on-and-off, as the liquid begins to heat.  When the coffee is prepared, pour into the almond milk mixture and continue whisking.

3.  Stop whisking when bubbles start to appear around the edges of the pan (don’t bring the whole mixture to a boil).  Take a quick taste.  If too bitter for your preference, add a half teaspoon of honey and whisk until combined.  Serves two small or one generous portion.

Diet Notes: gluten-free, vegan (see asterisk)

Good for the Heart & Soul: Mocha!

November 21, 2010 § 2 Comments

It’s by no means “bone-chilling-cold” in Tucson, Arizona.  But the nighttime temperatures are scooting toward the 30s and I’m afraid to use my gas heater.  As such, I’ve come up with a good reason to untangle myself from 18 very-warm blankets each morning.  May I present my latest, daily, sweet-tooth habit: A piping hot, creamy, good-for-the-soul mocha.  This isn’t your standard (400 calorie) coffee-shop, chocolaty-espresso drink, but rather, a slightly-less-decadent, winning morning addition to my yogurt & granola addiction.

For the past two weeks, I’ve scuttled out of bed (toes scampering across cold tile) to heat up the water pot while I commence the unexciting doldrums of morning (washing face; yawning).  Minutes later, water pot whistling, I whip up a mocha (or a pumpkin latte; recipe coming!).  When the drink is steaming-hot, I fill up my travel mug.  The house smells rich and spicy.  I get ready for work.  I walk to the university.  When I arrive, I unlock the thick, wooden door and open the flappy blinds by my two desk windows.  I wheel the horrendously squeaky chair over to the desk past two, crammed bookshelves, a road bike and cardboard boxes stuffed with plant presses and old newspaper clippings, and I settle in by the humming computer.  I sip my special drink, beginning the work day.

Ingredients:
1 cup almond milk (plain)
1/2 cup strongly-brewed coffee
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping tablespoon dark cocoa powder (high quality)
1 tablespoon hot chocolate powder (high quality)*
pinch evaporated cane sugar or spoonful of honey, to taste**
1/4 tsp. vanilla (optional)

*As an annual splurge, I buy this Fair Trade cocoa from Conacado in the Dominican Republic.

**For those on a vegan diet, omit honey and swap with maple syrup.

Method:

1. Prepare coffee.  My method, using a french press: Place 2-3 tablespoons of ground coffee beans in the bottom of the glass jar.   Heat a half cup of water on the stove until boiling.  Remove boiling water from heat and let cool for just a moment (so it stops bubbling), then pour water into fresh press and steep 4 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, combine almond milk, cocoa, hot chocolate powder and cinnamon in a small saucepan on the stove.  Heat on medium-high heat and whisk, on-and-off, as the liquid begins to heat.  When the coffee is prepared, pour into the almond milk mixture and continue whisking.

3.  Stop whisking when bubbles start to appear around the edges of the pan (don’t bring the whole mixture to a boil).  Add vanilla.  Take a quick taste.  If too bitter for your preference, add a half teaspoon of honey or evaporated cane sugar and whisk until combined.  Serves two small or one generous portion.

Diet Notes: gluten-free, vegan (see asterisk)

Coconut Macaroons with a hint of Marzipan

October 21, 2010 § 1 Comment

Apart from the butter & flour & powdered sugar glory of the 3-ingredient Mexican Wedding Cookie (or Russian Tea Cakes), I’m not sure there’s an easier cookie out there than macaroons.  With only 7 ingredients (two of which are vanilla and almond extract) and a sprinkling of white whole-wheat flour (a mere 2 tablespoons), this recipe comes together in seconds.  You don’t even have to beat the egg whites!

I started measuring coconut flakes at 8pm on the nose; by 8:15 the gas oven puffed marzipan-smells into the living room; by 8:25pm I sat down on a cushioned chair with a plate of warm cookies, a mug of spiced tea and my midterm mail-in election ballot in front of me, ready for circling.

There’s only one stipulation to this recipe: Find the unsweetened coconut flakes.  The sweetened plastic coconut shreds will ruin this cookie (coconut is the primary ingredient after all!).  You can find unsweetened, all-natural coconut flakes at a regular grocery store or in some bulk food bins.

Ingredients:
1 + 1/3 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/3 cup evaporated cane sugar
2 tablespoons white whole-wheat flour (white flour is fine)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Method:

1.  In a small bowl, combine shredded coconut, cane sugar, white whole-wheat flour and sea salt.  Toss with a fork.

2.  When thoroughly mixed, add egg whites, vanilla and almond extract.  Stir until the dough comes together.

3.  Scoop tablespoon-sized balls onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake 18-20 minutes until golden brown along the edges.  Cool completely on a wire rack before packaging.  They stay fresh, on the counter, for several days.

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