Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cookies again! But of an entirely different sort: Hippy / Breakfast / "Healthy" Cookies

In my classes, I often ask people a couple things about how they relate to recipes. I've found, through my ongoing v. scientific study, that about 30% of people really, really, really need a recipe and need to follow it to the letter in order to be comfortable in the kitchen, about 25% of people like to start with a recipe that they follow precisely the first time around but if it's worth making again they'll own it a little the next time, about 25% of people like a recipe to look at but are comfortable immediately modifying it to make it taste like something they know they'll like, and about 20% of people literally cannot follow a recipe to save their lives. Which category do you think you fall into?

Personally, my relationship with recipes is in flux. Historically I've been among that last 20% - I can't leave well enough alone so I'll improve a recipe before I even try it as written once. Often that means I'm not following the recipe at all. The recipe is just one of many ideas at play as I make dinner or sweet rolls. After a year of lessons learned the hard way, however - and by "the hard way" I mean the expensive way, because alternative grains and starches and egg replacers and sunflower seed butter can get quite pricy - I've taken a different approach. If a recipe that is safe for my family intrigues me, it's probably a gamble. So I usually make it as written first, to figure out if the source is even trustworthy, and then if it turns out awesome I'll stick to the recipe in the future with perhaps minor adjustments, and if it turns out decent but in need of improvement, I'll have a good sense of how to improve it based on the taste and texture of the followed-recipe-as-written version. I continue to learn without reinventing the wheel. I get to be creative and apply my own culinary skills and knowledge with some actual method.

Here are some of the sources I go to over and over again, for those of you who might be in a similar situation in terms of food restrictions (nuts, eggs, gluten, dairy, some legumes):

My New Roots. The things one woman can do with some ground oats and chia seeds. Her "Life Changing Loaf of Bread" is indeed a revelation; her fig-carob muffins are a tutorial in minimalist vegan, gluten-free baking. She's my hero. 

Baby Cakes Covers the Classics. This cookbook's not perfect and there are some angry reviews of it out there on thesehereinternets. But if you really want sweets to be a part of your life and you can't eat any allergens and you are willing to commit to Erin McKenna's ingredient preferences once and then experiment a bit the second time around... this book is pretty great. We really like her waffles and chocolate chip cookies (I make it according to her "thick and chewy" recipe adjustment guidelines). Her pastry dough recipe, which I used to make cinnamon rolls, is flawed but by no means unpalatable. (Non-allergic visitors went back for seconds.) Furthermore, amidst all the negative reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, people consistently say that her madeleine and thin mint cookie recipes are foolproof. They are on my list but I can't vouch for them yet.

The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook. Again, with vegan/gluten-free baking there are no guarantees. But the now famous Cybele Pascal's recipes seem pretty well-tested and I make the following on a regular basis, with a few modifications because I avoid Ener-G egg replacer as much as possible and she doesn't: cornbread, chocolate sandwich cookies (like homemade Oreos, but softer), thumbprint cookies, dark chocolate cake, brownies (these really are the best brownies, but I use 2/3 the amount of sugar called for), and all the muffins (literally). Her chocolate chip cookie recipe failed me, however, and I've found better cake recipes than hers from... next please!...

Living Without Magazine. This magazine truly changed my life, and it is the source of the recipe which I've modified and am sharing with you in this post.

To a lesser extent, and a little quirky/more radical, but still really helpful and inspirational for me:

WholeMade, most recent favorite is these pumpkin cookies
Purely Twins, especially these

More resources become accessible as you accrue more weird ingredients. Different cooks have different pet ingredients. (I sometimes think I should have a note on my bio at Local D'Lish that says, "Oh, and if you don't like sweet potatoes and cilantro, maybe you should take a class with Kate instead.")

Today's recipe is for some healthy cookies. They have chocolate chips and puffed cereal in them but otherwise no highly refined products. To me, and my children, they are just enough sweet. (But if you want them sweeter you can always add sugar; start with 1/4 cup.) Even the first time I made them, when they were kind of weird and in need of something (and I worked hard to think of what that something could be besides straight up sugar) they were strangely addictive. Now - after adding some puffed flax/rice cereal for crunch, the oats for substance, cinnamon for depth, and upping the amount of salt for *ahem* some actual flavor - they are awesome, still addictive but less strangely. And I don't feel bad giving them to my children for a snack (or second breakfast) because they have only 4 grams of sugar in each cookie, and good amounts of fiber and protein. (But can still pass for cookies.) They are also way cheaper than a box of Enjoy Life cookies, which is the most readily available treat for my son.


Does that gooey, shiny stuff on the right look like something you want to eat with a spoon? That's because it is something you do want to eat with a spoon. It's like not-too-bad-for-you candy.


Hippy / Breakfast / "Healthy" Cookies
Adapted from Living Without Magazine, December/January 2014 (recipe by Kelly Brozyna at
Yield: ~ 40 cookies (more precisely: 42 cookies)

1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup thick rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (or use more thick rolled oats - total of 1 cup)
1/2 cup Crunchy Flax cereal or other crunchy puffed rice (or other grain) cereal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sunflower seed butter or other nut/seed butter (you want a whole jar here, basically: 1 lb)
1 cup coconut milk (canned kind, full fat)
1/2 cup liquid sweetener (so far I like 1/4 cup maple syrup + 1/4 cup brown rice syrup best, and all honey least)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with a Silpat.

In a large bowl, stir together flax seeds, coconut flour, salt, coconut, oats, chocolate chips, cinnamon, and cereal.

In a separate bowl that can be used with an electric mixer, or in your blender or food processor, combine sunflower seed butter, coconut milk, and sweetener and mix until there are no clumps of any one thing and the consistency is that of caramel. This mixture, by the way, if you allowed it to firm up a bit or reduced the amount of coconut milk, would make a great cupcake topping or a drizzle for some homemade Samoas. (I'm on it. I inspire MYSELF!)

Toss dry ingredients into wet and combine with a spatula or spoon or your hands. Using a tablespoon measure (or, better yet, a cookie scooper - those things are so great), dollop batter onto your prepared baking sheet. You don't have to space the cookies apart very far, as they don't really spread at all. Wet your fingers with water and press down on the tops of the cookies to flatten them a bit (the shape they're in when they go into the oven will be the shape they maintain when they come out of the oven). Bake for 18 minutes, rotating pan 180 degrees after 9 minutes, for even baking.

No comments:

Post a Comment