Chocolate Coconut Almond Meal Cookies

23 12 2012

Well it’s here and gone, the winter solstice and we all survived the Mayan’s end of the world prediction. Phew ;-). I hope this post finds you well and settled in for a break during the holidays. The winter solstice, being the shortest day of the year, is a turning point, the first official day of winter and now the days slowly gain more light. It is a time of reflection and as a dear friend said to me recently I hope you “are able to step back, rest and reconnect with the deeper voices of life this solstice season.”

This time of year is a cookie occasion. Filling tins and gift bags with baking to share with family and friends. I didn’t imagine myself to be a cookie maker, but alas here I am, blocking my calendar for a ‘bake day’ in early December. This included cracking open wine in the afternoon, maybe unique to me, no? I bet that’s why there are ‘bake days’ ;-). I started the day off early making Walnut Kifli with grandma Anne. These cookies get lots of hits on my blog this time of year, so I know there are other Hungarians out there enjoying this traditional recipe, that’s fantastic.

photo 3

Once the kifli were done, it was home to the test kitchen. I wanted to make a ‘not so bad for you cookie’ and use up a bunch of almond meal from the Almond Milk I make weekly. I found a recipe on Naked Chef, but was not convinced by it. Once I got the cookie dough made, it was quite wet, a bit bland and I had to bake them longer to set. I tried two kinds, regular and chocolate. The regular didn’t turn out but the chocolate were okay. I added coconut to the chocolate ones and dipped them in ganache with a sprinkle of sea salt, much better.  I wasn’t convinced at first, but B liked them and then mom liked them. So here they are. I will definitely make them again, and experiment with flavours.

To make vegan: grind up 2 tbsp flax seeds and add to 1/3 cup water. Mix together and let sit while you prep the rest. This is an excellent egg substitute and is really good for you.

Flax meal

To make gluten-free: experiment with your wheat free flour. I think this recipe could be gluten-free, but haven’t tried. Let me know if you do.

Chocolate Coconut Almond Meal Cookies (adapted from The Naked Chef)

  • 2 tbsp Ground Flax Seed soaked in 1/3 cup Water
  • 2 cups raw Almond Meal (remember you can keep almond meal in the freezer to use later)
  • 2 1/4 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt + a few grains for garnish
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup Honey
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 cup grated and unsweetened Shredded Coconut

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the almond meal, flour, baking soda, salt, coconut sugar, cocoa powder and shredded coconut together. Add the ground flax mixture, coconut oil, honey and vanilla, mix together. Roll into balls using about 2 tbsp of dough. They do puff up a bit so they should be kept on the small side. Bigger and they stay raw inside (as per my experience). Bake 15-25 min. Test one batch in your oven to make sure they are cooked in the middle. I had to bake for 23 min,  depends on the size of the cookie balls you roll. Let cool.

I melted 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler and added a few tablespoons of almond milk, stir well. Dip the cooled cookies in the chocolate and sprinkle with a few grains of sea salt. They save well in the fridge or freezer. The recipe is supposed to make 36 cookies, but by the time I got this all figured out I didn’t have a lot to offer folks…oh well, next time.

Chocolate Coconut Almond cookies

Enjoy the holidays and happy solstice!

Eat well, Be well, Nat

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Recipe Share: Almond Butter Maple Cookies

18 04 2011

Bit of a dry spell on the blog as of late. This weekend I finally had time to spend in the kitchen, besides whipping up easy soups for work, at least I got that far the previous two weeks.

I have been wanting to start a post called ‘Recipe Share’ for awhile. I have a beautiful recipe book that my dear friends put together for my wedding shower. Each guest wrote down a favourite recipe and it was pasted into the book. Since then this book has become my recipe-food-garden journal. I have recorded menus for meals we have hosted, garden plans and progress and recipes in it. I save a lot of what I do digitally, but there is something nostalgic about writing it down. My grandmother has an amazing recipe book that was her mothers, and I hope that I will be able to pass mine down to someone one day. How do you save your recipes?

Anyhow, my goal is to write about the recipes I try from the book, from friends and blog readers. Today’s Recipe Share is from my sweet friend Emily. She gave me this cookie recipe to try, and it is yummy. It made for the perfect dessert Sunday night. I have recorded the original recipe below with my comments of course, I can’t help but give alternatives and share what I did. If you are looking for a semi-healthful sweet, these are for you.

1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (I used 1/2 cup pastry and 1/2 cup spelt to up the wholeness)
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt (use sea salt if you got it)
1/2 cup Chopped Almonds (I used slivered almonds)
1/2 cup Almond Butter (unsweetened)
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
3 tbsp Vegetable Oil (I used 2 tbsp and try using a light olive or sunflower)
1 tsp Vanilla or Almond Extract (invest in good quality, not imitation, they’re full of chemicals)

  • Mix the dry ingredients together. Mix the wet ingredients together (although, I mixed the almond butter right into the dry and then added the mixed wet). Mix the wet and dry. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Pre-heat over to 350 degrees. Remove dough from the fridge. Pinch off and roll into 1.5 inch balls, press lightly onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 10-14 min. I give this range because the recipe calls for 10, my oven 14 was better. 12 worked and they were a bit chewier in the middle. Makes about 16.
  • Thanks Emily!!!

Besides making cookies and a nice meal on Sunday, I gave my new favourite kitchen appliance a try, my Vitamix. Oh yes, this is the shizzz. I have been blending perfection into my green smoothies since I got it, not a kale or swiss chard lump in site. Sunday I made almond mylk for the first time using it, I was saying out loud, ‘unbelievable’. How smooth it was. The almond meal left over is flour. Not that my old blender didn’t do a good job, it’s just amazing the difference the appliance makes. If you haven’t invested in one, think about it. I finally felt justified to retire my eight year old blender Tony so sweetly bought me (and fixed half a dozen times) for my birthday when we first started dating (ah). Plus, I got the smaller four cup container thrown in, how could I resist!

I hope everyone is having a nice Monday…have a great week!

Eat well, Be well

Nat





Plum Clafoutis

12 09 2010

We have this amazing plum tree in our yard, a Brookred we think – it is like 40 years old. Because it is so old, we have been taking better care of it the last few years. Trimming out the dead branches, using fruit tree fertilizer on it in the spring and the plums are amazing. We usually lose most of the plum buds to the spring hail storms, but this year, we had stronger plums and not as bad storms. In our backyard that is, other people in Calgary, not so lucky. In previous years the hail has shredded our BBQ cover, so the plums didn’t stand a chance. In the past I would be lucky to get a bowl of plums to eat, this year, we are on the second big bowl and still picking! I picked a bucket yesterday.

When I pick plums I think of my friend Dani, a pastry chef and supermom extraordinaire. I remember the first time she came over when the plums were ripe and was eating and thinking out load about all the things you can do with the little plums. This post is for you Dani, happy birthday my friend.

So what to do with little Calgary plums? Compote? Cake? Stewed plums? Off to google I go in search of a recipe that I can doctor into being on the healthful side. I love the challenge of removing sugar and white flour and turning the recipe into something better. Found it, Plum Clafoutis. Clafoutis is a traditional french dessert that was made with cherries. The batter is flan-like, using eggs, sugar, milk and flour. I found lots of versions of it using plums but they all included a lot of sugar too. Eh, I can do better. I replaced the sugar with honey, milk with almond milk, flour with spelt and sprinkled sliced almonds on top of the batter. It was delicious and I have enough plums to make a dessert every weekend in September!

Plum Clafoutis

Sliced or halved plums to cover the bottom of 8-10″ baking dish

1/2 cup Spelt flour

6 tbsp of Honey

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Dash Salt

2 large Eggs

1 large Egg Yolk

1 tsp Vanilla Extract (invest in some good vanilla, not the alcohol based one)

2 cups unsweetened Almond ‘Mylk’

2 tbsp Sliced Almonds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter the baking dish. Place the plums on the bottom of the dish. Mix the flour, cinnamon and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, honey and almond milk together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, whisking to blend well. Pour the mixture gently over the plums, sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top and bake for 50-60 min until golden. Let cool, but serve warm with a dollop of yogurt and a drizzle of honey (or frozen yogurt as preferred by Tony).

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Got ‘Mylk’?

7 05 2010

Many people have asked me how to make almond ‘milk’. It is so easy to make and I am very embarrassed that I only started making it last year. Until then, I went through one tetra box a week. I was shown, in like 5 min, how to make it at the raw food class I took last year. When I got home, I looked back through my yoga & raw cookbooks and found a few more explanations that I remember flipping right past because they seemed ‘hard’. Why I thought this I have no idea. I have tried so many more complicated things and I guess the simplest of them seemed the most intimidating. Once you learn how to make almond ‘milk’ the biggest challenge is deciding what to do with the almond meal. You have seen many uses for it on this blog as I am a bit passionate about finding new and healthful ways of using it – I have baggies of it stored oldest to newest in my freezer 🙂 What I have discovered is that looking for ways to use the almond meal also encourages other healthful eating. So besides the obvious benefit of making fresh almond ‘milk’, another real benefit is the continuous learning and healthful adaptations you can make to your overall diet. Awesome.

Now, I order organic almonds from BC (see previous post on Real Raw Food) but you don’t have to. Make it simple, buy raw almonds, not toasted, from anywhere you normally buy them. Of course organic is better, but as per my ‘About’ page, I am not dogmatic and if you need to change the rules to start, do it, or you won’t try it. If you are a Costco shopper, I have tried it using their bags of almonds, worked out just fine.

Tried and true recipe for Almond ‘Milk’ or ‘Mylk’ as Ani of Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen fame calls it:

Soak 1 cup Raw Almonds in filtered water for 8-12 hours. You are ‘sprouting’ the nut. Rinse them a couple of times, but you don’t have to, I have left them overnight on the counter, no problem.

After soaking, rinse them well. You’ll probably have 1 1/2 cups of sprouted almonds. Before blending set up a few layers of cheese cloth draped into a large bowl or measuring cup. If you love making nut ‘milks’ then buy a nut ‘milk’ bag at Community Foods, much easier. They cost like $12 or something. In a blender add the almonds and 2 1/2 – 3 cups of filtered water, play around with the consistency. I usually use 2 2/3 c. If you have a smaller blender, add half at a time. Blend until as smooth as possible. Pour into the cheese cloth/’milk’ bag and drain the liquid into the bowl. Squeezing every last drop. Put in bottle/jar, done. Seriously, you’re done.

Now, there are variations to this recipe. I like it plain, but you can add the ‘milk’ back to the blender and add a 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract (or half vanilla bean if you have a Vitamix) and 3 pitted dates, blend until smooth for sweetened vanilla ‘milk’. I’d say without a Vitamix blender the dates will be lumpy, so use Agave Nectar instead, try a tbsp at a time until you have the right sweetness. Use cacao powder and natural sweetener to make chocolate ‘milk’. You can make ‘milk’ with other nuts as well, like brazil nuts and hazelnuts but do some research about the soaking of each. Not all nuts need soaking.

The ‘milk’ stores in the fridge for 5+ days, I make enough for the week and start over. I freeze each batch of almond meal and when I need it, thaw it and use it wet or dry it in my oven at 200F for 90 min or so, stirring it around on the baking sheet every 15 minutes. I usually keep a jar of the dried meal in the cupboard so it is ready to make cookies, pates and such. You’ll be amazed how many things you can replace almond flour for in recipes, just throw it in the food processor to grind.

Here are some pictures: first one is of the soaked almonds, notice how puffy and big they are. The second is the freshly blended almonds and water sitting in the ‘milk’ bag inside a 4c pyrex measuring cup. The third is what the meal looks like with the milk bottled behind it. Try it.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat