Monday, February, 25, 2013
These cookies, OH MY GOODNESS!
I am over-the-moon crazy about these cookies and I’m pretty darned sure you will be, too. I should mention all of the good stuff about them, like they are almost free of refined sugar, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, grain-free, packed with superfoods (at least five by my count), vegan with a simple swap…
But what I really want to tell you is that these cookies are SO very good. Like favorite-cookie-ever kind of good. Not kidding! And they are pretty close to the famous Scout cookie sold by Watercourse in Denver. I’ve mentioned those divine Scout cookies a few times here on my blog.
I’ve named these cookies Recon Cookies because I feel like I’ve been on a few reconnaissance trips to the bakery, always asking, “What’s in these?” I was convinced there was some super secret ingredient and perhaps there is in the original. I’m still convinced there’s something exceptional about the original version that mine will never completely embrace, perhaps it’s the altitude in Denver. Every time I go to/thru/near Denver, I buy those cookies. I’ve begged friends in Colorado to ship them to me. I’ve bought them myself at least five times in hopes of getting them home and having a good look at them to try to figure them out on my own, but I never quite make it home with them. I’ve told myself repeatedly it is a good thing they are only available 600 miles away from home.
Until now. I’ve come up with a pretty good fill-in for the 363 days of the year when I’m not in Denver to buy my favorite cookies from one of my very favorite restaurants. The texture isn’t quite as coarse as the originals but they are still a very soft, almost cake-like, cookie in the center, slightly crunchy on the edges. I’ve got the key ingredients covered (sweet potato, walnut and coconut) but really have no idea what other ingredients are used in the original. I was going for flavor here and nailed it. I think I did pretty good on the appearance, too. The original from Watercourse is on the left, my version on the right:
Have I sold you on these yet? I hope so! They remind me a bit of a Girl Scout cookie, but yet aren’t anything like those cookies in a box. These are the size of my palm, chocolate-y, a hint of caramel, cake-y but still crunchy. There’s really nothing like them unless you visit Watercourse. Make these and then swoon, would ya?
Big thanks to Peace by Pastries for her version of the Scout cookie. It gave me a really terrific starting point for my version!
Recon Cookies (or Almost-Scout Cookies)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded sweet potato (uncooked, unpeeled if organic is fine)
- 1 1/2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut (I use Let's Do Organic)
- 1 1/4 cups almond flour (I use Honeyville)
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 t. sea salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, solid or liquified is fine
- 1/2 cup honey (substitute with agave nectar to make vegan)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 T. flax meal in 3 T. hot water (Flax slurry, egg replacement)
- 1 T. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 6 oz. dark chocolate (non-dairy and you can use chocolate that is dark enough to have no refined sugar added)
- 1 t. coconut oil (to be added to chocolate)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grate the sweet potato using either a box grater or food processor. I grated mine using the larger of the narrow sides on a box grater. This is the second smallest option. Place in large mixing bowl.
- Add remaining dry ingredients.
- Mix in remaining ingredients (except for chocolate and remaining 1 t. coconut oil) either by hand or with a wooden spoon. I prefer to get my hands in it to incorporate all of the ingredients completely. The warmth of your hands will also melt the coconut oil if you used it in its solid form.
- Once well combined, use a biscuit or round cutter to shape into 3" patties, well compacted. Turn out onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet. You will have 9 or 10 patties.
- Pat down just a bit with your hand to make a rounded top.
- Bake for 27-30 minutes. Top and edges will be slightly browned when done. Center will still be moist but not doughy.
- Move to cooling rack.
- While cooling, melt chocolate and 1 t, of coconut oil either in the microwave or in a double boiler.
- Once cookies are cool to the touch, place a sheet of parchment paper on countertop. Dip the flat bottom of each cookie in chocolate and place on the parchment. Once the bottoms are all dipped, drizzle remaining chocolate over the tops of the cookies. Allow the chocolate to harden before serving.
- These freeze very well. I would like to tell you they store well in an airtight container, but we eat them all if we don't freeze them so I don't know how well they store if not frozen. Enjoy!
I am sharing these in Linda’s Gluten-Free Wednesdays. Click over there and check out all of the goodness, so many terrific recipes!
Wednesday, January, 23, 2013
I recently received a beautiful plate of cookies in the mail from Debi at Hunter’s Lyonesse. And before that, Debi received a plate of cookies, the same plate, from Heather at Gluten-Free Cat. And before her….well, you see where I’m going with this.
The plate, a 2012 Jacques Pepin design, was sent on its journey by BeBetsy, inspired by Kitchenaid’s Cook for the Cure. This is a program that brings passionate cooks a way to support the fight against breast cancer through culinary fund raising with programs like Pass the Plate. I was tickled to get the plate in the mail.
While the plate is beautiful, to be honest it was the cookies I was most excited about. In my gluten-free years, I can’t recall many folks bringing me cookies. Gluten-free donuts, yes. Gluten-free cinnamon rolls for my birthday, yes. But cookies, nope. This was indeed a sweet treat for me in many ways. And the cookies were perfect, so much so that my favorite fella and I consumed them quickly. I should have taken a photo of them, but they were gone before I thought to. You’ll have to visit Debi’s site to see these marvelous morsels of oats and chocolate. Not only did they taste great, they shipped well, a great quality of a cookie in my book.
To keep the plate moving along, I baked Sweet Potato Chocolate Chunk Cookies for Deanna at The Mommy Bowl. Deanna’s blog is full of great recipes, including lots of cookie recipes that sound delicious to me. I’ve got big shoes to fill with these cookies!
This recipe was inspired by a recipe from the most recent Penzey’s Spices catalog.
Sweet Potato Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free
- 1 cup mashed sweet potato (this was 1 large potato for me)
- 2 sticks softened Earth Balance vegan butter-y sticks OR 1 cup soy-free Earth Balance
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
- 2 t. vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 1 cup Johnna's Favorite Gluten-Free Flour Blend
- 1 cup Almond Flour
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1 t. baking powder
- 1/2 t. guar guam
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1/4 t. cinnamon
- 1/2 cup chocolate chunks (I use Enjoy Life)
- 1/2 cup cacao nibs (I use Navitas)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheet with silpat mat or parchment paper.
- In bowl of stand mixer, cream together the cooked mashed sweet potatoes, Earth Balance, eggs, coconut sugar and vanilla.
- In a second bowl, combine Johnna's Favorite Gluten-Free Flour Blend, almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, guar gum, salt and cinnamon. Gradually add those ingredients into the sweet potato mixture with the mixer running on low. Mix until blended.
- Fold in the chocolate chunks and cacao nibs last.
- Drop by generous teaspoonful onto baking sheet. Bake at 300 for 22-25 minutes until just firm in the middle. This cookie has a slightly cake-like texture. Makes approximately 48 cookies.
Friday, January, 11, 2013
Last week my friend Suzanne, who lives in Denver, emailed a photo to me of a giant three pound tub of cookie dough she spotted at Costco.
Huh? Why would she send that? To me?
She sent it because it’s gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free. She also read the label and said she thought I would be comfortable with most of the ingredients.
I responded with a thanks, but no thanks, I’d rather make my own cookies, blah, blah, blah…
And then I saw it, sitting up high in the dairy cooler at Whole Foods, mini 14 ounce tubs of the same cookie dough from Eat Pastry. Gluten-free, no ingredients that I try to avoid, a label with ingredients I could pronounce and only two ingredients I don’t have on hand in my own kitchen. Hmm…sounds like something I should try.
So I bought it. It only makes 20-some cookies, how much harm could that be?
Well, I ate cookie dough, a store bought variety, out of a container for the first time in 4 years. It was every bit as good as I remembered. Not quite like homemade cookie dough, but that’s part of the joy of it, not having to make it.
Then I baked the cookies. I followed the directions, a Tablespoon of dough, rolled into a ball, slightly flattened with the back of a spoon and baked at 350 for about 12 minutes.
The cookies were good warm.
They were good at room temperature. And also with a glass of almond milk.
I wish I could tell you they store well in an airtight container, but I have no idea. They didn’t last that long. My favorite fella, with a mouth full of cookie, tried to say things like, “These aren’t as good as your cookies,” and “I like your cookies better.” But his comments were a sham,the plate of cookies was gone within an hour.
Are these as good as from-scratch homemade cookies? Not really, because it’s not exactly the same thing. But are they every bit as good as the store bought cookie dough we occasionally indulged in back in the gluten-rich days? ABSOLUTELY! And the ingredients don’t give me pause the way the mainstream cookie dough of my past should have.
There is a list of stores that carry the Eat Pastry cookie dough on their website. In addition to chocolate chip, I see a couple of other gluten-free flavors offered, too. Have you tried them? What did you think?
Thursday, January, 10, 2013
It’s not often I find myself dining where I don’t have to ask a gazillion questions about the menu. “Is there gluten in this? Are you sure? There’s no soy sauce in the marinade, right? How about the salad dressing? Can I please read the label? Would the chef please confirm for me?” It was an absolute treat to visit Annie May’s Sweet Cafe for this exact reason.
And also for the amazing food.
I visited Annie May’s a few times while working in Louisville. One day I had an oatmeal cream pie and a classic cupcake.
The oatmeal cream pie was much larger than the Little Debbie version and also much more flavorful. If I could figure out how to make the filling, I would eat gallons of it. It’s better that I don’t know. The oatmeal cookie part had a nice crunch around the edges and was chewy in the middle, my idea of a great cookie.
The Classic cupcake, Annie May’s take on a Hostess cupcake, was a light and moist cake with a fluffy filling and a ganache on top. I think it is clever that they piped the word “classic” into the swirls of frosting. This was one of the best gluten-free cupcakes I have had.
On another visit, I had a funnel cake. While writing the 52 Foods on a Stick blog, I watched my friends eat a lot of fair food. Most of it I’m okay with not being able to eat, but I do really miss an occasional funnel cake. Sure, I could make one at home, but having one out is part of the experience. While it’s not exactly a fair food experience, this funnel cake was perfect in every way. In some ways, it was better than fair food, grease had not completely saturated the plate it was served on and I didn’t have to wait in a line outdoors on hot concrete. Fluffy, soft cake on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside, it was a perfect funnel cake. Toppings were available but I ordered mine in fair-food-purist fashion, powdered sugar only.
My final visit was for lunch. I got a box lunch to go, a sandwich, quinoa tabouli and fresh fruit. I got to customize my sandwich with a wide selection of vegetables and vegan cheese. The quinoa salad was a nice, light salad with a vinegar dressing. The bun, made in-house at Annie May’s, was a nice sandwich size and didn’t fall apart as so many gluten-free breads do.
The next time I’m in Louisville, I’ll definitely go back to Annie May’s. I may find a reason to visit Louisville just to go back to Annie May’s. I’d very much like to try their pizza and the other bakery items I didn’t manage to eat my way through. I highly recommend you stop by to visit, too!
I got a good laugh out of their tip cups. Which one would you choose?
EAT WITH: wild abandon! They get gluten-free here and will take great care of you. Tell them what you can and can’t eat and they’ll point you the right direction.
Annie May’s Sweet Cafe is located at 3110 Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky. 502.384.2667.
Johnna’s I Ate Here series is not intended as a restaurant review, rather a summary of Johnna’s experience dining out. You may or may not have a similar experience. Menu prices, items and ingredients featured were current at the time of writing. Please read the menu carefully and ask your server for assistance in ordering if you have dietary restrictions. It’s never a bad idea to call ahead and let the restaurant know of your food needs.
Tuesday, December, 04, 2012
Happy National Cookie Day!
I recently baked an old favorite of mine. I’ve been baking these cookies for years, starting way back in the gluten-full years, back before becoming conscious of what and how much I was eating.
These started out as a recipe I discovered on the Martha Stewart show, but I couldn’t find dried cherries then so I used cranberries instead. Now, I’ve mixed it up even more, removing the gluten, changing up the sugar and tweaking a few other ingredients.
Guess what? This latest variation is even better than the original! I was proud to share these at a cookie exchange, gifting them to a lovely lady with no dietary restrictions. I hope my recipe modifications were undetectable, the cookies eaten with the same relish as any great cookie. On a selfish note, I was tickled to eat a few with a glass of cold almond milk. What a sweet treat, cookies and milk!
An Old Favorite, Re-Visited. Chocolate Toffee Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
- 2 sticks Earth Balance butter substitute, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups almond meal
- 3/4 cup of Johnna's gluten-free flour blend
- 2 t. guar gum
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free oats
- 1 cup chocolate chunks (I use Enjoy Life)
- 1 cup dried cranberries (I use Eden Organics)
- 1 cup toffee pieces
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper.
- In bowl of stand mixer, cream Earth Balance and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract, mixing on medium until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine almond meal, flour, guar gum and baking soda. Add a bit of the dry mixture to the stand mixer bowl, mixing on low until combined. Repeat two times, mixing in all of the dry ingredients into the mixture in the stand mixer bowl.
- Add oatmeal and mix well. Last, add in chocolate chunks, cranberries and toffee pieces. Do this on low speed.
- Divide the dough into three equal portions and roll into logs using plastic wrap, 1 1/2 inches in diameter. To bake, cut logs into 3/4 inch pieces. Bake on baking sheets until lightly browning on the edges, 9-12 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then move to cooling racks.
- If you do not want to bake all of the cookies at once, freeze the extra logs of dough. We like this in our small household, as it is easy to have frozen cookie dough handy and slice off just a few cookies at a time!
Tuesday, October, 30, 2012
My dear friend Suzanne recently told me she had indulged in the best pumpkin cookies EVER. She got them at a bake sale. As Suzanne does so well, she made friends with the gal who had baked them and got a copy of the recipe. The recipe landed in my inbox with a request to make it gluten-, dairy- and egg-free.
Because I’m all about pumpkin right now and also enjoy a challenge, I set to work on this recipe. The result is a cake-like cookie, minimally sweetened and full of deep, dark chocolate. I love the flavor combination of pumpkin and chocolate.
Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies
Makes 24-27 cookies
1/2 cup coconut oil, liquified
2 T. Flax meal dissolved in 5 T. hot water (replacement for two eggs)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1-15 oz. can pumpkin puree
2 cups almond meal/flour
1 cup teff flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. fine sea salt
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
4 oz. dark chocolate, roughly chopped or chocolate chips of your choice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In bowl of stand mixer, cream coconut oil, flax “egg” slurry, coconut sugar and pumpkin. Next add dry ingredients, mixing until well combined. Gently stir in chocolate.
Drop by large spoonfuls onto a lightly oiled or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes. Cool on a rack before storing in an airtight container. These are delicious warm and so good with a cup of coffee!