I was invited to a Hanukah party last night, and needed to bring a dessert that was nut-free and vegan. I wanted to bring a traditional Hanukah dessert, but soon realized I didn’t know of any. I guess I never really made it past the mountains of latkes at my family’s Hanukah celebrations. A quick search revealed that oily, fried foods like jelly-filled doughnuts are often eaten at Hanukah, but I wasn’t about to fry up a big pile of donuts to be eaten hours later. I also don’t really like jelly-filled desserts; I feel that jelly belongs at breakfast. Since I had dreidel and Star of David cookie cutters, I decided Hanukah sugar cookies would have to be traditional enough. I also got out my snowman and snowflake cookie cutters, since winter is almost here.
My next task was to find a great vegan cookie recipe. Since the cookies had to be nut-free, I soon realized it would be very hard to make them gluten-free as well. So, these cookies are a total gluten bomb. I promise to be back with more gluten-free eats very soon!
Yesterday I really wanted something sweet. I’ve had good success so far making paleo treats sweetened with honey, but you’re not allowed to have honey during the Whole30. I thought there was nothing I could do to satisfy my sweet tooth, but then I remembered reading some of the fine print down at the bottom of the Whole30 site, where it said that fruit juice could be used as a sweetener. At the time, I hadn’t been able to imagine how fruit juice could make an adequate sweetener. But, in my time of desperate sweets craving, I started to think maybe I could do something with this.
These cookies are sweetened with apple juice and dried apricots. They don’t taste like apple, but they do have a nice apricot flavor and a fun subtle orange hue. They are, not surprisingly, not very sweet. I won’t judge you if you want to add a couple of tablespoons of honey. If you do, you might want to add a little more almond flour as well (or less apple juice) so the batter won’t be too wet.
If you like a moist, rich cookie that’s guilt-free, these are for you. The vanilla bean seeds, butter, and almond flour provide lots of great flavor and texture to make up for the cookies not being overly sweet. And, with only five ingredients plus salt, these cookies couldn’t be easier to make! However, I’m not going to lie to you: they are not crispy at all. I haven’t figured out how to make gluten-free cookies crispy. If you have the secret, please share it! If you’re looking for a sweeter cookie, check out the “You might also like” section at the end of this post.
Ingredients (makes about 15 cookies):
1/2 cup dried apricots, soaked in warm water for 10-20 minutes
1/2 cup apple juice
1 cup almond flour
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks
1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drain the dried apricots and place them in a food processor with the apple juice. Process, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until the mixture has a jam-like texture with very small pieces of apricot.
Add the almond flour, butter, and salt, and scrape in the vanilla bean seeds. Process until well combined. Spoon tablespoon sized balls of batter onto the prepared sheet and flatten them slightly (cookies will not spread as they bake). Bake for about 12 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Cool for a few minutes on the sheet, then carefully transfer to a rack to cool completely.
This is it! My new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. Even if I weren’t doing a month of paleo, I would still make these. They are SO good–a little chewy, super chocolaty, not too sweet, with a good dose of vanilla. In other words, perfect.
Several months ago, my friend Audrey emailed me a recipe for chocolate chip cookies with almond flour, which she said she liked better than the real thing. I was a little skeptical, but finally tried it. The cookies were delicious, but the recipe had no egg, and I found that the cookies fell apart easily and were a little too flat. I tried again with a couple of eggs, which resulted in much sturdier cookies that were also delicious, but very cakey.
Hoping to strike a balance between too cakey and too flat and fall-aparty, I tried a third time. As often happens, the third time was the charm! I hope you make these cookies. You won’t miss the flour or the sugar (and they don’t taste like honey). They are really easy to make, and not that bad for you! Do it!
Note: the main reason I chilled the dough here is because I wanted to leave the kitchen before I started preheating the oven (it’s 100 degrees today!). So, you can stay mostly cool and still make these cookies. Try them! You know you want to.
Ingredients (makes about three dozen small cookies):
8 tablespoons grass-fed butter
1/2 cup honey
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups almond flour
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (paleo chocolate exists, but I couldn’t find any…so technically my cookies are just ALMOST paleo)
In a large bowl, cream the butter with a fork until smooth. Add the honey, vanilla, and salt and stir until very smooth, then add the egg and stir to incorporate. Add the baking soda, almond flour, and chocolate chunks and stir until combined. Refrigerate the dough for up to 30 minutes if possible.
Preheat the oven to 350 and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper (or if you don’t have three, like me, bake in batches–just be sure to let the cookie sheet cool between batches). Scoop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto the sheet, flattening them a little if you like a flatter cookie. They don’t spread much while they bake, and will be adorably domed if you leave them alone, but I flattened some because I am planning to make ice cream sandwiches.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown on top but not burned on the bottom. The cookies will be unstable, and need to cool on the pans for at least five minutes. After that, carefully transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
Guess what? In only 20 minutes, you can have rich, chewy chocolate almond cookies with no gluten, no butter or oil, no egg yolks, and no dairy! It sounds too good to be true, but these cookies are really delicious!
You’ll end up with a couple of egg yolks, which you could save for ice cream.
The bad news is that my bag of almond flour is now almost gone! I’ll definitely be buying more. From financiers to mocha brownies to these cookies, it’s my new favorite healthy baking ingredient. Go get some and make these today!
Note: You won’t taste the coffee in these cookies–I just added it to bring out the chocolate flavor. You can leave it out if you want a decaf cookie :0.
Ingredients (adapted from Heather’s Dish):
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 rounded tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon finely ground coffee (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the egg whites, vanilla, and almond extract and stir until the dough comes together.
Drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto the parchment paper, and flatten the tops slightly with your hand or a spoon (the cookies will not spread much at all while cooking). Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crisp on the outside but not burned on the bottoms. Cool on a wire rack.
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Have you heard of colony collapse disorder? My friend Jesi, an artist based in Vermont, is working on a participatory project with a large installation about colony collapse disorder and the plight of the honeybee. The coolest part is that she’s creating a canvas for each person who sponsors her project, in different sizes depending on the amount you donate, and sending them out to her supporters after the show! Her art is amazing and I can’t wait to see what she creates for this show.
Jesi asked me to post a honey cookie recipe that she could bake to show her thanks to supporters who pledge $25 or more. Her project only has one more day left on Kickstarter! You can read about the project and donate here. You should consider giving! Even if you don’t have $25 to give, give any amount and then make yourself these cookies! Jesi and the honeybees will thank you.
Note: I hadn’t used my honey in a while and it was totally crystallized! Don’t worry if that happens to you. Just spoon out your honey into a glass jar and heat it in a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until it’s clear and liquefied. If you do this, let the honey cool down a little before you add it to the dough.
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cold salted butter, cubed (or use unsalted and add 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1/2 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons honey, plus extra for brushing
Flaky sea salt (I use Maldon), optional
Add the honey and vanilla bean seeds and pulse just until combined. Use your hands to pat the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for half an hour or so. Try not to eat all the dough at this point. It’s delicious!
Preheat the oven to 325.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter or round jar, cut out cookies about 2 inches across. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are starting to brown around the edges.
Brush the cookies with honey while they’re still warm, and sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt if desired. I love the salty and sweet combo, so I highly recommend it!