Thursday, September 6, 2007

Chocolate Nut Cookies

First, an update on my weight loss. I am now down at least 30 pounds! I am not on a diet, but I have changed my eating habits. I have been losing weight at a very slow, but steady, rate, and it has been an enjoyable process for me. I love the way I eat!

Since I am not on a diet, I am still eating foods that people could consider not diet friendly. Like desserts. I don't have any scientific explanation for why I am still losing weight. But, I have been doing things differently than I did in the past. For example, especially with desserts, now I make recipes that produce smaller batches, and I willingly eat smaller servings. The last time I made brownies, the pan lasted 6 days, and I was about to throw out the last pieces, until I sent them with Pedro to work. I had never seen brownies at risk of going stale before in my life.

Another thing I have been doing when making desserts is using only whole grains and unrefined sweeteners. I have been using maple sugar, pure maple syrup, date sugar or agave nectar as sweeteners, and since they are all very expensive, this has helped a lot in my making and eating desserts less often! And, believe me, it is not easy to make baked goods that have a satisfying texture and moistness without refined ingredients. I have been pretty unhappy with most of the recipes I have been experimenting with. I am finding that the vegan dessert recipes I try may be much lower in fat, but they are too sweet or don't have the feel or texture I want. With more experimenting though, I may have luck finding a balance of high nutrition and lower sugar and lower fat.

Here's a recipe for cookies that I am happy with so far. The cookies are definitely not low fat nor low calorie, as I used real eggs and real butter and lots of nuts, etc. But on the other hand, because of the fat and calories, a small serving is satisfying. The original recipe I referred to for inspiration was vegan and made use of egg replacer and soy margarine. I haven't experimented yet with other methods for reducing the fat in this recipe.

Chocolate Nut Cookies
makes 18 to 20 cookies

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup (or to taste) maple sugar or date sugar (or other sugar in dry crystal form)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon fine-grained sea salt
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup barley flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
up to 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (use a variety of chopped nuts: almonds, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, etc: up to one cup total combined)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheet with nonstick mat or parchment paper.
2. In mixing bowl, beat together well the butter (softened first if mixing by hand, or cut first into small cubes if using a stand mixer), maple sugar, egg, vanilla and sea salt.
3. In another bowl, combine the flours, baking soda and cocoa. Add to wet mixture and combine. Stir in nuts and chips.
4. Form batter into 18 to 20 balls (or you could try to flatten, but I haven't tested this). Place balls two inches apart on the lined cookie sheets.
5. Bake for 15 minutes or until the bottoms begin to brown. It's hard to tell on such a dark cookie if they are brown on the bottom. Another way to test is to try to pick up a cookie (careful not to burn yourself). If it holds together and isn't too squishy, it's done. I find 15 minutes is exactly right. If over baked, they will dry out too much.

Note: I find they are the most crisp the day they are baked, before being stored. After they stored in a container, they get softer and crumble easily. They're still good though!


Jenny said...

Congrats on 30 pounds! I have the same white dish... (Mine is from a set of 3, I also have a triangle shaped one and a circular/spiral one.

Kathleen said...

The last time I made these, for some reason, the batter felt too dry and crumbly. So, i added a mashed banana, and that helped hold it together. 1/4 a cup or up to a 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce could also be used, as needed.