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Nearly There (+ flourless cookies)

[Today, December 2012.]

Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year and also the most hopeful, at least for me: from here on out the days get just the tiniest bit longer until spring. Some years I have celebrated the Solstice at the beach, sunning myself along the Sonoma County Coast with brother and dog. But this year it is raining, my dog has long since departed, and my brother is not yet here. No matter: every year brings a new opportunity to embrace whatever we have in the right here, right now. Which for me today means lots of tea, good smells emanating from the kitchen, and a pretty Christmas tree glowing away in the front room.

I had planned to share a funny and delicious recipe for a ‘catch-call odds and ends’ soup I made yesterday afternoon to help mediate my cold (and upon which I’m currently noshing), but I think I’ll save that one for after the holidays. Right now all we probably care about is baked goods, specifically cookies.

Kurt and Emily arrive tomorrow, so today has resulted in a bit of a cookie-making frenzy. Emily, as we know, is gluten-free, so I decided to make a batch of flourless chocolate-chocolate chip cookies and a batch of gluten-free ginger snaps. I also wanted my dad to be able to eat some of the cookies – he keeps to a very low-fat diet – so adapted the snaps to also be vegan. Or rather, I adapted my standard vegan ginger snap cookie recipe to be gluten-free. Either way, it turned out surprisingly well — well enough that I thought I should write up a quick post to tell you so in hopes the recipes can help with your own last-minute cookie baking.

(I also have a dozen almond-blueberry muffins in the oven but will wait to taste-test before sharing that recipe.)

If you’re looking for more flourless baking options, check out my NPR story on flourless holiday baking here, or if you need options for a gluten-free holiday dinner, check out my story here from the other day. And I should mention that while working on this cookbook has me obsessed with all things flourless, I’ve certainly been doing my fair share of flour-full baking; basically this time of year means I do a lot of baking, period. Perhaps you do, too?

The rain is still coming down and I am about to make one more batch of cookies before calling it a day. I have a dish of whole wheat macaroni covered in a quickly-made broccoli sauce and mozzarella cheese cooking away in the oven for dinner – pure comfort food for a dreary day like this – and we have plans to finally see ‘Lincoln’ tonight. A morning yoga class tomorrow should set the tone for the rest of the holidays: deep breathes, peace, and an appreciation for the little things. I hope my 2013 is marked by that trio, too.

Happiest of holidays to you – I may be around next week depending on Internet access with bits and pieces … Cheers and best wishes for a gentle and lovely end of the year. Also, cookies. Lots and lots of cookies.



Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are sort of like macarons – but sort of just chocolate-chocolatey goodness with a bit of crunch and a bit of chew. I sprinkled a little sea salt across each one before baking. Perfection.

Makes about 20-24 cookies.

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt. Using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat in the egg whites until well combined; mixture should be sticky and glossy. Fold in the choco chips.

Scoop about 2 teaspoons worth of dough about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 13-15 minutes, until the surfaces are set and slightly cracked. Allow to cool completely before removing from the trays with a spatula.

Cookies will keep well in an airtight container for up to 1 week.





Vegan Flourless Ginger Snaps

Note the orange juice: ordinarily I would use soy milk, but did not have any on hand. Orange juice did the trick nicely, and I don’t think I could even taste a hint of orange in the cookies. But if you have soy milk, you may prefer that instead.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup white rice flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 Tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift the dry ingredient (except the sugar) into a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients, including sugar, and whisk or beat on medium until blended. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. The dough will be a bit sticky and you may need to dip your hands in water to work with it.

Using a teaspoon, scoop out cookies and flatten out gently with a fork (the thinner the cookie the crisper it will be). Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the cookies and bake about 10 minutes on a greased cookie sheet.



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