Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cookie Party

This year my family decided to do secret santa for the holidays. After struggling to figure out how to actually use the online secret santa generator (yup, that's real-apparently hats are obsolete) I received an email informing me that I "drew" my cousin Danielle's name. With a $30 and even smaller budget of time, I knew homemade was the way to go. My cousin always enjoys whatever vegan delicacies I bring to our family gatherings, and who doesn't like cookies? Not having very much experience in the realm of baking, I took it upon myself to test out an array of recipes that seemed to cover the basic grounds of cookies. 

First up was these Carnival Cookies from Shutterbean. I was drawn to them not only because they were inherently vegan, gluten-free and relatively healthy, but I like the idea of using things I already had in my house, most notably popcorn! Popcorn? In a cookie? This was news to me. I think they could have been baked for a bit longer and wasn't that into the presence of the banana flavor. I usually don't mind it, but I think there was a little too much going on with these for my liking. 

Next up were the Flourless Coconut Chocolate Drops also from Shutterbean. While the airy texture of these cookies was quite pleasant, they are not entirely vegan due to the presence of egg whites and also contain white sugar, which only reinforced the fact that this stuff is totally devious and sends my head spinning. Bottom line: I felt so crazy after I ate these that it wasn't even worth it. I'll definitely look into adapting a healthier version next time. 

 The third stop on cookie experiment train was these gorgeous Almond Lace Cookies (recipe to follow) based off the Vegan Florentines from Oh She Glows. These were by far the healthiest and in my opinion the tastiest of the bunch. I got really good feedback from a predominantly non-vegan crowd, so I think that's pretty telling. Plus, aren't they pretty?

Vegan and Gluten-Free Almond Lace Cookies 

1 3/4C sliced almonds (raw or blanched)
2 TBS flour (i used almond flour to make them gluten-free which you can buy at Trader Joes or just put some of the left over almonds in a blender for a bit, or use all-purpose flour if you have that)
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt

1/4Cup coconut oil
1/2 Cup coconut sugar (or you can use cane sugar or Sucanant or I'm sure brown sugar, but i was sticking with a coconut theme and this is what I had)
2 TBS raw honey (or you can sub brown rice syrup or agave, anything sticky and sweet)
2 TBS Coconut cream (buy a can of full-fat coconut milk and place in the fridge, then when you open it later there scoop out 2 T of the "cream" that settles on the top)
1tsp vanilla extract

Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Put oil, sugar, honey and coconut cream in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and add the vanilla extract. Fold in all the dry ingredients. With wet hands, roll 2tsp of mixture into a ball and place on a cookies sheet lined with parchment paper 3 inches apart (these will spread!!) Bake for 10 minutes at 275 degrees, then rotate pan and bake for another 7-10 minutes. Be careful not to burn! Slide parchment paper onto a wire rack or other surface that is not hot and allow to cool for 5 minutes. then transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and block excess oil. Repeat until all the batter is gone. Once they are cooled you can drizzle them with melted chocolate to make it fancy. They apparently will keep in the freezer for two months, but they only lasted three days at my house :)

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