I want to tell you about some cookies I made the other day. Essentially heartier, ostensibly healthier jam thumbprint cookies, they're a little weird, but oddly delicious as well, and I feel like I need to share them and get some feedback to wrap my mind around them.
A year ago or so I checked out Gwenyth Paltrow's cookbook:
It was a bit of a whim; I think it was propped up by the checkout section--the library equivalent of impulse-buying People magazine at the grocery store.
Like most cookbooks I check out, it sat on my desk for a month and then I realized it was overdue, so I quickly scanned through it, copied a few recipes, filed them away and didn't think about it again.
But then 2 things happened. The first, which I already blogged about, was the great recipe reorganization. The second was that the other day my sweet tooth was out of control. I really wanted a cookie, and I had nothing. Nothing! (For the record, that rarely happens.)
Like most everyone come January 1, I've tried to been more conscientious about my post-holiday eating, so I've been "satisfying" my sweet tooth with wimpy fixes, like hot chocolate made with almond milk (blargh), and some honey in my tea. But on Tuesday that was not cutting it. In a frenzy I pulled out all the recipes in the cookie section of my recipe folder, and started scanning. I was tempted to make biscotti again, but I'd made (and eaten) so much over the holidays, so I kept searching. I was also tempted to make these gluten free chocolate walnut morsels, but I was out of walnuts, and in anticipation of moving in a few months I've been trying to scale back my pantry, so buying more walnuts wax nixed. (I suspect pecans would work just as well, but I like to save those for Mexican Wedding Cookies, my real true loves--but also a real indulgence). It seemed that these cookies that I'd xeroxed out of Gwen's book were it.
A specialty of Gwen's mom, Blythe Danner, they're called "Lalo's Famous Cookies" because evidently Blythe (a.k.a. Lalo to Apple and Moses) is "famous far and wide" for them (and you thought she was just an actress!) Their healthful ingredients (namely canola oil instead of butter and maple syrup instead of sugar) means they are excessively easy to make because everything goes into one bowl and can be stirred together by hand. The recipe calls for barley flour instead of all-purpose, I suspect because it contains four times the fiber as AP (though it's modestly more caloric). However, I didn't have any on hand, but I've been experimenting a little with buckwheat flour, so I substituted 3 parts AP and 1 part buckwheat flour for the barley flour. (Buckwheat, a gluten-free flour, has a very distinctive, nutty, almost dirty flavor, that I think is best enjoyed in moderation. I wanted it to lend its heartiness without overpowering the cookie, which I think this ratio did.) Gwen also calls for a hearty amount whole, raw almonds that you grind yourself. However, I substituted toasted slivered almonds because toasted nuts are more flavorful and because they toast and grind more quickly than whole nuts. (To toast almonds, spread them out on a sheet pan and toast for approximately 5 minutes in a 300 degree oven. They're ready when they're a light golden brown and starting to become aromatic.) My family has the very good fortune of being gifted with a lot of maple syrup every holiday season, and I have the particular good fortune of having parents that don't actually eat said syrup, so I always have an abundance of real maple syrup around, so I didn't think twice about dumping half a cup into these cookies. I know it's kind of pricey, but so worth it--fake "syrup" cannot and will not measure up. Grade B syrup is somewhat more robust than Grade A, and is perfect in this application, if you can find it. The maple syrup, paired with cinnamon and a touch of jam in the middle, gives these cookies a fantastic taste--kind of like breakfast in a cookie. As it so happens, Gweneth says that these cookies are so healthy (yeah, kinda...) that she lets he kids eat them for breakfast. To which I say, damn you, Gwenyth, because now I think it's also totally appropriate to have at least 2 of these with breakfast, one pre-smoothie and one post, kind of like breakfast dessert. And as a mid morning snack, and a mid afternoon snack...you get the picture.
Lalo's Famous Cookies (Adapted from My Father's Daughter by Gwenyth Paltrow)
Makes approximately 30 cookies
* 2 cups barley flour or 2 cups of All Purpose flour (you can substitute up to ½ cup of AP with buckwheat flour, if desired)
* 1 ¼ cups slivered almonds, lightly toasted, and then ground in a food processor
* ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
* ½ teaspoon cinnamon
* ½ cup canola oil
* ½ cup pure maple syrup (no faking it here!!)
* Your favorite jam--apricot, rapsberry, or blueberry are all excellent
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
2. Place the dry ingredients (including the nuts) in a large mixing bowl, whisk to combine.
3. Combine the oil and the maple syrup in a measuring cup, pour into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until evenly mixed.
4. Roll tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough between your palms, and place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet an inch and a half apart. Make a small indent on the top of each one and fill it with a bit of jam--½ teaspoon or so.
5. Bake until the cookies are evenly browned, about 20 minutes, rotating the tray half way through the baking time. (It'll be hard to tell if the cookies are browned if you're using buckwheat flour, since it is also brown--just touch them, then should be firm but not hard. If your oven runs true to temperature 20 minutes is the right amount of baking time).
6. Cool before eating. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for about a week. (Use wax paper the parchment paper that the cookies were baked on, between layers of cookies in your tupperware, or else the cookies will stick together.)
I'd love feedback if you make these cookies! Enjoy!