Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies

It's baking-day today, and we are happily making cookies to share with church & family under the pretense that using the oven will cause the furnace to run less. As I formed the last sheet of cookies, I started wondering how many substitutions, omissions & changes must you make to a recipe before you can claim it as your own? Now I'm not talking about entering a contest with my recipes, or selling them in a cookbook or anything else nearly that professional... but here, on my own blog, when does an altered recipe become MY recipe?

Take my absolute favorite cookie recipe, for example. These cookies started from THIS recipe from my favorite food-blogger, the Gluten-Free Goddess. Except that I halved the baking soda. And omitted the salt. And added extra cocoa powder. And cut out ALL the white sugar. And used flax instead of egg-replacer. And made them half-size, which of course changed the baking time.

Now honestly, these started out as Karina's cookies. And honestly, I still consider them to BE hers... or, at least, inspired by hers. But at this point anyone making these cookies by HER recipe will have something radically different from what I make. Does this make the recipe mine? Hers? OURS???

Does it really matter WHOSE recipe it is when we're discussing a cookie so positively toe-curling delicious that my kids are willing to make them all by themselves if I don't have the time to be in the kitchen? Probably not. The point is, whether you make them her way or my way... this is the BEST chocolaty-minty cookie I've ever had with OR without gluten! Try them! Try them both ways! Create your own version if you prefer, but if you need a new gluten-free VEGAN Christmas cookie recipe... this is IT!

To make these "my way" you will need:

1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ground flax (I like to grind it VERY fine so it doesn't add texture)
2/3 cup Spectrum shortening
2 Tbsp molasses (the darker the better, baby!)
3/4 cup chocolate soy or almond-milk (I LOVE the unsweetened Almond Breeze!)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips.

Combine the dry ingredients, then slowly add the wet ingredients. Hand-mix in the chocolate chips, and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 350F & form measured-tablespoon balls of dough onto unprepared cookie sheets. Flatten to roughly 1/2" and bake for 8 minutes. Let them cool for 5 minutes before removing from the sheets. Makes ABOUT 40 cookies.

As if these cookies aren't good enough straight from the oven, their real character is brought out the next day... the longer they sit, the stronger they get! If you can manage to freeze a batch, they will be unbelievably peppermintylicious upon thawing... and don't crumble to bits! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Cup of Christmas Tea - and TRUFFLES!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I really enjoy my tea. A lot. Maybe even TOO much. But hey, there are no calories so why not?

My sister in law brought over a box of the most amazing tea the other day. Now normally I'm not too fond of green tea. I'll drink it because it's "good for me" but it is NOT my favorite! This however is positively dreamy. Trader Joe's Candy Cane Green tea is SO much more than simply mint-flavored green tea! There's cacao in it. There's chicory in it. There's vanilla in it. It's like Christmastime wrapped up in a sweetly illustrated box!

And it goes, oh so well, with one of my other favorite holiday indulgences. Homemade truffles. I giggle when I see these little sweets selling for $3 apiece (or even MORE) since they are so easy to make! Anyone who can stir a pot can make them. And any child whose ever played with play-dough can roll & decorate them!

Today as I sit with my lovely cup of Candy Cane tea, I am enjoying the last of my chocolate hazelnut truffles. To make these little goodies you will need:

2 cups Nutella (are you hungry already?)
4oz dark chocolate (try chopping a bar of Green & Blacks for extra "oomph")
1/4 cup agave nectar
1Tbsp your favorite butter-substitute (I used Earth Balance)
3Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder - for rolling.

Microwave the first four ingredients until melted. Stir WELL every 30 seconds, as it will melt but not lose shape without the stirring! Once everything is melted & mixed, chill for an hour. Sprinkle the cocoa powder onto a small plate. Roll Tablespoon-size balls of the mixture in the cocoa powder, and set on wax-paper or in mini cupcake papers to chill until ready to serve. We made about three dozen... but when measuring "exact tablespoonfuls" with kids who crave variety you never really get the same amount twice.

Next week it's peppermint truffles - which may or may not survive long enough to be photographed.