What is it about fresh baked cookies and a glass of milk — or soy milk — that is so enticingly comforting? I’m willing to bet that no other smell quite matches that of fresh baked cookies in eliciting warm, nostalgic memories from children and adults alike. To tell you the truth, I don’t particularly remember my mom baking many cookies when I was younger. While my mom was a wonderful baker, pies seemed — and still seem — to be her real speciality. And yet, it’s when I bake cookies — not pie — that I think of home and my childhood. Maybe it’s because no matter how hard I try, I will never bake a pie that comes close to those my mom can make, and therefore no pie I make reminds me in any way of the ones I remember my mom baking when I was a kid. Whatever the reason, during my 1000+ attempts at making these cookies, I kept getting a comforting feeling as they baked in the oven, slowly filling my apartment with sweet, chocolately wafts of air.
But unlike the cookies you likely enjoyed as a kid, these gluten free, sugar free and vegan cookies have some redeemable qualities. First, you won’t experience the ever-so-familiar sugar rush — then crash — that can be associated with too much of a good (sugary) thing. Plus, the omega-packed walnuts and antioxidant-packed cranberries are actually good for you. If you don’t do sugar and can’t find fruit-sweetened cranberries in stores (I find them at Whole Foods and at my local health food store), try ordering them here, a source recommended by Elana of Elana’s Pantry. So go ahead, enjoy more than one of these wonderful, little chocolate morsels. Your body will thank you.
Yield: about 15 small cookies
For Glaze (optional): Make chocolate coating from this recipe. When baked cookies have cooled to room temperature, lay flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and chill until sauce has hardened. Serve chilled.
Gluten Free, Sugar Free Chocolate, Cranberry and Walnut Cookies:
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Spectrum organic shortening
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup light coconut milk, shaken
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup fruit sweetened dried cranberries
2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa, sorghum flour, potato starch, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt.
3. In a larger bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together agave nectar, shortening and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients and whisk but do not beat (using a whisker instead of electric blades to avoid flour flying everywhere).
4. Whisk in coconut milk until incorporated. Fold in cranberries and walnuts. Batter should be more thin than a typical cookie batter.
5. Using a tablespoon for measuring, place rounded tablespoon-sized amounts of batter on a lightly greased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
6. Bake cookies in preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.
Tip: These cookies are quite good — I’m tempted to say even better — frozen and eaten straight from the freezer. Something about the cold concentrates the flavors and yields a nice, crisp crunch. Make a double batch and freeze half for quick treat that you can enjoy anytime.
For a Chocolate-Free Version: Use garbanzo bean flour in place of the cocoa powder and increase the amount of potato starch to 1/3 cup.