I realize that in the world of Celiacs and those who are gluten intolerant, “oats” can often be a controversial subject. Between the cross-contamination issues and gluten-like properties, oats have a reputation for bringing on many of the symptoms that we in the allergy-free world try to avoid. Still, there are very few things I can think of that are quite so comforting as a warm, chewy oatmeal cookie. And I’ve been craving them recently. My craving for oats brought on some experimentation with what I thought might be a passable substitute: quinoa flakes. But when I made my first batch of quinoa cookies, I realized that I had thought wrong. Quinoa flakes were more than just passable; they might even be better.
Rich and chewy, with the slightest amount of crispness around the edges, these cookies have the unmistakable nuttiness of quinoa. My dad — ever the Top Chef judge at heart, even if he doesn’t know it — referred to their flavor as “subtle yet complex.” I, for one, love the flavor, but also don’t mind the fact that quinoa packs a punch of protein in a way oats never could. It’s a great excuse to sneak these as a mid-afternoon snack.
Oh, and my apologies to anyone who has a coconut allergy. I realize I’ve been on a bit of a coconut streak lately — I’m admittedly craving it in pretty much everything I make. I will concentrate next week’s baking efforts on something that is coconut free.
Yield: 20-24 cookies per batch
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour
1 cup quinoa flakes*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/3 cup coconut oil, liquified
1/2 cup coconut nectar**
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup fruit-sweetened dried cranberries or raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, quinoa flakes, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, xanthan gum and coconut. Add coconut oil, coconut nectar, applesauce and vanilla and stir gently to incorporate, then use hands to form ingredients into a cookie dough. Dough should be slightly sticky but workable. Add cranberries/raisins and fold in with hands.
3. Taking large tablespoonfuls of dough at a time, work dough with hands to form evenly-sized balls. Place on parchment or silpat-lined cookie sheet a few inches apart and slightly flatten with palm of your hand, creating evenly-shaped round cookies. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes (longer for a crispier edge), or until bottom of cookies are golden brown.
4. Gently remove cookies immediately to a wire rack to cool. Cookies will harden more as they cool, but should still remain soft and chewy. Enjoy!
* For those who can tolerate oats, 1 cup instant oats can be substituted for the quinoa flakes
** If you can’t find coconut nectar, you can TRY experimenting with other sweeteners. In my experience, substituting agave, at least, yields a drastically different texture. So experiment at your own risk! Lately, I have been finding coconut nectar at just about all of my local health food stores. I know it’s quite pricey, but it’s definitely the best choice for these cookies.