It seems that’s been my basic motto in the kitchen for as long as I can remember. I’m a restless cook — one who rarely makes the same exact thing the same way twice, unless, of course, I’m testing recipes to post here. But even then, once the recipe has been posted, after all the testing an tweaking that came before it, I’m still hard-wired to contemplate adjustments to that recipe that could make it even better. Or at least, something that could make it different.
The recipe for these thumbprint cookies is based on a previous recipe from 2011 for quinoa cookies – an oat-free oatmeal cookie alternative that has been a family favorite in recent years. If you compare the recipes side -by-side, you’ll notice they’re quite similar. But just a few tweaks to the original recipe has yielded a quite different cookie altogether. It’s like a coconut macaroon married with a thumbprint cookie and spiked with lemon zest for a fresh burst of flavor. It’s a bit of a departure from the oatmeal-like quinoa cookies upon which these were inspired.
With Easter approaching shortly, just as we are finally able to enjoy the arrival of spring, I like the idea of these cookies almost resembling a bird nest. It might be a stretch to call them bird nest cookies, but they do evoke that image, at least for me. The first year we moved into our new home (which was two years ago — time has flown), a robin built her nest in the corner of our covered front porch. For weeks, we watched closely as she frantically searched for food for her young, protected them vigilantly and fed them worms and seeds from her mouth. We watched the baby birds try to test their wings, shaky and weak to begin with, looking to their mother for reassurance and guidance. Then one day, they were gone. It was an amazing experience to witness. From now on, every time I see a mother robin building her nest, or baby birds newly introduced to the world, the images of our own bird family come back to me, bringing a smile to my face.
And with the image of a Robin nest indelibly etched in my mind with each passing spring, these cookies seem to have a fitting place at the table this season.
- 1 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut
- 2/3 cup quinoa flakes
- 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 2/3 cup coconut nectar
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, liquefied
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- zest of one lemon
- 1/4 cup fruit preserves (I used bilberry preserves)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut, flour, quinoa flakes, salt, baking soda and xanthan gum. Add coconut oil, coconut nectar, applesauce, vanilla and lemon zest and stir gently to incorporate, then use hands to form ingredients into a cookie dough. Dough should be slightly sticky but workable.
- 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. Using the back of a small measuring spoon or your thumb, gently create small indentations in the middle of each cookie while also flattening cookies slightly. Alternately, flatten slightly with palm first and then create indentations (but try not to flatten too much). Fill each cookie with about 1/2 teaspoon fruit preserves). Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes (longer for a crispier edge), or until bottom of cookies are golden brown.
- Gently remove cookies immediately to a wire rack to cool. Cookies will harden more as they cool (they will seem pretty soft directly out of the oven), but should still remain soft and chewy.
Note: If cookie dough seems a little loose to work with, refrigerate for about 10 minutes.