Almond Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Let’s face it: It’s already the middle of November. Needless to say, Christmas cookie season is soon upon us. Don’t get me wrong– I am in no way trying to glance over Thanksgiving! In fact, Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. BUT, with your turkey and stuffing in mind, you may want to consider testing out some new Christmas cookies. I’ve considered freezing a batch or two at a time. You can freeze cookies easily for 1-2 months and they’ll come out just the same as they went in. I call this a “super” cookie. I say super because… well, look at these healthy ingredients!! Almond flour (gluten free!), flaxseed (awesome source of good fatty-acids and fiber), egg whites (no yolks, and no butter), coconut oil, and last by not least: dark chocolate. Heart healthy and as far as I’m concerned, part of a balanced diet! Not to mention, you’re done in 20 minutes from start to finish. Don’t be fooled: the texture here is not what you’d expect from a typical cookie creamed with an obscene about of butter and sugar. But, for the gluten-free, health-conscious and those who want that guilty pleasure without the guilt, this one’s for you. Just be sure you glob on a nice portion of dark chocolate. T-9 days to Thanksgiving Day, folks!


Yield: 12 large cookies — Prep Time: 10 mins — Bake Time: 12 mins — Total Time: 22 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed (ground is preferred, but whole will also work)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon + ½ teaspoon melted coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, flax seed, salt, baking soda and brown sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg whites, extracts and 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined.
  3. With wet hands, roll about 1 tablespoon of the dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet. Wet the back of a ½ teaspoon and gently press down in the center of each dough ball to create an indent. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and using the ½ teaspoon, press down again in the indent just to make it a bit deeper as it probably puffed up a bit while baking. Let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.
  5. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips and the ½ teaspoon coconut oil either in the microwave or on the stove top.
  6. Once cookies are cooled, spoon the chocolate into the indent. Let them sit for about 10 minutes until set. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Running To The Kitchen, www.runningtothekitchen.com

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Autumn Honey Nut Brittle

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

This autumnal brittle: so shiny and colorful! This is what drew me to this recipe. I’ve also been trying to get more protein into my diet. A variety of nuts are a great way to do that. And, you don’t have to feel guilty eating candy with all this good stuff mixed in! Cranberries and pumpkin seeds make this extra fall-ish. This was my first time making any kind of brittle or hard candy. One thing I learned is how important the heat of the sugar mixture is. Read my tips below and give it a whirl! Throughout the day you’ll break and crack the whole sheet till it’s gone.

Yield: 10-12 servings


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  1. Heat the sugar, honey, water and salt in a large pot over a low-medium flame. Stir every five minutes or so. The mixture will begin to foam and bubble as it heats. Using a candy thermometer, continue to heat the mixture until it reaches a temperature of 310 degrees Fahrenheit*. This is very important because this is the temperature at which sugar hardens into a rock-like state after it cools. It can take up to an hour for the mixture to reach that high of a temperature, so be patient!
  2. While the sugar mixture is boiling, place a sheet of parchment paper on top of a shallow sheet pan, about 9″x13″ and grease the parchment paper. Set aside. After the sugar mixture reaches 310 degrees turn off the heat and allow to cool to 302 degrees, then immediately stir in the butter, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries until they’re coated evenly in the mixture.
  3. Immediately pour the mixture onto the parchment paper and spread it out into a large rectangle using a rubber spatula. Try to keep the surface relatively even and about 1 inch in height. Place the pan in the refrigerator and allow the brittle to cool for one hour. Once it has finished cooling, remove the sheet of brittle from the parchment paper and break the brittle into pieces using a meat tenderizer or clean hammer. Arrange the pieces on a serving platter and serve. Store excess brittle in a cool dry place. Enjoy!

Notes:

*If you don’t have a candy thermometer (I did not), you can use the cold water method. All you’ll need is a bowl of cold water (the colder the better, ice water works great). While the sugar mixture is cooking, periodically drop a small spoonful of the sugar mixture into the bowl of cold water. Immerse your hand in the water, try to form the sugar into a ball, and bring it out of the water. The shape and texture of the resulting sugar blob will tell you the approximate temperature of your candy. In this case, we want “hard crack,” 300-310 degrees F. This means that when the sugar blob hits the cold water, the syrup forms brittle threads and easily cracks and snaps. It will solidify and form stands of hard threads. If you are interested in making other types of candy like fudge or caramels, consult a candy temperature chart.

Recipe adapted from Eva Kosmas Flores, www.adventures-in-cooking.com

3Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco