My Favorite Things – Another Foray Into Healthy Baking

I seem to be on a healthy baking kick these days.  Healthy is always great, but baking in weather like this (beastly hot) either means that you have a screw loose or you are VERY dedicated.  I choose to believe the latter.  My attempts at healthy baking this week have included Orange Poppy Seed Scones, Breakfast Crepes and Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies.  All of the recipes (from Elana’s Pantry) have been gluten-free (no grains) and very low sugar.  My results have been mixed, but I’ve learned some important things along the way:

#1.  The quality of your almond flour matters.  Although I have used Bob’s Red Mill products for years, I’ve learned that with almond flour the fineness of the grind makes a big difference.  Finer grinds will provide a superior result.  You can purchase finely ground almond flour on several online sites. (Elana gives a helpful list of online retailers here.) As a bonus, you’ll find that the online prices are cheaper than what you see in the stores.  To that end, I have a shipment of very finely ground almond flour coming from Nuts.com tomorrow.

#2. Eggs create a cakey-er end product.

#3. Almond flour is flavorful and rich, so you may be able to cut back on the amount of added fat.

chocolate ginger cookies

My “almost-perfect Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies” are an adaptation from the Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on Elana’s Pantry.  Read on for her recipe with my tweaks…

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Serves: 28
Ingredients
  • 2 cups blanched almond flour (Joana’s Note: I added 1 Tablespoon of Coconut Flour to see if I could give the cookies more body)
  • ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature (Joana’s Note: My cookies turned out a little more oily than I’d like.  Perhaps the butter could be reduced?)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (Joana’s Note: This seemed like a lot of extract to me.  Since the dough turned out quite wet, perhaps this amount could also be reduced?)
  • ½ cup maple syrup (Joana’s Note: I used 1/4 cup Agave Nectar + 1/4 cup Maple syrup to cut down on the glycemic index)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (Joana’s Note: I also added about a 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger)
Instructions
  1. In a food processor , combine almond flour, salt, and baking soda
  2. Pulse in butter, vanilla, and maple syrup until dough forms
  3. Remove blade from processor and stir in chocolate chunks by hand
  4. Scoop dough one level tablespoon at a time onto a parchment lined baking sheet  (Joana’s Note: These cookies spread so take the “one level tablespoon” directions to heart!)
  5. Press balls of dough down gently
  6. Bake at 350° for 7-10 minutes
  7. Cool for 15 minutes (do not handle prior or cookies will break)
  8. Serve

Joana’s Notes

If you like crystallized ginger, I highly recommend it as an addition to these cookies.  Ginger pairs beautifully with dark chocolate and notches up the taste sophistication level in these cookies.  

chopped ginger and chocolate for cookies

As you’ll see from this photo, my batter using Bob’s Red Mill almond flour + the addition of 1 Tablespoon of Coconut Flour is still rather wet:  

ginger chocolate chip cookies dough
And the cookies spread out a lot more than I expected!
fresh baked ginger chocolate chip cookies
What I plan to try next time…
Disclaimer – I’m not a culinary expert and I have very little experience baking with “alternative” flours.  But I’m also not afraid to experiment and share my flops and (hopefully) successes along the way!
As these cookies cooled, they deflated and became rather flat like pancakes.  I’m all for a crisp cookie, but I prefer a little more height and “chew” to the middle of my cookies.  Although delicious (my husband gave them a thumbs up), the cookies also felt a little oily.   Almond flour, though extremely flavorful, is also rich.  I think the butter in this recipe could be reduced, perhaps even by half.  This might keep the cookie from spreading so much.  I also think the addition of one egg and maybe another tablespoon of Coconut Flour might create the balance of a chewy cookie with crisp edges.  Also, as noted above, I will try reducing the amount of vanilla extract to one teaspoon to see if that cuts down on the wetness of the batter.  Lastly, I may try substituting the liquid sugar (agave nectar/maple syrup) with coconut sugar.
After all, it’s only a cookie!  I’ll post what happens…
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