Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nikki's Healthy Cookie Recipe

So Wednesday night I tested out Nikki's Healthy Cookie Recipe which I stumbled upon recently on 101 Cookbooks. It was the perfect answer to three questions I had been pondering: 1. What am I going to do with the over-ripe banana on my kitchen table? 2. How can I use the almond meal sitting in the back of my fridge? 3. Is it possible to enjoy eating a dessert made without refined sugar? Now normally I would make banana bread with over-ripe bananas, but I wanted to try something new - and this recipe also gave me the excuse I needed to actually go out and buy a jar of coconut oil. It has been on my "to-buy" list for stocking a healthier, more natural pantry for awhile, but somehow it still seems rather scary. I've been told for so long that saturated fats are bad... and coconut oil is indeed a bit saturated. I'm sure I'll explore this whole-food thing more later, so I won't elaborate at the moment. You may also be thinking, "why would one have almond meal sitting in the back of one's fridge?" Well... the answer to that is going to make you think I'm even more nutty (ha ha). It's from making my own almond milk. Surprisingly easy once you get a nut milk bag. :) Right about now you realize I've been dappling a little in "crazy hippy dippy food practices" as my husband might say. He thinks I drink the Kool-Aid and that any day now I will be divorcing him for eating Velveeta Shells & Cheese (which is hilarious, because I much prefer the electric orange powdered version by Kraft). Anywho - you basically puree 1 cup almonds with 4 cups water in a blender and strain it through a very fine mesh bag to get almond milk (cheaper and less sugar-filled than store-bought). You are left with almond solids in your "nut-milk bag", which I was told many people use in baking as a flour substitute. So here I am with the perfect recipe!

Here's my feedback:
My cookies came out slightly dry (although after one day in a sealed container they have become moister). The recipe says that the batter might be slightly looser than normal cookie dough, and mine was rather thick & pasty. I think part of this was due to the fact that I only had ONE brown and over-ripe banana, to which I added 3 almost-ripe bananas to get the 1 1/2 cups. This factor also contributed to my second critique: they were less sweet than I would have liked. Feel free to state the obvious - that when you don't add any sugar (or even sweetener besides fruit), you are going to get something less sweet than normal cookies. But I think they would have been sweeter if all my bananas were over-ripe. And maybe also next time I would sauté them with a touch of maple syrup or agave nectar in intensify the flavor. If I were going the extra mile there I might also have toasted the almond meal before mixing it in. Indeed.

The awesome part: these cookies were high in chocolate content, and therefore very yummy. Due to the consistency & coconut content, they remind me a bit of Passover macaroons, but better. Tasty enough to make me freeze the rest of them so that I don't eat them all in one day. Overall - a great alternative for someone who is willing to make butter-less, egg-less, flour-less cookies. :)