I hope everyone had (or is still having) a great Mother’s Day today! Behold what I found on the mantelpiece this morning:
Yep, for the first time ever, this year I received a card from The Girls. I guess that
hinting cajoling begging having temper tantrums being a loving partner all year really paid off!
[What was inside that envelope.]
For our Mother’s Day brunch this morning, the HH and I ate a batch of fabulous Buckwheat Waffles. I used the recipe in Vegan Brunch and simply swapped out the all-purpose flour with the same volume of Amy’s Basic Flour Blend (Sorghum-Garfava). Perfection! Here they are drenched in Sweet Almond Sauce:
But I’m not here to talk about breakfast (unless, of course, I slip in an extra mention that a copy of my breakfast ebook, Good Morning! Breakfasts, is being given away over at Tasty Eats at Home until May 14th–if you haven’t yet, go enter!). No, I’m here to talk about this month’s SOS ingredient, carob, and these amazing cookies I baked up!
Unlike many people, I’ve never really thought of carob as a replacement for chocolate (even though I did end up creating a “faux chocolate” recipe with it when I first started the ACD).
In general, I think it’s better to remain 100% of what one really is than be 75% of something or someone else. The last time I tried to imitate another person’s style was back in high school, when I donned embroidered Lee overalls, grew my hair long and painted a little flower on my cheek so I could be more like my then-idol, The Nurse. I ended up catching my hair in the overall’s buckles and losing a fairly large chunk of it. I was decidedly not a happy little hippie.
[A batch made with unsweetened carob chips added.]
Similarly, there are certain foods that are frequently considered inferior versions of something else. For years, margarine was the poor relation of butter (of course, after that it went through the very popular “cholesterol-free-even-though-hydrogenated-but-we-don’t-know-that-it’s-bad-for-you-yet-so-let’s-all-eat-margarine” phase, before it evolved to the “margarine-is-the-devil-real-butter-is-better-than-trans-fat-full-spreads” and finally “let’s-make-trans-fat-free-margarine-but-it’s-still-a-chemical-so-let’s-continue-to-eat-real-fats-once-again” phase). Or how about the debate over whether tofu can be used to impersonate meat in vegan dishes? And years ago, when I decided to enjoy Segura Viudas as a favorite Cava, I was informed rather undiplomatically by one acquaintance that “it’s not real champagne, you know.” (I did know. I loved it anyway.).
I’ve always felt kind of sorry for sweet little Carob, in fact, living life as a second-rate stand-in to cacao–sort of the way Jan was to Marsha, or Montreal is to Paris, or Lady Gaga is to Elton John (or is it Lady Gaga to Madonna? No matter–I suppose she was just born this way.).
[Simple and unadorned.]
This recipe was inspired by one I found in a very old cookbook of mine, called The Alternative Chocolate Cookbook (see, even culinary professionals view carob as a chocolate pretender). I’ve completely revamped the recipe so it’s gluten free, sugar free and vegan–in fact, the only thing I didn’t change was the spotlight on carob–to create a light, crisp cookie with just a hint of chewiness inside, very much like a sugar cookie. A whisper of cinnamon helps to emphasize carob’s natural sweetness, with just enough coconut sugar and stevia to make this sweet enough to qualify as “cookie.”
If you’ve been thinking of carob as a lesser form of chocolate, now’s the time to appreciate this lovely, slightly fruity, barely sweet legume for its own merits. Sort of the way moms appreciate their children.
Carob Refrigerator Cookies
suitable for ACD Stage 3 and beyond
Light and not too sweet, these cookies are perfect for an afternoon snack with tea or as the base for sandwich cookies. Made without the chips, they’d be great crumbled for a tart or pie crust.
1/4 cup (40 g) lightly packed coconut sugar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) water
20-25 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic, melted (I used refined so there would be no coconut flavor, but these would still be great with a hint of coconut)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely ground flax seeds
3 Tbsp (45 ml) carob powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) xanthan gum
1/3 cup (80 ml) unsweetened carob chips, optional
3.2 ounces (90 g) all-purpose GF flour mix (2/3-1 cup, depending on the mix–I used Amy’s Basic GF Flour Blend, which equaled 2/3 cup; other flours will yield different volumes for the same weight)
In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, water, vanilla and stevia so that the sugar begins to dissolve. Add the coconut oil and whisk vigorously to combine, or beat with electric beaters (it’s okay if the mixture appears curdled). Mix in the flax seeds.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, carob powder, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir to create a slightly sticky dough. If using the carob chips, add them now. Create a roll about 8 inches (20.5 cm) long, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. (If you’re in a rush, you can freeze the log for about 15 minutes, until firm, then proceed).
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Using a sharp knife, cut cookies about 1/4 inch (.5 cm) thick and place about an inch (2.5 cm) apart on the cookie sheet. If the dough cracks or if the cookies are squished when cutting, press with your fingers to re-shape into circles.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheet about halfway through, until cookies are slightly puffed and lightly browned on the bottom. Cool 5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container. Makes 12-16 cookies. May be frozen.
Last Year at this Time: Pick-Your-Own Gluten Free Pancakes
Two Years Ago: A Reunion and Some Reflections