We're dog/house sitting over the holidays for friends who are in New Zealand in a house in the forest. I love it. First, dogs are the best, and it's so beautiful and quiet here. It's not that our house isn't nice, but this place is way nicer, ha. And there's a dog here. Plus, the owners have piles of pottery, other great props, and there are windows everywhere, so it's easy to take pictures here.
This post is the first of four cookie recipes I'll be sharing this week. I know I've been a little less present lately - I've been working a lot, but wanted to get some holiday themed posts out there before the holidays are over and there are no cookies! Graham, who is a total cookie monster, is thrilled. His gran bakes loads of cookies every Christmas and he's been comparing mine to hers (one fit the bill, apparently, but I'll be sharing that recipe a little later).
These cookies are a healthier twist on traditional German cookies, lebkuchen or pfefferkuchen, which are sort of like gingerbread. They're soft spiced cookies that are made at Christmas time. If you've been to Germany and saw those awful heart cookies that are sold at markets decorated with colourful icing, that's a harder type of lebkuchen (and they're disgusting, don't buy them). I think the main difference between these and gingerbread is that these don't include molasses, which I hate, so that might be their best quality. This version is butter and egg free, much lower in sugar and fat than normal, and perfectly spicy. They have a nice crispy edge and chewy centre, and even though I think they're just right with a little chocolate, it's not necessary if you don't want to add it.
If you're not following a plant based diet, you can use an egg in these cookies in place of the arrowroot powder. If you don't have arrowroot, don't just leave it out! It adds chewiness to the cookies, which the egg will also do if you use it.
Keep checking back throughout the week for more cookie recipes, and maybe a festive drink before Christmas!
I also want to mention the despicable situation in Aleppo right now. Civilians, including small children, are being killed in the city and it's representative of a much larger ongoing war in Syria. A few of my peer bloggers have been encouraging people to post pictures of empty plates as a way to show their support (?) but if you're interested in actually helping in some way, please consider donating to organizations like the Red Cross, which is doing lifesaving work in the area and risking their own lives in the process. There is more information on the Red Cross website if you want to learn more.
Makes about a dozen
1 cup spelt flour*
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1/2 cup coconut sugar*
1/2 teaspoon arrowroot powder*
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg*
1 cardamom pod, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil*
2 tablespoons oat or nut milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
50 grams dark chocolate, melted, for topping
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, hazelnut meal, sugar, arrowroot, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt.
In a smaller bowl, whisk the oil, milk, and maple syrup. Whisk in the egg as well if you're substituting it for the arrowroot.
Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until everything is combined. Take about two tablespoons of dough and and use your hands roll it into a ball, repeating until the dough is used. Place them 6 cm (2 inches) apart on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden. Let the cookies cool on the pan for ten minutes before removing to cool completely on a rack.
Once the cookies are cool, use a spoon dipped in the melted chocolate to drizzle lines over them. Cool them in the fridge after adding the chocolate before packing them up in a sealed container. The cookies will keep for about 5 days on the counter, and freeze well.
1. I've made this recipe with both whole and light spelt flour and it works either way. If you're gifting them to people who aren't generally healthy eaters, you might want to stick with the light spelt.
2. You can also use whole cane sugar in place of coconut sugar.
3. As mentioned above, an egg can be substituted for the arrowroot powder with virtually identical results. Just mix it in with the other liquid ingredients and leave out the arrowroot.
4. If you use pre-ground nutmeg and cardamom, use 1/2 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon respectively.
5. Other oils can be used in place of olive oil. I've used grapeseed and melted coconut oil with good results. Using coconut oil will result in a denser cookie once it cools.