As I mentioned earlier, I have been preparing for this holiday baking season for an entire year – and couldn’t be more genuinely psyched to finally share these three new cookie recipes with you here today. What makes me so giddy is that I was able to finagle my way into balancing the sweetness in these recipes without using processed sugar, or compromising their richness in the process. This is at least how my taste buds voted. I would love to know how yours feel too if you make any of these sweet treats, so be sure to drop me a note if you do!
Let’s dissect these recipes a bit, shall we? Beginning with the peanut praline. I teased you with it here on Instagram a few weeks ago, and am kind of thinking this is my new favorite cookie recipe of all time (excluding present company, hello gingerbread peeps and whoopie pies!). I wanted there to be a sweet crystalized crunch added to the classic peanut butter flavor and texture. I realized quickly that plain peanuts wouldn’t do. They aren’t sweet! And take away from the overall flavor I am trying to cultivate in the dough. What to do? Coat them in sweet maple and a few pinches of salt, let them caramelize in the oven, and give them a good blitz in the food processor to mask their chalky peanut origin and transform them into that sweet peanut crunch of my dreams.
Now onto the peppermint whoopie pies, because I cannot sustain a smile at Christmas time if a chocolatey-pepperminty treat is not consumed during the month of December. These cookies are a tweaked version of Lindsey’s brilliant recipe I fell for last year (which you should totally enjoy too, a flax egg and coconut sugar makes these babes vegan and naturally sweetened in a pinch!). I make the cookie be both chocolate and peppermint, and allow the cream in the center to be a fresh vanilla. I feel as if the flavors are best enjoyed in this fashion, and hope you trust me to give it a go too! After discovering the wonder of cashew buttercream a few posts back, I applied it here as well – and yep – it knocked it out of the park. Vanilla cashew “buttercream” frosting for life, folks.
Speaking of folks, these gingerbread men! Or people, ladies, what have you. I’ve actually been holding this recipe gem in my fist, clasped tight, since last Christmas. I didn’t have time to share it with you then, so it only seemed fair I make this post a triple-wammy and include it here for you too. I am a sucker for all things gingerbread this time of year, and think these cookies are just the best. Not too sweet, and perfect for dipping in your hot cocoa or morning coffee. You can even slather them in leftover cashew cream frosting from the sandwiches above if you dare – its lovely, don’t hold back.
Aside from seeking to naturally sweeten these holiday treats, I also sought to use the most wholesome ingredients. Virgin coconut oil and whole grain, sprouted flour as the main two. The top choice in our home is the sprouted spelt flour by One Degree Organics. We have used this flour in countless recipes for years, and it brings me so much joy to share them with you here today – and hopefully encourage you to seek out their sprouted grains for your holiday baking this year. They have plenty to explore, and your tummy will be grateful for the extra love that comes from sprouting the grains – this removes the phytic acid (a.k.a. plant seed protector that inhibits mineral absorption and can be hard to digest). They support vegan and organic practices (woot woot!) and show a true appreciation for their farmers and the earth. All around, this is the kind of company I wish to be supporting throughout my holiday baking – as well as in my recipes during the entire year.
I hope you enjoy your holiday baking and parties these next few weeks folks! We are heading to Denver for a quick forty-eight-hour trip to see some friends and attend a certain 90s themed company holiday party (grunge all the way). This will be my first trip back since moving away eight months ago, and I am excited to actually “visit” the city for the first time. It’s crazy to think we have only ever “lived” there, seeing as our move was spontaneous and very sight-unseen nearly two years ago. Some of our greatest friendships were created in Denver, and I cannot wait to squeeze each one of you wonderful people (you know who you are) during this trip back to mile high city. Now to go pull out the bin of winter clothing that will never see the light of day here in southern CA. Next stop — WINTER.
PEANUT BUTTER PRALINE COOKIES
Makes 10 cookies.
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (all natural, salted)
1/4 cup maple sugar (or coconut sugar)
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 to 5 tablespoons sprouted spelt flour
peanut praline (recipe below)
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, unsalted
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon maple sugar (or coconut sugar)
few good pinches of sea salt
Begin by making the praline. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, and spread onto the baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The peanuts should be golden. Set on the counter to cool for 10 minutes, allowing the sugar coating to harden. When cooled, transfer to a food processor and blitz into a crumb. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
Make the cookie dough next. Combine the peanut butter, maple sugar, coconut oil (solid is fine), maple syrup, and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. Sprinkle two tablespoons of flour into the bowl, along with the baking soda. Mix well. Add an additional tablespoon of flour at a time until the dough comes together. It will be thick.
Scoop the dough using a cooking scoop or spoon into 10 cookie dough balls. Place in the bowl of peanut praline and press into disks. Make sure to press as much praline as you can into the cookie, then transfer to a parchment linked baking sheet. Sprinkle a little more praline on top before pressing down into the final disk shape for baking. These will be a little messy, embrace it, it’s what makes them so darn tasty.
Bake for 11 to 12 minutes. Slide off the cookie sheet onto the counter to cool before serving. They will firm up and become sturdy after cooling. Serve right away, and store leftovers in an airtight container on the counter or in the fridge.
PEPPERMINT WHOOPIE PIES
Makes 12 cookies, or 6 whoopie pies.
Cookies adapted from Dolly & Oatmeal.
chocolate peppermint cookies
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon flax meal
3 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/4 cups sprouted spelt flour
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
vanilla cashew cream
2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup plain plant milk (I use cashew)
Prepare the cookie dough to chill. Combine the flax meal and hot water in a small dish and set aside to thicken. Add the coconut oil to a small pot on the stove over low heat, while stirring, until melted. Add the coconut sugar to the oil and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and peppermint extracts to the pot. Stir well. Add the thickened flax mixture and stir well again.
Transfer the wet mixture to a medium mixing bowl and place a fine mesh strainer over the bowl. To the strainer add the remaining dry ingredients. Sift the dry into the wet, and stir well until a thick dough forms. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes, stirring with a spatula every 10 minutes to keep the dough on the bottom from hardening.
While the dough is chilling, prepare the vanilla cashew cream. Drain the cashews and add to a high speed blender. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender as well. Secure the lid and insert the tamper. Begin on low, working your way up to high while using the tamper to help the mixture along. Once smooth and creamy, transfer the filling to a glass jar. Seal and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Scoop the chilled dough into rounded spoonfuls, 12 total, on a parchment lined baking sheet. Press down evenly to 1/2 inch thick disks. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Slide the sheet of parchment off of the pan and onto the counter to cool. Once cooled, place a large dollop of frosting on the bottom of 6 cookies (or pipe it if you want to get fancy), and top with the reminding 6 to create the whoopie sandwiches.
Chill the cookie sandwiches in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to serve. Store any leftover cashew cream the same, in the fridge, and enjoy by the spoonful or swirled into your morning oats.
Makes about 18 gingerbread men, depending on size.
2 cups sprouted spelt flour
1/3 cup oat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
Make the dough. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients (spelt flour through ground ginger). Stir with a fork, and create a well in the center of the mixture. To the center well, add the coconut sugar, coconut oil, hot water, and molasses. Begin stirring in the center, working you way towards the outer edges of the bowl to incorporate the dry into the wet, a little at a time. Once a velvety dough has formed, turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap and wrap tightly into a flat disk. Place in the refrigerator and allow to chill for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Flour a large surface with more of the sprouted spelt flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface, cover with a sheet of parchment, and roll out with a rolling pin to 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut out using your desired cookie cutters, and place your gingerbread men (and ladies) onto the parchment lined cookie sheet (using a spatula if needed for safe transfer).
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Transfer to the counter to cool fully before decorating with any leftover vanilla cashew cream from the cookie sandwiches above. These are also lovely dipped in a little melted dark chocolate. Or leave them plain (as I do) for dunking in a mug of hot cocoa or coffee. Store leftover cookies in an airtight container on the counter. Best if enjoyed within 4 days.
This post was sponsored by One Degree Organics. All words and opinions are my own. I have truly loved and used their amazing products for years. Thank you for supporting my work here on Faring Well by supporting it’s wonderful sponsors. Merry Christmas!