December 5, 2011

Chewy Molasses Cookies (redone grain free)

When I was younger I teased my mother for eating dried dates by saying they look like cockroaches. It had something to do with the translucence and papery skin, which I still find a little eerie, but recently dates have come to my rescue.  In this year's attempt to tackle wheat free baking I have found that dates, and date paste, are my favorite secret weapon for making good grain-free cookies.  This recipe is the first of two cookies that make use of my current favorite method. Using my ever evolving baking strategies I updated a favorite Christmas cookie of ours, the Chewy Molasses Cookie.  The flavor is still there though the sweetness is toned down to match our current tastes.  In my opinion this allows the zing of the spices and molasses to shine brighter.  I suppose I could still compromise and coat the outside of these in sugar but since they were so well received by both kids I think I'll keep them as is.   One experiment I would like to try is to double bake them at a low temperature like biscotti to see if I can get a crisp version as well as this chewy one.

Chewy Molasses Date Cookies 
Makes ~3 dozen small cookies, made using a 1 tablespoon scoop

7 ounces date paste (or ~1 1/3 cup packed pitted dates)*
3 ounces coconut oil (~1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon)*
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 cup almond meal*
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line your baking sheets with parchment.
-It is best to have all your ingredients at room temperature.  Add your dates, coconut oil, eggs and molasses to a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth paste.  If you are using pitted dates double check them for pits and expect this to take a little longer.
-In a small bowl whisk together all your dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the date mixture and process until combined, scraping the bowl as needed.
-Spoon tablespoons of dough onto your lined baking sheets leaving at least an inch and a half of spreading room.
-Bake for 8-10 minutes until puffy.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheets before removing.  It's best to release the cookies with an offset spatula before removing.  
-Baked cookies freeze well but I have found that coconut flour baked goods like these tend to not store well for long periods at room temperature.

*Ingredient information:  I get my date paste from Country Life Natural Foods.  It is relatively dry compared to most homemade versions I've seen but it's great for baking.  My kids prefer no coconut flavor and so we use the expeller pressed oil from Wilderness Family Naturals.  I've used both Bob's Red Mill and Honeyville almond flour/meal in these and both work fine.