coconut butter macaroons

my mother in-law sent along this vegan macaroon recipe she found on williams-sonoma blog, the blender, months ago. i’ve had the strongest intentions of making it, and happen to always have all of the ingredients in my pantry. i am always looking for new recipes using coconut, and even desperate to find recipes using coconut butter. through my entire pregnancy and now after, i have been craving coconut like mad.

these macaroons came together so quickly, a matter of minutes really. i melted the coconut butter over low heat in a pot, threw in the syrup and other ingredients… stir, stir, stir, form, bake, done.

easy.

delicious.

these cookies turned out light and sweet. the edges and crust of them were crisp. the flavor of coconut was delicate, but very present. the use of coconut butter is a brilliant way to boost the coconut flavor without the use of artificial extracts.

macaroons should not be heavy, sticky or dense. they should be lightly sweetened, moist and light in the center, heavy on coconut flavor, and given a crispy crunch on the outside after toasting in the oven.

my only recommendation is to resist rolling the macaroons in a tight ball. simply spoon them onto the parchment and form into a loose ball. this will prevent the dense, thick-as-a-brick uncooked inside.

thanks to my mother in-law, cindy, for thinking of me when she saw this! i should make her a batch to say thank you!

this recipe makes 18 or so smallish macaroons.

for the macaroons:

ingredients:

1/3 cup coconut butter

6 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp salt

2 cups finely shredded coconut, unsweetened

method: preheat oven to 350f. line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

melt coconut butter over low heat in a medium pot. keep stirring until most lumps and bumps are gone.

stir in maple syrup and vanilla until well blended.

add coconut and salt and mix well until coated evenly.

spoon onto cookie sheets, shaping lightly into snowballs.

bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges are just toasted golden-brown. macaroons set up when they are cool, so don’t expect them to be crisp or firm right out of the oven.

allow to cool for 30 minutes or so.

chocolate drizzle

slowly and gently melt 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips in a pot.

use a small spoon to drizzle over cooled macaroons. alternatively, you can dip the bottoms of the cookies into the chocolate. -or both. is there such a thing as too much chocolate? lets be honest.

pumpkin cheesecake brownies

the pumpkin layer might be thicker than the actual brownie...

my superbud, breanna, is lovin’ on my black bean brownies. she’s been baking up a storm! i encouraged her to try to put an autumn twist on her latest craze by incorporating a pumpkin cheesecake swirl.

and she did.

sort of.

she went for the layer. this has to be just as tasty. i gave her some suggestions, and she ran with them. she did some experimenting so that you don’t have to. she’s making this easy for everyone. breanna may not be the swirling type, but maybe you are. swirl or layer, pick your poison.

seriously, guys. pumpkin OMG!

this recipe makes a 9×9 pan, i could squeeze 12 slices out of this if i wanted to. i prefer 9 slices though.

for the brownies:

1 14oz can black beans, unseasoned and unsalted, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup honey

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/3 cup butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 oz unsweetened chocolate (1 square of baker’s chocolate)

1 tbsp fine ground coffee

small handful of chocolate chips

the pumpkin cheesecake layer:

6 oz cream cheese (room temp)

3/4 cup pumpkin

2 tsp maple syrup

1 egg (room temp)

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

method:

make the pumpkin cheesecake swirl before you make the brownie batter.

combine the cream cheese, pumpkin, maple syrup, egg, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. blend really well with a hand mixer. set aside while you prepare the brownie batter.

for the brownies:

preheat oven to 350f. butter sides and bottom of 8×8 baking pan, and line with parchment paper.

melt unsweetened chocolate and butter in small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. once melted, whisk in coffee grounds, place lid on, and set aside.

put the beans, eggs, honey, cocoa, salt, and extracts in food processor. blend until smooth. while running, add the butter and chocolate mixture.

batter will appear very liquid. pour it into pan. top with chocolate chips, i like to poke a few deep into the batter.

pour pumpkin cheesecake mixture on top. either swirl in with a knife, or keep as a flat layer (breanna style). top with chopped, toasted pecans.

bake for 40 minutes or so. remove from oven and allow to cool at room temp before slicing, i promise you’ll get a much cleaner slice if you wait until they cool, and the chocolate flavor will also have time to develop well.

enjoy this healthy fall treat in very large slices, and don’t share too much with your partner. no one ever said 1/3 of the pan will kill you.

save me the corner piece.

black brownies

bitten

brownies made with black beans replacing the flour have been around for a few years now. i’ve seen the formula for this recipe all over the place. i have been meaning to give it a crack for 2 years or so, but keep pushing it into the back of my priority list. finally, i had an intense craving for brownies, and a complete lack of chocolate chips. regardless, my acute cravings for chocolate can not be ignored. i needed brownies. like, yesterday.

after reviewing the 3 recipes for black bean brownies that i had bookmarked, i came to the conclusion that none of them would suit me.

the problems?

some didn’t use any chocolate in the recipe- use cocoa powder only and you get a dry, cake-like tray of brown. i am of the school where you use at least 1 square of chocolate in all brownies. always.

some had too many steps- blend half the nuts with the beans, mix eggs and sweetener separately from the beans… no. brownies should be uncomplicated.

some used bananas instead of fat- no thank you. black beans in place of flour is enough health for me today.

some called for a home-made sauce for topping the batter with- again, brownies should be uncomplicated and adaptable, even if they are made of unique ingredients.

given these finicky preconceptions of what brownie-baking should be like, i decided to cut out those frills i wasn’t fond of and run with it on my own. the idea was that if it didn’t work, then, well, whatever.

i was surprised at how great these brownies turned out. the unique ingredient goes completely undetected. no traces of bean. they taste both fudgy and cakey, which is typically impossible for me to accomplish when it comes to brownies. the corner pieces hold up to their crusty reputation. these are not wet, as i assumed they would be. -they are simply moist. the flavor is anything but musty or earthy like beans are. they are deep and rich, and over-the-top chocolatey. are they too over-the-top to have a third of the finished product savored greedily before dinner? no. they were not. that did not stop me.

full pan of gooey brownies

a few notes-

*i used chopped toasted almonds to top the brownies, but any nut could be used here.

*i used up an ugly but tasty chocolate bar i found in my pantry, chopped, to top the brownies with to incorporate some creamy richness. i highly recommend you do this, but it is obviously not necessary at all.

*since using almonds to top, i added almond extract to tie the whole deal together. again, not necessary.

* coconut oil can be used in place of butter, and maple syrup in place of honey if you wish.

*i used a tbsp coffee grounds to deepen the flavor, but if you don’t feel like it, then skip it.

baker's chocolate and butter melting

black brownies

1 14oz can black beans, unseasoned and unsalted, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup honey

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/3 cup butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 oz unsweetened chocolate (1 square of baker’s chocolate)

1 tbsp fine ground coffee

for topping

1/2 cup chopped nuts

small handful chopped chocolate or chips

method:

preheat oven to 350f. butter sides and bottom of 8×8 baking pan, and line with parchment paper.

melt unsweetened chocolate and butter in small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. once melted, whisk in coffee grounds, place lid on, and set aside.

put the beans, eggs, honey, cocoa, salt, and extracts in food processor. blend until smooth. while running, add the butter and chocolate mixture.

batter will appear very liquid. pour it into pan, top with chocolate and nuts.

bake for 35 minutes. cool on counter top. don’t you dare burn your mouth on those brownies.

be a lady and wait until they cool, about 40 minutes, before slicing. your slices will be cleaner for it.

for breakfast, put yogurt on the brownies. for snack, have with a glass of milk. for second snack, have with a sliced banana. for dessert, have with ice cream.

clean sliced

chocolate chip cookies

consider the cookie...

i love these cookies.

these are special little cookies. both soft & cakey, crisp & firm. they are lightly maple flavored, and the almond is played up with the addition of almond extract. butter is what makes the texture of these treats chewy and warm tasting.

thank you elana, for this lovely recipe, which i only modified slightly to include maple syrup and almond extract. her recipes are simple, beautiful and relevant. please stop by and see what grain free treats she is cooking up!

i love these cookies.

i used a chopped up dark chocolate bar that lost its nice texture for half of the chocolate, and for the other half i used chips. use super dark chocolate to contrast the sweetness of the maple here, and be sure not to skimp on the salt!

chips and chopped

chips and chopped

i made really tiny cookies, which are quite adorable, by using 1 tsp scoops, but you could use a tablespoon or two if you want really big cookies. they do spread a little, so watch the spacing.

just wait until i use these for ice cream sandwiches. i will take over the world, one sweet little cookie sandwich at a time.

tiny cookie

i love these cookies.

you will too.

this recipe makes 40 tiny cookies, or 20 normal sized cookies. pick your poison.

chocolate chip cookies

2 1/2 cups almond meal

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp melted, room temp butter

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 tsp almond extract

1 cup chopped dark chocolate, or chocolate chips

method:

preheat oven to 350f. cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.

combine almond meal, salt, and baking soda with a whisk in a large bowl.

separately, combine all of the wet ingredients.

mix wet ingredients with the dry, and stir in chocolate last.

spoon batter onto sheets, spacing evenly, and bake for 10 minutes. i always rotate the sheets mid way during the baking for even browning.

pull cookies out of the oven, cool for a few minutes on sheets before transferring to cooling racks.

dip in milk, make ice cream sandwiches, crumble onto chocolate pie, or eat just plain. just eat the cookies.

love the cookies.

pistachio shortbread cookies

 

i was so thrilled this year when brian shot out this request for his birthday treat:

“pistachio shamrock cookies!” he shouted.

his birthday is on st. patrick’s day, so this made total sense. his mom used to make pistachio pudding cookies for his birthday when he was little. it appears to me that he was reviving that tradition as closely as he could, given my dietary restrictions.

i love to make cut out cookies. i find the rolling-pin really therapeutic. i love the way my arms hurt the next day from pressing the pin onto the marble countertop. i love decorating them. i love the army of uniform cookies that set out on my counter-top, and how they look all lined up together. i love to eat the raw scraps that the cut outs leave behind. i love the buttery, nutty flavor of these cookies. i love the crumbly crumbs that fall into my milk glass when i dunk them. i even love eating the bright green frosting with them.

 

i do not, however, love how i feel the day after i ate a dozen. oh, did i say a dozen? i meant 14. with frosting. and one was a double-decker. what the hell?

i have no self-control. this is why i don’t make cookies much any more. they are too delicious and easy to overeat.

i recommend baking these until they brown a little around the edges, otherwise they may be a little cakey, but still wonderful. i encourage you to be creative with icing or topping these. here are a few “omg” suggestions:

lemon curd

vanilla ice cream

ganache

raspberry jam

whipped cream

see? the possibilities are endless. we chose green frosting. traditional butter-cream frosting… with lots and lots of green. i left a few un-frosted for myself.

i also think it would be great to try some dried, chopped cranberries in the dough.

oh, and a peek into the future: i can’t wait to use the dough as a pie crust recipe.. come on, chocolate pie with pistachio crust?! killer.

pistachio shortbread cookies

yields 3 dozen medium shamrocks

1 3/4 cups coconut flour, sifted

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup butter, room temp

2/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup pistachios, ground up in food processor

method:

preheat oven to 350. line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

mix together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

cream together butter and sugar. add eggs one at a time, add vanilla extract. add pistachios, followed by flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time.

continue to beat until completely mixed together. if dough seems really dry, you may add a little extra butter or even an extra egg to moisten. just don’t over do it.

stick it into refrigerator for at least an hour to stiffen.

roll dough out between 2 sheets of wax or parchment paper. i like to keep them a little thick so they are sturdy. cut into shamrocks, or whatever shape you want. squares are pretty cool. don’t forget to use scraps to re-roll into more shamrocks or whatever.

transfer very carefully to prepared cookie sheets and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. these burn fast. as soon as they are golden, they are done. move to wire racks to cool.

frost when cool. yum! get out the ice cream!

PB&J thumb prints

 

let’s face it. i could eat peanut butter all the time. i’m becoming a little embarrassed about the amount of blog entries that contain peanut butter as a food topic. the stuff is delicious. and full of protein and healthy fat. so i eated some peanut butter cookies for lunch today, that is why i published this under the “lunches” category in case you are wondering.

i won’t stop writing about peanut butter until i am good and ready. there is plenty of peanut butter baking and cooking out there to discover, so i am not ready to give it up yet.

and i will eat it every day.

my friends were over a few weeks ago for board game night and saw me open the pantry door. “!!!JEEZ!!!”, one friend said, “is that your Y2K cupboard?” -my excuse for having 7, yes SEVEN, jars of peanut butter in my pantry were because my brother in law works for smuckers and it was my duty, as a consumer, to support his product. it was a lie. i just like to collect the stuff.

what my friends don’t know is that there were 2 more jars in the refrigerator.

given my heavy volume of this delicious stuff, i decided to make peanut butter and jelly thumb print cookies for my friends for valentine’s day.

these cookies are remarkably easy to make and crazy tasty. they are not as heavy as i was assuming they would be. they are crumbly, still soft, and any jam would be delicious here. i think melty chocolate would also be great. these turned out quite large, like pb&j biscuits, but only because i pressed them into a medium sized heart shaped cookie cutter. you could do smaller or keep them round if you don’t want to fool with shaping them, but i found it quite easy to do this. i used my pinkie finger to form the heart shape in the center, but i have chubby thumbs.

the total lack of complicated ingredients is genius, and i barely made a mess in the kitchen. barely. ok there is peanut butter smeared all over the counter, but only because i am clumsy. i bet this recipe has been all over the online world of food and back, and i suppose i am slow on trying it. oh well. i had other stuff goin on. i wish i were hip to these a year ago. these are the coolest cookies!

 

ready to bake

ingredients:

1 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

some jam

method: preheat oven to 350f. lightly grease a baking sheet.

stir your peanut butter with one of these gadgets. *omg greg, this thing is amazing*

combine sugar and peanut butter in mixer for a few minutes. now throw in the baking soda, salt, and the egg (not the shell! duh!) and continue to blend for a few more minutes. the dough will be crumbly. you may refrigerate it for ease of rolling, but i didn’t.

roll a tbsp of dough between your palms to form a ball. now press ball into cookie cutter on sheet, or keep it round. use fingers to press a heart shape in center of cookie. remove mold. continue until you run out of space. pipe jam into center of cookie. now bake for 13 minutes. cool on sheet of a few minutes before transferring to rack.

i packed these up in some boxes for my friendies.

valentines

double chocolate coffee cookies

again, sorry for the ugly photo. i need to make a light box for my photograph sessions.

these guys are extreme! there is so much chocolate going on, and i dig it. i love the deep flavors that the coffee brings out in chocolate. again, these were wonderful still warm from the oven, and i plan on taking them to work tomorrow along with the snickerdoodles.

this was a recipe from elana’s pantry. she has a great collection of gluten free & grain free cookie recipes, so be sure to check them all out!

i substituted honey in the place of agave nectar, and gave them a light sugar dusting just before baking because i know my coworkers have a sweet tooth!

ingredients:

2 1/4 cups almond meal*

1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 tsp coffee, ground as finely as possible

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup olive oil

2/3 cup honey

1 tbsp vanilla

1 cup dark chocolate chips

*i used bob’s red mill almond meal, which resulted in a slightly nuttier texture. next time i will use almond flour, which is finer and would turn out a more traditionally textured cookie.

method:

preheat oven to 350f. prep 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

mix all dry ingredients except for chocolate chips in a large bowl.

separately, mix all wet ingredients together.

combine wet with dry. when completely combined, stir in chips.

drop by the spoonful onto sheets, packing dough tightly with a spoon so cookies don’t fall apart.

bake for 7 minutes.

let cool on sheets for 10 minutes or so to stiffen up before transferring to racks.

snickerdoodles

 

with the inches of snow we have accumulated over the past few hours, the holiday cookie bake has begun in my house. i didn’t want to go outside much today, so i decided to stay in and make the house smell like a home.

after several batches, i’ve finally gotten a photo of these things in the daylight! some cookies didn’t make it, though.. the warm cinnamon smell was calling me, so in the name of quality control, i eated them.

this recipe was wonderful! these may be my new favorite cookie recipe. they are super moist and chewy, and just a little crispy around the edges. everyone knows how amazing cinnamon is during the winter months, so i don’t have to do any convincing that the warmth from this spice hit the spot.

i snagged the recipe from kalyn’s kitchen. please click on the link for the unchanged recipe, though i did make these cookies just a little differently. i had my eye on it last winter with full intentions of making these and must have been too distracted with making linzers, cocoa almond balls, and sesame honey cookies. thank you, kalyn, for an excellent recipe! these will go over nicely at work tomorrow!

i hope the bakers out there begin winter baking soon. eating warm cookies feels good when the air is chilly and the ground is fluffy with snow.

balled up and ready for duty

recipe yields 2 dozen cookies

bake time: 12 minutes

ingredients for the cookies:

1 stick of room temp butter

1 egg

1 tbsp vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 1/2 cup almond flour* (packed)

1/4 tsp baking soda

pinch of sea salt

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

*almond flour, such as the bag from trader joe’s, works best here. bob’s red mill will make the cookies a little grainy, while the flour is a little finer and more like wheat flour.

method:

cream softened butter with sugar using a mixer. throw in all dry ingredients, mix for a few seconds, then beat in the egg and vanilla.

stick cookie dough in the refrigerator for an hour.

meanwhile, preheat the over to 350f.

prepare 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

combine 3 tbsp cinnamon with 3 tbsp finer granulated sugar in a small bowl for rolling the cookies in.

cinnamon and sugar

after the cookies have chilled, roll into 1″ ball. drop into cinnamon sugar to coat cookie. plop onto prepared cookie sheet. continue until all of your dough is gone. these spread and flatten quite a bit, so do not squish them down. sprinkle any leftover cinnamon sugar on the tops of the cookies.

bake for 6 minutes, rotate sheet, and bake for 6 minutes longer.

let cool on sheets for a few minutes before you transfer onto cooling rack.

i went for a snowy walk after baking these to find that the local fire fighters cleaned off the local canal to create an ice skating rink for themselves. they are so cute.

date & pecan cinnamon swirls

 

creamy and crunchy

this is the other variation on the bars i posted about last week. these may not be as photogenic as their strawberry counterparts, but they are super tasty! i thought the strawberry bars would be the popular picks of the bunch, but it was the date & pecan cinnamon swirls that were the hit of the party. they sold out! these are mildly sweet, so they are perfect for breakfast. as always, you could adjust the amount of sweetener you use to your taste, but i wouldn’t leave it out completely. the honey is what makes these bars a bit sticky and holds them together very nicely! i would love to see variation on this, but the dates are so wonderful here that they are great just the way they are. for an extra sweet treat, sprinkle a little brown sugar on top before baking.

date & pecan cinnamon swirls

-for the base:

1 jar (16 oz) almond butter

1/2 cup honey, or to taste

2 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

-for the swirls:

4 oz (1/2 block) softened cream cheese

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp vanilla

-for the pecan stir-in:

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup dates, chopped and pitted

method: preheat oven to 325f. prep a 9×13″ glass baking dish by coating it with oil.

over low heat, toast cinnamon and pecans until they become fragrant. careful, nuts burn quickly! set aside to cool.

to make the swirl mixture, whip cream cheese, vanilla, and honey together with mixer until creamy and smooth. set aside.

now make the base. using hand mixer or stand mixer, whip the almond butter until smooth. add eggs, honey, and vanilla. mix until well combined, but do not over mix or it will make a dense finished product. mix in the baking soda and salt. by hand, stir in nuts and dates.

pour batter into baking dish in an even layer. yes, it’s a little sticky and may be kinda hard to spread out. do your best.

now drop cream cheese over batter by the teaspoonful and use a knife or toothpick to swirl. sprinkle a little brown sugar on top and pop it into the oven.

bake for 35 minutes. let cool for a few hours before cutting.

strawberries & cream almond bars

i was a little worried when brian asked me to bake up “a few dozen things” for a bake sale the library would be participating in. he charged me with something “morning themed”. i wanted to make something grain-free, but something that everyone, of all diets, would be familiar with. i was thinking muffins, but our local celebrity baker was on top of the muffins, and i wasn’t about to compete with that. the final decision came down to a morning style bar. i based the recipe on the almond butter blondies over at elana’s pantry. i made several adaptations, to “morning them up”. they turned out wonderfully! strawberry really brightens up the decadent cream cheese swirl, and the addition of almond extract makes them addictive. i would not feel guilty biting into one of these in the morning as a treat, and you could limit the amount of honey you use to make them even more guilt free. the flavor is somewhat similar to a strawberry cheesecake, just not as sugary sweet.

i always use smucker’s simply fruit jam, which is sweetened with fruit only, not granulated sugar or corn syrup, and is super tasty. -yes, another shameless smucker’s promotion.

i have another variation on these bars i will be posting, as these are really versatile. feel free to do a little experimenting of your own and telling us about your version!

how pretty is this?!

strawberries and cream almond bars

-for the base

1 16 oz jar smooth almond butter

3/4 cup honey

2 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup sliced almonds crushed to bits and pieces

-for the swirls

4 oz (half a block) cream cheese, room temp

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup strawberry jam, stirred smooth and room temp

method: preheat oven to 325f. prep a 9×13″ glass baking dish by coating it with oil.

to make the swirl mixture, whip cream cheese, vanilla, and honey together with mixer until creamy and smooth. set aside. you’ll be swirling this and the strawberry jam (separately) into the base.

now make the base. using hand mixer or stand mixer, whip the almond butter until smooth. add eggs, honey, vanilla, and almond extract. mix until well combined, but do not over mix or it will make a dense finished product. mix in the baking soda and salt. by hand, stir in the almonds.

pour batter into baking dish in an even layer. yes, it’s a little sticky and may be kinda hard to spread out. do your best.

drop cream cheese onto the bar batter by the teaspoonful a few inches apart. do the same with the strawberry jam. drag a spoon through the cream cheese and jam to make swirls.

bake for 35 minutes. i like to leave the center just a hair jiggly, as it will set a little after you pull it from the oven.

let cool for a few hours before slicing. i didn’t wait. i sliced after a half an hour. they were really messy, but i wanted to eat them as soon as possible. i told myself this was so i could “test and adjust the recipe accordingly”, but it is actually because i am a glutton.

enjoy!