Monday, December 17, 2012

Heide’s carnival cookies

Did you notice I don’t have a single biscuit recipe on this blog? There’s a slice, lots of muffins, a handful of desserts and far too many drinks in the sweet treats section. Well today I’m going to remedy that omission and guess what, it’s vegan!

Vegan Schmegan! How can a biscuit without sugar, butter or flour taste any good? 

Oh my goodness, domestic goddess supreme Heidi Swanson’s done it. A dairy-free, gluten-free (it your oats are untainted), egg-free and even (added) sugar-free sweet treat that has people coming back for more. Even the chocolate-vanilla-y aroma of these “cookies” has me salivating.

But first a little nomenclature: Being an Anglo-file, at least where language is concerned, makes me baulk at calling these cookies. Beyond semantics, I tend to pigeonhole a biscuit/cookie as a disc of something sweet and crispy. The carnival cookies (suitably Americanised due to their country of origin) certainly evoke the spirit of a biscuit but are also reminiscent of an unleavened version of my muffins. The banana makes them soft and a little doughy.

Whatever. They passed muster and weren’t ruined by my habitual tweaking. A tad more chocolate on hand than recipe called for, no problem, you can never have too much chocolate in a sweet morsel. Not a huge fan of peanuts? The walnuts substituted nicely. I also ground my own almonds, gave the rolled oats a quick whiz (rather leaving them whole as indicated in the original recipe), popped the corn, passed a cinnamon stick over a fine grater and was a little heavy handed with the remains of my homemade vanilla extract.

The might look a little well done but it's just the chocolate the chocolate that includes chunks and powdery goodness

Carnival cookies

4 small or 3 medium bananas, mashed
1.5 teaspoons natural vanilla essence/extract
60g coconut oil, melted
120 g rolled oats, blitzed for a couple of seconds in a food processor
60 g almonds, blitzed to make almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp good quality ground cinnamon, or half a cinnamon quill finely grated
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
100 g walnuts, lightly crushed but still chunky
180 g chopped dark chocolate (70% plus) or good quality chocolate chips
1 heaped tablespoon popping corn, popped with a little coconut oil (about 20 g of popped corn)

Preheat oven to 180c

To make the popcorn: Heat a large pot with a tight fitting lid. Add a scant teaspoon of coconut oil, throw in the corn kernels and put on the lid. Shake pot every minute or so and let the kernels do their thing. Once the popping has subsided remove from the heat and carefully take off the lid. Allow the popcorn to cool, discarding any unpopped kernels.

In a large bowl combine mashed banana, vanilla and coconut oil. In another bowl assemble the dry ingredients: the oats, almond meal, baking powder cinnamon and salt. I ground everything myself in my powerful mini food-processor, one by one blitzing the oats, almonds and chocolate.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and stir til combined. Gently fold through the chocolate, then the walnuts and lastly the popcorn. The mixture is quite wet but have faith because it will hold together ok.

There is enough mixture to fill two baking sheets. I only have one so cooked them in two batches. The first following Heidi’s instructions to use a heaped tablespoon of dough, shaped into a ball by hand, came out quite large and round, needing about 18 minutes of cooking.

The second tray I used less, barely a level tablespoon of mixture per cookie, rounded to a ball by hand then flattened slightly on the tray. This batch took about 14 minutes to cook in my oven. The smaller size is perfect for a mouthful of something sweet with coffee or a treat. The small mouthfuls have also been a hit impromptu festive gift.

Update January 2013:
I've made a second batch, no measuring this time and all came out fine. Yippee, I so love baking intuitively rather than with the accoutrements of a pseudoscientist (like something out of the Ponds Institute).

Variation: This batch was made with cornflakes leftover from my dad's visit, I subbed them for popcorn. The combo of chocolate, cornflakes and walnuts was reminiscent of Afghan biscuits from my childhood. That's a good thing.

Further variations I'd consider in the future include desicated coconut and dried cherries. Possibly together. With chocolate of course.

This is a wonderfully adaptive recipe and non-vegans love the biscuits equally as much as those eschewing dairy and eggs. A perfect replacement for my (non-vegan) banana-based muffins.

Hate banana? Try some applesauce or a chunky, cooked apple puree. I reckon that would work just as well.

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Blogger Cindy said...

It's great to see a positive review of this recipe - it caught my eye immediately on flicking through SNED. I've struggled to find the right moment for them, though, since Michael hates bananas. :-/

11:31 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Cindy - My father loathes bananas. He blanches at the sight, let alone smell. of them. But he's eaten my banana based muffins and come back for seconds.

But I don't think that trick won't work with Michael! And I can certainly detect a hint of banana in these. I reckon you could substitute the banana for stewed/pureed apples/applesauce. I've noticed that's a common ingredient in vegan sweet foods. I reckon using about a third less applesauce than the recipe calls for mashed banana because it's wetter. What do you reckon?

1:34 pm  
Blogger Cindy said...

Yes, I've managed to get the odd cocoa-laden, concealed-banana muffin past Michael. ;-)

Apple puree is an excellent idea for an alternative! I'll keep that in mind. Thanks.

2:01 pm  

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