Saturday, May 4, 2013

Coconut Flour in my Cookies

I have been dying to try baking with some almond flour. Unfortunately, the cheapest i've found it has been about $4.24/lb. Really?? So instead, I opted on Coconut flour which is about $3.15/lb at Winco. Still pricey for my tastes, but for those times when I want to go without gluten for a few days, it could be worth it. Little did I know how differently coconut flour reacts from almond flour! You can't substitute coconut flour for wheat flour by a 1:1 ratio. It's finicky, slow to react and unpredictable. Like my daughter right after nap-time.

Yesterday, I decided to try some cookies. Here is the recipe I used. I am not great at following directions. Especially when i'm cooking and baking. I like to switch things around and am constantly trying to improve on things. The only problem with this is that sometimes I don't know what the heck i'm doing and meals turn into things like "oops soup" and  "pasta brick" and "cookie bombs" (actually, that one was kindof yummy). So where this recipe called for a 1/4 c. of coconut oil, I subbed 1/4 c. butter. Only because coconut oil is pricey and I didn't want to use what I had. I also subbed date sugar for raw sugar and used normal-sized chocolate chips instead of minis, because I don't like minis. They never give me enough chocolate.

I have no pictures, but I can explain what happened. I mixed up the eggs, butter, sugar, milk, vanilla and salt. Then I stirred in the flour. This is where things got...runny. It was like when you mix your wet ingredients for regular chocolate chip cookies, before the flour. It was not pretty. So I turned my back on it and started reading through some comments to see if I could get any tips. WAAAAY down at the bottom, there were 3 or 4 people that had my same problem. It sounded like adding more flour was the key. So I turned around, measured out 1/3 c. more flour and was about to dump it in, when...AHHHH! Guess what? The dough was thick! In the 3 minutes it took me to do some research, the flour had absorbed most of the moisture! I left a quick comment to share the info, I was so excited! What a weird substance. See what I mean about "finicky"?? and "unpredictable"? and "slow to react"??? I added about 1-2 Tbsp more flour, because it was still a tiny bit soft. But not too much! Since it's coconut flour, the dough needed to be softer than normal, but not runny. Things were looking promising! And guess what......

.....they turned out yummy! They aren't normal chocolate chippers (really, can anything compete?) but they're a really good substitute! Matt went back for seconds, and my Charlotte and nephew had 4 each. They are especially great for those who have to be gluten-free for health reasons.

So here is my modified version of the recipe. You may prefer the original, though, if you are super healthy or can't have the dairy in the butter. Happy experimental baking! :)

One more quick note: I noticed that the cookies I left on the pan for longer than about 20 mins, began sticking. So I would say to make sure you transfer them to a cooling rack or towel after they cool for a few minutes.

Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies
--adapted from Liz DellaCroce @ The Lemon Bowl

- 2 eggs
- 1/4 c. butter, melted
- 1/4 c. raw sugar
- 1/2 c. coconut milk
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1/4 t. salt
- 1/3 c. + 1-2 T. coconut flour
- 1/3 c. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375*F and spray 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

2. Whisk the first 6 ingredients in a bowl until well combined.

3. Stir in the flour, giving it about 3-4 minutes to soak in the moisture. You do not need to stir the whole time. Just stir everything enough to get it incorporated, then lit it sit. Then give it another good stir.

4. Fold in your chocolate chips.

5. Make about 22-24 small dough mounds on your prepared cookie sheets.

6. Bake for about 11-13 minutes, until cookies have set and are slightly brown at the peaks.

7. Let the cookies cool on the pans about 5-10 minutes, then transfer onto a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Maple Vanilla Granola Clusters with Almonds and Coconut

Growing up, I remember my mom making granola. She would bake it and then store it in her big orange (or was it green???) tupperware and keep it out in our Arizona room (is that what those rooms are really called? or is it something my family made up?). The whole house smelled like cookies on the day she made it, and then, when I would go into the backyard, that heavenly scent would be lingering in the Arizona room. I hated it, because I didn't like granola!!! What was I thinking? We may never know. I believe that in my naivety, I couldn't fully appreciate how amazingly delicious granola could be!

I've been buying the vanilla almond granola at Winco (this is the same as Sprouts vanilla granola, but about half the price per pound) and MAN is it good! So I wanted to find a copycat recipe. I found a great one here that sounded promising. I made it today with a few adjustments and let me tell you. Delish!!

So, here are the ingredients. Oats (they always say not to use quick oats, and I just realized that I have been for the last 2 years. TWO YEARS and I didnt realize I grabbed the wrong box at Costco. *shaking the head in shame* Anyways, i've never noticed a difference. Obviously.), wheat germ, oat bran, salt, maple syrup, raw sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, almonds and shredded coconut.

First, combine your oats, wheat germ, oat bran and salt in a big old bowl.

Then, mix your syrup, sugar, oil and vanilla together in a saucepan and stir over med-low heat until the sugar dissolves. I used raw sugar because that's what I had, but the original recipe calls for brown sugar. Brown sugar would dissolve more easily. Or if you have white sugar and molasses, just use the white sugar with about a Tbsp or two of molasses. There really is a plethora of choices here with the sugar.

Next, make a well in your oats and pour in the sugar, oil, vanilla, syrup goodness.

Blend everything real well. Don't be afraid to be a little intense, here. The better coated your oats are, the better the clusters will stick together. YAY clusters.

See how moist mine looks in the picture above? I was pretty intensely mixing. And in the picture below, I intensely spreaded and packed the granola into my parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Pack that baby tight! Less air means more, longer-lasting clusters. (can you tell I really like my clusters?)

After you have everything packed down good and tight, throw the cookie sheet into a 300*F preheated oven for 40-45 mins. Pull it out and start cutting square-like pieces with a spatula. You just want to define some big pieces here.

This is where I added my sliced almonds and coconut. I wanted them to toast a little bit and stick to the rest of the granola in the oven. (Update: Just mix the almonds and coconut into the oats and other dry ingredients. I don't know why the original recipe said to wait to add them, but I like the way they taste better if the bake with everything from the start.)

 Ignore the lighting in these is aweful. Toss things just enough to get the coconut and almonds all over, then put it back in the oven for 5-10 more mins.

When I pulled mine out after the last cook-time, it wasn't quite as toasted as I wanted. (bear in mind, my oven is from the 1800's. It doesn't even have a window. Or a lock.) So I tossed the granola a tiny bit and put it under the broiler for about 2 mins. Turned. Out. Perfect!!!! Go make you some and enjoy!

Maple Vanilla Granola Clusters
w/ Almonds and Coconut

- 5 c. oats (rolled or quick will work)
- 1 c. wheat germ
- 1 c. oat bran
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 c. sliced almonds
- 1/2 c. shredded coconut
- 1/2 c. maple syrup
- 1/2 c. raw sugar
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- 2 t. vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 300*F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2.  Combine oats, wheat germ, oat bran, salt, almonds and coconut in a large bowl.
3.  Mix syrup, sugar, oil and vanilla in a small sauce pan. Stir over medium-low heat until the sugar is     dissolved.
4.  Pour the syrup mixture into the oat mixture and stir until evenly distributed. Pour the contents of the bowl onto your prepared cookie sheet and press the oats firmly and evenly into the pan.
5.  Bake about 40-45 mins in preheated oven. Break into clusters and gently toss. Return pan to oven for 5-10 minutes more, or until you reach desired toastiness. Feel free to crank up the broiler if needed, but don't forget about it! Broilers work very quickly.
6.  Store in an air-tight container or ziplock baggy. Serve plain or with milk as a cereal.

Adapted from Maple Vanilla Granola with Almonds at