Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chocolate Chip/Chunk Power Cookies


Ok, so these chocolate chip/chunk power cookies are a bit amazing. For the past few years I have seen a host of recipes on the internet from various sources for chickpea chocolate chip cookie dough. cookies, blondies and cookie pies but for some reason I never got on board with the trend. Possibly because I was worried that I would make a batch and end up with chocolate chip hummus. Pass. 


Luckily for me I got past my hesitation and created my own spin on the mighty chickpea chocolate chip cookie last week. I took some time before diving in though -- I read a ton of different recipes looking for patterns and flaws, trying to see if I could prevent any shortcomings in these cookies. I noticed many versions (possibly all) insisted on using a fair bit of nut butter. I imagine this is common because cookies need both a binder and a fat source but if I wanted a chocolate chip cookie to taste like peanut butter I would make a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. Many recipes called for loads of sugar but I knew I could easily cut back on it if I used dates and wouldn't need as much nut butter if I used the dates in combination with some virgin coconut oil as they would act as a binder as well. Many recipes recommended rinsing and drying the chickpeas thoroughly before blending them -- probably to avoid overly mushy or hummus-like soft cookies. By using the dry chickpea technique, and by adding some virgin coconut oil to my cookie dough, I was confident that I could make some nice and dense cookies. Several recipes called for eggs but a flax egg tends to work instead and adds a nice nuttiness to most baked goods so it would be a great addition to cookies. I wanted these cookies to be vegan so flax eggs were essential to my recipe. Many recipes involved oats or flour (again to avoid creating hummus) but I wanted these to be grain-free cookies so I decided I would use quinoa flakes instead (quinoa is not a grain, it is a seed from a grass) since they work so nicely in my breakfast cookies which also would turn to mush without them. All the recipes I found called for chocolate chips but I decided to step my version up a notch with my homemade chocolate chunks (recipe included below) which I usually have in my freezer. They are delicious and naturally sweetened with coconut sugar (a low glycemic sweetener) and a bit of maple syrup. But don't worry if you don't have the time to make your own (though it takes very little time!), just go ahead and substitute store-bought chocolate chips or chunks to make this recipe.

My homemade chocolate chunks
With all these assumptions and interpretations in hand, I set out to make some seriously high protein, naturally sweetened chocolate chip cookies with a nice sturdy texture. Guess what -- it totally worked! These are hands down some of the best healthy cookies I have ever made and I highly recommend giving them a try.

Chocolate Chunk Power Cookies hot from the oven

These cookies are pretty virtuous. They don't involve any flour, refined sugar, butter or eggs. They are high in protein thanks to the pumpkin seed butter I used and the can of chickpeas that make up the bulk of the cookie dough. They are sweetened with a few dates and unsweetened pear butter (both are fruit), a little coconut sugar (a low-glycemic index natural sweetener), and a touch of maple syrup (a natural sweetener) rather than cup after cup of white sugar. They use virgin coconut oil which is a medium chain triglyceride fat (which is easily converted to energy by your liver and stays stable in high heat cooking rather than becoming a trans fat). They are grain-free, gluten-free and totally vegan (I didn't even sneak any raw honey into this recipe as I tend to most of the time). I am so convinced of the benefits of these cookies that I ate two for breakfast today -- no grains and no regrets.



These cookies offer a pretty perfect cookie texture. Hot out of the oven they are a bit soft for my taste but toss them in the fridge to cool and they come out as sturdy as any butter-overload chocolate chip cookie I've encountered, and in the cool of the fridge their flavor gets better and better. 

My husband loved these little cookies so much he ate the leftovers for his breakfast today as well. That's how I know this recipe is a keeper as he and I don't always agree that a healthy dessert is sweet enough or reminiscent of a classic dessert enough. He agrees that they have great texture -- almost like Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies after they cool down a bit.  Their texture reminds me a lot of the delicious Monsieur Felix and Mr. Norton cookies and the enormous cookies sold at Second Cup (if you're Canadian!).



The cookie dough could easily be made into blondies by baking it in a baking pan like a brownie. The dough (minus the quinoa flakes which add a bitterness before baking) is delicious too and could be used as a cookie dough dip or snack, or whizzed into a vegan ice cream base for chocolate chip cookie dough flavor. I plan to try all of the above and report back. For now, go bake yourselves some cookies, pronto! 



Homemade Chocolate Chunks
(vegan, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free)

  • ¼ - ⅓ cup solid cacao paste
  • 1 tsp size hunk solid cacao butter
  • 1.5-2 tbsp (level) solid virgin coconut oil
  • 2.5 tbsp coconut sugar (or more if you want your chocolate sweeter)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • small pinch pink salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon


OPTIONAL FOR MILK CHOCOLATE CHUNKS:
  • 2-3 tsp coconut cream (the solids that separate from a can of coconut milk, or the solids from a can of coconut cream) (not to be confused with creamed coconut)
Grab a small saucepan. Add the cacao paste, virgin coconut oil, and cacao butter. Place over the second lowest heat setting and melt gently, stirring with a whisk slowly. Once fully melted, whisk in coconut sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the maple syrup. Taste. Add extra maple syrup if necessary.


If making milk chocolate:
Whisk in the coconut cream until you don’t see any white streaks. Taste, whisk in extra maple syrup if not sweet enough.
Grab a small bread plate and cover it completely with a piece of parchment paper. Pour your chocolate mixture onto the center of the plate and gently form a circle by spreading it out evenly with the back of a spoon. Place the plate on a flat surface in your freezer. After about 20-30 minutes your chocolate will be set.
Once your chocolate has set in your freezer, take out the plate and chop the now solid disk of chocolate into small chunks, I try to make them roughly the same size but do whatever you like.
WARNING ABOUT THIS RECIPE:
Chocolate separates easily if heated too high and if whisked too much. When this happens it cannot be reversed, making the chocolate grainy.


For the purpose of chocolate chunks your chocolate will still taste fine even if it separates so you can freeze it anyway and use it.



Chocolate Chunk Power Cookies
(grain-free, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free, vegan, high protein, high fiber)
Makes 12-15 healthy cookies
  • 1 can organic chickpeas (398ml), rinsed drained and dried (using a towel)
  • 1/4 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 small pinches pink salt or sea salt (depending on how salty you like your cookie dough)
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 -1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks
  • 2 tbsp nut or seed butter of choice (natural, I used pumpkin seed butter)
  • 1 tbsp golden flax meal
  • 2 tsp pear or apple butter
  • 1.5 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 2-4 tbsp maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like your cookies)
  • 3-4 small pitted dates (30g)
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar (a low GI natural sweetener)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp evoo
Preheat oven to 350F
In a food processor, blend everything except chocolate and quinoa flakes together until smooth. Taste, adjusting sweetness and nuttiness to your taste with more coconut sugar or maple syrup or nut/seed butter.
Add quinoa flakes and chocolate chips / chunks and pulse to distribute through the dough.
Place spoonfuls of the mix onto parchment lined baking sheet. For flat cookies, flatten gently with back of a spoon and bake 10-15 minutes in oven preheated to 350F until edges are brown. Be careful not to bake for too long or the bottoms will burn. The cookies don’t have to be rock solid, they will solidify more as they cool.
These cookies taste better and have better texture when they fully cool. After they cool to room temperature, I like to wrap them up in the parchment paper and store them in my fridge where the texture and flavor improves.