It’s been one of those yo-yo weeks. You know the kind – one minute you’re incredibly excited about the future, and the next finds you jumping out of your skin. Oh, life. It is such a roller coaster ride. Transitions are hard – even the really, really good ones – and even though I know change is necessary, and actually kinda crave it, it can be difficult sometimes to stay balanced among all the flux. Saturday hit me like a ton of bricks, when the cloud I’d been walking on for several days dissipated, and I found myself huddled on the couch with a cozy blanket and two sweet cats, unable and/or unwilling to make any decisions, even minor ones. Somewhere around midday I decided to take a walk, and it took me about an hour to actually get out the door. “What will I wear? Is it going to rain? Should I take a raincoat? Well, if I’m leaving the house I should probably take these books back to the library. Maybe I should stop by the market and grab something for dinner, but I’ll have to change clothes since these tights I’m trying to pass off as pants don’t have a pocket for my debit card…” and so on.
Let’s start from the top, people. I’m a pretty happy lady most of the time. I try to meet each day with a smile, and I don’t get too bummed out when things don’t go my way. I don’t pout very often, and I always try to look on the bright side of things. But sometimes I get sad, or scared, or both, and I have to honor those feelings too. So, I go ahead and change out of the tights and put on pants that have pockets. I take the rain coat just in case, and get my ass out of the house before I change my mind. Walking is one of several forms of therapy that I utilize often. Fresh air is the best mojo for my rattled emotions, and even if I don’t solve all the world’s problems during my hour-long walk, at least I gain a few morsels of clarity, and come home in a somewhat better mood. While I am out, I go ahead and stop by the market. I purchase all the fresh vegetables, some organic quinoa, a nice piece of fish…and then I come home, sit all my well-intended purchases down, and head straight into the kitchen to bake cookies. Because, c’mon…vegetables are great, but who doesn’t feel instantly better when they take the first bite of a fresh-from-the-oven, warm, chocolatey cookie? If that person exists, I sure haven’t met them.
Let me be quite honest, here. I’m not much of a baker. I do beautiful things with vegetables, but baking and me have never quite gotten along. I’m a pinch of this, pinch of that kind of person, and the preciseness that comes along with baking has never made me jump for joy. But if you have as many dietary restrictions as I do, going out to purchase baked goods that won’t make you sick is a real challenge, even in a progressive city like Portland. So…I bake, and every now and then I hit the nail on the head.
This is the first paleo cookie I’ve made that actually tastes like a cookie. It doesn’t taste as healthy as it is, it isn’t loaded with nut flour (all that almond flour does a number on my digestive system), and it has the perfect crumb. Every single person I shared these cookies with fell in love. A couple of folks could not believe the cookies were free of dairy, “but they taste SO buttery!”. One friend thought they tasted like molasses, and another vowed that this creation broke the stereotype that all gluten-free cookies taste “grainy, sandy, or metallic”. Believe me, these cookies are out-of-this-world delicious, and they soothed my heart and soul in a profound way. It was great to share them with others, and I am thankful for the ingenious baker that did all the leg work to conceptualize this recipe. I took the liberty of substituting a few ingredients to fit my own dietary needs, but I have given credit where credit is due at the top of the ingredients list.
One thing for certain is that the world around you will never stop changing. There will be sunny days and cloudy days, and hopefully, there will always be fresh-baked cookies to help everything turn out a-okay in the end. Go make these cookies for yourself. You will not be disappointed.
Mesquite Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Adapted from a recipe by Alanna Taylor-Tobin on FOOD52
- ½ c. (113 grams) virgin coconut oil
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
- ¾ c. (160 grams) coconut sugar
- 1 c. (130 grams) mesquite flour (I used Sunfood brand)
- ¼ c. plus 2 tablespoons (45 grams) tapioca flour
- ½ tsp. Himalayan pink salt
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 large egg
- 5 ounces (2 bars) Honey Mama’s Dutch Cacao-Nectar, chopped into chunks
- ¾ cup roughly chopped, toasted hazelnuts
- Flaky salt for sprinkling on top
- Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350° F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Gently heat the coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat.
- Place the coconut sugar in a large bowl, add coconut oil, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, and stir them into the mixture. Let cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sift together the mesquite and tapioca flours, baking soda and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
- When the sugar mixture has cooled to warm, beat in the egg until well combined. I recommend using an electric mixer so that the oil, sugar and eggs become fully emulsified. Use a sturdy wooden spoon to stir the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, stirring until well combined, then continue to stir vigorously for a few more seconds; the mixture will firm up slightly. Stir in the nuts and chopped cacao-nectar until evenly distributed. If the dough is soft, place it in the refrigerator to firm up a bit, 15 to 30 minutes (or chill for up to 1 week).
- Scoop the dough into 1 1⁄2-inch (4-centimeter) diameter balls (about 3 tablespoons; a size 24 or 30 spring-loaded ice cream scoop makes this a snap) and place them on the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7 1/2 centimeters) apart, topping each with a few flecks of flaky salt.
- Bake the cookies until the edges are golden and set and the tops are pale golden but still soft, 8 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans back to front and top to bottom after 5 minutes for even baking.
- Remove the cookies from the oven, let cool on the pans for a minute, then pull them, parchment and all, onto cooling racks to stop the cooking. They will be very soft and fragile at first, but will firm up when cool. Let cool to warm, at least 10 minutes, before devouring. Cooled cookies can be stored airtight for up to 3 days.
NOTE: Mesquite flour can be super clumpy, so be sure to sift it!