There is nothing like a good cookie to celebrate the completion of a big project, and even though this project of mine* is not 100% completed — I’ve written the bulk of the manuscript, but I have a few remaining elements to deliver –, cookies were 100% in order.
If you are a long standing reader of this blog, and I do mean a loooooong standing reader, the kind that deserves a medal, you may recall my quest for the elusive double chocolate crisps (pardon the horrendous picture), Swedish oatmeal cookies that come in pairs, sandwiched together by a layer of dark chocolate.
A handful of recipes were kindly proffered, a few were tested, and although they produced good cookies, none of them quite replicated the original. Others would have known no peace and spent sleepless night after sleepless night tweaking and testing and tasting until they got it right; I shrugged and moved on.
But good things come to those who wait, and to those who have short attention spans, too. It seems I wasn’t the only one smitten with these cookies, but while I was merely daydreaming about them, Belgian food blogger Sophie did the legwork and developed a copycat recipe — and a vegan one at that.
Hers is the recipe I semi-followed, making a few modifications to lighten it up and use the ingredients I had on hand: I lowered the amount of sweeteners and fat, added a bit of salt to bolster the flavors, used spelt flakes instead of rolled oats, sliced almonds instead of almond extract, and regular milk and butter instead of almond milk and margarine, thereby annihilating the intrinsic vegan-ness of the recipe (oops).
I also used honey (another vegan no-no) to sweeten and flavor the cookies in one fell swoop, but I should note that Sophie uses agave syrup instead, a Mexican cactus-derived sweetener I read about everywhere these days and feel increasingly compelled to experiment with**.
Rarely has a cookie been easier to make: it is a one-bowl recipe for which you simply measure, dump, and stir the ingredients before plopping balls of dough on a baking sheet. Do you think you can do that? I think so, too.
The plan was to melt some chocolate and assemble the cookies two by two so they could live happily ever after, but when they had come out of the oven and cooled to a crisp-edged, chewy-hearted perfection, when I took a bite and noticed how the rich chorus of their flavors ended into a single chord of honey, I confess I threw in the towel and decided that they didn’t really need chocolate. I sat by Maxence on the couch and we ate cookies.
The one caveat about this recipe is that the cookies tend to soften after a few hours***. They are just as good then, just different, but if you want to revive their initial texture, you can place them back on the baking sheet (save the parchment paper) and pop them in the oven for a brief encore the next day.
Do not, however, attempt to reheat one in the toaster like a pop-tart. Take it from me, that is just stupid, for you will end up with a soft and half-charred mound of cookie dough clinging for dear life to the metal insides of your toaster. Stupid, I tell you.
* Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris! A book on Paris restaurants and food shops! With recipes! Scheduled for US publication in May 2008! Have you not been paying attention?
** I hear agave syrup can be found at organic and natural food stores, also marketed as agave nectar, or sirop d’agave in French.
*** I suspect this doesn’t occur if one uses margarine, for hydrogenated fat holds baked goods in its crisping clutch, but I don’t do margarine.
Biscuits Epeautre et Miel
– 50g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
– 45g (1/2 cup) spelt flakes (substitute another type of rolled grain)
– 50g (1/4 cup) unrefined brown sugar (I used Rapadura)
– 2 rounded teaspoons quality honey (I used miel du gâtinais; substitute 2 level teaspoons agave syrup)
– 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 60g (1/2 cup) whole wheat flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– A good pinch fleur de sel or kosher salt
– 20g (1/4 cup) sliced almonds, toasted
– 2 tablespoons milk
Makes about 18 cookies.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the melted butter, spelt, sugar, honey, and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl, and mix well with a fork to combine.
In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and almonds. Add these to the previous mixture, and stir again until it gathers in lumps.
Add the milk and stir again to incorporate. The dough will be sticky. (You can prepare it a day or two in advance and keep it covered in the fridge.)
Use two teaspoons to form walnut-sized balls of dough that you will drop on the prepared baking sheet, leaving each of them a little room to stretch their wings as they bake.
Slip in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until puffy and just starting to brown at the edges. Let the cookies settle on the baking sheet for 10 minutes and transfer to a rack to cool completely.