So I have officially crossed the line. Oh no I didn't! Oh yes, I did. I spent 5 hours the other night creating (to the best of my ability) a "healthy" Oreo cookie. No I didn't make them for a special client or my best friend. I made them for 50, 4 and 5 year old Pre-K kids. I made them 1. because I can - darn it, and 2. because I want my kids to see that special treats don't have to come out of a package. Yes, it would have been a million times easier and cheaper to just pick up the Oreos, but I couldn't. Sure those kids could have cared less what I did or didn't put into the cookies, but I don't care. I am THAT weird now, folks (and proud of it)! The inspiration? Icing that could send you into your happy place!
A few weeks ago I made a cake for my birthday - gingerbread cake - and found an icing recipe in a new cookbook I got, Chloe's Kitchen, which has everything from breakfast to dog treats. The author won Cupcake Wars on Food Network, so I knew the cupcake and icing recipes would not disappoint. The upside? The icing was mind-blowing. The downside? The recipe calls for powdered sugar and I don't like to use powdered sugar - or any sugar for the matter, but I figured if it topped a healthy cake or cookie it would be OK. And it's amazing...did I mention that yet?
Here's the icing recipe:
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
1 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (I bought mine at Sunspot)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
2 to 5 T almond, soy, hemp, rice or coconut milk to thin
Using a hand mixer, beat the shortening until smooth. With the mixer running on low, add powdered sugar, vanilla, vanilla bean seeds or paste, and 1 tablespoon of the non-dairy milk at a time as needed to reach desired consistency. I used about 3 tablespoons both times I made mine. Beat for two more minutes until the buttercream is light and fluffy.
For the cookie part of the "Oreo" I turned to one of my favorite baking books, Babycakes! It not only has some super fun treats in it, but mostly all of them are gluten-free which is an added bonus because both my sister and brother (and some friends' kids) are gluten-intolerant or have mild Celiac. You can make it with regular flour or whole wheat pastry flour if you desire, but I tried the cookies both ways and my verdict? The gluten-free version was actually better! Of course I also swapped the evaporated cane juice (just a fancy word for sugar) for agave (in my first two batches) and then raw local honey in my final batch. The honey won! Better flavor, better texture. So I will post my favorite version of the recipe. If you have any questions about swapping flours or natural sweeteners, please ask! I have become quite the expert!
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup coconut oil (look for unrefined, virgin oil) - melt before you measure
1 cup local, raw honey
1/3 cup homemade applesauce (see below) or store-bought, unsweetened applesauce
2 T vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (look in the organic section of most stores)
1/4 cup flax meal/powder (I love this one.)
1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
1 cup dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted oil, honey, applesauce, and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, flax, and xanthan gum. Carefully add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until a dough is formed. It may look runny at first, but give it a few minutes and the xanthan gum will do it's work and thicken it up. Fold in the chocolate chips. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies in the center rack for 14 minutes. After 9 minutes, rotate the pans 180°and then continue to bake for the remaining 5 minutes. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets, then cool completely on a wire rack.
Once cooled completely add a small (or large) amount of icing to the bottom side of one cookie, then top with a second cookie. Eat. Ahhh...
If you are interested in making a super-stellar roasted applesauce that is super quick and easy and can be used in this recipe, here ya go (you can thank me later). This recipe will fill a 24 oz Mason jar.
1 pound (about 3 medium) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound (about 3 medium) Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 T ground cinnamon
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup hot water
agave as needed
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Toss apples with agave, cinnamon, and lemon juice until completely coated. Bake the apples on the center rack for 35 minutes rotating the pan 180° after 20 minutes. Place the baked, cooled apples into a high-powered blender or food processor. Add 1 cup of hot water and process until smooth. Add agave as needed to desired sweetness (mine didn't need any more to make it sweet). MMMMMM!
When all is said and done...here is the finished product:
They are decadent and with the flax, applesauce, honey, and coconut oil, so much better for you than their Nabisco counterpart. Enjoy!