Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Chewy Chocolate Coconut Cookies

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You may remember that, when I reviewed my first year of gluten-free living, one of the lessons I’d learned was to focus on what I can eat, not on what I’m missing.  That’s sometimes difficult, when it comes to baked goods.  At first, I believed it was possible to find a gluten-free flour blend that would produce foods that taste just like their “real” counterparts–and there’s no shortage of products that make this claim.  But, in spite of the fact that I’ve found a flour blend that works well for me most of the time, the fact of the matter is that it’s not wheat flour.  It’s just not.

So, what’s a cookie-loving gluten-free Foodie to do?  Find a way to make flourless cookies.

A friend mentioned a different version of this recipe several months ago.  Since then, I’ve seen dozens of versions of this recipe online–so I can’t tell you where it came from originally, and I’m not sure who to credit with its beginnings.   (Just do a Google search for “gluten free chocolate cookies” and you’ll see how many variations of this cookie recipe exist.)   I can tell you that I haven’t see a version exactly like mine, which includes both coconut and pecans, but not chocolate chips or cinnamon.  If you find a recipe that looks just like this one, let me know and I’ll happily credit the author with its creation.

If you’re a little dubious about whether this recipe will work, I don’t blame you.  I was too.  No flour?  No butter?  No baking soda?  Believe it or not, you don’t need them.  But here are a few learned-from-experience tips to make these cookies turn out perfectly:

1.  Chill the cookie batter before making the cookies, and keep it chilled between batches.  This will help the cookies hold their shape and prevent them from spreading out too much as they bake.

2.  If you don’t have parchment paper, coat your cookie sheets thoroughly with baking spray.  (And remember that wax paper is not the same thing as parchment paper.)

3.  Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for at least 10 minutes before you try to move them to a cooling rack.  They’re fragile while they’re still warm.

Once they’ve been baked, these cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  The addition of coconut adds to the chewy texture, and the chopped pecans add a little body, though their flavor isn’t pronounced.  (If you want more of a pecan presence, just add larger chunks–or change the ratio of coconut to pecans.)

To say these cookies were a hit with the Foodie children would be an understatement.  The Girl said “They taste like little chocolate clouds from heaven.”  Even The Boy, who’s not a big fan of either chocolate or coconut, agreed to take a bite and said “That’s actually pretty good.”  Then he finished off the rest of the cookie.

Although they’ve been good sports about trying my gluten-free experiments, the Foodie children were both very pleased to have a treat that didn’t taste like a compromise.  And, I have to admit, so was I.  There isn’t much about these cookies that I’d change, even if avoiding wheat weren’t part of my eating plan.

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Chewy Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper, or coat them with non-stick spray.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the egg whites and vanilla; beat just until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated. Stir in the coconut and pecans. The batter will be very thin, but that's fine.

Chill the cookie batter for about 15 minutes, until it has time to firm up a bit. Use a small cookie scoop or teaspoon to place mounds of batter on a cookie sheet. Leave plenty of room between the mounds of batter, as it will spread while baking. Put the remaining cookie batter back in the refrigerator between batches, so it won't get runny.

Bake cookies for 15 minutes, until they're dry and crackly on top. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks. They'll be very fragile until they've cooled completely.

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