November 24, 2009

Peanut & Ginger Chocolate Clusters

Wow. Well, I can't quite believe it, but my previous blog posting has become lost in the vast abyss somewhere...wierd! Apparently this happens to quite a few bloggers- even after you press 'save now' a billion times like I do. So sad, as I had quite a lovely piece to post. :) to re-do my posting.....and how did the recipe go again....? Well, here goes!

This is a take on an old, reliable North American classic: no-bake 'top-of-the-stove' cookies. When I have limited time in the kitchen and I'm looking to have something sweet on hand for snacks or dessert throughout the week, then I often turn to a simple, no-bake cookie to yield fast and tasty results. The combination of whole peanuts with ginger is particularly 'scrummy', as they'd say in the UK, and reminiscent of South African and Asian flavour combinations where the most is made of mixing spices, nuts, and dried fruit into sweet and savoury concoctions.

Peanut & Ginger Chocolate Clusters
Makes 12 cookies

Make a sugar syrup of:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Add the sugar and water to a pan and, without stirring at any time, allow it to come to a simmer at medium-low heat. You'll know when the syrup is ready when it becomes quite reduced (about 10 minutes) and when you test a little on a cold plate. If it forms stretchy strings when you pick it up between your thumb and index finger then it's ready. While the syrup simmers prepare the other ingredients:

1 heaped tablespoon unsalted butter
The pulp of 1" of fresh ginger, peeled and grated, leaving any fibres behind
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
50g 70% dark chocolate, broken into chunks
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded (dessicated) coconut
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup porridge oats*

Shock the caramel syrup by adding the butter followed by the ginger and peanuts. Next add the chocolate and stir until fully melted. Then stir in the dates and unsweetened coconut, and finish by adding first the milk, then the oats to act as a binder.

Using an ice cream scooper or two spoons shape the mixture into mounds and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Place in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes until set.

As these cookies are pretty sweet I'd advise not eating them too close to bed-time..., and that's just as well because they taste great alongside a cup of milky coffee.

Enjoy daily for a snack or dessert.

*porridge oats can be replaced by gluten-free oats or by a combination of rice flakes and ground almonds

November 9, 2009

A Thank you and Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Cookies

Thanks to Everyone at the Canadian Celiac Association for having me at the meeting on Sunday. Thank you for making the demonstration a really positive experience and I appreciated hearing all your wonderful comments and feedback after the demo. And I'm also glad you enjoyed the cookies! As promised I've posted the recipe below and a note at the bottom for an alternative approach using oats.

Hazelnut & Chocolate Chunk gluten-free cookies

Makes approximately 30-35 cookies (recipe can be halved)
Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes
Need: parchment paper for baking trays


200g sweet rice flour
50g potato starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3 tsp g-free baking powder (2 tsp regular baking powder)
Big pinch sea salt

250g cane sugar
260g unsalted butter at room temperature
160g (minimum 65% cocoa solids) good quality dark chocolate cut into tiny chunks
100g hazelnuts
2 large eggs
1/2 cup ground almonds
2-3 tsp vanilla


Prepare 2 large baking trays by covering them with parchment paper. First cut the chocolate into pieces and set aside. Turn the oven to about 250°F and roast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 8-10 minutes, then leave to cool for 5 minutes before removing skins (the cool-down time will make it easier). Once cooled then chop roughly into 1/4’s or smaller. Another easy way is to put the nuts in a zip-lock bag and bash them with a rolling pin- great stress relief but it can be a little noisy!

Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs and beat with a wooden spoon, then stir in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum then sift into wet ingredients. Mix in the ground almonds, then fold in the chopped hazelnuts and chocolate.

Spoon the cookie dough onto the prepared trays and bake for 10 minutes, just until slightly brown around the edges and still soft in the middle. Place the trays on a cooling rack and leave the cookies to rest (this will keep them chewy!) for 20 minutes before eating (the total random and unpredicted disappearance of one or two is fine of course :)).

You Could Also Try: changing the quantity of sweet rice flour to 150g and adding 50g buckwheat flour, followed by 1/2 cup oats (small oats, not rolled), and leave out the ground almonds.