The tradition of Christmas cookies and sweets stands strong across many cultures. Many of us have fond memories of our family’s recipes, seen as special, evoking excitement and anticipation. My family has many lovely recipes passed from grandmothers, parents and aunts. We all cherish them and the memories, but let’s face it, with health issues at stake and many people with dietary restrictions, some of those treats are far from healthy. With this in mind, my brain has been searching for preparations that lean more to the healthy side.
These Scandinavian Coconut Cookies are a coconut lovers dream. It is my love of this gift of the coconut palm that first drew me. The other attraction was that it is a cookie made without flour so therefore gluten-free. Normally, I don’t worry about this too much but it is worth a mention for those with concerns. That said, I am here to say these chewy morsels are packed with flavor. The flaked salt (Maldon salt) on top provides a wonderful contrast and balance to the sweetness of the coconut and the punch of vanilla. It also adds a bit of crunch. I strongly recommend you make a point of doing this step as it really adds to the eating experience.
Here it goes:
SCANDINAVIAN COCONUT COOKIES
Makes 3 dozen
Adapted from Outside Oslo
2 ½ c unsweetened, medium grated or shredded coconut
2T unsalted butter
¾ c sugar (or less for less sweetness)
½ t vanilla extract
1t flaked sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan (or microwave), then remove from heat and stir in the coconut until well-coated.
- Beat eggs in a separate bowl to combine the yolks and whites. Add sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Stir the coconut into the egg mixture until fully combined.
- Drop batter by rounded teaspoons (I used a small scoop) onto the parchment paper, allowing about an inch between cookies. Flatten slightly with the back of the spoon. Stir the batter as occasionally as you work to re-incorporate the melted butter. Sprinkle each with a little sea salt—not too much!
- Bake until golden, 8-11 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.
I have seen some photos of these that were much browner than mine but I thought they were perfect the way they were. I have thought next time, I am going to dip the one side in dark chocolate. Think Mounds bar!
This next recipe, Peanut Butter–Chocolate Chip Cookies, may seem very bizarre at first, with the addition of a can of white beans, but trust me, it works. The use of coconut milk and coconut flour make these cookies vegan and gluten-free. Crunchy peanut butter give these cakey soft cookies some texture while the use of the bittersweet chocolate make a perfect marriage. These cookies are low on sugar but not on flavor and have a little boost of protein from the beans. Cannellini beans are naturally creamy so they make a perfect base for this batter.
It went down like this.
PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Makes 3 dozen
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
15-ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
2T coconut milk (or other milk)
2t vanilla extract
¼ c turbinado sugar (or substitute light brown sugar)
½ c chunky peanut butter
3T coconut flour (all-purpose flour or gluten-free can be substituted)
¼ c bittersweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Combine the beans and coconut milk in a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add remaining ingredients except the chocolate chips and process until well incorporated.
- Scrape the batter into a bowl and add the chocolate chips. Stir in to incorporate.
- Using a small scoop or a tablespoon to scoop out one-inch balls. Roll lightly into balls and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten each slightly with back of spoon or palm of your hand.
- Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the bottoms and edges turn golden.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a rack to cool further.
Note: These are a small cookie that does not spread much while baking. Beans may seem odd but they work!
This may not be a recipe your grandmother made, but who can bad-mouth peanut butter married to dark chocolate? This winning combination loses nothing when paired with the beans. Just a tip, you need not reveal the secret ingredient, the vegetable haters will never know. Let me know if you try it!
I leave you today with wishes for a wonderful holiday season. Let’s remember as we move hurriedly through our lives, there are many less fortunate than ourselves that could use a gesture of kindness and generosity. There are many ways to help, sometimes as easy as bringing cookies to a failing or lonely neighbor. I hope the pace of the season allows time for reflection on our blessings and spreading the love, one dish or cookie at a time. This is what makes memories. I try to stay calm in the midst of the frenzy by reminding my self, “World peace begins with me.” Until next time, sending love to all of you. Jeanne