Alternative cookies (and other tasty treats) as gifts
My good friend asked, “the hubby and I make Christmas cookies as gifts, can you recommend some better alternative recipes besides the processed bleached flour and refined sugar ones I have?” Thus, my Alternative cookies (and other tasty treats) as gifts recommendations.
I have lots of ideas. But, I should note, most of my baking is pretty traditional. I believe butter tastes better and is better for you than margarine. Flour can be pretty flexible, and I’ve made many gluten-free things, as well as things with alternative flours just ’cause they’re tasty. One really easy thing I’d suggest is to switch to unbleached flour. It’s more natural, and has a prettier color (in my opinion) than bleached flour.
As for sugar… well, sugar, honey, molasses, anything natural is great. Stevia, although natural, is not sugar and should be used according to the recipe you have, as it’s not always a one for one substitute. But, I can’t suggest the use of fake ingredients like Splenda or Aspartame. If you want to know more about these alternative sugars, I’d suggest reading the book, Skinny Bitch.
With that, here are some suggestions for tasty alternative homemade gifts…
- Almond Butter Chocolate Chunkers (recipe below)**
- Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Cookies I’ve never made this low-fat variation, but I keep meaning to. It has half the fat of the original. Plus, the oatmeal is full of fiber and flavor.
- King Arthur Flour’s chewy almond cookies
And, there are some non-cookie options, like…
- Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Banana Bites This one might be a little difficult because it’s frozen, but it’s really tasty and people love ’em.
- Candied, Honey Roasted (recipe below)***, or Spiced Nuts
- homemade herbed vinegars
- jams, chutneys, and preserves
- flavored vodka
- spiced olives
- pumpkin or zucchini bread
And, here are some recipes…
Flourless Chocolate Pecan Cookies Recipe
Flourless Chocolate Pecan Cookies
- 2 3/4 cups 9 ounces pecan halves (or walnuts)
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large organic egg whites at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.
- Spread the pecans on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until they are golden and fragrant, about 9 minutes. Let cool slightly, then finely chop the pecans.
- In a large bowl, whisk the powdered sugar with the cocoa powder and salt. Whisk in the chopped nuts. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (be careful not to overbeat or it will stiffen). Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets in evenly spaced mounds by rounded tablespoons.
- Bake the cookies for about 18-20 minutes, until the tops of the cookies are glossy and lightly cracked and feel firm to the touch; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks to cool completely before serving.
- Make Ahead: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Makes about 25 cookies
Almond Butter Chocolate Chunker Cookies Recipe
Almond Butter Chocolate Chunker Cookies
- 1 cup almond butter well stirred
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 large organic egg
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 oz dark chocolate broken or cut into small chunks
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix first five ingredients (almond butter through salt) until well blended. Stir in chocolate. Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto a silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool completely (about 10 minutes) on baking sheet (cookies are soft when warm, and may fall apart). Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Makes about 24 cookies Try adding some chopped almonds for a little more crunch Make Ahead: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Honey Roasted Pecans Recipe
Honey Roasted Pecans
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spread pecans out on a shallow baking pan that's been lined with a silpat. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle the honey over, then, toss to coat the pecans with the honey. Sprinkle the sugar over the top. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until honey is fragrant. Stir, and bake an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and separate pecans with two forks while they are still warm. Allow to cool on a wire rack.