Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Treats

If you're like me, you've been snacking on sugary treats lately and you're just about junk-food-ed-out.  I had big plans to do a special bonus cookie post before the holiday, but life got in the way.  So as I sat down to write today, I thought, "Maybe I should just write this post then save it to post next December."  But alas, I do not have that sort of discipline.  It's now or never!

So while I totally recognize the possibility that you are starting to throw all the leftover treats in your kitchen into the trash, I'll just put this cookie post out into the universe and maybe you'll come back to it next time you want to do some baking....especially if you (or a loved one) has dietary conditions like a few in my family do!  Because you see...this isn't just any old cookie post.  This is a cookie post for people who have to eat lactose-free (and gluten-free) diets!
This first cookie is the reason I'm going to gain 20 lbs in 2015.  I've been doing my best to avoid lactose for about 20 years now, and for the most part I've been able to find good substitutes for most foods (Lactaid instead of regular milk, parmesan & monterrey jack instead of mozzarella, frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, etc). But there just isn't a great substitute for butter.  Don't get me wrong, we use Smart Balance light when we need a butter "spread" or something to cook with that will give a "butter-like" flavor, and we have used Earth Balance sticks when baking, but they are pretty not-butter-tasting substitutes.  In fact, the only lactose I really allow myself is when I use a teaspoon of butter on my waffles once a week or so at breakfast.  Anyway, the point is that I haven't been able to find a substitute that will really mimic butter, especially in baking.  So there are lots of dessert recipes that I simply don't make anymore because they turn out a shadow of their former selves.  (And I'm a "if it doesn't taste really good, then I'm not wasting the calories on it" sort of dessert eater.)  

But then I found this: 

Coconut oil does not taste like butter, but man does it make a fantastic cookie.   I'll have to pace myself, but I am definitely looking forward to trying other recipes with coconut oil subbed in for the butter or oil.  This particular recipe is a delightful take on the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.   It does have gluten in it because of the flour (though you could probably substitute a flour not made from wheat), but these are entirely dairy-free as long as you pick dairy-free chocolate chips (I like Ghardelli semi-sweet, but Costco usually has a giant bag of chips that also do not contain milk.  And a side note: cocoa butter, which is almost always an ingredient of chocolate chips, has nothing to do with actual butter or anything dairy-related.)


2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil or melted coconut oil (use a little more if dough seems is too dry)
2 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks + more if desired

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer add the oatmeal, flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, canola oil, eggs and vanilla, beat until the dough is moist and all the ingredients are combined. The dough will be crumbly. Mix in the chocolate chips.
Shape dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just set.  

I originally found the recipe here.

Moving on, here are my Puppy Chow Cookies in progress.  This one was both dairy- and gluten- free because I used a peanut butter cookie recipe that had just 5 simple ingredients:
2 Cups Peanut Butter
2 Cups Sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 tsp Vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Mix it up, place balls of batter on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for about 10 minutes at 350.

After the cookies are cool, melt 1 1/2 Cups semisweet chips and mix in 1/3 Cup of peanut butter.  Dip each cookie in the chocolate-peanut-butter mix, then roll in a bowl of powdered sugar.  Voilá!  You've got your puppy chow snack in cookie form!

Inspiration for this recipe was found here.  
Last, we have my daughter's favorite treat of the holiday season: Oreo Cookie Truffles!

I set her to work the day before we want to make these - I buy two family-size packages of Oreos and it's her job to open each cookie, scrape off the middle goo, then put the two chocolate wafers in a plastic bag.  We dump the goo and don't use it for this recipe, although I think some people do include the goo in theirs.

The recipe itself is super simple:
We whack the Christmas right out of that bag of Oreos - sometimes pounding it with a meat hammer and sometimes going at it with a rolling pin.  If you are high class, you could even use a food processor.  Whatever method you choose, just make sure you've got those cookies broken down into CRUMBS.

Put the crumbs in a big bowl and add cream cheese.  I use Tofutti "Better-Than-Cream-Cheese" to make them dairy-free.  This year I used about 10 ounces to mix in with my two packages of cookies, and I really liked that ratio.  If you're really into cream cheese, you might like more added, but when using the tofutti, I found that a 5oz cream cheese to 1 pack of Oreos ratio means that the Oreo taste completely overpowers the cream cheese taste (there is a little bit of a weird after taste with the dairy-free cream cheese if you use more.)

I take off my rings and get in there to squish the batter together with my fingers.  Pup the batter into the fridge for an hour or two to firm it up.  Next we roll it into small balls and put those on a cookie tray lined with waxed paper and put them back in the fridge.  (I cover them with plastic wrap and leave them there overnight to really firm up.)

The next step is to melt almond bark in a double boiler.  I don't own such fancy kitchen implements, so I get out a big sauce pan, fill it halfway with water, then set a smaller sauce pan inside, where I melt the almond bark.

Once it's melted smooth, I like to use a fondue fork to poke into each Oreo ball, then I dip it in the almond bark.  I set it back on waxed paper to cool, then once the coating hardens, I dip the top of the ball back in the almond bark to cover the hole left from the fondue fork.

Check out a printable version (that suggests you use too much cream cheese!) of this recipe here.

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