Salted Tahini & Chocolate Cookies 

  
You know those decadent 3 (4 or 5) ingredient peanut butter cookies that have been traversing the internet and cookbooks for several years, the ones that became the mainstay of gluten free offerings in hip neighborhood bakeries everywhere (never mind most of us with Celiac can’t eat peanuts)? I used to bake them as extra large cookie sandwiches; spread with a thick middle layer of decadent chocolate ganache. We couldn’t keep them in the shop, people would phone ahead and reserve. The classic peanut butter and chocolate combination we all (North Americans) seem to crave. I read about Ovenly’s variation on the recipe in Smitten Kitchen and, really, WHY can’t I have those? (Oh so many reasons, but nuts in general). 

Smitten Kitchen is powerful magic, puts thoughts in your head buzzing like a fly you can’t get rid of. I needed cookies. And I can eat sunflower seed butter and, oh yes, TAHINI. and while I was at it why not throw in some raw cocoa? And here you go. Not anything at all like chocolate laced halvah, but kind of reminiscent. 
According to my quick internet search sesame seeds were originally cultivated around 3,500 years ago just for their oil. Tahini is lower in sugar and saturated fat and higher in fiber than peanut butter (and that’s impressive since peanuts are actually a legume) and was introduced to American health food stores in 1940. I mention this because I made batches of these cookies with two different tahini, and got vastly differing results. Sometimes there is an abundant oil to solids ratio depending on the brand or even within the same brand, due to this we will never get a tahini as thick as peanut or almond butters, and this can affect our cookies. 

The tale of fraternal Cookies.  

Find a tahini that is not too terribly runny, one that stays emulsified for a while after stirring and accept that oil will spread out of these cookies as soon as you begin spooning them on to parchment covered baking sheets (and definitely use parchment). You will be rewarded with tahini and chocolate cookies with a candy-like crunch and supremely gratifying chewiness and may have to hide them. 

  
Salted Tahini Chocolate Cookies 

Makes 24 

Requires 30 minutes freezing time before baking. 

1-1/2 cups well stirred tahini

2 eggs, whisked

1-1/2 cup coconut sugar 

1/4 cup raw cocoa powder

1 tsp real vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt (unless tahini is salted) 

Maldon flaked salt for topping 

Method: 

Using a stand or hand mixer whip all the ingredients together to thoroughly blend. Do this by hand if you must, make sure it’s all incorporated. 

Place the dough in your freezer, you may need to transfer it to a smaller bowl. 

Ready two baking sheets with parchment paper. Pre-heat oven to 350*

Remove dough, you may see oil beginning to pool, don’t worry. 

Scoop dough into tablespoon sized rounds, using a measuring spoon or scoop, try to leave the oils behind. Place evenly on baking sheets. 

Bake 10 minutes then rotate sheets (bottom to top racks and front to back). Bake an additional 6-8 minutes. They may spread, sort of like lace cookies, there may be pools of oil, ignore it. 

Remove and let cool completely before eating. Okay, eat one, but it will fall apart. 

Chewy Decadence paleo and celiac safe. 
Noteworthy: 

Make sure the tahini is thoroughly stirred before measuring out 1-1/2 cups; the thinner the tahini the oozier the cooky.

Using regular or brown sugar will change the overall texture, not bad, just different. 

Sure, try regular cocoa powder. I just use raw. 

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Apple Gingerbread 

“give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard” walt whitman (give me the splendid silent sun)

I grew some glorious sunflowers this year, breathtaking in height and sunny color. I harvested 8 (before the birds did!) and laid them on a floor to dry. Small caterpillars came crawling out, those rascals who thought they’d eat their way through until winter.

Recently I went to the Common Ground Fair in Maine, a mind boggling haven for agriculture and localy crafted foods and arts. There I saw a demonstration on saving sunflower seeds, how to make a simple frame with wire fencing to scrape the sunflower heads on and pop out the seeds. Some are black oil seeds, true black color with tiny bits of seed meat in the hulls, best for small animal food, but the rest, like this beauty above, are for us. I’m hoping it’s not more work than they’re worth.
But let’s get to the apples.
Which, truly, I have been craving ever since the end of August when we drove through 3 New England states practically bursting with glorious apple trees. I wanted to stop at every one and grab them off the side of the road (I couldn’t, I wasn’t the one driving).

 Fedco Trees had an impressive display of heirloom apples, some so rare they have “wanted, alive” signs.
I came home with crabapples picked in New Hampshire off trees in front of our inn, heirloom apples from my daughter’s in Maine. I harvested concord grapes then made crabapple & grape jelly (HELL YES, and I’d like to make a case for it being Paleo, since both those fruits are kind of miserable to eat on their own don’t you think our ancestors would have mixed them? With a little honey?) Then used the crabapple pulp with fresh apples to make apple sauce.

The thing with abundance is it must be used fast or it becomes waste. Which brings us to this recipe, because now I have applesauce to last all winter and we really don’t eat it.

Baking with applesauce, or any fruit or squash mash, is truly a brilliant thing to do. The fruit adds moisture, replaces fat, adds flavor and is sweet on it’s own, which means you can cut down on the sweetener in a recipe, if you want.

Tiger Nut flour is something completely new to me. A tiny tuber that is dried and ground, much like Cassava (not tapioca), or a nut flour. It’s an excellent source of prebiotic resistant starch, it’s resists digestion and lands in our gut where it attracts probiotic bacteria (the good guys). Apparently our Paleo ancestors where hip to good gut flora, as the claim goes Tiger Nuts were in use about 2 million years ago. (Back when they learned to mash crabapples and concord grapes together with stone kitchen tools). I’ve had great experiences using this flour, my sensitive gut responds happily (maybe owning to the prebiotic nature of it). I’ve had trouble with cassava and tapioca both, I avoid nuts flours and coconut flour,  so it’s a game changer to find this. Though a teeny bit gritty, I find the flavor to be pleasant, sweet and melds well with all the baking I’ve tried. Definitely give it a try.

Hibernating warm and cozy with baked goods all winter truly appeals. (Leave me recipe ideas to develop in comments!).

  I used Organic Gemini TigerNut Flour, found at my local health food store. (I give the recipe for the Banana Bread version below).

Apple Gingerbread 

Pre-heat oven to 350*.

Oil a loaf pan.

Dry:
1 cup tiger nut flour

1/2 cup arrowroot flour (or tapioca)

1/4 cup quinoa flakes (or a nut flour)

3/4 cup coconut sugar

2 tsp psyllium husk powder

2 tsp flax meal

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp dried ginger

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves
Wet:

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup applesauce

3 Tbsp molasses

1/4 cup melted coconut oil
Optional:

1/4 cup chopped nuts
Method:

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.

Whisk wet ingredients together well. Pour wet into dry and stir thoroughly to mix.

Scoop it all into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, until edges pull slightly away from sides and a toothpick comes out of the center clean.
Let cool before slicing in, the loaf will release from the pan easier.


Banana Bread or Muffins (with chocolate) option:
Replace applesauce with mashed banana and molasses with coconut nectar or honey. Omit nutmeg and cloves, use extra cinnamon in their place if you’d like.
For supreme deliciousness add 1/2 cup chocolate chunks and 1/4 cup raw cocoa nibs. Definitely not Paleo.