Hello friends! I’m finally home after a few weeks away. It’s been a whirlwind of photoshoots, sailing, vacationing, conferences ( more on that soon), parties and puppies. I’m happy to be home and in the kitchen again and even happier to be making and eating these cookies from Alanna’s new book Alternative Baker.
While I’m not strictly gluten free, I often find myself trying (and mostly failing) to bake treats that use nut flours instead of processed wheat flour. My favorite desserts are those that feel healthy without tasting heathy. Alanna has put her training as a pastry chef to good use and created a beautiful book full of delicious gluten free desserts using a variety of flavor rich alternative flours. Her recipes are thorough, detailed and fool-proof.
While flipping through the book, several recipes jumped out at me including the Pumpkin Cranberry Nut and Seed Loaf, the Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Matcha Cream Cheese Frosting, the Buckwheat Bergamot Double Chocolate Cookies and these Cherry Chestnut Chocolate Chip Cookies. These cookies are easy to whip up, full of rich nutty flavor from the brown butter and chestnut flour and packed with all the good things like pecans, dried cherries and chunks of gooey chocolate. The texture is amazing for a gluten free cookie with a crispy edge and a chewy center. I ate more than a few in the process of creating this post. I hope you enjoy them too!
Cherry Chestnut Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Alternative Baker by Alanna Taylor-Tobin
Makes about 14 3-inch cookies
1/2 cup raw pecans
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
1/2 cup packed organic light brown sugar
1/4 cup organic granulated cane sugar
3/4 cup chestnut flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
6 oz dark milk chocolate. coarsely chopped (I used semisweet chocolate instead)
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Line 2 rimless cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Spread the pecans on a small, rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and slightly darkened in color, 8-10 minutes. Remove and let cool completely, then break into rough quarters.
Meanwhile, melt the butter and vanilla bean and scrapings together in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter turns golden and smells nutty, 3-5 minutes.
Place the sugars in a large bowl and when the butter has browned, scrape it and any browned bits into the sugar immediately to stop the cooking. Let cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.
Meanwhile, sift together the chestnut and tapioca flours, baking soda and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
When the sugar mixture has cooled to warm, beat in the egg until well combined. Use a sturdy wooden spoon to stir the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, stirring until well combined, then continue to stir vigorously for a few more seconds: the mixture will firm up slightly. Stir in the cooled pecans, chopped chocolate and cherries until evenly distributed. If the dough is soft, let it sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator to firm up a bit, 15-30 minutes (or chill for up to 1 week).
Scoop the dough into 1 1/2-inch diameter balls and place them on the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them 2-3 inches apart.
Bake the cookies until the edges are golden and set and the tops are pale golden but still soft and underbaked, 10-14 minutes, rotating the pans back to front and top to bottom after 8 minutes for even baking.
Remove the cookies form the oven, let cool on the pans for a minute, then pull them, parchment and all, onto cooling racks to stop the cooking. They will be very soft and fragile at first, but will firm up when cool. Let cool to warm, at least 10 minutes, before devouring. Cooled cookies can be stored airtight for up to 3 days.