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If you’ve read my “About” page, you know that I work for a local food business, which specializes in making gluten-free, dairy-free and diabetic-friendly products.
Now, I am fortunate enough not to have to follow any kind of restricted diet—although I avoid eggs in my baking whenever possible because of my mum’s allergy—but I am very interested in them. I’m not one of these people who, since they don’t suffer from any food allergies themselves, sniff at the mere idea of a sugar-free cake. I appreciate the way food allergies have made us cooks look around and explore the use of alternative ingredients. The important point being to remember that ‘alternative’ does not mean ‘inferior.’
I’m always tickled by how some people react to our products. They seem to feel that, since they aren’t celiac or gluten-intolerant themselves, they should not eat gluten-free sausage rolls. The fact that the majority of the food we eat is naturally gluten-free doesn’t resonate with them. No, I don’t have to make brownies with almond flour instead of ordinary wheat flour. But I do sometimes, because they taste better. And I’m currently obsessed with our vegan banana bread—made with almond milk, flaxseed meal, buckwheat, brown rice flour and coconut palm sugar—because it’s just delicious.
I look at it this way: cooking with food allergies in mind is like having to take the scenic route as a detour. It’s an essentially unpleasant thing that can help you find something beautiful.
And, even for us lucky ones who don’t have allergies, it is a useful practice. The fact is, we all probably have one or two or four or ten acquaintances who do have some kind of dietary restriction; and what’s worse, they might not all have the same one. So if we want to invite them into our kitchens and to our tables, we have to be willing to experiment with this kind of alternative cooking.
Failing that, you could just make these cookies. I call them Lifesaver Cookies. Because these are the cookies you make when you have those ten acquaintances over, or when you’re baking for a crowd and you’re not sure what kind of dietary restrictions you might bump up against . . .
They are vegan (so automatically eggless and dairy-free), gluten-free, and sugar-free. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them diabetic, because there are dates in them, but still, they’re quite close. It’s a no-bake recipe, so easy for you, the cook. Furthermore these cookies are dense, nubbly rounds of chocolate-peanut butter-coconut goodness, which anyone, allergies and food requirements aside, should be jumping to eat.
I think there are few people who would be unable to sample these cookies. And I don’t think many, after having one, would turn down a second.
The no-bake, vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free cookie you always needed.
½ cup (120 ml) coconut milk
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ cup coconut oil
¾ cup xylitol
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-natural peanut butter (or sunflower butter, if you need a nut-free version)
3 cups gluten-free oats
100 g. dates, finely chopped
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk and cocoa powder. Add the coconut oil and xylitol and place over medium-low heat.
- Bring up to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Continue to boil, stirring often, until the mixture is thickened and glossy, about five minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.
- Add the peanut/sunflower butter and beat until the mixture is smooth and the peanut/sunflower butter fully incorporated.
- Set aside and let cool slightly, about ten minutes.
- Add the oats and dates and mix well.
- Portion out the dough with a #40 (1 ½-tablespoon capacity) cookie scoop. Flatten the balls of dough into round discs and place them on the lined baking sheet.
- I like to let my cookies firm up at room temperature, as I think they taste better when they are not chilled. However, if you’re in a hurry, you could put the tray of cookies in the fridge for half an hour or so to speed up the process. And who knows, you might like them best out of the refrigerator!
- In an airtight container at room temperature, the cookies will keep for four or five days. In the refrigerator, they will keep for a week; in the freezer, a month or more.
Yield: 30 cookies
Kate - gluten free alchemist said:
I love the sound of these Alexandra. The flavours and textures sound amazing. Would they work with honey as a sweetener do you think?
Although we are gluten free, I love making stuff which is free from other stuff too…. It is delicious entertainment in my book! If we have someone round who has an unusual food intolerance, allergy or dislike, I relish the prospect of surprising them with a sweet treat!
Alexandra McDermott said:
I think that honey should work fine–since the mixture gets boiled anyway, the extra moisture in the honey would probably evaporate and thus not effect the final consistency. Maybe boil a few extra minutes just to be sure?
“Delicious entertainment” is the perfect view to hold regarding free-from cooking in my book . . . and come to think of it, that sounds like a fabulous title for a cookbook!