I participated in my first Christmas Cookie Exchange this week and it was such a wonderful experience. Getting together with girlfriends and taking a little time out of the crazy Christmas rush was really fun and therapeutic. I have to admit that I stressed a bit about what kind of cookies to make. I really hate refined sugar and flour, but I have yet to taste a sugar cookie or cinnamon roll that tasted right without them. I had this discussion with some friends the other day and decided that perhaps eating healthy whole foods doesn't include cakes, cookies, and rolls and we shouldn't try so hard to make them healthy. Maybe those are just occasional indulgences? As I was reading through some online recipe books, I was thrilled to find a couple of Christmas cookie recipes made from whole food ingredients and decided to try them and take them to the Cookie Exchange. They are yummy and with ingredients like almonds, oats, cranberries, maple syrup and pecans, I can still enjoy some Christmas treats and know they were made with whole food ingredients. Try these and you won't be disappointed!
Makes about 30 cookies
1 cup almonds or pecans
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup olive or coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
Favorite organic fruit juice sweetened jam
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put almonds and oats into a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl and add flour, oil, syrup and salt. Stir to combine well.
Roll walnut-sized balls of the dough in the palm of your hand to form each cookie, then arrange on 2 large baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Press your thumb gently down into the center of each cookie to make an indentation. Spoon a scant teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake cookies until golden brown and just firm around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to let cool completely, then serve immediately or store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container.
Cranberry Pecan Shortbread
Makes 30 to 40 cookies
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar ( I used succanat)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pecans, chopped well in food processor
Mix together butter, sugar and maple syrup with a wooden spoon or in an electric mixer. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Add flour one cup at a time, mixing well after each cup is added. stir in the salt, cranberries and pecans.
Shape dough into two logs and chill until firm for 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut dough into 1/2 inch slices and arrange on baking sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Cookies will keep for several days in an airtight container.