Last November I featured the recipe for Orange Spice Cookies from “The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies“, by Laurie Sadowski, which still holds the reigning position in my recipe collection for my favorite vegan recipe. Recently I tried another of her recipes, intrigued by the concept of using tahini, a sesame paste, as the substitute for eggs and butter. Tahini on its own is remarkably strong stuff, but when baked with a significant quantity of maple syrup the end result is delightfully flavorful with a noticeable, but not unpleasant, kick from the tahini complemented well by the rich sweetness of the maple syrup. After faithfully following Laurie’s recipe for the first batch that I made, I decided to test out a theory of mine:
There is no recipe that cannot be improved by the addition of cocoa powder.
So far I’m batting a thousand on this theory, as these cookies were no exception. I made only a couple of adjustments to the original recipe; 2 tablespoons of a particularly rich, unsweetened cocoa powder, and a darker grade of maple syrup than the normal, off-the-shelf variety. One of the things I learned after I moved to Canada was that maple syrup comes in different grades, and if you can get your hands on “Dark” grade maple syrup you’ll never again bake something that calls for maple syrup with anything less. I’ll refer you to the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association classifications for specifics, and as an occasional student of chemistry and physics I highly approve of the notion of grading maple syrup by how well light passes through it.
More importantly though, when you put it in cookies you get marvelous results. Tahini is definitely not something I would have thought to bake with before coming across this recipe and it needs to be paired up something strong to compensate for its otherwise overwhelming flavor; the maple syrup takes care of that nicely. I wanted more chocolate in these cookies, though, the chocolate chips weren’t enough for me, so I applied my theory and found that a healthy dose of cocoa powder added exactly what I was looking for. Also, by the grading system I’m accustomed to for some other recipes, the combination of chocolate chips and cocoa powder qualifies these cookies for “double chocolate” status!
Yield: 3 dozen
Preparation Time: 20-30 minutes
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (78g) sorghum flour
- 1/4 cup (40g) quinoa flour
- 1/4 cup (32g) tapioca flour
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 3/4 cup (192g) tahini
- 3/4 cup (240g) maple syrup, the darkest grade you can get your hands on
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup chocolate chips, non-dairy to keep the recipe that way
- Preheat oven to 375°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum.
- With a stand or hand mixer beat together the tahini, maple syrup, and vanilla until well-combined; about 3 minutes on medium speed.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet slowly, about 1/4 cup at a time, blending until well-combined each time.
- Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Drop tablespoon-sized amounts of dough onto the lined baking sheets.
- Bake for 9-10 minutes.
- Let the cookies cool for 5-10 minutes on the trays and then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.
- If you have a kitchen scale, which is an tool that is very high on my list of recommended things to have in your kitchen if you enjoy baking, the time involved in this recipe comes down a bit. Measuring either the tahini or the maple syrup by volume can be a little messy, and with three different kinds of flours you’d be going through several measuring cups; being able to go by weight saves on preparation and cleanup time.
- As with the Orange Spice Cookies, Laurie provided her own custom mix of gluten-free flours to create a blend that works best for these cookies. I was able to find all three at my local supermarket, in its “healthy foods” section, and I know that a local, dedicated healthy/alternative foods shop around the corner from me also carries them. If you don’t want to track those flours down, I think you’d be okay with measuring out 1 cup + 2 tbsp of normal wheat flour, but as a general rule of thumb for converting between gluten-free and wheat I’d recommend going by weight instead, and thus measuring out 150g of flour. That being said, if you do pick up the three flours, it just so happens that they’re the same three as in the orange spice cookies, which are some fantastic cookies that you could make next!
All of the dry ingredients happen to be a slightly different color, running in a spectrum from the baking soda to the cocoa powder, which aside from being colorful is handy when you’re whisking them all together and don’t know whether you’re done or not. Once everything is a consistent color and texture, you can be confident that you’ve whisked thoroughly enough! The specks of dark brown in the second photo here are clumps of cocoa powder, which I wasn’t overly concerned about.
Your wet ingredients will blend together into a consistency and color similar to a thin peanut butter. The comparison breaks down in a hurry though because it will smell entirely different, and inhaling too close to the mixing bowl may result in passing out from the overwhelming tahini and maple syrup fumes.
I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to ladle the dry flour mixture into the wet ingredients while my stand-mixer was running on low speed. That way I didn’t overwhelm the mixer and spray flour all over my kitchen (and myself), and everything blended together thoroughly and evenly. It also gave me a chance to snap an action shot of the stand mixer at work.
These cookies will not spread out much, they stick to themselves pretty well, so you can fit a fair number on each tray.
The one downside to my cocoa powder theory is that it can make it hard to tell when cookies are cooked, if you’re following the “once the edges start to turn golden brown” guideline. 9-10 minutes should be plenty if you’re using a level tablespoon to measure out the dough, and I found that at that point the tops were a little spongy when pressed lightly with my finger.
Once they’ve cooled, they’re ready for eating!