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Amaranth Flour Carrot Cake Cookies (GF)

Amaranth Flour Carrot Cake Cookies
Fun fact: Amaranth was banished after the Spanish conquest of the Americas. The Spanish forbid its cultivation in hopes of helping to eliminate the Aztec tradition of human sacrifice. (Amaranth was often made into a ceremonial mixture that would be eaten at such occasions.)

It fell out of use for hundreds of years, and only now in recent times is amaranth getting any attention from westerners. Even today, its appreciation from home cooks seems to be small.

Yet, it’s doubtful this natural superfood staple of the Mayans and Aztecs will hang under the radar for long.

Amaranth Flour Carrot Cake Cookies

Like quinoa, amaranth is a complete protein, packing in nearly 10 grams of the muscle-building nutrient per cup (30% more than rice) along with a notable amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Meanwhile, in contrast to quinoa, since this gluten-free grain hasn’t yet fully been rediscovered, you can still score a bulk bin bag of the nutty seed at a price that won’t set you back.

Amaranth Flour Carrot Cake Cookies

After a recent trip to Mexico, where I found amaranth showing up both on menus in the form of breakfast porridge and as a nutty topping to various salads, I began to start experimenting with it myself in my own kitchen.

I love it as an alternative to oatmeal, cooked up with almond milk and raisins, and swirled with cinnamon, maple syrup and nuts. Just recently, I discovered it in its flour form.

After receiving a bag of amaranth flour from Bob’s Red Mill, I got to work — and to daydreaming — in thinking up ways to use it. With Easter approaching, I settled on doing some sort of baked treat, which led me in creating this recipe.

Inspired by spring, these Amaranth Flour Carrot Cake Cookies are spice-forward and a perfect pairing to a tall glass of almond milk. I recommend serving them with a smear of almond butter on the side, too, or even peanut butter if you have either on hand. For an extra special treat, sandwich a scoop of coconut ice cream between two cookies.

Did I mention they’re vegan and gluten-free, too? And not all that unhealthy, too…

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Chocolate Chip Date Banana Bread Muffin Tops

Chocolate Chip Date Banana Bread Muffin Tops

I’m generally not much a fan of muffins. In fact, one of the spots I work has free muffins of all different varieties. And they sit, and they sparkle, amidst open-air with glistening tops that scream, “Choose me, choose me!”

I have to admit, I’m often tempted.

Chocolate Chip Date Banana Bread Muffin Tops

Occasionally, as the workday nears its end, and I still see a plethora left, I’ll grab one. My impulse always ends after one bite. The muffin gets tossed, free throw style, into the trashcan without looking back. (That is, unless I miss the can.)

Wasteful, I know. But those muffins are just too friggin’ sweet. They look so good but feel so…eek.

I like dessert, I do, I do. But not pasty pastries that taste of straight-up sugar. And to me, that encompasses the majority of most store-bought/store-sold muffins.

Chocolate Chip Date Banana Bread Muffin Tops

So I was thrilled when I came across this recipe from Oh She Glows. There’s not one ounce of extra sugar in here that doesn’t come from the natural fruit that builds these tops. No honey. No maple. No brown suga’ suga’.

After tasting a small spoonful of batter, and then going in for a second, I knew there needn’t be, either.

I guess you could (and probably should) exclude the chocolate chips when you say no added sugar. But in my book, there’s generally always room to break the rules in the name of dark chocolate.

Chocolate Chip Date Banana Bread Muffin Tops

Aside from that, these are an excellent choice when craving something sweet. And  by far beat the poor, sorry sights of most of the muffin/muffin tops on the market these days.

Although, forgive me as I talk these babies up as muffins. Likely, you could swap that muffin top label out for “cake-like cookie”, but there’s always room for less sugary versions of those too, right? Plus, when I can have a “cookie” for breakfast, and feel alright about it too, that recipe’s certainly going to make the repeat list.

Chewy, perfectly sweetened and filled with heart healthy oats, this my friends, is a muffin/cookie/whatever-you-want-to-call-it recipe I stand behind. Throw in a few walnuts and some extra chocolate chips, and it’s golden.

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Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Cookies

Chocolate cookies stuffed with caramel—that’s a sight and sound that will inevitably lead to a taste. Or at least a longing for a taste. You can’t tell me that looking at these cookies doesn’t make you want to try one. And if you can, I’d rather not be friends. (Just kidding.)

But seriously, chocolate and caramel is a match made in candy heaven. This recipe from The Comfort of Cooking doubles the pleasure of this pairing by stuffing an already delicious classic into even more chocolate. Behold, a cookie that looks and sounds every bit as decadent as it tastes.

Given all of that, these are surprisingly simple to make. It was probably more difficult trying to convey how awesome these are through the viewfinder of my camera than it was to actually bake them. The dough comes together quickly and after just a short rest period in the refrigerator, they bake up even quicker. Make sure to include the salt, which makes these cookies the addictive delights that they are. I actually amended the original recipe to add a 1/2 tsp. to the dough. I would suggest sticking with this, as outlined in the recipe below, because salt really does wonders to enhance the richness of both caramel and chocolate. Besides, we all know these were never meant to be healthy. Delicious and crowd-pleasing, on the other hand, are these cookies’ destiny. In my kitchen, sometimes that’s all a good dessert recipe needs.

Chocolate Caramel Cookies
Click here for recipe…

Gifts for the Coffee Lover, Day 2


I have grown up into a foodie. For me, window shopping means strolling through the Italian market or popping my head into all of the Chinatown emporiums of exotic ingredients. My version of People magazine is really Grub Street or HuffPost Food. And my evening excitement is something like a success in the kitchen or noticing the arrival of sweet persimmons in the grocery store. I bask in reading and learning about anything food-related and will probably curiously continue to do so for the rest of my life. Hence my most recent pre-ordered book, the Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, which was released this past October.

As I said in my previous post, my latest fascination is coffee. I live in a city where the artisan coffee culture is slowly starting to grow, and watching the craft has made me want to learn more. Whether this is true for you too, or you know someone that fits the foodie description above, I recommend gifting this book.

As a food blogger and photographer, the first thing I noticed as I gave a quick flip through the pages were all of the soft-lit, beautiful photos. I am a sucker for visuals, especially when food is involved. These in particular really nailed down a consistent style that for me, had that same warm, dreamy feel of a good coffee shop. The second place I immediately scanned was the back section called “Eat”, full of photographed recipes designed to pair well with a cup of java. Nearly every time I picked up the book to read, I had to force myself not to get distracted by its back pages. I love crafting recipes, reading recipes, and drooling over possible outcomes of recipes. Clearly this section was made with me in mind.

gingersnaps (4 of 4)

The front three portions of the book are comprised with all the ins and outs of the various growing, roasting and brewing methods. The read is a real learning experience from farm to cup, and left me realizing just how technical and scientific every single stage of the process can get. If you’re at all curious about about French Press vs. Pour Over, about the culture in Japan, about how certain beans pick up their fruity flavor, the differences between a Brazilian cup vs. a Hawaiian, or simply how to produce one of the best batches of gingerbread cookies you’ll ever taste, then you’ll likely find this book to be a well-warranted purchase.

If you don’t care about all that technical coffee know-how, and just want the phenomenal gingerbread recipe I just mentioned, read on my friend. Crafted by Caitlin Freeman, Blue Bottle’s head pastry chef, these were some of the best gingerbread cookies I’ve ever had. Crispy on the edges and perfectly chewy in the center, these will definitely shine — even when placed next to a top notch cappuccino. To get all of Blue Bottle’s recipes, and to learn how to properly roast those green coffee beans from my last post, you’ll have to buy the book. Or put it on your Christmas list.

Click here for recipe…

Flourless Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin dessert on Thanksgiving is a must. Generally, I’d say there has to be pie, however, no one said you shouldn’t have options – or two desserts on your plate. These pumpkin cookies make a rather fine second choice for the table, especially for vegans and gluten-free’s.

I came upon this recipe and the chickpeas immediately caught my eye. A cookie made of beans and pumpkin? That sounds almost too healthy to be true – and tasty – an inclination I generally get when reading dessert recipes (though not entrees). Luckily, curiosity got the best of me and I went for it…chickpeas, chocolate, pumpkin and peanut butter all piled into my food processor.

Following a previous recipe for disaster that called for black beans in brownies, I had my doubts. After those results, I vowed to stick to sinfully indulgent brownie recipes from there on out. However, it’s possible the success of this one may’ve changed my opinion on health-altered desserts.

Unlike black beans, chickpeas are fairly bland, and you’d certainly never pick up on them in this pumpkin recipe. They give these cookies their oomph while keeping them moist, but it’s the maple, spices and chocolate that lend these their flavor. The results – a nutritious, protein-packed cookie, that while addicting, I wouldn’t feel guilty eating for breakfast.

For a holiday packed with more than enough indulgences, these make a great option that likely no one would ever guess is actually even healthy. On the whole, I’m all about making sacrifices in terms of nutrition when it comes to desserts, because if I’m going to indulge, I want it to be amazing. But sometimes you get lucky and find a recipe like this, where those kind of sacrifices truly aren’t needed for pumpkin perfection.

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