With fall in full swing, pumpkins in my candles, and the holidays just around the corner, I have this crazy urge to bake. Yes, when I bake I like to keep my recipes as healthy as possible. But I value good taste just as much as I value good health. Which means I have to spend quite some time figuring out what will satisfy my sweet tooth (using whole ingredients, that don’t have too much sugar, and don’t cause a stomachache). The problem is, to do this often means hours spent searching the Internet for the PERFECT recipe.
About an hour into my search, I had an epiphany.
Son of a nutcracker! I don’t want to make some random food blogger’s cookie or pore through the Food Network’s cookie archives – I want to make my own frickin cookies.
WHY DON’T I JUST LEARN HOW TO CREATE MY OWN COOKIE RECIPE?
Thus, my Cookie Creation Guide was born. Thanks to research from pastry chefs who actually went to culinary school and crazy-dedicated stay-at-home-moms who enter cookie-making contests, I have created a simple guide that explains the rules to making a cookie rather than just another cookie recipe. I put quite an emphasis on the healthier alternatives, but you are free to make it as fattening or sugary as your little heart desires. That’s the whole point. Make a just-how-you-like-it cookie.
COOKIE CREATION GUIDE:
- Every cookie needs three things: Flour, Fat and Sugar.
REMEMBER: there are many variations of the standard definition of “flour” “sugar” and “fat”. See below for options.
- Cookies require equal parts fat to sugar
Give or take a ¼ cup.
- The ratio of flour to fat should be about double.
BUT this varies based on your altitude.
Tip: Start with an equal ratio and add flour until dough is tacky but NOT sticky icky (it shouldn’t have to pull it off your fingers).
- Cookies need a rising agent.
- Cookies need a binding agent.
One or two tablespoons should be enough. See below for options.
- Both salt and essence DO NOT affect the chemistry of the cookie, only the taste.
Therefore, their proportions and their existence are optional to your personal cookie recipe.
- Order matters.
First, cream fat and sugar. Second, add the binding agent. Last, flour and leavening agent should be added in one motion.
Step 1: Choose your flavor
Extracts, spices, herbs, fruits, liquors, mix-ins, the possibilities are endless.
Step 2: Choose your fat
Grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, yogurt, applesauce, mashed banana, nut butter, PUMPKIN
Step 3: Choose your sweetener
Honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar, dates (soaked in water)
Step 4: Choose your binder
Eggs, Ener-g Egg Replacers (vegan store-bought product), applesauce, banana, chia or flax “egg” (seeds mixed with water)
Step 5: Choose your leavening agent
Baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar
Step 6: Choose a flour
All-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, oatmeal flour, rolled oats, gluten-free flour blends, cocoa powder, coconut flour, almond flour – technically any high protein ingredient ground into a fine powder can be your flour
Important note about coconut flour: As you know from my recipe fail, coconut flour can be finicky. Because it is much more dense, it tends to soak up all of the moisture in your recipe (bad). Here’s the trick to it: Use ¼ cup coconut flour for every full cup wheat flour. Then, add eggs (one at a time until the batter feels right).
Step 7: Choose your mix-ins
Dried cherries, cranberries, blueberries, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate chips, carob chips, goji berries, I could go on forever here…
Step 8: Determine Baking Time and Temp
Time: Usually between 325-375 degrees – the lower the temp, the flatter the cookie because the fat will melt before the cookie sets.
Temp: Usually between 8 – 14 minutes. I highly recommend setting a timer for 5 minutes, checking and going from there.
Step 9: Test it!
Best part (or worst)
MY COOKIE CREATION
So you want to see my cookie creation? Of course you do. Warning: It’s a bit of a Frankenstein of every baking ingredient I had on hand. Fitting for Halloween, no?
Almond Pumpkin Coconut Cookie Monsters
Gluten-free, sugar-free (natural sugars used)
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup almond butter
- 1 egg
- ¼ tsp. anise essence
- ¼ tsp. vanilla essence
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- ¾ cup almond flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup garbanzo bean flour
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 70% cacao dark chocolate chips
- Crushed pecans
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Mix together pumpkin puree and almond butter.
- Beat in egg.
- Add in vanilla & anise essence, and pumpkin pie spice.
- Mix together flours in bowl (per rules, I started with equal amounts fat to flour and added more flour until it was a tacky texture).
- Mix in salt and baking soda.
- Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until fully integrated.
- Mix in chocolate chips.
- Prepare cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Use a tablespoon to create drop cookies and lay out on sheet.
- Stick in oven for 7-8 minutes.
THE TASTE TEST
I will admit. In my attempt to keep it gluten-free, I went a little crazy with the alternative flours. And the result did taste a tad more like garbanzo beans than I would have liked. But overall, I was pretty happy with the outcome. I had created a savory, seasonal, healthy treat that has just enough chocolate chip to satisfy my sweet tooth. And the best part is, I thoroughly enjoyed the process. Now that I know how to make a cookie, I know exactly what I need to do to tweak the recipe and make it better.
So now it’s your turn. I beg you NOT TO MAKE MY RECIPE. Instead, free yourself from the shackles of cookbooks, Pinterest and food blogs and MAKE YOUR OWN. Then tell me about it in the comments below.
Seriously, try it. I promise, even if it sucks, you’ll enjoy the experience and learn something.