I’m a fan of alliterations, aren’t you? Especially when they involve chocolate and cherries. These little treats definitely fit the bill: delicious chocolate little morsels filled with dried bing cherries with just the right amount of sweetness. They may not be the flashiest, prettiest little dessert, but after a long stretch without sweets (I’ve just finished a Whole30), these were heaven. They’re still paleo-friendly, as they’re sweetened only with fruit and a touch of stevia, but that was more than enough.
They’re also grain-free, nut-free, and vegan – something that is rare in any baked good. A while back, Maggie at She Let Them Eat Cake shared a chocolate chip cookie recipe using pumpkin seed flour. Pumpkin seeds, a.k.a. pepitas, are a great alternative to nuts, especially if someone in your family has an allergy, or your children attend a nut-free school. Just process them in a coffee grinder until finely ground, and you have yourself a nutritious flour! I couldn’t wait until I got my hands on some pumpkin seeds so I could try out this method. So after grinding away, and poking around in my pantry to see what fun ingredients I could throw together with this new flour, I came out armed with some cocoa powder, dates, prunes, and cherries. Next thing I knew, these cookies were born.
Which isn’t surprising. If I wander into the kitchen to bake, chances are, what I will be baking is cookies. It’s my go-to dessert. Maybe it’s because I’ve always adored cookies, even back when I was a gluten-eater. I’d snub most cakes and other treats, but a cookie? Oh yes, I was game. Now that I bake gluten-free and dairy-free (and often grain and sugar-free as well), cookies are an easy thing to create. Cookies don’t have to be light and airy and have that perfect cake crumb; they’re not tricky like gluten-free breads. Maybe it’s just my point of view, but cookies are a lot more forgiving. Besides, they’re delicious. Who doesn’t like cookies?
Especially chewy chocolate cookies with cherries?
That’s what I thought.
Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Paleo)
3 Medjool dates
1 ½ c pumpkin seed flour (grind raw shelled pumpkin seeds in a coffee grinder)
3 T cocoa powder
¼ t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
¼ t sea salt
2 T applesauce
2 T coconut oil, melted
1 ½ t vanilla extract
¼ t almond extract
¼-1/2 t vanilla stevia extract
¾ c dried bing cherries, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a small bowl, heat water until just boiling. Add prunes and dates and allow to soak for 5-10 minutes or until soft.
Meanwhile, whisk together pumpkin seed flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt in a medium bowl.
Remove prunes and dates from water and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add applesauce coconut oil, and extracts and process until it forms a paste. Add pumpkin seed flour mixture and process until well-blended. Adjust sweetness level to your liking with stevia, blending well. Stir in cherries.
Using oiled hands, roll tablespoonfuls of the dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet. Flatten with the back of a spoon or the heel of your hand.
Bake 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 1 ½ dozen.
Interested in learning about gluten-free baking? Join me and other Community Leaders at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at 7 PM CDT to discuss gluten-free baking! Just visit this link to attend!