Friday, January 25, 2013

Vegan Teff Spice Cookies

I don't know if it's the cold weather but I've been in severe hibernation mode.  Instead of hiking or engaging in any winter sports, my weekends have mostly been spent curled up with my dogs on the couch with blankets and tea and a massive pile of books that have been on my reading list since last summer. 

Sure, a hot cup of tea is great on it's own, but it's much better when accompanied by a little something sweet. Lately, I've been craving all sorts of cookies but instead of breaking out the butter, sugar and flour I try to keep things on the healthy side. When I was cleaning out my freezer the other day, going through various flours, nuts and frozen fruits, I came across a bag of teff flour that had been kicking around for a year or so, since my failed attempt at making injera, a spongy, yeast risen flatbread.  Since this was the only way I've ever seen teff used, I wondered if I could somehow incorporate it into a muffin, quickbread or cookie, because my injera making days were o-ver. Since teff is a gluten free grain, I wasn't sure if I could substitute it for all or part of the flour in any given recipe.

So, naturally I went on wikipedia and here's what I found...

Teff is a teeny tiny ancient grain native to Ethiopia that is packed with protein, calcium, iron and fiber. There are few different varieties that vary in color from light to dark. White teff has a chestnut like flavor while the darker varieties are more earthy reminiscent of hazelnuts. More common is red teff which has more iron and has gained popularity in recent years due to it's amazing nutritional profile.

In some recipes, it can be used to replace all the flour with the exception of baked goods that depend on gluten for struture (i.e. bread), in which case up to 25% teff flour can be substituted.  I happened to come across a recipe for a spiced teff loaf that looked pretty amazing but settled on a these teff spice cookies, due to the fact that they took less time to throw together and I already had everything on hand to make them.  Bonus.. they were vegan and gluten free, which somehow makes me think I can eat more of them without the calories going straight to my ass.

Teff Spice Cookies (Makes 1 dozen cookies)
Slightly adapted from Natural Noshing

1/4 c. + 1 T. unsweetened applesauce
1 t. chia seed meal (ground chia seeds)
3/4 c. teff flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground cinnamon

small pinch ground cloves
1/8 t. sea salt
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. peanut butter (or almond butter)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix together the applesauce and chia seed meal and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the teff flour, sea salt, spices, and baking powder and set aside. 
In a separate bowl, heat the peanut butter in a double boiler (a small glass bowl placed over a pot of simmering water) until softened, about a minute or so. Stir in the maple syrup, vanilla, and applesauce-chia mixture into the warm peanut butter.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, then stir to combine.
Use a cookie scoop to portion the dough into 12 cookies and roll each one. Set them on the prepared cookie sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart from each other. Use the tines of a fork to press down the center of the cookie (optional, or you can slightly flatten). Bake for 10 – 13 minutes until the cookies are set, mine took 10 and a 1/2 minutes.
 *Make sure not to overbake, the cookies will be soft in the middle and chewy.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature or freeze.

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