Holiday Hazelnut Cookies (Flourless)

Holiday Hazelnut Cookies scream, "Irresistible Festive Holiday Cookie!"  These delicious, vanilla-scented, gluten-free cookies are loaded with rich hazelnuts, semi-sweet chocolate and dried cranberries.  But, of course, I always want even more... 

I also want my Holiday Hazelnut Cookies to be filled with healthy antioxidants, high in fiber, low in sugar...and yet they must be light and so delicious that no one even notices that they ARE healthy.  I want everyone to:  Enjoy these cookies...then another one and...another one!

So I got to work and tried to figure out how to make this "Miracle Cookie" happen.  Think.  Think...ah-ha!  It came to me, make them flourless.  Perfect.  Oh, and with the toasted nutty Hazelnuts what would be the best flavor match? Ah...yes! The flavor of pure Vanilla Extract!  I was getting so excited!  CHOCOLATE goes perfectly with vanilla!  I immediately added a handful of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips... and tasted the dough...yum.  But ahhhh... what if I added a handful of festive red, dried Cranberries...that would be wonderful... Another taste of dough; oh MY, now we're talking:  The dough was absolutely YUMMY. 

And guess what?  (My favorite part)  You can eat this raw dough because there are no eggs in it!  Cookie dough heaven!  After a few more bites of cookie dough, I couldn't help myself and began to dance and sing joyously: The Hallelujah Chorus!  (I'm sure you will do the same thing.)

Oh, and did I tell you that these gluten-free Holiday Hazelnut Cookies are super quick to mix up?  A few minutes ago; I actually mixed the dough up BEFORE the oven had heated up.  And get this:  There is only 1/4 cup of brown sugar in the entire batch of cookies!  You can actually use just three tablespoons of brown sugar, but it takes longer to measure and I get so impatient.  The first batch  of Holiday Hazelnut Cookies, I made with just three tablespoons of brown sugar, but this time I was DESPERATE to eat the cookie dough (it is really delicious!) and it was necessary to mix them up as quickly as was humanly possible.  Ahem, moving on.

Oh, my goodness...
I just tried this batch warm out of the oven.   
I LOVE THESE COOKIES! 

Okay - It's time to give you this simple, yummy recipe!  

Holiday Hazelnut Cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Hazelnut Meal/Flour  (I used Bob's Red Mill) 
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons cold butter, cubed (See notes for dairy free below)

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
1/3 cup coconut milk or buttermilk  (See notes below)
1/3 cup dried, sweetened cranberries 
1/3 - 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 

The GimmeGlutenFree.com Method: 

Preheat oven to a low temperature:
  • 250 degrees Farenheit is you are using coconut milk 
    • 225 degrees Farenheit if you are using buttermilk. 
    Grease your baking sheet or use parchment paper.   
    See notes below.

      1.  In a large mixing bowl combine hazelnut flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix in the butter until it's blended in and everything is "crumbly."

      2.  Add vanilla and milk.  Mix together for a few seconds.  Add the dried cranberries and chocolate chips; mix until the dough comes together.  

      NOTE:  At this point you can chill the dough, in a covered bowl in the refrigerator until you want to bake/or you can proceed ahead.

      3.  Using 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough, form into balls, I use a small ice cream scoop.  Place each ball of dough on a parchment covered cookie sheet.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes if you are not using chilled dough. If you have room in your "frig" just pop the whole baking sheet in, chill, then bake.
        
      Note:  If you use a greased cookie sheet instead of parchment paper, it is best to  thoroughly chill the dough first, but if you can't wait, then hey, you can't!  Go for it and bake away.  I'm just being a perfectionist...

      4.  Bake in a preheated, low oven temperature of 250 degrees for coconut milk or 225 degrees if you are using buttermilk and bake for 30 minutes.  Take the cookies out and turn the baking sheet around so they will bake evenly.  Return to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes.  Cool and enjoy!  


       Lynn's Baking Notes: 
      For Crisp, Crunchy Cookies.
      I like to turn off the oven after the baking time is complete and leave the cookies in the warm oven, with the door closed, for another hour.  When the cookies cool, they should be crunchy.  If they aren't crunchy after they cool, simply put in a preheated oven at 275 degrees for another 10-15 minutes or so. (Every oven is different) These are so delicious - like an "amped up" Hazelnut Biscotti (Italian cookie).  These crunchy cookies are perfect with a cup of espresso or hot tea in the morning!

      Dairy free:  Use the coconut milk and Earth Balance Baking Sticks for the butter. Use dairy free chocolate chips - available at Natural Food Stores.  I find that the cookies made with the coconut milk need a higher temperature and take a bit longer in baking time to get crunchy.

      Lower Calorie:  Buttermilk (which is actually low calorie!) made an excellent cookie, however, I found that it is best to chill the dough because the cookies spread a bit more with the buttermilk than the coconut milk.  Use the 1/3 cup of Chocolate Chips.  Remember you are only using 2 tablespoons of butter for the entire batch and the hazelnuts are super-high in fiber and vitamins.  Hey, I think if you eat enough fiber the calories don't count - well, that's what I like to think anyway...

      Holiday Decadent:  Press in more chocolate chips and dried cranberries on top before baking.  This is how my Gorgeous Man likes his cookies.  He also likes the Crunchy Version best.





      Make Ahead:  Make the dough, even several days ahead of time, and store, tightly covered, in your refrigerator.  I think the cookies taste even better if you make the dough ahead of time, then bake them fresh...but, it's so hard to wait...  

      If you make the Crunchy Version Cookie, store them in a tightly covered container at room temperature.  They keep really well.

      One Last Tip:  Check the pull-date of the Hazelnut Meal/Flour.  This is super-important. If you happen to get rancid nuts; you will not have tasty cookies.  So again; check the expiration date on the package before you purchase it.  Fresh Hazelnuts are a real treat and worth the search!


      Enjoy your Holiday Hazelnut Cookies! 
      This recipe makes about 18 cookies depending...
      on how much cookie dough you eat!


      Parchment Paper vs. Greasing the 
      Baking Sheet:
      I love parchment paper, but it does cost more than simply greasing the pan.  Professional bakers almost always use parchment paper because it saves on cleaning time, and gives exceptional baking results.  For cleanup simply throw the parchment paper away after baking.   And usually you don't even need to wash your baking pan; simply wipe it down.  That's really nice.

      Parchment paper helps the cookies bake evenly because it helps insulate the baking sheet and aids in heat distribution.  The cookies spread less and look more professional and beautiful.  Another  plus is that your cookies will be easy to remove from the baking sheet.  

      You can usually find parchment paper in the baking section of your grocery store; sometimes it's with the waxed paper and foil.  If you can't find it at your grocery store, you can find it at specialty kitchen shops and of course you can find it online. 

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