These crispy Chocolate Cookies are quick and easy to make. They have no eggs, grains or dairy and can be made into a delicious nut-free version for school lunch boxes (see nut-free option below). My grandkids love them!
* Please click on the green icon next to the ingredients listed below for extra details and helpful information.
Preheat oven to 160c (fan-forced). Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and set aside.
Add almond meal, arrowroot, cacao powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt to a food processor. Blend for 10 seconds to combine the dry ingredients.
Add the soft coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Process for approximately 12 seconds until a moist dough is formed.
Scoop out rounded teaspoonfuls of dough and roll into 30 small balls. Allow 6 cms between each ball.
Take a small square of baking paper and place over a ball of dough, press down with the flat base of a small glass to make a round cookie shape (alternatively use your palm to flatten the balls). Repeat for all the balls of dough. Optional, sprinkle a few cacao nibs on top and press down lightly into the dough (the nibs give a lovely crunch on top but can be a bit bitter for young children, I do every second cookie with nibs).
Bake for 16 - 18 minutes or until firm to the touch and a lightly brown bottom, the cookies will crisp up after cooling (the tops don't change much in colour). Place on a wire rack to completely cool.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Suitable to freeze.
NUT-FREE VERSION: Replace the almond meal with a mix of finely ground sunflower and pumpkin seeds (ground in a food processor or blender). The seeds won't have the slight sweetness of almond meal, so you may like to add 1 tablespoon extra of maple syrup.
The most favoured gluten/grain free flour substitute in my kitchen is almond meal. It is finely ground blanched almonds and in some countries, it is called almond flour. It has a slightly sweet flavour so you don’t have to add as much sweetener when baking with it. All kinds of nuts can be ground down to make a meal and are excellent for raw cheesecake or pie bases. Nut and seeds meals/flours are all best stored in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer to prevent them going rancid.
Arrowroot is a herb, the roots are cultivated for its starch properties. It is used in my recipes as a thickener and I also like combining it with almond meal to produce a much lighter texture, more like a gluten flour. I find the starch helps to bind the ingredients together. You can substitute tapioca flour, which is made from the dried roots of the cassava plant. Tapioca can be used in baking, it has a slightly sweet flavour. However, I do not recommend thickening with tapioca, as it has a stretchy, gummy texture. Supermarkets only sell in very small containers, which is not cost effective. Purchase from baking specialty stores, health food stores or online. ( When substituting for cornflour in recipes, 2 teaspoons arrowroot = 1 tablespoon cornflour/starch).
Raw cacao powder and cocoa are made from the same source but are so different. Cacao powder is raw, unsweetened and in it's natural state, it has a stronger flavour and you would use less than cocoa powder. It is so good for you; high in dietary fibre, iron and is a good source of magnesium and antioxidants. Cocoa has been heated and processed, the high heat when processing kills all the minerals and vitamins.
I am sure you will notice as you read my recipes that cinnamon appears quite frequently. It lends itself to savoury and sweet dishes. I have used ground cinnamon in my recipes if not stated otherwise. The best cinnamon to use is Ceylon (Verum). It has huge health benefits in regulating blood sugar levels. Cinnamon has antifungal properties and candida (yeast overgrowth) cannot live in a cinnamon environment. Added to food it inhibits bacterial growth, making it a natural food preservative and these are just a few of the benefits.
Also known as Bicarbonate of Soda or Sodium Bicarbonate and is used as a rising agent in baking, it contains no gluten or grains. I use Bob's Red Mill baking soda as I find it rises better than other brands I've tried.
Raw pink Himalayan salt crystals is unlike common table salt which can be a highly refined industrial byproduct, otherwise know as sodium chloride. Himalayan salt is completely pure and may naturally balance the body's alkaline/acidity and regulate water content. In addition Himalayan salt helps in the absorption of nutrients from food and contains many trace minerals for healthy cell structure. I purchase fine pink Himalayan crystal salt so I can use it in my shaker and for cooking.
Coconut oil is one of the most nutritious fats to cook and bake with. Use organic extra-virgin coconut oil which is unrefined and unbleached from non GMO coconuts. Coconut oil has a high smoking point and it is slow to oxidize due to its high saturated fat content, thus, resistant to going rancid. Some studies suggest coconut oil helps with digestion, including irritable bowel, tummy bugs, candida and parasites due to this oil containing short term medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs), which is a healthy form of saturated fat.
Maple syrup is an earthy, sweet tasting amber liquid that is produced by boiling down the sap of maple trees. Use organic 100% maple syrup which is a natural food sweetener, not a flavoured maple syrup. Pure maple syrup contains a decent amount of some minerals, especially manganese and zinc, some traces of potassium and calcium but it does contain a whole bunch of sugar. I try to reduced the amount of sweetness in each recipe to the lowest possible without compromising taste. Feel free to adjust to your liking. I use maple syrup in place of raw honey when I don't want the strong honey flavour coming through in a recipe. I have paleo cookies and desserts in my cookbook made from whole food ingredients with natural sugars but please don’t overindulge. Use as a treat only for special occasions.
Use an organic vanilla extract (not an essence) or vanilla powder. Vanilla makes a big difference to the flavour of a recipe, I recommend keeping to the quantities I have stated in a recipe. I prefer Madagascar pure vanilla extract manufactured by ‘Simply Organic’ and for powder, Vanillamax 100% pure, finely ground Madagascar vanilla beans produced by Bulletproof.
Organic cacao nibs are simply raw, crushed cacao beans with no added sweeteners or preservatives. Use them in place of dark chocolate chips, they are bitter but just a few goes a long way. Cacao nibs are a nutrient dense plant based whole food, containing very high amounts of antioxidants known to help fight free radicals and may assist in reducing inflammation, they are also high in, iron, magnesium and fibre.