Carob Chip Mint Surprise Cookies (gluten free, vegan, egg free, dairy free)

This is an adaptation of an adaptation of my mom's Mint Surprise Cookies.  A perennial favorite at holiday time, Mint Surprise Cookies are my dad's favorite cookie.  Actually, I think the original recipe came from my Great Grandma Volp, my dad's grandma.  The mint surprise cookie is a soft, chewy dough with a chocolate mint wafer tucked gracefully into the middle and a walnut pressed on top, so when you bite into it, you get a tasty "SURPRISE" of minty chocolate under a toasty walnut.  Those cookies make me think of my childhood Christmases.  In recent years, my mom has started using that same dough but mixing chunked up chocolate mint wafers and ground walnuts into the dough, resulting in a kind of nutty mint chocolate chunk cookie.  I smelled them when I helped assemble the cookie tray this last Christmas for our family dinner, and they looked amazing.  But I did not eat them - alas, the original Mint Surprise Cookie is made with wheat, sugar, egg, butter, and those darn walnuts.  Humph.  Yeah, I could swing the butter in a pinch, but the rest of it?  Not so much anymore.  

I decided to make the chocolate chunk version of the Mint Surprise Cookie that my mom has been making lately, but without the walnuts.  So really, there isn't too much of a "surprise" with the cookie after all, but I decided to keep the name, in the spirit of old time's sake.  If one were to make carob wafers instead of chips, one could definitely do a "surprise" version, something I may try soon!  The true surprise version uses a whole different cookie assembly technique, and I'd be curious to see how this dough would handle it.  Maybe I'll do that for my birthday instead of a cake.

These cookies make me reasonably satisfied. They aren't as super soft and chewy like the original, but have a great texture all their own - a little crisp on the outside, moist and crumbly and cakey on the inside, studded by chunks of home-made mint carob chips. If you tolerate store-purchased carob chips, go ahead and use those - or try making your own (EASY!) with the recipe below.  Instead of leaving the dough plain and relying solely on the carob chips for rich minty goodness, I added a little carob powder and mint extract to the dough too.   I used a mix of rice flours and little garbanzo bean flour for body and texture.  But don't worry, the flavor isn't too beany like some bean flour baked goods.  They are minty, rich, and lightly sweet.  I ate a couple - okay, I ate four - with a glass of rice milk and it reminded me of being a kid again.  Granted, my taste buds are so far removed from "normal"cookies that it doesn't take much to please me.

I'm curious to see how they hold up over a day or so, and if they dry out really quickly.  I'm going to try freezing a few to see how well they thaw.  And the rest I may take to work - gulp! I haven't brought any GF vegan baked goods to my coworkers yet.  I'll be sure to post the feedback and the updates on how these hold up overnight.

No added super nutrition here, sorry folks.  These are full of fat and calories and all that stuff that keeps meat on our bones when our diet consists mostly of vegetables. 

Carob Mint Chip Surprise Cookies

yield: 2 dozen 2 1/2-inch cookies
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 2 tablespoons roasted carob flour
  • 1 tsp corn-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Spectrum Organic palm oil shortening
  • 1/3 cup fruit puree (I used pureed peach)
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1 tsp Simply Organic peppermint flavor (gluten and alcohol free!)
  • 1/4 cup + 2-4 tablespoon rice milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 3/4 cup carob chips (store bought or homemade, see recipe below)
  • optional: 1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 375º and prepare a baking sheet (I used parchment).
In medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk ingredients briskly to add air and make fluffy.
In large bowl, cream shortening on high with a mixer.  Gradually add fruit puree, agave, peppermint flavor, and 1/4 c of rice milk.  Mix until smooth and well incorporated.  
Gradually add dry ingredients to wet.  Gradually add additional rice milk to reach a good dough consistency.
Fold in carob chips and walnuts, if using.
Spoon by the tablespoon onto prepared baking sheet, and flatten slightly with a fork. The cookies do not spread very much. 
Bake 12 minutes at 375º, one batch at a time.  Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.  

Homemade Mint Carob Chips

adapted from Sally Fallon's "Nourishing Traditions"
yield: approx 1 - 1 1/2 c chips
  • 1/2 c coconut oil
  • 1/2 c roasted carob flour
  • 1 T agave syrup
  • 1-2 t peppermint flavor, to taste 
Melt coconut oil, and mix in flour, agave, and peppermint flavor. 
Line small pan with wax paper or saran wrap, and pour in oil mixture. 
Cool in refrigerator until solid.  Remove from pan, and cut into chips of desired size.
Store in a cool place in a jar until ready to use.


Update! Feedback from my coworkers. 

So, I took the cookies to work the next day and fed them to my coworkers. All the cookies got eaten by noon, which I saw as a good sign. Overall, the feedback was positive, which I felt great about - I was a little self-conscious to bring in my gluten-free vegan cookies to a photo studio full of excellent bakers, food snobs, and wheat eaters (save two people who also eat gluten-free).  But everyone is pretty supportive and understanding of my dietary requirements, so I knew I'd get good feedback.  Many improvements were suggested.  Here are some of the comments and overall feedback.

  1. A little dry - and I agree.  After the cookies sat overnight, they dried out, as gluten free items often do.  
  2. Nice minty aroma, but lacking a depth of flavor.
  3. Too minty.
  4. Not minty enough.
  5. One of my GF coworkers HATES bean flours and was surprised there was bean flour in this cookie, because she couldn't taste it!
  6. The cookie needs something else - the cookie too much of the same flavor.  To this point, I do agree - I think I went overboard adding mint to the cookie dough and the chip, and the mint flavor is a little overwhelming - the cookie might have more complexity if the cookie dough wasn't minty and just the chips were.
  7. Cookie could be chewier/moister in the middle, but overall it had a good crumb.
  8. Add more fruit puree, or try adding banana or egg whites to get a more chewy, lighter texture (I can't eat banana or egg whites, but this would be a great suggestion if I could).
  9. Try a mixture of shortening and oil instead of all shortening.
  10. Use the basic flour mixture but try a totally different cookie, maybe using dried fruit, nuts/seeds, or grated carrot/beet/zucchini/etc to add texture and depth.  I was thinking this myself - the overall rice and garbanzo mix made a good cookie flour base.
  11. Flavor would be better made like a crispy, "Thin Mint" type cookie rather than this type of cookie.
I put a few in the freezer.  They are pretty darn good eaten frozen and just thawed slightly, and woudl make a very tasty ice cream sandwich.  But unfortunately, they don't thaw out completely exceptionally well - they get a little too dry.
So, the final verdict?  This cookie is very tasty fresh from the oven or eaten the same day.  The next day it gets a little dry.  I'd cut the mint from the dough, but keep it in the chips.  If you want to freeze cookies for later, try freezing the dough and then baking fresh after removing. And stay tuned for more cookie experiments using this same basic mix!  I'd like to try a cookie that uses plumped goji berries and rice flakes, kind of like an oatmeal raisin cookie...