I love the combination of dark chocolate and sea salt. B.T. McElrath, a local chocolatier, makes an amazing chocolate bar called the Salty Dog, a combination of dark chocolate, butter toffee, and sea salt. It is positively to die for. Anyway, I've been having salty, chocolate fantasies lately. I was struck with an urge to bake last night while working on chemistry homework, and decided to make some kind of salty, chocolaty confection to take to work with me today.
I've been eyeing up the "Chewy Chocolate Drops" cookie recipe on the back of the Baker's unsweetened chocolate square box recently, and thought that would be the perfect starting point. The general idea is good - a chewy, chocolaty, petite glazed cookie - but the ingredients were an impossibility (wheat flour, eggs, sugar, butter, Cool Whip....). So, I took to work adapting and altering, adding and substituting, tweaking and taste testing, in between licking off beaters, spoons, and spatulas, and scraping out bowls. I pulled out all the stops, blending a few different flours, and throwing in melted chocolate, raw cacao nibs, chia meal, coconut oil, agave nectar and stevia, fruit puree. It was very experimental. Anyway, I finally decided to stop tweaking and bake the darn things. While my little gems were in oven, I whipped up a coconut cream and chocolate glaze that would make an incredible chocolate sauce on just about anything.
I had to sneak a couple of the finished cookies as a midnight snack, and was totally pleased. Success! Then I put them on my favorite antique plate, a lovely relic from my dearly departed Great Grandma Sylvia, and put them in the fridge to chill, thinking that they would be even more delicious chilled - kind of like little truffles. This morning, I tried a cold one. Even better than the night before! Moist and chewy, boasting a deep, dark chocolate flavor, chunks of raw cacao nibs, a little sweetness, a hint of coconut, and a bite of sea salt. The glaze had hardened once chilled, and provided a great contrast to the soft cookie. Wow. This cookie was seriously good.
So, I proudly brought them into the photo studio and placed them at the reception desk, thinking they would be lovely little treats for people to enjoy with their morning cup of coffee. The photo studio is full of foodies (and coffee addicts). These people know good food (and good coffee). So, I insisted on completely honest feedback. I was positively ecstatic to hear that everyone LOVED them. The entire batch of 3 dozen was nearly gone by noon, and a lone cookie remained after the lunch hour; no one ever wants to take the last one.
Here is some of the feedback:
- "A little sweet, a little salty."
- "Oooh, cold chocolate, the best."
- "Exquisite! You should open a bakery."
- "The flavor of chocolate lingers after you're done. Delicious."
- "These are great, Kim. You could bring these in anytime."
- "Nicely done. Not too sweet. I don't like really sweet things; this is great."
- "Is that sea salt? Nice touch."
- "The coconut is great."
- "Oh, they're healthy cookies? There's fruit in them? Okay, I'll have one. [insert eating here] Oh, this is good."
- "I had one this morning right away and needed another one. I really like the salt with the chocolate."
- "Gluten free? Really? Now you're talking my language."
- "Gluten free chocolate coconut cookies? Who baked these, you? Oh, how cuuuuuute!"
- "Okay, I'll have just one more, since they are gluten free and they are just sitting here.... Wow, these are really good. Is this caribou or chocolate? [she meant carob - so cute] Chocolate? Yum." - my dear friend and and coworker Amy, as she reached for her fifth cookie
- "Wow, these things totally filled me up for breakfast! I need another one." - Amy, as she reached for her sixth cookie
Some of the ingredients are a little wacky; not every pantry will be stocked with amaranth flour, chia seed, or creamed coconut, for example. While the buckwheat helps add to the rich flavor of the cookie and I think is necessary, you could try substituting some other GF (or even regular flour for you gluten-eaters) for the amaranth and/or rice flour - but I can't guarantee results, since each flour behaves differently. The chia meal helps to bind it all together and adds a moist, chewy quality. Buy chia seeds pre-ground, or buy seeds whole and grind yourself in a coffee grinder or blender (the more economical choice). A container of whole chia seeds is a little pricy, but it lasts a really long time, and is worth the investment. You could try substituting ground flax, but flax doesn't retain quite as much moisture as chia, and I'm not sure how it would behave. The creamed coconut is a must-have, so head out and pick some up; I really like Let's Do Organic Creamed Coconut. It has a great flavor and is awesome to add to sauces, frostings, and smoothies. Plus, it is easy to find at Whole Foods and the local co-ops (check out the baking section), and isn't too expensive (about $2.50 for a 7 oz box). I am thinking of ordering some on Amazon - you can get a 6 pack for $9.33!
These cookies are a hit. So, make a batch, and share with friends. Enjoy!
CHEWY CHOCOLATE BUCKWHEAT COOKIES WITH CHOCOLATE COCONUT GLAZE AND SEA SALT (gluten free, vegan)
yield: about 3 dozen
1/2 c + 2 T buckwheat flour
1/4 c + 2 T amaranth flour
1/4 c white rice flour
3 T chia meal (use pre-ground chia, or grind whole seeds yourself in a blender or coffee grinder)
3/4 c water
1/3 c fruit puree (I used peach puree)
2 T coconut oil (or other light tasting oil)
2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 T agave nectar
1/2 tsp SweetLeaf stevia sweetener
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 T coarsely ground raw cocao nibs (optional)
1/4 block creamed coconut
1 square baking chocolate
finely shredded coconut (optional)
BAKE THE COOKIES >>>
- Sift together flours and chia meal in a large bowl, and mix with warm water. Let sit for for at least an hour at room temperature so flours and chia absorb liquid and dough becomes thick.
- In a microwave or double boiler, melt together coconut oil and chopped up chocolate squares. If microwaving, check every 30 seconds or so so it doesn't burn - it will melt in 1-2 minutes . Stir together until chocolate pieces are totally smooth, then add fruit puree, agave nectar, stevia, and vanilla, and mix with a hand mixer until well blended.
- Break up dough a bit, then add chocolate mixture, and mix until nearly smooth. Add baking powder and cocao nibs, and mix until smooth.
- Place in refrigerator (or freezer!) until mixture becomes more firm and easy to spoon.
- Preheat oven to 350*, and line baking sheets with parchment or grease with coconut oil
- Spoon dough onto baking sheets; each cookie should be about 1"x1", about 1 T of dough. Bake for about 12-13 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to baking sheet, and let cool completely.
MAKE THE GLAZE >>>
- To prepare frosting, melt together 1 square of baking chocolate with creamed coconut. Stir until well mixed, adding a little agave nectar to taste. NOTE: Packaged coconut cream tends to separate - the coconut solids settle and the coconut oil rises to the top. You want to have a mix of both for the recipe, so cut the solids into quarters and the oil into quarters, and take one section from each. Easy!
- Place in refrigerator until glaze has become more firm, but still spreadable.
FROST AND FINISH >>>
- Once cookies are completely cool, and glaze is firm and spreadable, frost each cookie. NOTE: The cookies must be completely cool, or the frosting WILL melt!
- Sprinkle frosted cookies with coarsely ground sea salt. For an extra touch, add a sprinkle of finely shredded coconut, if desired.
- Serve immediately, or chill for maximum yumminess. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.