Raised from Scratch

growing up outside the box: alternatives to processed food and television

Mesquite Poppy Seed Cookies (Gluten-free) November 26, 2012

Do you have “secret” ingredients in your pantry? Flavors that test taste buds’ expertise and signal the brain to taste again, and again, and again to decipher the flavor? For you adventurous cookie lovers out there, I’m sharing one with you today.

Mesquite powder, explained by Essential Living Foods, where I purchase mine:

“Mesquite is a nourishing, gluten-free flour with a mild, molasses-and-caramel flavor that blends well into everything from smoothies to baking recipes. Mesquite is a hearty tree that survives in the driest climates and is traditionally thought to bring strength to those who consume it. Its powerful, nutrient dense seeds supply protein, fiber and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc plus the amino acid lysine. With a low-glycemic index of 25, this ancient superfood is perfect for adding sweetness without spiking blood sugar.”

The molasses-caramel flavor description is pretty darn accurate, though I also explain it as a light malted cocoa sometimes. It’s unique for sure. These are sturdy cookies, great for holiday tins or any other occasion where you need a cookie that can survive long trips with the postal service. When it comes to mesquite powder a little goes a long way and the flavor is enhanced after baking, so if you taste the cookie dough and wonder if one tablespoon will be enough, believe me, it’s perfect, and the flavor will come through once they bake, inevitably provoking a “What IS that flavor?” response from tasters.

Mesquite Poppy Seed Cookies (Gluten-free)

Makes 36 cookies

4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 t. vanilla extract

2 egg yolks

¾ t. xanthan gum

1 T. mesquite powder

1 t. baking powder

2 T. + 1 t. poppy seeds

2 cups oat flour

½ cup sorghum flour

For chocolate centers:

2-3 oz dark chocolate (such as Scharffen Berger or Baker’s)

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer at medium speed to cream the butter, then add the maple syrup and mix 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and egg yolks, mix on low speed until combined, scraping sides and bottom of bowl.

In a small bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.

Chill dough for 30 minutes, then preheat oven to 350°F. Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, form cookies and place on ungreased cookie sheet 1 ½” apart. Cookies should be about 2 teaspoons in size.  Lightly coat your hands with a small amount of oat flour and gently roll each mound of dough in your hands to form a smooth ball.

Use the handle of a wooden spoon, coated with oat flour to avoid sticking, to make an indentation in the cookie dough before baking to later fill with chocolate. The indentation should be as deep as you can make it without pushing through the bottom of the cookie.

Bake at 350°F for 9 minutes, remove from oven and poke the center of the dough again (dough rises a bit during baking and you want to have enough space for chocolate). Return to oven and bake additional 2-4 minutes. Move cookies to cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before filling with chocolate.

To fill cookies: in a small heavy-bottomed pot, melt chopped chocolate over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, just until melted. Immediately remove from heat, pour or spoon chocolate into the center of each cookie. If you have extra chocolate it is great drizzled across the top as well.

Cool before storing in an air-tight container. Will keep at least one week at room temperature.

Originally inspired by “Brown Sugar Sandwich Cookies” at 101 Cookbooks

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Cinnamon-Orange Cranberry Sauce with Medjool Dates (no refined sugar!) November 8, 2012

Pictured on Gluten-free Cinnamon Amaranth Biscuits

This probably isn’t the cranberry sauce of your childhood. If you’re looking for a traditional American cranberry sauce with lots of sugar to cover the tangy bite of fresh cranberries, this is not the recipe for your holiday meal. This recipe is designed to excite your taste-buds and challenge your concept of what a cranberry sauce should taste like. And while it doesn’t contain any refined sugar, the cinnamon, dates and brown rice syrup ensure it is still delightfully sweet. Thanks to aged balsamic vinegar, fresh orange juice, and medjool dates, I can honestly say I’ve never tasted a cranberry sauce with so many tiers of flavors. If you give it a try I suggest you have some biscuits waiting so you can start devouring this amazing sauce right away. Let it chill in the refrigerator overnight and it’s practically like jam. It’s incredible with a sharp white cheddar cheese. If ever there was a reason to stock up on fresh cranberries, this is it.

 Cinnamon-Orange Cranberry Sauce with Medjool Dates

cooks in 30 minutes

For approximately 2 cups sauce:

12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (1 bag, rinsed in cold water if frozen)

¼ cup + 2 T. water

½ cup + 2 T. brown rice syrup

1 strip orange zest (use a peeler for one long strip)

½ cup fresh orange juice

½ T. aged balsamic vinegar (I used a 12 year barrel aged vinegar from Spicewood Food Company)

1 cinnamon stick

½ cup medjool dates, pitted, chopped (4 large dates)

1/8 t. ground cinnamon

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine water, brown rice syrup, orange zest, orange juice, vinegar and cinnamon stick. Over medium heat, cook 3 minutes. Add ½ of the cranberries and half of the dates; cook 7 minutes, or until cranberries begin to pop, stirring occasionally. Add remaining cranberries and dates and cook additional 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Using a slotted spoon, remove cranberries from the pot and place aside in a small bowl. Return pot with cooking liquid to the heat so it can reduce and thicken, adding ground cinnamon and making sure the cinnamon stick is still in the liquid (orange zest should be removed). Simmer over medium heat 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Return cranberries to the sauce, stir and allow to cool to room temperature. The sauce will thicken further as it cools. Can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.

For approximately 4 cups sauce:

24 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (2 bags, rinsed in cold water if frozen)

¾ cup water

1 ¼ cup brown rice syrup

2 strips orange zest (use a peeler for one long strip)

1 cup fresh orange juice

1 T. aged balsamic vinegar (I used a 12 year barrel aged vinegar from Spicewood Food Company)

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup medjool dates, pitted, chopped (8 large dates)

¼ t. ground cinnamon

Inspired by a recipe from Gourmet magazine entitled Cranberry Sauce with Dates and Orange