Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's Cookie Time!

Is there ever a time in life when cookies are inappropriate?  No, of course not!

Eons ago when I was a kid, my younger brother and sister and I would make Nestle's Toll House Cookies together around Christmas time.  We were a creative little threesome, so we would always make a "story" out of the process. I don't remember it *precisely* but I think the dry ingredients formed the mountains, the vanilla was lava, the egg was sunshine, chips were chocolate rain -- you get the picture. This was after Atari but before Playstation -- we had fun with simple stuff. The best part was getting those cookies hot out of the oven -- crispy on the outside, soft inside -- and dunking them in ice-cold milk. Mmmmm... makes you wanna throw rocks at pretty boys, as Dad likes to say.

So, you could safely say cookie-making, especially in December, is simply in my veins. Now, chocolate chip will always be fine and dandy, but lately I've been all about carob, what I consider to be cocoa's nutty-sweet ancient cousin. Mom used to give it to us sometimes as kids. I recently started eating it again during a fast earlier this year, and I just can't get enough. I toss carob chips into my homemade pancakes and I drink carob hot with almond milk as a sub for coffee or tea. In the words of My Big Man, "It's D.E. Licious."

Read up on carob's origins and uses (it may have been what John the Baptist ate in the wilderness) or get straight to the sweet stuff with my favorite carob chip cookie recipe, courtesy of the Chatfield's brand of carob chips. Enjoy!

Shones' Fave Carob Chip Cookie Recipe

2 cups flour
¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ¾ sticks soft butter
1 cup date sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup carob chips (I like grain- or naturally sweetened carob chips)

Heat oven to 375-degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Mix butter, sugar/s, milk, vanilla extract, and egg in a separate larger bowl. Gradually add flour mix to the wet mix, stirring well. Add carob chips.
Bake 9-11 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet. ENJOY!!

· I use organic whole wheat flour in place of regular flour.
· Sometimes I substitute 2 cups of self-rising flour for the first three ingredients.
· For a different texture, I add whole flaxseeds or finely ground nuts (e.g. walnuts, pecans) to the mix at the end.
· I strongly prefer using date sugar (ground up dates!) over brown sugar.
· I often replace the brown sugar with maple syrup, molasses, honey, or agave nectar (or some odd blend of these). I tried a half-cup of brown sugar + 1 cup unsweetened applesauce today and reduced the milk by a third to make up for the additional liquid. It made for more cake-like, fluffy cookie.

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