Monday, December 2, 2013

Hazelnut and cherry carob cookies - vegan and wheat free {Christmas ideas 2013}

At the risk of sounding patronising, I always feel a little sorry for people who don't like carob. It's one of those flavours that I find so wonderful, and so satisfying, that it's hard to believe other people don't feel the same way.

(Oh, I know. You probably think the same about me and cheese, or plain avocado, or any number of foods I inexplicably Just Don't Like.)

I attribute my carob love to my mother. When my brother and I were young, she favoured it over chocolate as a lower sugar and - crucially - caffeine-free treat that was less likely to spark over-excitement in our young selves. Having acquired the taste as a child, I've retained it through to adulthood.


If you share my carob love, I think you'll share my love for these biscuits, or cookies to Americans. They have warm caramel hues, the carob pairs beautifully with the dried cherries, and they are crisp on the outside and chewy within. To top things off, hazelnut nibs are scattered throughout for texture and flavour contrast.

Crucially, if you don't like carob, you can love these too! I believe these could be the biscuits to sway your carob dislike, but if you aren't willing to take the risk, they would also be gorgeous with cocoa.


Make them as gifts, serve them up to guests, or just make them for yourself - whatever way you use them, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Hazelnut and cherry carob cookies
These are the epitome of carob delight, but you can substitute in cocoa if preferred.
Vegan and wheat free; easily gluten free if you use gluten free oats.
Recipe borne of imagination.
Makes about 16 biscuits.

Food processor desirable, but modifications are noted to allow these to be made without one.


Ingredients
Hazelnut paste made from 1/2 cup hazelnuts and 1/8 cup water (see directions below and note)

Dry ingredients -
1 1/2 cups oat flour (process 1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp oats in a food processor, or buy commercial oat flour)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup carob powder
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt

Wet ingredients -
1 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 1/2 cup water for at least 15 minutes
1/3 cup agave (or maple syrup)

Mix ins -
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped (process briefly in a food processor, or chop by hand, or buy pre-chopped)
1/2 cup dried unsweetened cherries, roughly chopped

Method
Preheat your oven to 180'C (355'F) and line 3 baking trays with baking paper.

To make the hazelnut paste: Process 1/2 cup whole hazelnuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Add 1/8 cup water gradually while the food processor is running, and allow the mixture to come together in a sticky paste. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed. The resulting paste will still be fairly thick, about the consistency of thick porridge.

If you don't have a food processor, mix 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp hazelnut meal with 1/8 cup water and stir into a finer paste.

If you make your own nut milk, 1/2 cup hazelnut pulp left over from making hazelnut milk should also stand in here.


Hazelnut paste.

Combine the dry ingredients (oat flour, oats, carob powder, coconut, baking soda, baking powder and salt) in a large bowl. 

Add the chia seeds soaked in water, agave, and hazelnut paste to the dry ingredients. Mix well to combine. The batter should be quite moist.

Add the cherries and chopped hazelnuts to the mix and stir through.

Place heaped dessertspoons of mixture onto the prepared baking pans, and then bake the biscuits for 10 - 12 minute until crisp on the top. Allow to cool before serving.

Extra notes
I used hazelnut paste made from nuts and water in the food processor. There are likely to be subtle texture differences if you use one of the suggested variations, so add more liquid or more flour if your batter seems too dry.

I imagine other flours (plain flour, commercial gluten-free flour, spelt flour) could substitute well for the oat flour, but I haven't tried that so can't assure good outcomes.

Lastly, I imagine these would also be wonderful with carob or chocolate chips thrown in!


Submitted to Ricki's Wellness Weekends.

Are you a carob fan? How about dried cherries? I love both but find dried cherries are often too expensive for regular baking (they're justifiable at Christmas!).

34 comments:

  1. This is how I feel about people who don't like coffee. BUT COFFEE IS PERFECT!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fortunately I like coffee, so we can be in complete agreement :-)

      Delete
  2. I quite like carob but I have never tried dried cherries... I can't even imagine the flavour. These sound delicious, and a really good (healthy) treat to have on hand over Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you had dried blueberries? They are like that, but with cherry flavour instead :-) Or otherwise, just trust me that they are really delicious!

      Delete
  3. I haven't revisited carob for a long time Kari, you've almost convinced me to try it again...almost ;-)
    Now where's my avocado and cheese sanga...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Teehee...you keep your sandwich and I'll keep my carob biscuits B. :-)

      Delete
  4. Yeah I feel like this about cheese and avocado but not carob - I can sort of appreciate it if it is compared to caramel but it is a poor cousin to chocolate which my dad and my grandfather were both crazy about so I guess it is a family thing. Of course if someone gave me these bikkies I think I would probably enjoy them. Interestingly sylvia really love carob so I should make them for her

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sylvia has good tastes ;) I actually think part of carob's poor reputation stems from it being seen as an alternative to chocolate. I know it is marketed that way, and of course it is in some ways, but I think of carob and chocolate as like coffee and tea. There is no need to choose! Equally good, but different :-)

      Delete
  5. I really like carob but have a feeling the.boy would think it too bitter. Well, more cookies for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And that is a win-win situation I'd say :-)

      Delete
  6. Um, am I the only one who has never heard of or tasted carob before? I've never even seen it anywhere. Am I missing out?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not super common so I can understand you not having heard of it - but yes, I'd say you are missing out ;) Carob pods give carob powder that is similar to cocoa powder, but carob is lower in fat and doesn't have caffeine when compared to cocoa. It's also a bit sweeter and has a slightly different taste. I love chocolate / cocoa as well as carob but find carob goes really well with berries and fruit flavours, perhaps because it is a little sweeter and more mellow than chocolate is.

      Delete
  7. I do love carob and dried cherries but, like you, very rarely buy the latter because of their price :( These look like gorgeous cookies, and chewy is just how I like them :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I would try those EXCEPT for the fact that I'm allergic to tree nuts and the hazelnuts would make my face swell up like a balloon. But really, it's not the carob that I'm hesitant to try...it's the added nuts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh how horrible :( Yes, that would definitely put a no go on this recipe!

      Delete
  9. My parents were very anti-sugar (much to my disappointment) and so at Easter (that rare time we were given chocolate) my mother would substitute with carob eggs. I tried and I tried to like carob but I just didn't like it - maybe I was craving the caffeine! I'm sure I'd like the carob in these though as I'm sure mixed with cherries and hazelnuts it would take on excellent flavours xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, the old chocolate substitute - even I hated it when that was pulled on us as children! As a bonus treat I was all for carob, but as a substitute...no thank you. Our parents would probably have got on quite well ;)

      Delete
  10. These look beautiful! I have never had carob, though

    ReplyDelete
  11. haha must admit I've never really been a carob fan! Though can't say i've tried it recently and my taste buds have definitely changed over the years. I will try these cookies - with cocoa ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Teehee...yes, I guess it would be a shame to waste these on carob if there's a chance you won't like them. I would recommend giving it another go with a 'low risk' product though! I like it thrown into frozen banana soft serve if you ever make that :-)

      Delete
  12. I like carob, and these sound delish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank goodness for a fellow carob fan!

      Delete
  13. This home made version looks easy to make and so so delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  14. These look so good! Have to admit am a bit on the fence about carob but I should try it again :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely! I know I am probably biased, but I really think these could be the cookies to sway you ;)

      Delete
  15. Mmmm...I love carob, no swaying needed here! I am going to try stevia and sub cherries to make ACD friendly! They look yummy.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This sounds like an amazing combination of flavors! I love carob, but I think I'll enjoy it even more after this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm always delighted to find fellow carob lovers :-) Thanks Laura!

      Delete
  17. I do love carob :D and you're right about it being a great caffeine-free alternative to chocolate. It's also got it's own fabulous taste that makes it worthy of being in these fabulous cookies! Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ally! It does indeed have its own fabulous taste - I figure carob and chocolate each have their place in the world :-)

      Delete

I genuinely appreciate all comments and the time taken to post them. Occasionally, I may need to restrict commenting to registered users in order to halt large volumes of spam. If that happens, I will lift the restriction within a week.

Want other ways to interact? Bite-sized thoughts is on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/bitesizedthoughts) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/bitesizethought).