It’s too early to be sharing holiday cookie recipes in my opinion. I’m still in “whoa, its winter mode” which means that I’m baking up a storm because its chilly outside, and everything is delicious…but nothing is singing holiday carols as it comes out of the oven. (In case you thought that might happen in my kitchen. Ahem.)
I hope that this one fills in holes for those of you who are vegan, or just hunting for a special cookie and haven’t found it yet, because hunting for a special cookie is how I came to bake up these. For all these reasons, and for all of the cookie reasons, these are keepers.
I once asked Tim what his “spirit cookie” would be. He got this devilish grin on his face and began to tell me the story of the most covetable, comforting, delicious cookie in all of the land (or, in all of Portland.) Each morning, he’d toddle down the street from his office in Northwest to a little bakery/cafe to buy a cookie and a coffee. The cookie was THE cookie, and apparently he wasn’t alone in coveting it. Loaded with chocolate chunks and flecked with vanilla, it was maple-y and chewy and soft and vegan (!!) and also no longer available ANYWHERE because little bakery/cafe that made them had shuttered its doors and locked away the legendary “Miss-A-Hippie Cookie” behind them.
Even though I never asked Tim about his spirit cookie again, I heard the story over and over. For several years now whenever cookie talk would start (which is often, really, if your friends of mine.) Each time the story would conclude, Tim’s head would hang a bit with sadness and some element of nostalgia as if he was talking about “The One” who got away, or a long lost friend he wished he knew how to reach. Somewhere along the way – probably where alcohol was involved – I promised that the cookie wasn’t gone, or locked up forever, or lost to the world. No one wants to see their friend suffer in memory. Not even over a cookie. Not even if they’re a little bit drunk and prone to missing other spellbinding foods like that vanilla ice cream from the little town in Northern California. I promised to remake the Miss-A-Hippie Cookie. To bring it back. I didn’t promise I would CALL the cookie by its original name, but I promised it would be as good.
And so, through the months, I’ve gone searching for clues about the Miss-A-Hippie. Hunting down old recipes, casting them off, reading between the lines to see if I could discover the secret for what could possibly make a cookie that sounded so…pedestrian, frankly…be so undeniable. After quite a few test batches and with much intention, I stumbled onto a few tricks and at last, I think we’ve recreated Tim’s spirit cookie and along with it, I hope Tim’s chin will lift. Even if he can’t toddle down the street to pick up a cookie and a coffee, he’ll know that he can have a coffee + cookie for breakfast any time he wants, and the Miss-A-Hippie lives on. (Because, everyone ought to have a cookie-for-breakfast ritual, you know what I’m saying?)
I packed a backpack full of these Toasted Almond Cookies as I flew to Portland last weekend, twitching in my seat with anticipation for him to try them. Worried that I didn’t get his translation right; that I’ve put a chewy texture in where the crumbs ought to be. That I used chocolate chunks smaller/bigger than he remembered, or that my toasted almonds won’t be as perfect and “snappy” as the toasted almonds in his food memory. But with the first bite, he was transported back to the cookie-for-breakfast ritual. And with every bite after that, his smile became a little bigger. Even if we didn’t get it perfectly right, this is a cookie he’s going to remember for a while and I’m pretty sure that a few more of you out there will remember them too.
The recipe is ridiculously straightforward, and I’m pretty excited for the way that the brown sugar, coconut oil and maple syrup make up a nice little base as a substitute for the butter + egg structure in a non-vegan cookie. And, I love the shape, spread and satisfying chew of this cookie. So good, I might be talked out of making other cookies for a while here. (VICTORY.)
Two notes: This cookie can easily be made gluten-free by substituting the all-purpose flour below for a gluten-free flour. I’m still experimenting to find *my* own favorite gluten-free flour mix, but I use this one frequently. And, don’t pass up toasting the almonds. Their flavor and crunch add something unexpected and so simply good here. And, use the best quality chocolate bars you can find, then chop them up in lieu of using chocolate chips. Trust me — you’ll appreciate the little bits of chocolate in some places and HUGE plops of chocolate in others.
Bake these up! Maybe even for Santa! ; ) xo
Almost Famous Toasted Almond Oatmeal Cookies
- 1 3/4 cups gluten free rolled oats or rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend or all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup refined coconut oil, just softened
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, room temperature
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 3/4 cup roughly chopped toasted almonds
- 1/2-3/4 cups chopped chocolate
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In medium bowl, sift together oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, cream together coconut sugar and coconut oil. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl. Turn the mixer back on and mix in the maple syrup, coconut milk, vanilla seeds and vanilla extract. The mix will start to become a bit like a creamy paste. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl again. Lastly, add flour mixture and the toasted almonds and chopped chocolate, stopping to scrape the bottom of the bowl one more time. Mix until just combined.
- Using an ice cream scoop, portioner or big spoon, place rounded scoops of cookie dough onto prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space between each. Bake cookies 10-12 minutes. Cookies with be golden brown and soft to the touch. Place on cooling rack to cool completely.