Mayan Spiced Chocolate Chewies (for Passover and beyond)

I have a strict rule about Passover desserts:  One should never try to make cakes or cookies with matzo meal or any of it’s derivatives.  They always taste like matzo and the bondage of my people, rather than dessert.  I am only partly kidding, people, so please don’t try to convince me that you made a delicious Passover cake with matzo cake meal.  You didn’t.  So, my approach to Passover baking is to instead choose desserts that are flourless by nature, like pavlovas, flourless chocolate torte, and macarons/macaroons.  These Mayan Spiced Chocolate Chewies are a spicy variation on the popular gluten-free favorite that can be found at Whole Foods.  The spices were inspired by another old favorite of mine the “Mayan Mystery Cookie,”  which is a well-known recipe that has been circulating for a while.  My version is a bit more interesting with warm spices and lots of ginger.  Of course, if you like the original or are serving kids, feel free to omit all the spices and the crystallized ginger.  These cookies are made in one bowl, quick, easy, gluten-free, can be dairy free, Parve, nut-free, and very low in fat.  Enjoy!

First you want to sift your powdered sugar and cocoa into the bowl of your mixer (you can definitely use an electric hand mixer).  Add your dry spices at this point, if using.  Give it a mix on low, just to combine.  Then, just add your egg whites and vanilla.  Mix on medium speed for ablout a minute.  Fold in chocolate chips and minced ginger by hand, if using.

This is the crystallized ginger that I minced.  It is optional, and only suggested if you are a ginger lover or hosting adults only.  Kids tend to think it is too spicy.  I like to cut it with kitchen shears.image

Drop by tablespoonful onto parchment or silpat lined baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until set and shiny on top and still a bit soft in the center.

Let cool completely and peel off of parchment.  Happy baking and Happy Pesach!

Mayan Spiced Chocolate Chewies

Parve, perfect for Passover, gluten-free/dairy-free/nut-free diets, and for all year round.

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (find the Kosher for Passover variety)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Small pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 cup egg whites (approximately 3 large eggs)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (parve and K for P variety)
2 tablespoons crystallized or candied ginger, finely minced (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine powdered sugar, cocoa, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne. Mix on low to combine.
Add in egg whites and vanilla, mixing well for 1 minute on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl. Fold in chocolate chips and minced ginger (if using). Spoon by the tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 12-14 minutes until tops are set and shiny. Let cool for 10 minutes on parchment. Peel cookies off parchment and serve or store in airtight container.

Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookies

I realize that I might seem a bit Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde with this blog- One week decadent desserts, the next healthy treats, with almost no in between. That is actually pretty much the way I roll with my diet in real life, too. I love to eat for absolute pleasure and look for rich, gooey sinful treats that are no good if made “low fat” or “low sugar” or my favorite… “low carb.” I eat that way until it catches up with me, then it is time to reign it in and eat a healthier, whole food type diet. Recently, I decided that this oppositional yo-yo approach is not great for me, mentally or physically. So, I am going to work on balance this year, having the occasional decadent treat, but mostly opting for better choices for my health. Enter the “Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookie.”

I had been seeing a similar recipe pop up on Facebook from time to time. That other recipe pretty much consists of bananas, applesauce, almond milk (a no-no in this nut free home), oats, raisins, and a couple of other ingredients. I decided that the recipe looked flawed to me (too much liquid), and I could recreate it in a yummier (albeit slightly less perfect nutritionally) way. I cut a lot of the liquid, added some soy nut butter (you could use almond or peanut butter), and added a small but satisfying amount of brown sugar and mini-chocolate chips. Voila! A healthy cookie that would make the perfect pre-workout energy/carb boost without breaking the caloric bank. There is no butter in there, and only a minimal amount of brown sugar for flavor. They have a nice dense, chewy texture and are best enjoyed warm. You could reheat them in the toaster oven for a minute before serving.

Overripe bananas
I always have overripe bananas laying around.

Begin with 3 very ripe (brown) bananas. Mash those babies up with one egg, a teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of soy nut butter (or almond or peanut butter!). Stir in 2 cups of old fashioned or rolled oats and 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips. The dough will be wet, but will firm up during baking. Scoop out cookies and spread them out slightly on the parchment, leaving a little bit of space between cookies. They won’t spread much. Bake for 14-16 minutes at 350 degrees on parchment lined baking sheets. Makes 12 large cookies (about 100 calories each) or 24 smaller cookies (50 calories each). The larger ones are great as a breakfast cookie. Serve warm or reheated.

Allergy friendly versions:

You could definitely make these dairy-free by using chocolate chips that contain no dairy ingredients.  You could leave out the egg, and I think they would still work, though I have not tested them.  At that point, they would be vegan.  If you used gluten-free oats, they would (obviously) be gluten free as well.  If you are not eating added sugar, feel free to leave out the brown sugar and/or chocolate chips.

Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookies

Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookies

Healthy cookies, warm and ready to enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 overripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy, sun, almond, or peanut butter
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mash bananas in large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in egg, vanilla, brown sugar, and "nut" butter.
  4. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon 12 large cookies or 24 smaller cookies onto parchment paper, spreading batter out slightly until 1/4 inch thick. Batter will be wet, but will firm upon baking.
  6. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden around edges.
  7. Let cool 5 minutes and serve warm.
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Gingersnap White Chocolate Granola with Chia and Dates (Nut-Free)

So, I am not really known for my self control around baked goods.  I can usually hold it together and only eat 1 or 2 servings of whatever I have made, occasionally sneaking a third in my closet, if it is really good.  However, I do have a weak spot for granola, and this white chocolate granola totally owned me.  Like, to the point that I had to promise myself that I would never make it again.  It was that good.

I am not going to pretend that granola is health food, like so many bloggers before me.  Yes, it has oats, dried fruit, seeds, etc…  It is very energy dense, which is great if you are a marathoner, or hiking or weightlifting a lot.  For the rest of us, let’s just say that it is delicious and leave it at that…

This actually was intended to be a teacher’s gift for Appreciation Week at our school.  Let’s just say that some of it actually made it to the teachers, and that it was difficult for me to part ways with it.  It would make a fantastic holiday teacher gift or brunch treat with some good yogurt.  You could even give it as a housewarming or hostess gift.  Pretty much anyone would be happy with it, I think.  Here’s how I threw it together with random stuff I had in my pantry:

First I mixed together the oats, sunflower seeds, chia, crushed gingersnaps, salt, spices, and chopped medjool dates (you could add the dates after the baking, if you want them to remain super moist).

white chocolate granola ingredients

Next, in a measuring cup, combine 1/3 cup oil, 1/3 cup maple syrup and/ or honey (I used about 1/2 and 1/2 of both), vanilla extract, and a heaping 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  I microwaved the whole shebang in a few 30 second increments, stirring in between until the sugar was dissolved.

white chocolate granola syrup

Pour the the wet mixture over the dry and mix well, until everything is coated.

white chocolate granola mixed

Pour this all out onto a parchment or non-stick foil lined baking sheet.

white chocolate granola on baking sheet

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, stir, and return to oven for 10 minutes.  Stir again, and bake in 5 minute increments, repeating if necessary, until the mixture is golden brown but still a bit moist.  Be careful not to burn it, and do not wait until mixture is completely dry.  This will crisp up after cooling.

white chocolate granola after baking
After baking.

See, it will crisp and clump when it is cool, and only then…

white chocolate granola complete

When it is completely cool, add white chocolate chips, and if you chose to wait to add the dates, add those as well.  If you want, dried cherries are delicious in here, as would be toasted nuts (if you are not allergic).  I wanted to keep this free of nuts for my family, but feel free to customize it with whatever you like.  I ended up adding some minced crystallized ginger, as well.  Place in a ziplock bag or in pretty treat bags, tied with ribbons and enjoy!

white chocolate granola with toppings

P.s. I highly recommend this white chocolate granola served atop tart cherry or pumpkin Noosa yogurt or Stonyfield “Oh My Yog” in gingered pear or apple-cinnamon.

p.p.s.  Feel free to leave out the chia, the dates, or the crystallized ginger.   I would highly recommend that you leave at least some white chocolate in there, because as we discussed before, this is not a health food anyway….live a little!

p.p.p.s.  If you leave out the gingersnaps (or use gluten free ones), this would be gluten free.  This is assuming you used gluten free oats and all of your other ingredients were gluten free, of course.

Gingersnap White Chocolate Granola

  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (or could sub pepitas)
  • 1/4 cups chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup Gingersnap cookies, crushed (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup medjool dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup oil (I used canola, but vegetable or melted coconut oil would work)
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup (or a combo of both works well)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark, your choice)
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips (give or take, depending on what you like)
  • 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, minced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I used 325 convection).  In a large bowl, mix oats, all seeds, Gingersnaps, spices, salt, and dates.

In a large measuring cup, combine oil, honey and/or maple syrup, vanilla, and brown sugar.  Whisk together.  Microwave by 30 second intervals, watching carefully.  When mixture bubbles at edges and sugar is melted, pour over dry ingredients.  Mix thoroughly to coat.

On a large, parchment-lined baking sheet, spread granola out into a thin, even layer.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Stir mixture and return to oven for 10 minutes.  Stir again.  Return to oven for 5 minute intervals, stirring in between, until mixture is golden brown, but still a bit moist in the center.  Cool completely.

Break up any large clumps into a zip top bag.  Add white chocolate, minced ginger, and cherries, if desired.  Serve or store in a air-tight container or bag.  Great as a cereal, ice cream or yogurt topping, gifting, or for snacking.

*Mine only lasted 2 days, but I would imagine it would keep for a week or more.  Good luck with it not disappearing sooner, though.

Healthy(ish) Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I was out to dinner with some girlfriends the other night, when I got into a foodie discussion with a friend of mine who happens to be a doctor (and is very fit and healthy….go figure).  She was telling me about these delicious healthy muffins that she makes that are full of coconut sugar and almond flour.  So, my thoughts instantly went to ‘my muffins are all full of fatty-fat and real empty-calorie sugary deliciousness, so I guess that could be why I am 30 lbs heavier than her.’  Or something like that.  Maybe I should at least attempt to healthify some muffins for my kids to eat for breakfast.  Well, coconut and almond are out of the question in our house, due to severe allergies, so here is my non-trendy ingredient attempt at some pretty yummy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.  I put the recipe into MyFitnessPal, and they came out to 220 calories each, with the generous amount of chocolate chips.  You could reduce the amount of chips or leave them out completely for a much lower calorie count.  These babies also contain approximately 4 grams each of fiber and protein.

Place the dry ingredients in a bowl, or have some adorable children do that for you:

kids love to help

It will look like this, if everything gets into the bowl:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins dry ingredients

Then, mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl or large measuring cup and mix wet into dry.  Fold in the chocolate chips, if you are living dangerously.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins batter

Then spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups, top with a light sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar and a few additional chips, if you are really into pushing the health food envelope.  My motto is “Everything is better when covered in chocolate, especially diet food.”  This might be why all of my diets have failed, but nonetheless, they will look like this:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins in the muffin pan

Time to pop them in the 375 degree oven.  Mine was 350 convection, so either way….this is the end result:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins finished

Who doesn’t love a pumpkin muffin? My kids actually ate them willingly!

Healthy-ish Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Healthy-ish Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 1 cup oat flour (I blitzed some old fashioned oats in a food processor until very finely ground)
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar (yes, I know this isn't healthy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I love Trader Joe's spice blend!)
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin purée (Libby's is fine)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips + extra for the tops, if desired
  • cinnamon sugar (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  
  2. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice.  Mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, combine the pumpkin, yogurt, applesauce, honey, eggs, and vanilla.  
  5. Stir this wet mixture into the dry mixture.  
  6. Before the mixture completely comes together, stir in the melted butter.  ("A little butter never hurt anyone"- my diet motto #2....See, this blog is cathartic and self-illuminating).  
  7. Stir a few more times, just until everything is combined.  
  8. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  9. Drop batter carefully into the muffin liners, almost all the way up to the top.  
  10. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar, and top each muffin with a few additional chocolate chips.
  11. Bake for 19-21 minutes.  Mine took exactly 20 mins.  
  12. Enjoy without too much guilt.
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