Saturday, May 17, 2014

Easy Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Half-and-Half Cookies

I am not one for food fads, ever. Removing animal products from your diet isn't inherently healthier than keeping them in; eliminating gluten from your diet isn't inherently healthier than keeping it in, (legitimate medical issues aside).

But I have friends and loved ones who have different dietary needs and wants than I do, and what kind of friend would I be if I didn't remember that? A crappy one. I've made vegan cookies before, but that recipe was one that took a lot of work and was vegan by virtue of substituting vegetable shortening in for butter. This time, I decided to see what I could do with almond paste (mandelmassa), since I didn't have a giant tub of Crisco at my disposal. I didn't set out to make something gluten-free. That was just a happy accident.

There are lots of recipes for almond paste cookies if you go looking, but I winged it on this recipe. You can really do anything you like with the stuff, it's pretty much like ready-made cookie dough.

Half-and-Half Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies

These two-ingredient almond dark chocolate cookies are perfect for when you want to bake, but not too much.


Almond paste. I bought mine ready-made, but you can always make your own. Here's one recipe, though it's not vegan (uses egg whites and butter). This one has no eggs or butter, but it does have honey, which might or might not be okay, depending on your vegan(s). This one has no animal products whatsoever. I checked the ingredients on mine (a generic Swedish store brand) to make sure there were no animal products. 250 grams (a generous cup) of paste yielded about 4 dozen cookies for me, but YMMV.

Dark chocolate (melted). It's vegan! Being able to eat dark chocolate is almost enough to make up for giving up cheese, I suppose. Remember to check the label: some chocolate is processed in facilities with milk (or nuts, or soy). I prepared 100 grams but 50 would have been enough for my purposes. That's okay, leftover chocolate is hardly a problem for me.

Estimated prep time:

With ready-made paste, and including baking, about 15 minutes. Longer if you decide to make your own paste or to do something fancy with the chocolate. Allow at least an hour to cool.

Putting it together:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 *F or 200 *C, whichever system you use.
  2. Roll your almond paste into little logs. Size is up to you; I like ones that are about the width and length of my thumb.
  3. Arrange the logs on your cookie sheet. The almond paste doesn't spread like batter, so you can have them a little close to each other. It does rise fairly significantly, so press your logs firmly into the sheet.
  4. Bake for 4–6 minutes. Mine got nice and golden on top but a little too brown on the bottom after 6 minutes at 200 *C, but everyone's oven is different. 
  5. While your cookies are baking/cooling, melt the dark chocolate however you prefer. (I microwaved mine on medium for 30 seconds.)
  6. Dip the cookies in the melted chocolate as generously or as conservatively as you like. I tried to cover about half of each cookie for the visual effect and to keep from getting my hands messy. Twirl the log in the chocolate so that you get the sides covered as well.
  7. Let cool in the fridge for at least an hour.

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