Desserts · Gluten Free · Snacks · Vegan

Chai Spiced Coconut Cashew Cookies (Vegan, Gluten Free, & Naturally Sweetened)

I once spent eight months training for a cookie baking competition.

IMG_2186Yes, my senior year of high school. There was going to be a local bake-off held at a festival that summer, and I, Righteous Vegan Baker Extraordinaire, was going to win with a vegan cookie recipe.

In those months of preparation I baked probably 80% of the recipes in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I still think that’s a great book, as are all their books if you aren’t familiar. Cooking through their recipes was how I learned some of my earliest kitchen skills.

I’d bake cookies at night and either bring them to my 8:10 AM Spanish class, or to the staff at the restaurant where I waited tables. I wouldn’t be surprised if to this day my former classmates think the Spanish word for breakfast is “galleta” (cookie).

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Thousands of cookies came out of my kitchen in those months, and I was ready to win. But you know what happened? Or I should say, you know what didn’t happen? The festival. So there never ended up being a competition.

Talk about a bummer! I like to think I was still a winner in the end though. Because I learned a hell of a lot about what makes a good cookie. The kind of knowledge one can only acquire by consuming a decade’s worth of cookies in less than a year. All that know-how has stuck with me, and expanded beyond vegan cookies to include traditional butter-and-egg-containing cookies, gluten free cookies, and naturally sweetened cookies as well.

The Sword in the Scone is still young, but I promise an inundation of cookie recipes to come in the near future.

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While I don’t pick favorites or discriminate when it comes to cookies, I am partial to oatmeal cookies, and any kind of spiced cookie. These Chai Spiced Coconut Cashew Cookies have both! They are a variation on one of my favorite recipes I came up with a few years back for a chewy vegan cookie baked without gluten or refined sugars. My objective was to create a sweet treat that packed enough nutritional punch to be eaten as a snack, but could be sold at a bake sale without anyone ever knowing the difference.

No weird flours or applesauce or gums or any other crazy ingredients I’ve seen stirred together to make “cookies.” These are made from a base of oats, nuts, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and not much else. In this recipe I use a medley of chai spices, roasted cashews, and some unsweetened shredded coconut for texture and added flavor. The combination creates a warm, toothsome treat perfect for any time of year.

As with any cookie, these Chai Spiced Coconut Cashew Cookies are extra good dipped in your milk of choice. Or you could double the flavor and enjoy one with a cup of chai tea! They’re both a comforting snack and a satisfying dessert. Naturally sweetened, they’re a much more wholesome choice than most “breakfast cookie” recipes I’ve seen, so if you want to grab one to go alongside your morning chai latte, I can’t say I blame you!

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Chai Spiced Coconut Cashew Cookies
Yields 24 cookies

Warm spiced oatmeal cookies made both chewy and crunchy with coconut and cashews. Healthy enough to eat for breakfast!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup (192g) cashew butter, raw and unsalted*
  • 1/4 cup (70g) brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. (117g) maple syrup
  • 1 cup (112g) almond meal
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup (90g) quick-cooking oats*
  • 1/2 cup (57g) roasted unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup (20g) unsweetened shredded coconut

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk together the cashew butter, brown rice syrup, and maple syrup until smooth. Add the almond meal, spices, salt, and baking soda, and use a rubber spatula to stir until combined.

Fold in the oats, coconut and cashews until a firm dough forms, It should be slightly sticky, but will hold its shape.

Allow it to rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350°F, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Once the oven is at temperature, form the cookies. Use slightly dampened hands to roll the mixture into balls, about one ounce each. Arrange two inches apart on the baking sheets. Do not flatten the balls.

Bake for 11-12 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned and the tops are a little bit puffy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the sheets for 5-10 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

While I’d never discourage anyone from eating a freshly baked cookie, these really do taste best after they’ve sat in an airtight container for at least a few hours, even better a day later. The time intensifies the flavor and makes these cookies extra chewy. All the more reason to make a big batch!


*Cashew butter can be expensive and/or hard to find. I make my own by whizzing a pound of raw cashews in a food processor for 10-15 minutes until totally smooth. A quick Google search will give you plenty of tutorials on how to make your own nut butter. That said, raw unsalted almond butter can be used in these cookies instead, though it will produce a slightly different flavor.

*I typically use quick-cooking oats, but regular old-fashioned rolled oats work fine. I suggest in this case you allow the dough to sit closer to 20-25 minutes before shaping into balls.

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