… Creatively Satisfying a Craving for Chocolate Chip Cookies!
Lent is a time for abstinence and prayer. I must admit I could use more practice in both. Lent is over now but I carry with me a few things that I discovered during the season. Some are personal. One is this great cookie recipe. And it must be shared!
For the abstinence part of my Lenten journey, I decided to give up chocolate. Yep, I said it. I gave up chocolate. I hear some of you snickering. Thought I couldn’t do it, right? Well, I did. And I survived.
I also learned something. I learned that I don’t need chocolate as much as I thought I did. Love it. Want it. But don’t need it. That was a good discovery. Not earth-shattering, but good. The last time I gave up chocolate for Lent was before my gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle and I came away with a different discovery … I needed chocolate. I honestly think the difference this time around was that I’ve become a cleaner eater (very few processed foods, much less sugar, and a very wide variety of whole foods, fruits, and veggies) over the past four years and my palate doesn’t uncontrollably crave those things as it used to. Great discovery! (It’s also the reason that you didn’t get as many chocolate recipes those 40 days of Lent. No taste-testing … no recipe. After all, I can’t share things I haven’t proofed. That would just be wrong.)
Anyway, on to how this recipe came to be. Though I couldn’t eat chocolate, I still wanted a chocolate chip-style cookie. You know the ones. They have a crispy exterior, are a little bit buttery, and have a great chewy center with bits of tasty surprises. (Still now, even talking about chocolate chip cookies, there’s no craving. This is a good thing!)
I decided I would use my favorite gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate chip cookie recipe, minus the chocolate chips, plus a few tweaks, and try some other add-ins for a change. Now, you might think my choice of add-ins is a bit strange, but don’t be too quick to judge. They really came out different – and delicious.
These are not the kind of cookies that you’ll want to pull out a jug of milk, settle yourself down in front of your favorite movie, and devour most of the batch of cookies without thinking. No, these Smokey Bacon Tart Cherry Date Cookies are more of a conversation piece. You try them, you ponder their uniqueness, you discuss how they came to be with your friends, you savor the experience, then you wait awhile until you return for more. They’re always a welcome change to the readily available and well-known, but to go sparingly, appreciate occasionally, and anticipate their next arrival.
From the name, you already know that there are tart dried cherries and dates here. The smokiness comes from some very crispy bacon. Oh yeah. It’s an unusual pairing of flavors, but they really work well together. The salty, the tang, the sweet. It’s a good thing!
And you know what? I didn’t miss the chocolate chips at all. (I’m guessing they’d be pretty tasty if you included them in this recipe too. Go ahead. And let me know what you think.)
Gluten-free, Dairy-free Smokey Bacon Tart Cherry Date Cookies
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 11-13 minutes per baking sheet
Oven temp: 375ºF
Makes: about 28 cookies
5 slices thick-cut bacon, finely sliced (about 1/8th-1/4-inch pieces – I use Beeler’s Hickory Smoked Uncured Bacon
3 cups minus 1 Tablespoon (345g) gluten-free all-purpose flour – I use Authentic Foods Bette’s Gourmet Four Flour Blend
1 teaspoon guar gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ¼ teaspoon arrowroot powder or corn starch
½ cup dried tart cherries, chopped
½ cup (about 5) fresh dates, pitted and chopped – I use Medjool dates
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup white granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegan or dairy-free margarine – I use Earth Balance Soy-free Buttery Sticks
1/3 cup cashew butter – I use homemade but ready-made is fine too
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Cook bacon pieces in a skillet or cast iron pan over medium high heat, stirring frequently to separate pieces, until very crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon bits to a paper-towel lined plate. Let drain and cool. Discard or reserve bacon fat for another time, once cooled. This recipe won’t need it.
Add flour to a medium-size mixing bowl. Sift guar gum and baking soda into flour. Add salt. Whisk well.
Combine “margarine”, cashew butter, and sugars in a large mixing bowl fitted with a paddle, or an electric hand mixer can be used. Beat together until mixture is well mixed but course (like sand) and crumbly.
Beat eggs and vanilla into butter/sugar mixture and beat well until creaming begins.
Place arrowroot powder or corn starch to a bowl. Add cooked bacon bits, cherries and dates. Stir well to coat and separate pieces. Coating the pieces will keep them from clumping together and will distribute them throughout the cookie dough. Add coated bacon and fruit to the dry mixture.
Blend the dry mixture slowly into the wet mixture gradually. Continue mixing just 30-60 seconds to combine all ingredients. Scrape inside of bowl and mix just enough to incorporate any stray ingredients. Set mixture aside to “rest” for 5-10 minutes. “Resting” dough allows the gluten-free flour to absorb the moisture properly and will give you better results.
Scoop 9 dough balls about the size of a golf ball (I like to use a #40 scoop for consistent balls) onto parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake in a preheated 375ºF oven for 11-13 minutes on center oven rack.
Transfer cookies still on parchment paper onto cooling rack and let rest for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies off of parchment paper and continue cooling cookies to room temperature.
Store completely cooled cookies in an airtight container or metal tin lined with wax paper. (I love storing my baked goods in a large tin lined with wax paper. They stay fresh for days!)
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™
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