When I purchase a new product, I often look to see if there’s a recipe on the package. Until I started The Fountain Avenue Kitchen, I never thought much about how that recipe came to be.
A growing part of the work I do, in fact, is recipe development for food companies. Once the companies get their products into the hands of consumers, they want to be a resource for the successful use of those products.
I have one critical rule when it comes to accepting these jobs: the product must be something I genuinely feel good about and want to feed my family.
Recently, Chosen Foods, a California-based manufacturer of cooking oils, quinoa, and chia seeds asked me to integrate one of their products into one of my dessert recipes for their holiday-themed e-cookbook. For my recipe, I chose a decadent tasting (yet pretty darn healthy) skillet cookie that contains seasonal pumpkin as a way of adding moisture and subtly enhancing the flavor. For the product, I chose chia seeds.
Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, and fiber. Considered a “super food,” these tiny, virtually tasteless seeds look much like poppy seeds but are highly absorbent. As a result, they can effectively be used as a thickener in many recipes. Because chia seeds become gel-like once they have absorbed liquid, they function as an effective binder as well. In fact, those who cannot consume eggs often use a mixture of chia seeds and water as an egg replacer.
The following skillet cookie recipe was already a little unusual in its use of peanut butter in place of flour. I know－that sounds really weird. The upside is that this pantry staple trades the empty carbs for a protein punch while eliminating the need for further butter or oil.
When baking with nut butters, figuring out the right amount of binder can be tricky. To my delight, I discovered that the right amount of chia seeds actually enhanced the texture of a dessert we already enjoyed.
Of course, I did add a reasonable amount of chocolate to the recipe, and we occasionally top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I figured the many attributes of this dessert afforded a small splurge!
Will alternative nut butters work?
After receiving a request from my editor whose son has a peanut allergy, I attempted this recipe with Wow Butter, a soy-based peanut butter alternative, to see if this would be an acceptable option for those with a peanut allergy. (He claims that, taste-wise, this product is the closest thing he has found to peanut butter and I completely agree.) The cookie tasted good but was crumbly, although it did firm up after being covered and stored overnight in the refrigerator. If I were to experiment further with this product, my next move would be to add an additional egg and perhaps an extra 1/2 cup of pumpkin or mashed banana. Again, these options are not tested. A traditional seed butter, like sunflower seed butter, would create a texture similar to peanut butter, albeit with a somewhat different flavor. Almond butter would work also in this recipe.
Yields 12-16 servings.
- 1 16-ounce container natural peanut butter (about 1 2/3 cups; see notes)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- Optional: vanilla ice cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, pumpkin and egg until creamy.
Add the chia seeds, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Add the honey and mix until fully incorporated, and then stir in the chocolate chunks. Allow the mixture to sit for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the chia seeds time to absorb some of the moisture.
Spread the batter into a lightly greased, 10-inch cast iron skillet. (If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, a 9-inch square baking dish is a good substitute.) Bake for 35 minutes or until the center is just firm. (All ovens vary, so check a few minutes early. If the top is sufficiently brown but the center is still not set, lightly drape with a piece of foil for the last 5-10 minutes.)
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, as is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This dessert may sit, covered, at room temperature for several days, although I like to store it in the refrigerator. (It tastes great cold, too.) When stored in the fridge, the cookie will keep for at least one week…not that it’s likely to last that long!
- I have used regular peanut butter and natural (the kind you have to stir first to incorporate the oil) for this recipe and do prefer the texture of the natural option. Either may be used, however.
- This recipe may be prepared entirely gluten free and/or dairy free by purchasing gluten free and/or dairy free chocolate chips.
Special Note: Chosen Foods’ free holiday e-cookbook is now available. As a special gift, Chosen Foods is offering Fountain Avenue Kitchen readers a 15% discount on all products. Simply follow this link http://bit.ly/FountainAveKitch and then enter the following code: Coupon: FountainAvenue