When it comes to justifying dessert, I’m never at a loss. Ice cream has calcium, right? And cobblers are loaded with wholesome fruit. Holidays provide ample opportunities for rationalizing a cookie here and a piece of pie there…and we only live once!
Yet in the big picture, the healthy lifestyle I strive for is a happy balance between ultra strict and overly indulgent. Everyone is different, but for me, regular treats keep me on on track—like little rewards that keep me motivated. And because when I say regular treats, I really mean daily treats, it does help to have a handful of recipes that offer healthy components AND feel completely indulgent.
Such is the case with these cookies. My family and friends have been happily gobbling these up since a friend at Bob’s Red Mill sent me a package of hazelnut flour to test out several years ago. At the time, I had baked often with almond flour but never with hazelnut flour. (If you haven’t tried it yet, just think of the nutty flavor afforded chocolate in a jar of Nutella.😋) When I first had the new product in hand, I cooked the package recipe, figuring that was a good place to start and “get to know” the ingredient.
The following recipe is my own variation, and it has built-in flexibility. You can use mashed banana instead of pumpkin and peanut butter in place of almond butter (although I personally prefer the milder flavor provided by the latter). Though the ingredients are clean and pretty darn healthy, these cookies taste truly decadent. The texture is soft with a bit of heartiness. For a little crunch, feel free to add nuts or cacao nibs. I store the cookies in the fridge so the cold chocolate chips offer a nice bite.
Though the recipe may require purchasing a new ingredient or two, I think you’ll be happy you took the plunge. Hazelnut flour is now widely available and offers a great gluten-free addition to the ever-growing number of alternative flours appearing on grocery store shelves. Coconut sugar is caramel colored and tastes similar to brown sugar. It can be substituted for cane sugar in most recipes and has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar.
I’ve taken these cookies to a variety of events in the last few years, including high school dinners where there was a gluten-free need. All healthiness and lack of gluten aside, they disappeared quicker than the classic chocolate chip cookies and brownies. Plus I just love them and I hope you will, too!
Yield: 12 large cookies
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup (192 grams) almond butter
- 1/2 cup (112 grams) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (112 grams) hazelnut meal or flour (Bob’s Red Mill offers a widely available option)
- 1/2 cup (64 grams) coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 3/4 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk the egg in a mixing bowl. Add the almond butter, pumpkin, and vanilla. Stir until thoroughly combined.
Add the hazelnut flour, coconut sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine. When the ingredients are mostly incorporated, mix in the chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.
Scoop by scant 1/4 cupfuls onto the prepared sheet. (I like to use a leveled-off ice cream scoop with a release for easy, evenly shaped cookies. I bake six cookies at a time, wiping off the parchment in between batches.)
Bake 10-12 minutes or until just set. Check a minute or so early and extend cooking time, if needed, as all ovens vary. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.
- The batter may be prepped in advance and refrigerated for baking later. Chilling the batter will firm it up, although the cookies will turn out equally well whether refrigerated or not.
- I have made these with peanut butter instead of almond butter and mashed, very ripe banana instead of pumpkin. The versions taste slightly different, but both work beautifully.
- Tip: If you find that your cookies tend to brown too much on the bottom before cooking through in the center, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees.