I have this friend who is very tricky to cook for, because she and her family between them are allergic to everything. Well, perhaps not everything, but it’s certainly true to say that cooking for her involves avoiding all the ingredients I use when cooking for myself and Andrew, and replacing them with ingredients I would never use in anything I planned to eat myself (carob, for example. Ugh.). To be fair, part of this is about Incompatible Health Conditions – I eat a diet with a lot of salicylates in it, partly because they are the things that make most fruit and vegetables taste good, and partly because a diet high in salicylates is good for preventing type 2 diabetes, which runs in my family and would like to run in me (I can’t imagine why!). And salicylates are something my friend has to avoid. So I look at her list of permitted ingredients and go – eep! Catherine-poison! And it all goes downhill from there.
Anyway, she can eat these cookies. And so can I. Which is such a rarity that it should be recorded for posterity. Moreover, these cookies can be very easily adapted to just about anyone’s dietary requirements or tastes, which makes them very useful indeed. The only people they won’t adapt really well for is people with the particular type of coeliac disease that includes intolerance to oats. Sorry about that. I’ll write something for you another time. These cookies are oaty and not too sweet and something of a blank slate. They are almost healthy. I‘m going to start with what I cooked for my friend, and then list variations. Many, many variations.
Your Shopping List150 g plain spelt flour 75-100 g chopped raw cashews 100 g brown sugar 100 g rolled oats (not quick oats) 65 g Nuttelex (dairy-free margarine) 60 g butter 50 g golden syrup 1/2 tsp bicarb of so 30 ml boiling water
Now what will you do with it?
Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a couple of baking trays with baking paper.
Put the flour, cashews, sugar and oats in a bowl and mix. Make a well in the centre.
Melt the butter in a smallish saucepan with the golden syrup (not too small a saucepan, though, or it will erupt when you add the bicarb in a bit. When the butter and syrup are melted, pour boiling water over the bicarb in a small bowl, stir to combine, and stir into the butter mixture.
Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on the baking sheet, leaving two inches between the balls, because these biscuits spread.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven and how crispy you like your biscuits. I like them a bit chewy, so I take them out when they are golden but still soft, and let them sit on the tray for a few minutes to harden up before putting them on a rack to cool.
Eat, preferably with a glass of milk (goat or soy milk, if that’s the way you roll).
Where do I even start? Well, for starters, any gluten-free flour suitable for baking will work here, obviously, as will wheat flour. You can use all butter or all dairy-free margarine, depending on your tastes, though I would not replace the butter with oil. You want a fat that is solid at room temperature. I’m sort of curious about coconut butter or cocoa butter now, but I wouldn’t use either of these things for the full 125g.
This recipe is a little on the bland side for my taste, but you could jazz it up in hundreds of ways. The cashews were
desecrated dessicated coconut in the original recipe, but why stop there? Chocolate chips, or carob chips if you are my friend with the allergies, would work, as would sultanas, chopped dried apricots or other dried fruit. Or other chopped nuts. Or a combination of both. Just stick to something fairly dry, or you will end up with a mess.
I think this recipe is crying out for spices of some kind, so by all means add cinnamon or ginger or nutmeg or cloves or allspice or cardamom, or all of the above. A little vanilla probably wouldn’t hurt it, either.
I’m sure you can think of things you’d like to do with this – go wild!