Healthy Gluten-Free Giant Smiley Cookies

My love for almonds is pretty evident from my pantry. I always have them in excess lying around. And as much as I love almonds, my kids hate them. Isn’t that something which goes without saying? Mom and kids can never be on the same page. That is the beauty of this relationship. They have nothing in common and still inseparable.

And being as adamant as my toddlers, I keep trying to find new ways to feed these healthy nuts to my kiddos. This recipe is one of the times when I actually got successful at it and couldn’t keep myself from boasting and dancing about it.

These giant smiley cookies are made mainly with almond flour, desiccated coconut, chickpea flour and healthy spices such as dried ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Both the flours, almond and chickpea flours, used in recipe are gluten-free and no refined sugar has been used here. Honey acts as a sweetener, so this recipe may also be considered diabetic friendly. To top it all, the recipe is a no baking soda or baking powder recipe. I have used cocoa glaze for decoration which is again way healthier than the regular melted chocolate. Basically, anything that stops us from heading towards a tasty cookie has all been taken care of. So, you may jump and pick up one without a bit of guilt attached.

A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale. Unfortunately, many people feel uncomfortable after eating foods that contain gluten. The most severe reaction is called celiac disease. The claimed benefits of the diet are improved health, weight loss and increased energy. Most people try a gluten-free diet to treat digestive problems. If you have celiac disease, switching to a gluten-free diet may help boost your energy levels and stop you from feeling tired and sluggish.

Some commonly available gluten free flours available in India are: Almond Flour, Chickpea Flour (Besan), Buckwheat Flour (Kuttu), Rice Flour, Sorghum Flour (Jowar), Finger Millet Flour (Ragi), Cornmeal (Makki), Potato Starch and Amaranth Flour. This recipe uses the two gluten free flours: Almond Flour and Chickpea Flour.

Almond flour is both wheat-free and gluten-free, making it a great alternative for baking for those who can’t tolerate wheat or gluten. Almond Flour is made with grinding of  blanched almonds. I have used home-made almond flour in the recipe along with almond meal which is made by grounding raw almonds to incorporate the benefits of the skin of almonds. Almond flour is particularly rich in vitamin E, a group of fat-soluble compounds that act as antioxidants in your body. Magnesium is another nutrient that’s abundant in almond flour and may provide several benefits, including improved blood sugar control, reduced insulin resistance and lower blood pressure. Almond flour is low in carbs yet high in healthy fats and fiber. These properties give it a low glycemic index, meaning it releases sugar slowly into your blood to provide a sustained source of energy. It’s estimated that between 25–38% of people with type 2 diabetes have a magnesium deficiency, and correcting it through diet or supplements may significantly reduce blood sugar and improve insulin function.

Chickpea flour also makes a good alternative if you’re following a wheat-free or gluten-free diet. Chickpea flour has double the amount of protein than whole-wheat flour and six times more than all-purpose flour. It’s an excellent source of folate, containing seven times more folate than whole-wheat flour. It also provides vitamin B-6, iron, magnesium and potassium.

Honey is a healthful sweetener, especially when compared to refined sugars, such as white sugar, turbinado, cane sugar, and powdered sugar. While honey contains more carbohydrates and calories than white sugar, it is natural, less processed, only modestly impacts blood sugar, and contains some nutrients. For people with diabetes, using honey in very small amounts should not cause blood glucose to spike dramatically. So, people with diabetes may consume honey instead of sugar in moderation, as part of a healthful diet.

Having talked about all the healthy ingredients in the recipe, its time to talk about how the cookies turned out to be. The best feedback was from my younger one, Elina. She just loved the cookies and couldn’t stop munching on them. I had made a few glaze free for her since she just detests frostings and glazes most of the times but to my surprise after her batch of plain cookies were over, she even munched upon the glazed cookies happily. The elder one, Zoey obviously loved the glazed cookies and even took them to her school to share with her teacher and friends the next day and proudly boasted around how her mother had made some smiley cookies exclusively for her. I had few guests come over the same day and they enjoyed the cookies and were surprised to know when the ingredients were revealed to them. Hence, the cookies were a hit with kids and adults alike making me a happy baker.

The cookies were crusty on outside and soft in the middle. The desiccated coconut gave a nice flavor and crunchiness to the cookies. The spices enhanced the taste to another level and though optional are a must for me whenever I make the cookies for myself. And what I love most about this recipe is that we do not need any fancy cookie cutters or baking tools to shape them. This makes this recipe a perfect one to try with my toddlers. I can tag them along while preparing them and they enjoy playing with the cookie dough just like their play dough. I hope you enjoy reading and trying out this recipe. Do let me know how it turned out for you. Happy Baking!!

RECIPE FOR HEALTHY GLUTEN-FREE GIANT SMILEY COOKIES

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Baking Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 22 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup almond flour (home-made)

1 cup finely ground almonds

½ cup chickpea flour (besan)

1 cup desiccated fresh coconut

1 tsp cinnamon powder (optional)

1 pinch ground nutmeg (optional)

1 pinch ground ginger (optional)

4 tbsp honey

4 tbsp olive oil

For GLAZE AND COOKIE DECORATION:

2 tbsp butter

4 tbsp boora sugar

4 tbsp cocoa powder

3 tbsp milk at room temperature

¼ cup sliced almonds

¼ cup desiccated coconut

RECIPE:

  1. In a food processor, with the dough kneading attachment, add all the ingredients under cookie section.1
  2. Process on medium speed until all ingredients come together. Transfer the dough into a bowl and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.2
  3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Lay a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. Grease your hands with a tiny bit of oil and form 8 large cookie balls from the dough.
  5. Place the balls on the parchment paper and flatten the dough to form round cookie shapes with your fingers.
  6. Bake at 180°C for 12 minutes or until the sides turn golden brown.
  7. Cool down the cookies on cookie sheet for 20 minutes. They will harden once they cool down.
  8. Let the cookies cool completely before decorating with cocoa glaze.

COOKIE DECORATION:

  1. Take the unsalted butter and boora sugar in a saucepan.
  2. Heat and melt the butter and dissolve the sugar in butter. Do not overheat which may change the texture and taste of the sugar and final glaze.
  3. Add cocoa powder. Mix well with butter sugar mixture and turn off the heat.
  4. Add milk. Stir very well. You may add or reduce the milk by a tbsp according to the consistency of the glaze you desire. But, do keep in mind that the glaze gets thicker as it cools. The cocoa glaze is ready to use.
  5. Dip the upper half portion of cookies in glaze and then dip the cookies in desiccated coconut or sliced almonds.
  6. Pipe the glaze on cookies to form smiley faces.
  7. Dry on a cooking rack and place the rack in the refrigerator for few minutes till the glaze hardens.
  8. Store up to 5 days in a cookie jar. (Though they never last that long). Enjoy your cookies.4

RECIPE NOTES:

  1. I used cocoa glaze but any dark chocolate > 70% cocoa is a great healthy option. If using a bar of chocolate, melt the chocolate with double boiler method or microwave for few seconds and mix well till completely melted. Decorate in the usual way as described in recipe.
  2. For an eggless version, use a flax seed egg instead of regular egg. Simply combine 1 tbsp of flax seed powder with 3 tbsp of water. Give a good stir and let it sit aside for 10-15 minutes. After 10 minutes, the mix will form a jelly like gooey texture. Use it in place of egg in the recipe.

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