Monday, October 28, 2013

Whole Wheat Ginger Chocolate Hermit Cookies

These cookies are delicious and oh so very autumnal. 

They have a chewy, soft interior and a slightly crispy outer shell so they taste and feel more like hermits than gingersnaps. Despite the sugar, they also have whole wheat flour, fresh ginger and dried fruits, so they're actually somewhat healthy. These little delights taste wonderful with piping-hot black coffee because they cut it's bitterness perfectly and the richness of the coffee accentuates the ginger flavor. YUM! 

I got the base recipe I adapted below from Amelia Morris' blog Bon Appétempt, which is my absolute, hands-down favorite blog. She got it from the wonderful book, Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson. 

I made a bunch of adjustments to utilize the ingredients I had on hand and because I just can't help myself. I didn't have whole wheat pastry flour, so I added some powdered milk (which I store in the freezer) to regular whole wheat flour to up the protein content. I didn't do a comparison, so I don't know if the powdered milk made a big difference, but my feeling is that it didn't. So basically, what I'm saying is, just use whatever flour you have on hand and don't worry about the powdered milk if you don't have any or can't find it. Let me know how your variations turn out!

The same goes for the dried fruit. The original recipe calls for dried apricots but any dried fruit will do. I think the prune (it sounds so much nicer to call them dried plums!) and raisin combo was a nice substitution for the sweet/tartness of apricots. I also reduced the sugar in the recipe. The cookies are quite sweet, so I would highly recommend that adjustment.

Whole Wheat Ginger Chocolate Hermit Cookies
from the book Super Natural Every Day via the blog Bon Appétempt
Yields about 40 small cookies (using about 1 heaping Tablespoon of dough per cookie)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons powdered milk (omit if using whole wheat pastry flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup salted butter (the original recipe calls for unsalted but I didn't have any on hand)
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced or grated  
1 large egg
1 cup golden raisins and prunes (about half and half), finely chopped (or any dried fruit)
1/2 cup brown or large-crystal sugar for sanding the outside of the cookies (optional)

Combine the flour, baking soda, ground ginger and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Heat the butter in a small saucepan until it's just about melted, then cut off the heat and add the molasses, sugar and minced fresh ginger. Let it come to room temperature while you chop the chocolate and dried fruit(s). 

Once the wet mixture has cooled, whisk in the egg quickly and well. 

Pour the wet over the dry and stir until combined. Dump in the chocolate and dried fruit(s) and stir so everything is well distributed.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a Silpat style mat.

Pour about 1/2 cup large crystal sugar in a bowl for sanding the cookies. I used plain old organic brown sugar because that's what I had. It worked well but you can omit this or just put a pinch on the top of each cookie, which is what I'll do next time.

Using a tablespoon or soup spoon, scoop out a heaping tablespoon of dough and roll it between your palms so it's nice and round. Then roll each cookie in sugar. 

You may need to press the sugar into the dough with your palm and fingers so it sticks because this is not a wet dough. Place the cookies about and inch or so apart on your prepared baking sheets and press down to flatten each one slightly. 

Bake for 10 minutes (check at 8) they should be crackled and look slightly uncooked between the cracks. 

Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to finish cooling.