My mom used to make a whole bunch of different cookies for the holidays. She would spend a few days baking, then keep them in the freezer, ready to take out to offer to guests. Of course, my brother and I would make numerous trips to the freezer to eat them throughout the days of Winter Break and beyond.

It felt so festive to see plates of so many different types of cookies and I would like to carry on this tradition, but on a smaller scale. So, I created a basic recipe that can be tweaked any number of ways so that I can make a variety of cookies with just a batch or two of dough. More freezer space available, less sugar overload, but plenty of cookies from which to choose.

By changing the type of nuts/nut butter, the flavorings, and the shape of the cookies, you could come up with dozens of different kinds of cookies with this one recipe….I’ll give you a few ideas to get you started, then be creative and have fun and recreate your own childhood favorites!

I am working on a shortbread recipe that can be shaped/decorated. Send me an email if you are interested in a cookie like that and I’ll be happy to give you a sneak preview. These cookies are drop cookies, so think spice cookies, thumbprints, chocolate chip, cinnamon raisin, etc.

Basic Cookie Recipe:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour*
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts, seeds, or nut butter
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/3 cup other sweetener (could be coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave, or whatever is your favorite/complementary to your cookie
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, softened or melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • water or other liquid
  • Other flavorings/add-ins, (spices, dried fruits, chopped nuts, extracts, chocolate chips, etc) or granulated sweetener/chopped nuts to roll them in before baking; you can also replace 1/2 cup of the flour with rolled oats, popped amaranth, etc.

*The flour mix I use is 1/2 cup each of amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat flours, plus 1/4 cup millet flour. I use grind my own flours from sprouted and dehydrated grains, so my buckwheat flour isn’t as dark/strong as what you will find in the store. If you have a grain mill or a Vitamix or other high-powered blender, try grinding your own flours from hulled raw buckwheat groats and other fresh grains – you will notice a great improvement in taste! Otherwise, for a lighter cookie, I suggest you consider replacing it with a nut flour, more millet, quinoa, or amaranth flour, or a different flour of your choice.

Flavor Ideas:

  • Spice Cookies: use coconut sugar as your other sweetener, add 1 Tablespoon blackstrap molasses, use pecans and grind them with 1 Tablespoon candied ginger (which you can make yourself with coconut sugar or another sweetener), 1 teaspoon dried ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon cloves; if you have ginger syrup from making candied ginger, use that instead of water, roll the balls in coconut sugar or another granulated sugar before baking
  • Spiced Thumbprints: Make the spiced cookies as above, but instead of rolling them in sugar, made an indentation in the balls with your finger and fill it with fruit-sweetened preserves
  • Cranberry-Walnut Cookies: Use agave as your other sweetener, use chopped walnuts, and add 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest and fold in a handful each of dried cranberries and coarsely-chopped walnuts
  • Lemon Thumbprints: Make the same as cranberry-walnut cookies, but leave out the cranberries and coarsely-chopped walnuts, make indentations in the balls and fill them with fruit-sweetened preserves
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies: Use maple syrup as your other sweetener, almond butter as your nut, add 1 teaspoon cinnamon , and fold in chocolate chips
  • Cinnamon-Raisin Cookies: Make the same as chocolate chip cookies, but fold in raisins instead of chocolate chips, or of course you could do both
  • Chocolate Chip or Cinnamon Raisin Bars: Make the same as chocolate chip or cinnamon raisin cookies, but add enough liquid to get a spreadable dough, then spread it onto an oiled baking sheet. Cut into bars as soon as they have cooled enough to stay together when you cut them, 4-5 minutes max
  • I could come up with cookie flavors for the rest of the night, but that gives you a good started point! Try other extracts, other spices, any dried fruit or nuts, etc, etc. These are sturdy enough to handle quite a few add-ins.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and oil 2-3 cookie sheets. If you have a food processor, grind your nuts first, then pulse in the dry ingredients. Measure the wet ingredients in a measuring cup, give them a stir, and pulse them in, adding small amounts of water (or other liquid) as necessary to get a smooth, thick dough. You may not need additional liquid if your other sweetener is a liquid or if you are using a nut butter, so just use it as needed. If you are making them by hand, mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl and the wet ingredients in a separate, larger bowl. Either way, the dough should be wet enough to stick together easily, but firm enough to be able to be shaped into a ball. If it is too soft, you can firm it up by putting it in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes, but not too long or it will be too dry/firm to work with. Roll the dough into balls and space them out about 2 inches apart. Roll in sugar, indent, fill as you please, and bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until they are firm in the middle. Underbaking them slightly will keep them softer, while baking them until they are a little more brown will result in a crispier cookie. Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes, then remove them with a spatula and let them cool completely on a cooling rack. Enjoy!

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