Spicy Mesquite Chrimbo Chocookies

I have been in possession of a small packet of mesquite flour since the Allergy and Gluten Free Show in May, when Joe Prest of the Pure Mesquite Company stopped by at the Foods Matter stand, at which I was working alongside its founder Michelle, and dropped off some display samples. I pocketed one of them faster than you can say “It’s the dried and ground bean pod of a leguminous plant which grows throughout much of Latin America and it’s gluten free” – and have been waiting for someone to kick me up the proverbial to do something culinary with it ever since.

The woman whose boot has metaphorically taken a swing at the HealthJourno lazyarse is called Caleigh and she writes an honest, oftentimes amusing and alltimes beautifully written blog called Gluten Free(k), about living not only with coeliac disease, but with Crohn’s too. It was her sweet idea to bring together a squad of GF bloggers to share seasonal reviews and ‘free from and festive’ recipes in a sort of collective online '12 Days of Christmas' gluten-free extravaganza, all in the run-up to the 25th. (If you’re only hearing of this now, then find a link at the foot of this blog to link-throughs to previous – and forthcoming – posts.)

Cookies was my allocated category and Google didn’t waste time in leading me to this recipe from Go Free Foods’ lovely Charlotte Pike – whose chocolate and almond brownies took home the 2011 Scones, Sweet Tarts and Brownies title in the Free From Food Awards – from her Hello Magazine ‘Free From’ Kitchen blog.

In my second confessed act of theft on this blog, I shamelessly stole her recipe and made a few seasonal adaptations…

* 200g butter
* 300g caster sugar
* 1 egg
* 50g cocoa powder
* 50g mesquite flour
* 180g plain GF flour
* Whatever falls out of the Schwartz jar of cinnamon that’s been sitting in your larder since 2008-abouts, waiting for this moment to shine.
* Nutmeg? Best before March 2010? That’ll do nicely.
* Is that an old jar of Schwartz ginger as well? Yes, bung some of that in.
* Some white chocolate (maybe)
* Some icing sugar (deffo)

If you compare mine with the original, you’ll see from the ingredients that I wanted to make it more mesquitey (that’s a real word) and more spicy. The mesquite flour taste is described as a blend of ‘chocolate, coconut, mocha and cinnamon’ and, as unlikely a combination as that may seem, it’s faithful of the aroma; I also think it’s slightly smoky too. It sort of catches you in the back of the throat a bit, but not in a bad way. I wanted more of that.

So, following Charlotte’s instructions, I creamed together the butter and sugar, and then beat in the egg. In went the cocoa and mesquite, and then it was time for proper Christmasification (that’s a real word). Some cinnamon fell in, as did a few sneezy shakes of ginger, and then I grated half an old nutmeg, still fragrant. Finally, the flour – Doves Farm GF – blending all the way.

(Let the records state that I did all this by hand. Where Charlotte’s "trusty Kitchen Aid struggled", my four-decades-old arm almost disembodied itself in protest.)

I dolloped small balls of the resultant mixture onto greaseproof paper-lined baking sheets, leaving good space between them to flatten as they cooked, and into a preheated 200°C oven they went, for eight to ten minutes. Smoky chocolate spiciness filled the flat. They emerged so:

I wanted to ‘dress’ some of them. The idea was to melt some white chocolate and drizzle it over the chocookies (yes, that’s a real word), and this was meant to represent settled snow. (I take my work seriously.) But as I melted the chocolate it took on a more custard yellowy appearance, and at some stage a spoon I used for the cocoa got involved in the stirring proceedings and contaminated the ‘snow’, further denting its ambitions towards whiteness. Sludgy snow, then - salvaged somewhat by dusting a smattering of icing sugar atop. Naturally, this represented freshly falling snow. (Like I said - seriously.) Here are some of the better examples:

On reflection, the experimental economy bauble was a decorative error:

They were delicious: chewy, chocolatey, smoky, rich, cocoay (that's a real word!). Charlotte takes total credit. Next time – the second time in my life I make cookies – I’ll put more spice in: it was there all right, but I wanted it to be really steeped with ginger and nutmeg, and the cinnamon predominated. Some orange – perhaps chopped peel or grated zest – might’ve been delicious.

Thanks to Caleigh (can we do this for Easter too?) for arranging this, and for inviting me - a GFer by honorary name but not by nature - to be a part of it, and please check out the great work of all other gluten-free bloggers here.

Merry Christmas, folks.

Labels: ,