Cooking Tool of the Month – Food Processor
While I'm on the vegan cruise this week I've got a delicious guest post that comes from the lovely Ricki of DietDessertsnDogs.com. We became blog and Twitter friends a little over a year ago. I was attracted to her blog and style of cooking because it's very healthy, using whole food ingredients and no sugar. She takes stevia-sweetened desserts to a new level of excitement. Enjoy these cookies she makes with her food processor!
When Christy first put out a call for guest posters to focus on a cooking tool of the month, I had no trouble thinking of the one I use the most: hands down, it’s my food processor. I’d say not a day goes by that I don’t use my food processor for one recipe or another, from making pâtés to blending nut butters to chopping veggies for a burger to creaming cooked cereals. Whenever the (extremely rare) day occurs that I’m not cooking for me and my honey with it, my processor is still on the job grinding up vegetables for my Girls’ dinner. (“We appreciate that, Mum. Chunks of sweet potato that are too large would hurt our sensitive gums.”).
For ease of mixing, blending, grating, chopping or general combining, a food processor is unparalleled. I still possess the very first processor I ever owned, a one-speed, four-cup affair that my sister bought for me when I moved into my first apartment on my own at age 22. When I finally upgraded to a Cuisinart almost 20 years later, I couldn’t bear to part with that first processor. It still waits in our basement for those days when the newer ones inevitably fail, either because of a cracked cover, a broken bowl or worn out blades (in the past 10 years, I’ve replaced the processor base three times and have had to replace the blade six times because of so much use). These days, I use a 14-cup Cuisinart; positioned prominently on a kitchen shelf, it waits, like a sphinx, for its daily opportunity to come to life and show those other appliances how it’s done. (that's the same one I have folks and I LOVE it!)
In general, if something can be made in a food processor, in my house it will be made in a food processor. These Sunflower Seed Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies are a perfect example: starting from scratch with toasted sunflower seeds allows you to control the quality of your sunflower seed butter as well as save substantially on the cost of the final product. These cookies come together incredibly quickly and you won’t have to dirty a separate bowl to make them.
Very similar in texture to shortbread cookies, these allergy-friendly sweet treats provide some excellent nutritional value in the form of Omega 3 fats from flax seeds as well as healthy oils and protein in the sunflower seeds. And when you’re done, just rinse out your processor bowl and (if you have one) pop all the parts in the dishwasher to clean. So easy! With their slightly crisp exterior, slightly chewy interior, and sprinkling of carob or chocolate chips throughout, you’ll find that these cookies are incredibly easy to eat, as well.
Sunflower Seed Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
Makes about 1 dozen
I love coconut sugar, but if you’re not a fan, substitute ¼ cup maple syrup for the sugar and water mixture. These cookies make a great mid-afternoon snack or rustic dessert.
1/4 cup coconut sugar plus about 3 Tbsp water (see instructions) OR ¼ cup pure maple syrup
20-25 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup organic sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil, preferably organic
1/4 cup finely ground flax seeds
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup carob or chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray. (or a silicone baking mat!)
Place the coconut sugar in a glass measuring cup and add enough water to reach the ¼ cup line. Whisk to dissolve the sugar, then check the amount again; add a touch more water if necessary to reach ¼ cup. Stir in the stevia and vanilla.
Place the sunflower seeds and coconut oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture become sunflower seed butter, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the wet mixture and process to blend. Add the remaining ingredients except for the chips and process to make a soft dough. Sprinkle the chips over the top and pulse a few times to mix them in and chop some of them a bit.
Remove blade and scoop the dough from the bowl using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop. Flatten cookies with your palm or a silicone spatula until they are about 1/4 inch (1 cm) thick. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days. May be frozen.
What happens when a dessert-loving, chocolate-addicted gal is forced to give up almost all the foods she loves? When she was diagnosed with candida in 2009, Ricki Heller learned how to make delicious, indulgent desserts without gluten or refined sugars of any kind, using whole-food ingredients, low-glycemic sweeteners like stevia or yacon syrup and sometimes, no grains at all (though many do still contain chocolate!). Ricki shares over 400 recipes for desserts and other foods on her popular blog, Diet, Dessert and Dogs (where you'll also find frequent commentary from her two adorable canines). When she's not blogging, Ricki shares her recipes on TV, in magazines and in cooking schools across the Toronto area. Her debut cookbook, Sweet Freedom, is one of only three cookbooks recommended on Ellen DeGeneres's website. Whatever your dietary restriction, Ricki can create a delicious dessert just for you!