We’ve been in Sydney — though if you’re being fussy, we technically live about 15 minutes outside of Sydney — for five months now and time has perhaps literally flown by. My baby is on the cusp of her first birthday and will walk any day now if her determination has anything to do with it. We’re going on a vacation to California in about a month, and I just realized it will be almost a year since I’ve been in the States which is the longest I’ve not been in my home country. I’ve almost become accustomed to the monkey-like, rather maniacal call of the kookaburras, especially on my Sunday morning long runs in the ‘bush’ (natural preserved areas scattered throughout the suburbs) and the warbling magpies. Does time move more quickly once you add another child to the mix?
When we were in Saudi the days seemed to pass so s l o w l y, possibly because every day, with the rare exception of a few rainy days in November, looked exactly the same: blue or blue-hazy sky, sunny, hot, dusty, even in mid-winter. Palm trees are not affected by seasonal shift at least there, so there was no real feeling of autumn except that the temperature slowly nosed down a few degrees every day (though to be honest mid-day in the sun was always pretty warm-hot). I didn’t realize how anchored a person can be by the seasons until we moved to Australia. We arrived in late summer, to lush, humid tropical green that’s slowly given way to brittle leaves and temperatures hovering around the mid-40s in the early morning. Right, so that’s not cold. But it’s a lot colder than what we were used to. I’m looking forward to spring — I’ve almost forgotten what a real spring is like.
All that said, it’s been a good winter filled with heaps (see? I’m assimilating already.) of sunny days perfect for beach visits and cups of coffee drunk in our light-filled front room (small aside: the Pacific Ocean has been described to me as being cold but it’s nothing like the numbing, bracing cold of the Pacific Ocean off the Northern California coast). I made a totally non-healthy strawberry-rhubarb crumble pie last weekend in defiance of the calendar and later, as atonement, a batch of the almond flour chocolate chip cookies I can’t get enough of.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been using a bit of almond flour in my baking lately and these cookies are a perfect showcase. They are lightly sweetened with maple syrup and/or coconut sugar and are dairy-free. I made my erstwhile favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe recently and found it to be too sweet after becoming accustomed to the more natural sweeteners (a good thing, too, because that recipe does not agree with my oven and I won’t be baking it again for the next four years). Sierra loved the almond flour cookies, too, so I know they will enter our permanent rotation.
The great thing about chocolate chip cookies is that they are applicable whatever the season, even when you live in a place without seasons. (Sorry — there are seasons in the desert they’re just more subtle. Like hot, hotter, hottest, and then marginally less hot.) This recipe in particular produces a buttery, soft cookie that’s heavy on the chocolate and light on dairy (there’s none called for, actually). They don’t last long and are more delicate than a usual cookie, so it’s a perfect excuse to eat them up quickly. As we do.
I used blanched almond meal in this recipe because I can get it easily at the health food store and I don’t yet have a food processor to grind my own almonds. You could make it yourself, though, quite easily.
Makes about 20 small cookies.
2 tablespoons semi-solid coconut oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut sugar (if needed/wanted)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups almond flour or almond meal
1 teaspoon maca powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2-1 cup chopped dark/bittersweet chocolate
Heat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut oil and maple syrup until smooth and well combined. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk together until combined.
In a medium bowl, stir together the almond flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir together with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in the chopped chocolate.
Scoop mounded tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheet, roll into balls, spacing about two inches apart. Press down gently with your fingers to flatten slightly.
Bake until set and the edges are golden brown, 8-9 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cookies keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for 4-5 days.