Gluten-Free Chocolate Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Pecan Thumbprint Cookies
Gluten-Free Chocolate Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

Happy holidays! Hoping everyone is having a beautiful day, where ever you are and whatever you are up to. We’re taking it easy, with no fancy plans, aside from maybe making a fresh batch of eggnog. I am so thankful to have a break from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the year — time to slow down, get outside (fingers crossed for some warmer weather later this week! 🤞), and even some creative recipe development without the time constraints of the normal work week (been working on lots of videos! Check out this one for homemade loose leaf chai! Also still trying to use up all of the spaghetti squash harvest from the garden). And, eating these gluten-free chocolate pecan thumbprint cookies!

These cookies.

Just almond flour, honey, butter, salt and baking soda combine to make a surprisingly soft but sturdy and satisfying cookie, something I discovered when I made these Paleo chocolate vanilla pinwheel cookies two years ago (2016 seems like so long ago! We had just moved into our house, I remember rolling out the cookie dough next to the wall between our kitchen and dining table. Just a few weeks later, we removed the wall and the house looks about 1,000x better! But I digress...)

Thumbprint cookies — a Swedish treat traditionally made with a raspberry filling - have always looked festive to me. When filled with raspberry jam, they gleam in the light like little gems. But raspberry is a very summery flavor, and my inner chocoholic screamed “ganache!!” and I gave in easily, filling each with a melted 85% Dark Chocolate Lindt Bar.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Pecan Thumbprint Cookies
Gluten-Free Chocolate Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

The result is similar to those chocolate kiss-topped peanut butter cookies we’ve all had at many a Christmas party, but with more delicate flavors. Toasted pecans with chocolate is an unparalleled combo in desserts in my book, one that fills your kitchen with the smells of caramelly nuts and fruity cacao scent.

The cookie dough in this recipe is fairly flexible when it comes to flour. I tested using 1/2 cup gluten-free measure for measure flour (King Arthur flour) in place of 1/2 cup of almond flour and the result was almost the same as using all almond flour. That’s not to say I’ve tested everything! But I’m confident you’ll love these. The dough will crack a bit when you go to make the thumbprints, but that doesn’t impact the cookie much. We’re not going for perfect here — once you add the chocolate and the pecans, they’ll look (and be) absolutely delicious!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Pecan Thumbprint Cookies
Gluten-Free Chocolate Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

Published December 25, 2018 by
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Yield: 15   |    Active Time: 40 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • For the filling:
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (or a chopped up dark chocolate bar)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
    2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine almond flour, salt, and baking soda and whisk briefly to combine.
    3. Add melted oil/butter, honey, and vanilla and stir dough with a spatula until a stiff dough forms.
    4. Shape cookies: scoop cookie dough by the tablespoonful into the palm of your hand. Shape into a sphere, and then place on a prepared cookie sheet. Using a smaller spoon or you thumb, make an indent in the center of the cookie. The dough may crack a bit around the edges, which is fine; if you like, you can carefully press it together with your fingers.
    5. Repeat step 4 until all of the dough is used. Leave at least 1/2 inch between each cookie on the baking sheet.
    6. Place cookies in oven on middle rack and bake for 10-13 minutes. Cookies should be golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
    7. While cookies cool, make the filling. Melt chocolate and 1 tablespoon butter/oil in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave by heating at 30-second intervals, stirring between each round, or in a double boiler.
    8. When cookies have cooled enough to be easily handled, carefully spoon chocolate into the center of each, and place a single pecan half in the center of each. Allow chocolate to set for 10-15 minutes, and then serve or store in an air-tight contain for a week.

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    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet

    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet

    This post was written three times over, which is two times more than the norm. First I wrote about something so unremarkable I can’t even remember it. Later that night I read an article on climate change and it left me unsatisfied. Shouldn’t I write about something worth taking action on? Something that actually matters? So then I wrote the post again, and attempted to find that perfect balance you need to strike when writing a post like this — but I’m not sure I ever found it. So, fair warning: it is a bit of a rant. If you’d prefer to just scroll right on by and get the recipe, I won’t even know it.

    “Perfection is the enemy of good and done,” so let’s just get down to it.

    8,030. That’s how many days are in twenty-two years.

    It will be the year 2040. By then, I’ll be 49.

    How about you?

    By 2040, the International Panel on Climate Change predicts the planet will increase in temperature by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (you may already know this, it’s not the newest of news). It’s a minuscule difference, something that seems like nothing — barely discernible to the human body - but oh, it is most certainly not nothing.

    The impact of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit? “Worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs.”

    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet
    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet

    This blog has never touched on political issues before. That was intentional. And that’s not likely to change, aside from this one blog post. (TBH, it's absurd to me that keeping our planet live-able is even a political issue.) But I felt a need to say something, to spread the word, so here we are.

    Because in the end all of us — you, me, and 7.2 billion other people - have to face this together. And while it feels, in so many ways, out of our hands (I get it), it doesn’t mean we can’t try.

    I am a fairly environmentally conscious person but have never been an extremist by any definition, so I’ve been thinking about what I can do that still fits into my life. Tiny things that will add up. I already drive a hybrid car (though I could take the time to walk more places!), and we compost and recycle regularly. But what else?

    Here is my running list so far — things that have just been on my mind.

    • No food waste. I have already been much more aware of food waste and what it means to eat “root to stem” in the last few months. We are still eating crops harvested from the garden, but our first frost hit earlier this month so very few crops are still growing. Of course I knew this would happen, but going from growing most of our own food to figuring out how to preserve what we have has made me super aware of how the first homesteaders had their work cut out for them just to get through winter — and here I can just pop over to the store when our pile of squash runs out (or when we just don’t want to eat squash!!). So what? Eating local is on just about every “how to live an eco-friendly life” list,  but it’s just not realistic in every location. Our Farmer’s Market is only around in the fair weather months, and all I’ll be harvesting for the next six months is hearty greens. I’ll have to buy some food that was produced far, far away, and that’s just reality (at least for me, in the suburbs, where growing tons of grow beans, grain, or livestock isn’t realistic). But when I do, I’ll do my absolute best to make sure not a bit of it goes to waste. (Eh-hem, like that suuuupper crusty sourdough I made last week, which was basically a giant bread cracker. Strata, stuffing, bread crumbs... here we come!)

    • Buy less. In college, I had a self-enforced rule that when I wanted to buy something (new clothes, jewelry, etc), I would put it on a list and wait for a month. If I still wanted it in a month, then I really wanted it — it wasn’t just an impulse buy. Back then, the rule was put into place because of financial reasons (college student making minimum wage!), but it’s a really practical rule. It is easy to get just about anything delivered to your door overnight now, and sometimes our recycling bin fills up over the course of just a few days! It’s not just the packaging thought — the amount of energy that goes into getting something from point A to B is a lot!

    • Tame my wanderlust. I get this craving to see new places — to see the world. (Typical Millennial of me). But one round trip cross-country is a lot of greenhouse gases, and driving — or better yet carpooling - is more efficient in terms of CO2 emissions. I am very lucky to have travel a lot over the last twenty years, which I am so thankful for. Those trips molded my mind and made me who I am. But! There is no denying that all those plane tickets fuel an industry that’s putting of a lot of greenhouse gases. So, next time a case of wanderlust creeps up on me, I’m going to try to remember this paragraph, and go somewhere local instead. (Just this last weekend, we did a biking brewery tour of a near-by town and it was like being on vacation — so many places right here I’ve never seen!)

    • Support brands making eco-friendly decisions. I am just one person, but companies are made up of dozens (if not hundreds) of people, and are serving many many more. When they make eco-friendly decisions (like using recycled packaging, buying organic ingredients, or avoiding harsh chemicals) they make a big difference faster.

    • Collect and reuse water. For a long time in the state of Colorado, collecting rainwater was not permitted, but that changed two years ago. I’ve considered getting water barrels for watering my plants several times, but have never actually done it. Recently, I’ve been pondering what other water can be collected — for example, using water from rinsing dishes (avoiding harsh soaps) to water trees. A half baked plan, just something in my head.

    We’re also considering getting solar panels on our house, but that’s not so much a resolution as it is something we’ve always planned to do.

    That’s it for today. Just a rant and a resolution. And a breakfast!! Something that you can totally make from local ingredients almost no matter where you live, all year round.

    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet

    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet

    Published October 18, 2018 by
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    Serves: 3   |    Active Time: 30 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 packed cup kale, chopped small
  • Salt & pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles

  • Directions:

    1. Heat coconut oil in skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion, minced garlic, and cubed sweet potato to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
    2. Add chopped kale, and cook for 2 minutes, allowing greens to wilt.
    3. Crack the eggs into the pan. Cook for 3-5 more minutes, until egg whites are cooked through and yolks are cooked to your preferences. Top with crumbled goat cheese, and season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve hot.

    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet
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    Parma Rosa Chicken

    Parma Rosa Chicken

    Some kids go through a mac 'n' cheese phase (it's something they can cook themselves), and some kids go through a cereal phase (doesn't require cooking at all). Me? Knorr Instant Parma Rosa Sauce was a childhood fave. It’s embarrassing but true.

    To this day, I'm not sure what is even in those packs of instant pasta sauce. And frankly? I don't want to know. What I do know is that it's addicting. Back then I called it "pink sauce." 

    Even though I ate many (many!) packets of pink sauce as a kid, it's not what I was thinking about when I started working on this recipe. Nope, I just thought I was making a creamy chicken parmesan. It wasn't until my first bite that my memory sprang into action: 

    I know this flavor! This tastes like pink sauce! 

    What was that called? Parma Rosa, a Google search told me.

    Parma Rosa Chicken
    Parma Rosa Chicken

    And it does taste just like Parma Rosa -- a bigger, bolder, fresher, real parma rosa. A grown up pink sauce. And instead of a soft creamy pink color, it's a rich creamy orange-red, evidence of real tomatoes in there. 

    You can eat this dish as-is (that's what I did, with a side salad), or you could serve it over pasta. It goes great with a glass of white wine, and the leftovers are just as good the next day. 

    Between this recipe and this lasagna, I've been on quite the Italian kick lately! (Is pink sauce Italian? I don't think so, but it seems Italian). 

    Parma Rosa Chicken

    Parma Rosa Chicken

    Published July 26, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 30 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 4 small chicken breasts (or 2 large cut in half)
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 ounce can tomato sauce (Note: this is in the canned tomato aisle; it is puréed tomato -- not a pre-made pizza or pasta sauce, which will already have herbs, garlic, etc)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan

  • Directions:

    1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil glistens, place the chicken in the skillet. Cook on each side for 5 minutes, until browned. Move to a plate and set aside.
    2. If pan is dry, add additional tablespoon of coconut oil. Add onions and garlic, and sauté until transparent. Reduce heat to low. Pour in tomato sauce and stir.
    3. Add thyme, rosemary, and basil to sauce, and then stir in the cream. Place chicken back in pan, immersing it in the sauce. Allow sauce to simmer lightly for 1-2 minutes, and then top each piece of chicken with parmesan. Place skillet in oven and turn to broil. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes — until cheese is bubbling. Remove from oven, top with additional basil for garnish, and serve hot.

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