Bite into a crisp chocolate wafer rolled in finely chopped pecans and topped with a mint, dark chocolate shell and savor the contrast of the double chocolate layers. If you thought you liked Girl Scout Thin Mints, wait until you taste these because they’re a lot better. I created this recipe because I was hungry for some favorite Christmas cookies that I can’t eat any more, but I think the new version is the best. If you don’t tell anyone these are gluten-free, they’ll never guess.
Indoor light isn’t very good in Alaska at this time of year, so I took the picture outside. It was minus 11° F (minus 24° C), too cold to take more than a couple of shots. That’s because I was wearing thin cotton gloves since I couldn’t feel the focus button on the camera through my warmer gloves. Usually the cookies have a bright shine on them, but the chocolate layer froze and turned cloudy before I finished. I’m definitely asking Santa for an indoor light kit. He may not be gluten-free, but I’ll bet if I leave a plate of these cookies out, I’ll get my lights.
This recipe works best in a stand mixer. If you don’t have one, use a hand-held mixer to beat the coconut oil and sugar, then beat in the cocoa before chilling the mixture. Use your hands to knead in the flour, as the dough will be too stiff for a hand-held mixer. While it’s possible to mix the flour into the dough before it’s chilled, the texture of the dough may not turn out right. The flour won’t bind smoothly if the temperature of the coconut oil mixture is too warm, but the recipe works every time if you follow the steps as written.
By the way, a very interesting interview with Dr. Sue Shepherd, one of the world’s leading researchers on fructose malabsorption, aired on Australian public radio this week: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/rnfirstbite/fructose-malabsorption/4412798. It’s the episode called “Tummy Troubles: the Rise of Fructose Malabsorption”. I found out about it after I noticed that a lot of people were linking from the radio station website to my blog. When I clicked on the link I discovered that my blog was the featured blog of the week on the website. It was a shock, but a really exciting one!
June 7, 2013: Cocoa powder recently tested moderately high in FODMAPs at the Monash University lab, which means this recipe may no longer be considered suitable for a low-FODMAP diet. Here’s a link to what dietician Patsy Catsos has to say on the topic: http://www.ibsfree.net/ibsfree_at_last/2013/06/cocoa-powder-moderately-high-in-fodmaps-what-about-chocolate.html
Chocolate Mint Cookies (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)
Makes about 44 (1 3/4″ or 4.5 cm) cookies
232 grams (1 cup + 2 tablespoons or 270 ml) coconut oil, melted
104 grams (1/2 cup or 120 ml) sugar
2 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons (10 ml) coconut flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla
1 teaspoon (5 ml) guar gum
1 teaspoon (5 ml) almond extract
48 grams (1/2 cup or 120 ml) cocoa powder
188 grams (1 1/3 cups or 320 ml) superfine white or brown rice flour
64 grams (1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons or 90 ml) potato starch
32 grams (1/4 cup or 60 ml) tapioca flour
1 cup (240 ml) finely chopped pecans
2 (3.5 ounces or 100 grams) dark chocolate bars, 70% cacao, dairy-free
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
Put the melted coconut oil in a stand mixer bowl and add the sugar, eggs, coconut flour, vanilla, guar gum and almond extract. Using the paddle attachment, beat the mixture on medium-high until the sugar dissolves and the mixture turns pale yellow and thick, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and release the paddle attachment into the bowl. Put the bowl in the fridge for an hour. The mixture must be thoroughly chilled before continuing. Take the bowl out of the fridge and re-attach the paddle. Add the cocoa powder and beat on medium-high until the cocoa is completely absorbed into the coconut oil mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Whisk the remaining flours together in a small bowl then add the flour blend to the dough.
Beat the mixture on medium-high until a pasta-like dough forms. This will take a few minutes. Don’t worry about over-mixing the dough. It doesn’t have any gluten so it won’t get tough, no matter how long it takes to form a solid dough. Turn the mixer off when the dough forms a ball or comes away from the sides of the bowl in big chunks. Use a spatula to scrape the bowl clean and place the dough on a flat surface. Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a 2 1/2 inch (6.35 cm) wide log. Spread the pecans on the work surface and carefully roll each piece of dough in the nuts, until the logs are 1 3/4 inches (4.5 cm) wide and are evenly covered in nuts. Roll the logs on a clean surface to make sure the nuts are firmly stuck to the dough.
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and heat it to 350° F (176° C). Cover 2 rimless cookie sheets with parchment paper. Slice the dough into 1/4 inch (6 mm) slices and place them on the cookie sheets. If a slice is lopsided, wrap your index finger and thumb around the outside edge and gently squeeze it to reshape the circle. Bake the trays one at a time for 20 minutes. When the cookies are done, slip the parchment paper onto a wire rack so that the cookies can cool without touching them.
Once cooled, the cookies may be frozen. Let the cookies return to room temperature before frosting so that the chocolate will be shiny when it cools. When you’re ready to frost the cookies, spread them out on a large sheet of parchment paper. Break the chocolate bars into small pieces and put them in a medium size, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate on high for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave for 15 seconds. Continue stirring and microwave in 15 second increments until the chocolate is half melted. Stir it until the residual heat melts the rest of the chocolate. Don’t overheat it or the consistency will be wrong. It should be tepid. Add the peppermint extract and stir until there are no traces of it. Dip a small spoon into the melted chocolate and drop a dollop on top of each cookie. The chocolate will spread smoothly over the surface. Let the chocolate harden at room temperature before stacking or serving the cookies.