Oat, Raisin and Chocolate Chunk Cookies (vegan and gluten free)

Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Low Fat and Vegan

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 This recipe was a long time coming. Don’t find this weird, but I often dreamt about these cookies, dancing around me in a little circle of deliciousness. Well, I mean I dreamt of what I imagined these cookies would be, if I had brought them into existence yet. After making ages ago Pastry Affair’s oat and sultana cookies I just couldn’t get them out of my head. They were seriously so good! So buttery and oaty and chocolatey. But they weren’t exactly healthy, despite what I tried to convince myself of with all those nutritious oats and chocolatey antioxidants.

I’m a firm believer in not making something taste bad for the sake of healthiness. It makes me mad when I see recipes for “birthday cake” which is actually a giant melon shaped as a cake covered in 99% reduced fat processed whip-cream sweetened with stevia. I mean come on people. What the actual *&#$. If someone presented me that on my birthday and I cut in to it expecting cake I would smash it on their head. 

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 So I really didn’t want to make these cookies until I could think of a way to recreate the buttery, flaky oat cookies in all their glory. What was the answer you wonder? Peanut Butter! Sweet and nutty food of the Gods. I referred to Gluten Free Vegan Girl’s recipe as well as Healthy Chef’s recipe and ended up combining features of both in what came out as exactly the perfect cookie that lived up to my memories. 

The cookies are sweetened with banana, dates and a tiny smidge of honey or maple syrup and they’re full of raisins and chocolate chunks. The quinoa flour makes them really flavoursome and adds heaps of health benefits as well, but you can substitute almond flour or hazelnut flour if you don’t have it. Similarly with the peanut butter, to make a nut-free version omit the butter and add in coconut butter or olive  or macadamia oil. Add an extra teaspoon of honey or syrup as well. They won’t have that yummy flavour of peanut butter but they’ll still taste great.
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These cookies are super healthy despite tasting as good as they do. The quinoa flour and oats have a much better protein content than plain flour, and the natural sweeteners take out all of the processed sugar and fats that normally go in to cookies. I love cookies, even giant ones full of chocolate and caramel, but I always feel a bit sick after eating them and still end up eating another one anyway…these aren’t like that. You could eat a couple for breakfast and feel fab, they have lots of slow-burning energy in them especially with the optional nuts and flax seeds. 

Each cookie is about 140-160 calories and don’t worry, this isn’t one of those recipes that says “makes thirty for each 100 calories” and you end up making eight. Twelve generous cookies easily comes out of this recipe. They do have a downfall, and that’s their appearance. Please forgive the very average photography today! Me and my camera were not having the best cohesion. Sometimes I feel really great about the photo aspect of the blog but sometimes I feel like a great big amateur struggling with every shot, stuck in awkward angles and lightings that are impossible to break out of. But they do taste great! And that’s all that matters hey? Hey??? So make sure you give them a go.

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Oat, Raisin and Chocolate Cookies: Inspired from here and here

130g (1 + 1/2 cups) rolled oats (not instant)

1 tsp cinnamon

60g (1/2 cup) quinoa flour or almond meal

60g (1/3 cup) raisins or sultanas

100g (4 ounces) vegan + sugar free dark chocolate chunks (or more dried fruit)

60g (2 + 1/2 tbsp) peanut butter

60g (1/2 cup) seeded medjool dates, soaked briefly in water

60g (3 tablespoons) honey or maple syrup

2 medium (1 cup mashed, 300g) bananas

1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional: 50g each (1/3 cup) flax seeds, pepitas, sunflower seeds or walnuts

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  Method:

Preheat the oven to 160C (320F) and line two cookie trays with baking paper. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, spices, flour, nuts and seeds, dried fruit and chocolate.

In a blender, combine the dates, peanut butter, honey or syrup, banana and vanilla and blend until smooth. Use a large spoon to mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Use an ice cream scoop or small ladle to grab even scoops of cookie dough and place them on the trays. Bake for 17-22 minutes, swapping the trays halfway through. The cookies are done when they are completely cooked on the outside but still slightly soft. They’ll firm up on the trays. 

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Banana and Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins

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 I know! You don’t have to say it. You think I’m obsessed with muffins. You think that’s all I ever do. Make protein packed quinoa carrot muffins one week and posh little banana chai muffins the next. Well it’s not my fault muffins and cupcakes are so damn cute! And I’m not the only person who thinks mini cakes encased in paper are somehow so much more exciting and easy to serve than full-sized cakes. 

This week there were many many bananas. You’re probably imagining six or seven bananas ripening away in a fruit bowl right now, a typical kitchen scene that leads to banana baked cakes. Now take that image and multiply it by thirty! That’s right, I counted. You know that TV show called hoarders? Where they go in to people’s houses and they have newspapers from 1933 and pizza boxes filling their children’s beds? Well I’m one of those people. Although you wouldn’t know it, because it seems the only thing I hoard is overripe bananas (for now….). I deliberately buy a few too many and when the end of the week comes, steal some spotty ones away to the freezer, chuckling to myself like rumplestiltskin.

This week when my banana cube container reached overflowing in the freezer, and there were three ripe bananas still in their skins sitting on top of it, as well as fifteen small overripe bananas on the counter, it was time to take action. It was time for an intervention. So I adapted another Three Blue Ducks recipe, this time their famous banana and fig bread, into these chocolate chunk muffins. And let me just say one thing. These banana muffins put all those dry, powdery, gummy banana muffins out there to shame. TO SHAME.

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 They’re finally just as good as that super gourmet cafe muffin I’ve always wanted to recreate. They are somehow fluffy and dense at the same time. Somehow light yet moist, crunchy yet sticky, fruity yet chocolatey! You get the picture. They’re just that next level of yum. Sometimes you just have those moments in baking where you create something that makes you stop and think, wow. I made that. It happened when I made the vegan chocolate orange cupcakes, which just came out so so delicious and moist. It happened when I made a rhubarb and coconut crumble slice so crunchy and flavoursome no one could stop eating it. And it happened today!

Usually when I make something or follow a recipe, I might use features of that recipe again but it will be very rare that I’ll make it in it’s entirety more than once. These are those kind of recipes that never get improved upon. Everyone has their staple chocolate cookie recipe (I use David Lebovitz’) and their chocolate birthday cake recipe and their best sponge recipe. This is going to be my banana muffin recipe. Statement of the month. 

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 My mum isn’t much of a baker, she’s more of a savoury food fan. But she did used to make banana bread pretty regularly when I was growing up. It was a little bit hippy with a sesame seed crust and a dense, wholesome texture, and a little bit my mum’s baking with a slightly raw middle and little lumps of flour that hadn’t been sifted through. But man, I really loved it. It was always so exciting finding a piece in my lunchbox and eating it in first class even though it was still slightly frozen. 

Banana baked goods are so homely. I always feel worried at first posting them because the Internet is so saturated with them. Plus I’ve made a lot! Caramel Chocolate Muffins, Banana Maple Layer Cake, just to name a few. But then I think it’s not like readers have to go ahead and make everything I post. I know with most of the blogs I read all the time, I just want to eat the photos and the stories with my eyes. It’s not like a weekly update of what I should whip up in the kitchen.

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 Nowadays so many of the recipes I make are vegan or gluten free, sometimes both, and almost always sugar free. It was strangely therapeutic to pull out my old tins of flour and sugar and beat the eggs and vanilla together until fluffy. I didn’t have to worry about lumpy chia seeds or faulty blenders or strange overpowering raw flavours. These muffins may not be as good for your body as many other muffins on this site, but they are still very worthy and a little treat for every now and then.

If you don’t want to use chocolate chips, you could substitute 100g of walnuts (like the original recipe) or other toasted nuts and seeds, or you could throw in some raisins or blueberries, or just leave them plain. This is a simple recipe that you can take in a few different ways. Originally it was made for a banana bread. If you want to do that, substitute plain flour + 1 tsp baking powder for the self-raising, and increase the baking time to about half an hour to 45 minutes. 

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 Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe: Adapted from The Blue Ducks

200g (1 cup + 1.5 tablespoons) self-raising flour

½ tsp bicarb soda

1 tsp cinnamon

2 medium-large eggs (100g)

170g (3/4 cup) sugar

430g (1 pound or 3 large) bananas, mashed well, plus extra for garnish

45ml (3 tblsp) olive oil

40g (3 tblsp) melted butter

100g (2/3 cup roughly) dark chocolate, cut into chunks

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Preheat the oven to 160C (320F). Line 10-12 muffin tins with papers. Blend together the bananas and stir in the butter and oil.

Sift the flour, a pinch of salt, bicarb and cinnamon in a small bowl. Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Add the other wet ingredients and stir together. Gently fold in the chocolate chunks and sift in the flours.

Split in to muffin tins and top with a slice of banana, if you like. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until golden on top and springy to touch. They last for 2-3 days, but best just out of the oven. They freeze well too!

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