A couple of weeks ago I was going on a work retreat. A potluck was being organized and I decided to volunteer to make dessert. I chose dessert because I like posting recipes up here but don’t like having to eat it all by myself, so I figured a potluck was a perfect opportunity to make something sweet to share with lots of people. Let me tell you, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. As the food restrictions came pouring in, I realized that I had to make a gluten free, vegan, nut free dessert. That meant no eggs, no butter, no flour (unless it was an overwhelming combination of a bunch of flours I didn’t have), and no nuts to simulate all of the above. It wasn’t like I could back out, so I started to do my research. I came up with two viable options. The first, being a fruit crisp like this one on Cookie and Kate. I thought that maybe this was the most obvious choice and left it out there in case my co-worker who was also making dessert chose to go in that direction. The second option that I found was a recipe for Fig Newtons on My New Roots (a beautiful blog that focuses on healthy ingredients, which I knew would come through in terms of looking for a recipe built around dietary restrictions).
I liked it because it didn’t involve me buying a whole bunch of things that I didn’t know how to use or have already. I really just needed gluten free oats, which was easy enough to find. As I made the cookies, a little voice in my head was telling me, this doesn’t feel right! Stop! But I kept going, putting my faith in the recipe on a fabulous blog that had good reviews. As I put the fig newtons in the oven, a delicious smell started to fill the room and my boyfriend, who knew that I was stressed about the whole ordeal, made a comment about how good they smelled. I agreed, but told him that I was worried that they would essentially ‘melt’ while they were in there. There was so much coconut oil in the original recipe and the dough was super wet and sticky, and despite tons of good reviews a few people had that problem. He peeked in the oven and my worst fears were realized, the ‘cookies’ had turned into puddles, albeit delicious puddles.
I let them finish cooking, trying not to panic or get too upset- they were just cookies after all. However, I really, really didn’t want to have to go back to the store and get ingredients for a crisp. Luckily, I took them out of the oven and cut the puddle of cookies into squares that pretty much held together and ate the scraps happily. In the end, they actually tasted delicious and I was determined to fix the recipe so that everyone out there who has to navigate these dietary restrictions either for a potluck or in their own homes could share delicious and non-melty cookies with their loved ones.
In the end, I reduced the amount of coconut oil by more than half, increased the oat flour a bit and they turned out delicious. I also adjusted the flavour profile of the original cookies, including cranberries and orange in the mix. The cookies are crispy and tender all at once and the filling is wonderfully flavourful. I have to admit, the dough was still quite sticky. The trick is to run a knife between the dough and the board when you are folding the sides of the cookie up and to have some spare oat flour to dust the surface you are working on. Other than that, they worked perfectly. I have to admit, I did a little victory dance when I took them out of the oven!
Adapted from My New Roots
These cookies are gluten free (using gluten free oats), vegan and nut free! The chia gel is the binder in this recipe, so don't omit it! However, you can soak the seeds in whatever liquid you want and it will still work, so experiment all you like!
The dough for these cookies is quite wet. The trick is to chill it for at least an hour before handling it and to chill it for 15 minutes before it goes into the oven. You can also make a touch more oat flour and reserve it to dust your working surface with.
You can use a rolling pin to roll out the dough but I preferred to just flatten it with my hands. I also didn't have any parchment paper to roll the dough out and it worked fine but it will help prevent sticking if you use it!
You may have a couple of tablespoons leftover filling, stir it into some yogurt, delicious!
In a small bowl combine chia seeds and orange juice, stir and let sit for 10-15 minutes, until it turns into a gel.
In a food processor, grind oats until it turns into a flour.
Add coconut sugar, baking soda, salt and cinammon. Pulse to mix.
Add coconut oil, chai-orange juice gel, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
Pulse until it forms into a dough.
Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Place figs, cranberries, orange juice, water, vanilla bean, lemon juice, orange zest, cinnamon stick, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
Cook until the figs break down and the mixture thickens (about 10-15 minutes).
Let cool slightly, remove vanilla pod and cinnamon stick, and blend in a food processor until smooth (or slightly chunky, whatever you want!).
Preheat oven to 350F.
Remove dough from fridge. Divide in half
Place on a piece of parchment place on a piece of parchment paper and lay another sheet on top. Using a rolling pin (or your hands), roll dough until it's about 4 x 10 inches.
Trim off excess dough to make a rectangle.
Spoon half of the fig filling along the center, you want the filling to be about an inch thick so there is enough room to cover it with the dough at the sides and not have it squish out. You may have a few tablespoons of leftover filling.
Fold in both sides and press lightly to seal.
Cut about 8 pieces and place seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. The cookies won't spread while baking so they can be placed quite close together.
Repeat with second half of dough and filling.
Refrigerate cookies for 15 minutes.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cookies are set but still a bit soft, they will harden as they cool.
Cool on cooling rack and enjoy!
Cranberry fig newtons Recipe was last modified: December 16, 2013 by