May 07, 2011

Pumpkin, almond and mandarin cookies


In most countries people are celebrating mums this Sunday. I have to think about this day well in advance so I can send parcels to my mum and granny along with birthday presents for both mum and dad - yes, it's a busy month! I have a very close relationship with my parents despite the physical distance. During these special days like Mother's/Father's Day and holidays I can't help but feel a little 'left out'. It's just not the same without my immediate family near by.

I made these cookies for my partner's mum as a thank you for everything she has done for me during the years. It's a little token to say how much I appreciate her efforts. If I could, I would send these to my mum as well, for all the love and support she has given me, despite the fact that I decided to move on the other side of the world.


You would probably have by now realised I don't bake cookies very often. This is probably due to the fact that most recipes start with "200g butter", followed by "100g sugar" and I don't really crave those traditional cookies. These cookies, however, are not like that. They are gluten-free (if you use uncontaminated oats), dairy-free, sugar-free and egg-free - yet they taste delicious. They are wholesome, fragrant with spices and completely guilt-free. 

Once again I've used besan flour (sometimes also called chickpea flour, but these two can also be slightly different in taste) which, I've been told, can sometimes have a very distinct fragrance and flavour. If you are unsure about using besan flour, you could substitute with wholewheat flour (in which case, obviously, they will not be gluten-free) or any other gluten-free flour you may fancy - quinoa, brown rice, teff - or a mixture of different flours. A word of warning for any cookie-fanatics out there - these will be quite soft so don't expect crunchy and crumbly. Nonetheless they are lovely with a cup of tea.


Pumpkin, almond and mandarin cookies
(makes 15-20)
(recipe inspired by Wholefoods)

2 cups raw almonds, roasted and cooled
1/2 cup rolled (uncontaminated) oats
1 cup besan flour (chickpea flour)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup roasted pumpkin puree
1 cup pitted dates
zest of 3-4 mandarins
3/4 cup mandarin juice (from about 4 mandarins)
drop or two of bitter almond extract (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line two cookie trays with baking paper.

2. Place the roasted almonds and oats into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the flour, salt, baking soda and spices and blitz until everything is combined. Empty the mixture into a large mixing bowl.

3. Place the dates, pumpkin puree, mandarin zest and juice along with a drop of bitter almond extract into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add the mixture into the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. 

4. Take large spoonfuls of dough and place onto the cookie tray. Using your fingers, shape the cookies into round disks. 

5. Bake for about 20 minutes, then leave to cool on a wire rack.


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