Healthier soft cowboy cookies made with oat flour and no butter, so they’re easily gluten free and dairy free.
One of the lesser known quirks of the US election is the First Lady bake-off. Ever since 1992, Family Circle magazine has hosted a cookie contest between the candidates’ wives about a month before the general election.
Oddly enough, the bake-off has successfully predicted the election outcome in all but one contest. The anomaly occurred in 2008 when Michelle Obama’s lemon and orange shortbread cookies were beaten by Cindy McCain’s oatmeal butterscotch cookies. Still, being right five times out of six isn’t bad.
This year I’m excited to see Bill Clinton don an apron and whip up a batch of cookies. Given that Hillary won both her contests in 1992 and 1996, Bill has some big shoes to fill.
Admittedly, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Bernie Sanders’ wife Jane O’Meara could be the Democratic representative. And the competition just involves submitting cookie recipes to Family Circle magazine – there’s no actual bake-off between the candidates’ spouses.
So perhaps I shouldn’t get so excited about Bill Clinton facing off against Melania Trump or Heidi Cruz or God-knows-who in a cookie contest. But the more I think about cookie contests, the less I think about the prospect of a President Trump.
Needless to say, I’m going to think about cookies.
Laura Bush won the 2000 bake-off with her Cowboy Cookies – and I’m not surprised. With all those chewy oats, shredded coconut, pecans and chocolate chips, it’s hard to compete with Cowboy Cookies. I’m hardly a cowboy (or a cowgirl), given that I live in a large city and fear venturing out into nature, but these are probably my favorite cookies. Top three, at least.
I also maintain that these could qualify as breakfast cookies. I mean, you’ve got your fibre from oats and protein from nuts. Grab a piece of fruit and you’re set (or, you know, ignore my advice and just enjoy these as snacks).
Instead of butter, these cookies are made by whirling slivered almonds and two tablespoons of oil together in a food processor until they form a soft almond butter. Yes, this is more work than using pre-made almond butter, but it’s definitely work it. This method yields much softer and chewier cookies.
Besides, the food processor does most of the work.
While I didn’t need an excuse to bake Cowboy Cookies, today, April 9, is the day of the Wyoming primaries. Wyoming’s one of those states that doesn’t get much attention during US elections and, to be completely honest, I know almost nothing about the state.
My knowledge of Wyoming is limited to four things: it’s home to Dick Cheney; it has more senators than congresspeople*; its official nickname is the Equality State; and its unofficial nickname is the Cowboy State.
*Yes, that means Wyoming has only one congressperson.
I have no idea whether Cowboy Cookies are popular in the Cowboy State. But if they’re not, then by golly, they should be.
- 1 cup (115g) slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons (30mL) canola oil
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup (50g) brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons (30mL) maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons (10mL) vanilla extract
- ½ cup (50g) oat flour
- ½ cup (50g) rolled oats
- ⅓ cup (25g) shredded coconut
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (30g) chopped pecans
- ¼ cup (50g) chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with non-stick paper.
- In a mini food processor or the smallest bowl of a regular-sized processor, process the slivered almonds until they begin to clump together (about 5 – 10 minutes). Pour in the canola oil, and process until smooth and creamy, and no longer grainy (about another 5 – 10 minutes). Set aside.
- In large bowl, whisk the egg with a fork. Add the almond mixture, and mix well. Mix in the brown sugar, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
- Add the oat flour, rolled oats, shredded coconut, baking soda and salt. Mix with a spoon until combined. Mix in most of the chopped pecans and chocolate chips, reserving some for the tops of the cookies.
- Roll the dough into generous walnut-sized balls (about 2 – 3 tablespoons of dough per ball) and drop them onto the prepared baking sheets. The dough will be very sticky. Gently press the remaining chopped pecans and chocolate chips into the tops of the unbaked cookies.
- Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. The cookies will be very soft and look underdone.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 - 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Once cooled, store them in an airtight container.
You can make your own oat flour by grinding some rolled or quick-cooking oats in a coffee grinder (or a food processor or blender). You'll need just under ½ cup of oats to yield ½ cup of oat flour. Grind the oats first, and then measure the flour.
If you need these to be gluten-free, make sure you're using certified gluten-free oat flour and rolled oats. Also note that some GF eaters cannot tolerate oats.
Use non-dairy chocolate chips to ensure these are dairy free. I used dark chocolate chips, which are usually dairy-free.