Just Because

20130520_BlogChocolateChipQuinoaCookies-102
I wake up in the morning and consult the Google calendar. Lately I’m not sure how I could make much of anything happen without it. Tasks are driven largely by to-do lists with breaks for an occasional lunch. And lots of granola baking in between. My yoga teacher hasn’t seen a whole lot of me, and Sam and I finally went grocery shopping for real last night (it’s been awhile). This time of year seems populated by things that other people need done: from the farmers market organizers to new Marge vendors and book-related emails  — there’s a lot to tend to. That is, until the craving to bake cookies strikes on Sunday night and it seems that, actually, everyone can wait.


20130520_BlogChocolateChipQuinoaCookies-110
This newfound uber-busyness is largely because the farmers market season has started for Marge, so the week is dotted with new markets, new baking days, and lots of errands. Regardless, we’re going to try and sneak away on Saturday night for a quick camping trip. Preferably with cookies, a little flask of bourbon, some oats for morning oatmeal, a good flashlight and a few books. Sam wants to cook steak over the coals — I’m nervous about that and am voting for pesto pasta instead. We’ll see who wins out.

Ultimately, I suppose, it really doesn’t matter because we’ll be in the woods without email. And sometimes when everyone else needs something from you (and needs it now), it’s really nice to just close the computer screen, put on a Townes Van Zandt record, and do something for no other reason than ‘just because.’  Like getting out in the woods or baking cookies. I hope you enjoy a long weekend, too. And that you answer to no one other than yourself. For at least a day.

A quick note on these cookies: These were inspired by a cookie recipe on Sprouted Kitchen last week for Mapled Chocolate Chip Cookies. For ‘just because’ cookies, these may seem a little high maintenance on first glance. But they’re really not. The method is a wet/dry ingredient affair, but I do understand that all of the ingredients may not be in your cupboards. Quinoa flakes are so wonderful in baked goods — they add a nice, chewy texture and a good hit of protein. They’re easy to come by in gourmet or natural grocery stores but if you can’t track them down, feel free to substitute rolled oats (not instant) instead. If you don’t have almond meal, simply grind raw almonds down in your food processor until a fine powder forms. As for flax seeds, they’re optional. They add a nice crunch that I really love, but you could also grind them into a powder and fold them in that way instead; your body will absorb the nutrients more readily, but you’re sacrificing that beloved crunch. And I choose crunch. Ultimately, for this weekend at least, choose what makes you happiest.

 

Nutty Dark Chocolate, Coconut, Quinoa Cookies

Nutty Dark Chocolate, Coconut, Quinoa Cookies

  • Yield: 15 3-inch cookies
  • Prep time:15mins
  • Cook time:14mins
  • Inactive time:30mins
  • Total time:59mins

As with all of my recipes, substitute away as you wish. If you like raisins or dried cranberries, you could fold those in in lieu of chocolate chips. Instead of pecans, chopped hazelnuts would be dreamy. As would walnuts. And instead of whole-wheat flour, spelt flour would be a great swap. You’re going to pull these cookies out of the oven and they’re going to seem not quite done — they’ll firm up slightly as they cool, and they’re oh-so-wonderful when they sag a little in the middle. They’re much softer and chewier than they are firm and crisp — just how I like them. I think that you will, too.

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup natural cane sugar (like turbinado sugar)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cup quinoa flakes
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped dark chocolate (or chocolate chips)
1/2 cup unsweetened flake coconut
3 tablespoons flax seeds, optional
1/2 cups pecan halves, chopped
flaky salt (like Maldon), to top (optional)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or line with an oven-safe baking mat.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or hand beaters, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until they’re pale and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and salt and mix until just combined.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the almond meal, quinoa flakes, whole-wheat flour, and baking soda.  Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add the chocolate, coconut, flax and pecans and fold a few times to combine – be careful not to over mix. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Form a heaping tablespoon of the mixture into a ball and place on the baking sheet, 1 ½-inches apart. Flatten very gently with the palm of your hand and sprinkle the tops with flaky salt. Bake for about 12-14 minutes, or until golden on top (they may seem a touch underdone, but they’ll continue to crisp up as they cool).

Remove from the oven and cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Comments

  1. Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe

    These cookies look wonderful Megan. There is something so dreamy about your recipes - I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's the words that accompany them, but you always manage to make me feel this intense need to race home and bake/cook up each dang thing immediately. I am afraid for your cookbook (a good kind of afraid) - I may need to just take a week off work to make everything!
    Have a lovely "unplugged" weekend. Sounds like you deserve it!

  2. Bowen

    These look great! I've never baked with quinoa flakes - are they a pretty straight substitute for rolled oats in other recipes too?

    1. megang

      In forgiving baking recipes (cookies, quick breads, muffins) -- they should be a pretty straightforward substitue. You can make a porridge from them, too (just like oatmeal) .You can fold them into homemade granola. They're great! Enjoy.

  3. Anna

    I found quinoa flakes a few weeks ago. Not my favorite for breakfast (I think I like regular quinoa better) but amazingly I have pretty much everything I need to make these. I don't even need an excuse since they are just because cookies :) Thanks!

  4. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen

    Steaks over the coals, these cookies, books and no internet, sounds like a dream date with your other half! I never saw flakes, but we here have puffed quinoa, like puffed rice. Wonder how they will do in this recipe.

    1. megang

      Hi Paula: I think puffed quinoa will act a bit differently as they won't soak up the moisture as much as quinoa flakes will. That being said, I'm dying to know how they'd turn out! If you try them, let me know. Enjoy your week, ~mg

  5. Elizabeth @ Coppertop Kitchen

    I have all of these things! Silver lining of this weird late spring cold snap we're having in Chicago: soup and baking are back for a day or two! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. megang

      Hooray, Elizabeth! Hope you liked the cookies. And hoping we both get a little sun one of these days soon! ~mg

  6. thelittleloaf

    What an absolutely gorgeous idea. I've been using quinoa flakes in granola so have a large pack in the cupboard which could easily be turned into cookies instead. Have a lovely camping trip!

    1. megang

      Thanks so much, Kate. Yes quinoa flakes have been sneaking into quite a few things around here lately. Hope you're enjoying your week! ~mg

  7. Colleen

    Love this post. I'm writing to you from the air - somewhere over northern Florida headed to Tampa. You point about closing the computer screen and doing things "just because" is perfect. Time to start this vacation! Enjoy your long weekend.

    1. megang

      Colleen: A comment from the air: I'm honored! So glad you enjoyed the post, and even more -- that vacation is treating you well. ~mg

  8. erin

    These cookies look utterly beguiling. I can totally understand the whole busy-ness of life and needing to get away from everything. I really love taking off for a few days, just to breathe and to be.
    I hope you get the rest and refreshment that you need.

    1. megang

      Thanks so much for your sweet comment, Erin. Enjoy the cookies, ~mg

  9. Joanna

    These cookies are heading straight to the top of my "must make" list. Mmmm.

    1. megang

      Enjoy, Joanna!

  10. sara forte

    yes! I made a second batch of ours soon as the first batch was finished. I tried a GF route and then put chocolate coconut ice cream between them - that was my favorite. We've kept the batter in the fridge, making two big ones at a time in the toaster oven so we can have them warm. Oh yes. I can't wait to try them with the quinoa flakes! Great idea. Hope you get some rest. Never feels good to be plagued by lists. Even if they exist, hope you can ignore them for just a day and enjoy. xo

    1. megang

      Sara: I'm ready for a second batch myself! They are so, so delicious. I want to use a little teff flour next time .... oh the options! But I think keeping a little batter in the fridge is the way to go. Warm cookies at night? Yes! Hope all is well with you and you guys are enjoying some early summer sun (we're not but we like to live vicariously through you CA folks). xox

  11. Natasha Minocha

    Gorgeous cookies..indulgent and healthy all at once! Could I substitute regular quinoa instead of the flakes? We don't get quinoa flakes in India and I really have been wanting to use quinoa in regular baking.
    Thanks

    1. megang

      Hi, Natasha! Thanks so much for your note. You know, unfortunately regular quinoa is definitely going to act differently in these cookies. I'll work on a recipe for regular quinoa in something delicious; in the meantime, I'd use rolled oats in these cookies if I were you. Enjoy your week! ~mg

  12. Natasha Minocha

    Thanks Megan! Look forward to your quinoa based recipe. Having very recently stumbled upon your blog, am totally loving it! Really enjoy this space, apart from the wonderful recipes, there is this sense of calm here.

  13. Kasey

    I wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes, everyone else can wait. A cookie beckons!

Join the Discussion

Healthy Comfort Food

Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup

Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup

People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.

Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.

Read More
Cheesy Quinoa Cauliflower Bake

Cheesy Quinoa Cauliflower Bake

I just finished washing out Oliver's lunchbox and laying it out to dry for the weekend. My favorite time of day is (finally) here: the quiet of the evening when I can actually talk to Sam about our day or sit and reflect on my own thoughts after the inevitable dance party or band practice that precedes the bedtime routine lately. Before becoming pregnant for the second time, I'd have had a glass of wine with the back door propped open right about now -- these days though, I have sparkling water or occasionally take a sip from one of Sam's hard ciders. Except now the back door's closed and we even turned on the heat for the first time yesterday. The racing to water the lawn and clean the grill have been replaced by cozier dinners at home and longer baths in the evening. You blink and it's the first day of fall. 

Read More
Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio

Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio

I'd heard from many friends that buying a house wasn't for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I've started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing's first: we bought a house! I think! I'm pretty sure! We're still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we'll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much. I'm not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn't the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we'd be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend's book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good. 

Read More
Smoky Butternut Squash and Three Bean Chili

Smoky Butternut Squash and Three Bean Chili

If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.

Read More
To Talk Porridge

To Talk Porridge

Porridge is not the sexiest of breakfasts, it's true. It doesn't have a stylish name like strata or shakshuka, and it doesn't have perfectly domed tops like your favorite fruity muffin. It doesn't crumble into delightful bits like a good scone nor does it fall into buttery shards like a well-made croissant. But when you wake up and it's 17 degrees outside (as it has been, give or take a few, for the last week), there's nothing that satisfies like a bowl of porridge or oatmeal. It's warm and hearty and can be made sweet or savory with any number of toppings. The problem? Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap as gluey or gummy or just downright boring or dutiful -- and it's because not everyone knows the secrets to making a great pot of warm morning cereal. So let's talk porridge (also: my cookbook comes out this month! So let's take a peek inside, shall we?)

Read More