I like blaming my 30’s for a lot of things: the fine lines appearing under my eyes, the two-day hangovers, and the inability to lose weight the way I did in my 20’s. And while I don’t have too much control over the first problem (let’s be honest, eye cream is just overpriced moisturizer), I can drink less (well, sometimes) and I can definitely make healthier eating choices during the holidays.
The idea of cookie exchanges has made its way to Shanghai, and so has Thanksgiving. For my day job, I’ve had to write listicles about turkey delivery services and where to go for the best cup of hot chocolate in the city. I’m also a food critic on the side, and it’s literally my job to eat fattening food. So I cut corners when I can.
Epermarket, one of Shanghai’s online grocers, asked me to participate in a “Christmas Cookie Challenge,” highlighting some of the products they sell (as an expat, it is often a challenge to find things like chocolate chips or vanilla extract). And after successfully (albeit surprisingly) creating a pumpkin tart for their “Halloween Battle,” I gladly accepted. But I told them right off the bat that I would only be making something healthy–something that could possibly pass for breakfast in a pinch.
Enter Dark Chocolate-Dipped Cranberry Oat Cookies. Gluten free (if you care about that sort of thing), free of processed sugars, and seriously delicious. If I didn’t make them myself, I would swear someone was trying to knock me off my healthy cookie wagon. Make them, bring them to your cookie exchanges so you have a healthy option, and even sneak one or two for breakfast–cause, hey, they have oats and bananas in them!
Dark Chocolate-Dipped Cranberry Oat Cookies
(Recipe adapted from the Minimalist Baker)
- 2 ripe bananas
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats
- 1/2 cup oat flour (just ground the oats)
- 1/2 cup almond meal (ground from raw almonds)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3 Tbsp pecans, lightly crushed
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (preferably unsweetened)
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I prefer 60%)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/177 Celsius
- In a blender or food processor, blend the eggs until liquid.
- In a large bowl, mix bananas, eggs, peanut butter, coconut oil, vanilla and maple syrup.
- In a blender or food processor, blend 1/2 cup of oats, then combine.
- In the same blender or food processor, pulse 1/2 cup of almonds until they reach a flour consistency (make sure to pulse lightly, or else you’ll get almond butter). Add to the mixture.
- Add the baking powder, baking soda, pecans and cranberries and mix well.
- Lightly grease two baking sheets with coconut oil or butter and form palm-sized cookies–they don’t expand. Make sure they are all the same size to ensure even baking.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cookies are slightly golden brown.
- Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets and put the chocolate chips into a saucepan, over low heat. Make sure the flame is very low, otherwise the chocolate will seize up. Stir constantly until it is smooth liquid, then turn off the heat. Dip each cookie into the chocolate, covering half of the cookie.
- Place the chocolate-covered cookies on a tray and cover them. Leave them to set before eating (trust me, they’re better that way).