Healthy Vegan Afghan Cookies | Dairy free, gluten free, refined sugar free and paleo
When I lived in New Zealand many moons ago (and pre-healthy eating days) I was introduced to the Edmonds Cookery Book; which is filled with pages of traditional kiwi favourites. One recipe in particular got my attention – the famous Afghan Cookies. I made them over and over again, oblivious to all the butter, icing sugar, wheat flour and processed cornflakes I was consuming!
I recently was reminded of these delicious cookies and decided to challenge myself to create a healthier version. Finding affordable sugar-free, GMO-free cornflakes proved rather difficult, so I went for something that was a little different, but still added the crunch – buckwheat! And it worked a charm! The crunchy chocolate cookie is baked and finished off with a dollop of dark chocolate and a toasted walnut.
As I bit into my first Afghan cookie, I drifted off to my happy place as memories flooded back of life in New Zealand. Before the bubble burst, I looked around and the lot had vanished! I blame the boys and their friends! Promise!
(Makes about 12 cookies)
1 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons cacao powder
2 tablespoons rice syrup (or your favourite liquid sweetener)
1 tablespoon coconut oil, softened (but not liquid)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup activated buckwheat kernels (see notes)
½ cup dark chocolate chips or ½ bar of dark chocolate
12 walnuts (see notes)
Soak buckwheat in water for a minimum of one hour to soften slightly and activate. Rinse well and place on a piece of absorbent kitchen towel to dry.
Line a baking tray with baking paper and preheat the oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F).
Soften the coconut oil slightly if solid by placing it in a bowl over another bowl of hot water. Don’t allow it to turn to liquid or it will be difficult to shape the mixture into balls.
Add the almond flour, cacao powder, rice syrup, softened coconut oil and baking powder to a processor and process until well combined.
Add the buckwheat kernels and gently pulse a few times until mixed but not chopped into the mixture.
Scoop a heaped tablespoon of mixture into your hands and roll into a ball (warning: it does get a little messy!) and place on the baking sheet, allowing space between them as they do spread. Lightly press the top of the ball with your finger to flatten them slightly.
Bake in preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely (otherwise chocolate topping will melt).
To make the chocolate topping, place the dark chocolate in a bowl over another stainless steel bowl of hot water. Gently stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until melted. Some ideas: you can add a couple of teaspoons of hot water to the chocolate to make this process easier and will make the chocolate go further. Alternatively you could mix in almond butter or plantbased milk to the chocolate to make it creamier.
Place a heaped teaspoon of chocolate onto the centre of the cookie. Press a walnut gently into the chocolate.
Allow the chocolate to set before serving.
If the cookies aren’t gobbled up in one sitting, then they can be stored in an airtight container.
How to activate buckwheat:
Rinse buckwheat kernels under running water. Put the washed buckwheat kernels in a glass or ceramic bowl and cover with filtered, purified water to a good inch above the grain line. Soak for 6 hours minimum and 8 hours maximum. Rinse well in a sieve and dry out on kitchen towel.
I have however rinsed buckwheat and soaked it for only an hour and it worked fine in this recipe.
I usually only have raw nuts in my pantry, so I toast my walnuts by placing them on the baking sheet alongside the cookies when baking.
Raw walnuts will also taste just as delicious!
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