Sunday, July 21, 2013

Southern California Rain + Cherry Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

How can I explain yesterday? Oh, yes...

Very wet, cloudy, and a little thundery. 

Pardon the mesh screen. Actually, never mind. I think it looks cool, now that I look at it again. Lately, I've been considering taking up photography as a hobby (I used to love photography, until my Nikon Coolpix P80 died in New Mexico).

Anyway, back to yesterday. Yeah, it was very rainy. And we loved every single bit of it. We don't get much rain here in southern California. 
Though we humans wish for more, the pets would prefer none at all..

Rocky actually doesn't get THAT affected by rain (he's more of a thunder-phobe), but I thought he looked so cute in that photo.

My family has this joke that we can collect every drop of rain that falls here in one bucket. It's kind of true. Almost.

One thing I DO know for certain is that I absolutely love rainy days. The sky is white, the clouds are a bit gray, and the sound of the rain calms the nerves.

Of course, some people are not too fond of rainy days, and that's fine. To each his own. But I think there is one thing we can agree on.

Holding an oven-fresh cookie in your hands on a rainy day is magical.

It's even more magical to take a bite out of it. ;)

One of the big sparks to my cookie-making fire yesterday was this blog. I'm seriously convinced that Tim and Shanna Mallon are the cutest couple in the blogiverse. I have fallen in love with the gorgeous photography, thoughtful and skilled writing, and the AMAZING healthy food that they put so much love into making. 

Recently, they made a blueberry buckle. If you don't know what a buckle is, it's pretty much the "baby" of a cobbler and a cake (you know, if food could have kids..). I was so set on making a cherry buckle, since I had cherries on hand. But then I saw my Enjoy Life chocolate chips in my pantry, and a different idea sparked to mind. Chocolate cherry cookies... Then I saw almonds and organic whole wheat flour in the fridge. Cherry Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies! 

I'm going to be honest about these cookies, okay guys? I need to admit to you that these are not the healthiest. Sure, they're vegan, and partially organic. They have ingredients that I'm at least somewhat okay putting into my body. But they just ain't fruit, you know?

Please don't freak out, though. For one, these are TREATS. For two, as you can see from the picture, they do have plenty of healthy ingredients packed into them:

Almond meal and Organic whole wheat flour...

Chopped fresh cherries...

And we can't forget those chocolate chips:

Well, I could give you the recipe right now, but these cookies deserve more talk, because they are - in my humble opinion - one of the yummiest, most divine-tasting somewhat-healthy cookies I have ever tasted.

To start off, the dough is so sweet and chocolatey and has a very unique texture from the almond meal. There's also an occaisional pop of flavor from the cherries. Warning cookie dough lovers: it's going to be hard not to eat the dough.

While the cookies are baking, you can smell the butter, sugar, and chocolate doing their magic. The cherries are there too, but once again, it's quite difficult to pick out that distinct cherry aroma.

After baking... Take a bite out of one of those cookies... You will find that the duet of crunchy, savory almond with sweet, and slightly bitter chocolate pairs so well with the buttery goodness. If you concentrate very hard, you just might taste a subtle cherry flavor. I don't know how much flavor they lend to the recipe, but I'm not getting rid of them. They're too pretty. However, next time, I might just use strawberries. Can you imagine?? Chocolate-covered strawberry cookies? With almond flour? *swoons*

Cherry Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies

* 1/4 cup organic butter of choice (Earth Balance Organic is nice)
* 1/2 cup organic coconut sugar
* 2 Tbsp. milk of choice (I used soy)
* 3/4 tsp. vinegar of choice
* tiny pinch sea salt (optional)

*3/4 cup almonds, ground in food processor (makes approx. 1 cup almond meal)
* 3/4 cup organic whole wheat flour
* 3/4 tsp. baking powder

* 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
* 1/3 cup finely chopped cherries

1) Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease two round cookie baking sheets.
2) In a medium bowl, combine ground almond meal, wheat flour, and baking powder. Set aside.
3) Using electric hand mixer, combine butter, sugar, vinegar, milk, and salt until evenly mixed.
4) Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Dough should be a bit crumbly, but also very soft, wet and moldable (did that make sense?? Sorry, I can be confusing).
5) Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped cherries, and mix until combined evenly throughout batter.
6) Using hands or cookie scoop, roll out the dough into small balls about the size of a ping pong ball. Place them on baking sheet, and then press them down to make them a bit flatter (or you can keep them as balls. I'm sure they will still taste amazing either way).
7) Bake in oven for about 8 minutes (cookies will be a bit browned at the edges) and then remove from heat. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack.
8) At this time, you may want to sample a cookie or three. ;)
9) For soft cookies, store in a plastic tupperware. 
10) Enjoy the chocolate goodness!

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Well, that's pretty much it for today. Sorry about that quinoa recipe. I never got to posting it.. I think I would like to work on it a bit more before I do. 

All this rain in California has me wondering how much it's raining right now in other places. *contented sigh* I just love rain. Don't you? :)

Much love,

~ Natalyn

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