A healthy chocolate chip cookie I *really* like

I'm not a big fan of labeling foods "healthy" or "unhealthy" except in extreme cases.  To me, I say we use common sense and maintain a happy relationship with food as something that nourishes us and provides us with a lot of joy.  When it comes to dessert, I say enjoy reasonably but also, fully.  So I'm not always particularly on the lookout for "healthier" desserts but I am always open to finding delicious recipes that are maybe a bit smarter and utilizes more wholesome ingredients.  It's kind of a win-win.
This recipe is one of those win-win's and I'm really excited to have tried it and to now be able to enjoy it going forward!  

When I first spotted these "best healthy chocolate chip cookies" on Food52, I might have instinctively done a quick eye-roll but their appearance quickly won my interest.  They just looked so good!  Eyeing the list of ingredients, I was happy to see some of my favorite things featured - almond butter, oats, walnuts, chocolate chips (of course).  I've been renewing my love affair with walnuts in baked goods in particular lately - thanks to making and becoming smitten with a copycat recipe for Levain Bakery style chocolate chip walnut cookies (maybe more on that another day), my whole family has come around to toasted walnuts in treats.
I did go rogue and went off-script a little with this recipe.  These cookies were meant to be "gluten-free" but I substituted a couple tablespoons of almond flour for white whole-wheat flour.  From past experience, I've just not been a fan of purely almond flour-based baked goods and I'm not adverse to a little whole wheat flour in my cookies and cakes.  Since I used salted almond butter instead of unsalted (since that's what I use regularly and have on hand), I adjusted the salt in the recipe down slightly.  Sprinkling additional salt on top of the cookies before baking is nice but I find it didn't really need it.  I was a little heavy-handed when it came to the chocolate chunks and walnuts I added into the cookies, and it was the right move. 
I was so happy these cookies baked up firm and sturdy, not wet and almost falling apart as "healthy" cookies sometimes can be.  I was really thrilled when I tasted them!  Coconut sugar lends a mild sweetness and the nutty flavors really come through, along with pops of dark chocolate.  The texture is crisp along the edges and moist and chewy in the center.

As I was eating these, I would say "I think the oats make it"...then I'd change my mind and think, "the walnuts make it".  I finally realized it's the whole package.  It's all the elements working really well altogether.  I'm satisfied eating one of these cookies.  It has me feeling good, not weighed down or sluggish.  This really is a cookie I happily get behind; I not only like it, I love it.  And the fact that the ingredients are a little wiser, and it's a smarter cookie option than most, is a truly wonderful bonus.



Chocolate rugelach

It's always wonderful to try something new in the kitchen and so satisfying when it works out and you discover something delicious to share with your family.  This time, it was rugelach for me!  
I saw Molly Yeh make this recipe for chocolate rugelach on her cooking show recently and I really wanted to give it a try, so I did.  I love it when inspiration hits like that - you see something you think you and your family would like to eat, it looks do-able, and actually turns out to be the case.
I've heard of and seen rugelach before but this was a first taste for me.  Rugelach might be loosely referred to as a cookie but it's really a pastry filled with, in this case, chocolate, but also with many other possibilities such as jam, nuts, cinnamon-sugar, or fruit.  They're a Jewish pastry often made during holidays like Hanukkah but they are surely tasty enough for everyone to enjoy, anytime.  

The pastry is buttery and flaky, unique in that it also includes cream cheese which make it extra tender and adds an extra bit of flavor.  Rugelach are often crescent shaped but these simple rolled pinwheels seem an easier version for me to tackle.  
I tackled it by making a small-batch, which should yield about a dozen rugelach (I ended up with ten but I'll be sure to improve my dough-rolling skills next time because we were clamoring for more).  After making the pastry dough and rolling it out to a thin sheet, it was very satisfying to spread it with a layer of chocolate, then rolling it up tightly and slicing into individual portions that reveal the mesmerizing pinwheel swirl inside.  Prompted by Molly Yeh's love of sprinkles, I decorated some of mine with chocolate sprinkles as well as colorful sanding sugar.  
I had fun making these despite my usual hesitation when it comes to working with pastry dough.  They're fun to look at and so tasty to eat.  If you like hand pies, pastry, chocolate, and having your kitchen smell like chocolate croissants while this is baking - try a batch of rugelach for yourself some time soon!



Bakery style double chocolate muffins

Let's return to chocolate, shall we?  I think that's always a good idea!
While it's pretty quiet here in this little blog space, my kitchen is keeping busy and continues to turn out a fairly steady stream of baked goods.  As always, the majority of what I bake involves chocolate since it's my very favorite thing (and my family is rather partial to it as well).  Recently, I discovered this great bakery style chocolate muffin recipe that I can now add to my muffin repertoire.  And as far as I'm concerned, one can never have too many muffin recipes since they play versatile roles as breakfast, snack, or dessert!
My muffins are baked in standard size tins but if you make jumbo versions of these, they really could slot right onto a bakery or coffee shop counter.  These double chocolate muffins are moist yet sturdy and firm.  All importantly, they have that crusty, firm top that I associate with bakery muffins.  
We love trying new muffins, especially when they're chocolate ones!  These chocolate muffins not only look the part but have plenty of serious chocolate flavor, which is so important.  Dark cocoa, a combination of chocolate chunks and chips, as well as a little espresso powder, really drives the chocolate flavor home.


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