Sugar Free Hermit Cookies – a delectable soft Christmas Cookie

beet dyed & spinach dyed icingWhen I was growing  up one of the things I loved about Christmas time was all the delectable baking my Mum would make. She’d spend weeks making all kinds of recipes, putting them in containers and freezing them for the season. She’d make things like Isch Tarlets, Venetians and Neopolitans. The names alone sounded exotic and there was more!  We often found ourselves with a plethora of leftover baking come January and well, I happily ate threw it.

 

Of course we had the more common Christmas baking such as whipped shortbread with cherries on top and gingerbread, but I always loved the unique ones. In fact my favorite Christmas cookie was always Hermit cookies. A spicy, soft fruit drop cookie made with a little dash of coffee. The flavors in this cookie are divine, as they mellow with age and become even more delicious as the days pass. The good news was that my sisters and Dad didn’t care for them, only Mum and me, so I basically got the entire batch to myself!

 

When I ventured out on my own I would make these for my family, hoping that no one else would like them. As luck would have it my husband did not, but turned out that my son did. So I shared, reluctantly.
sugar free Christmas recipesWhen we went dairy and sugar free back in 2010, I didn’t make these cookies for a while as I could never get around the mixed fruit that goes into the cookie. Mixed fruit is deep in a thick sugary syrup, and though I tried to find alternatives or even make my own fruit mix, I could not find a way around it. Update: I found a mixed fruit mix at the Bulk Barn that has no sugar in it! Hooray!
So this year I gave in. I really wanted these cookies! And I bought a container of mixed fruit to make these cookies. I modified the rest of the recipe for sugar free hermit cookies and resigned myself to the fact that if I wanted them I had to let this one thing go…for now. Update: last year I found a sugar free mixed fruit at the Bulk Barn! I was so happy and now I can make these completely sugar free)

 

I was so excited! As I was baking them I remembered all the unique flavors I love and the delectable cookie that would result at the end. I knew that my oldest would gobble them up, but these were new to the twins, so we would see if they liked them. The smells wafted through the kitchen and I couldn’t wait to try one!

 

Of course, they were excellent. Turning out perfectly. I was very pleased. And it turns out that Luke and Chloe do like them (taking after their mother), so I guess I have to share a little more 🙂

 

Sugar Free Hermit Cookies
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp saltIMG_6775
1/2 tsp cinnamon or 1 drop Cinnamon Bark essential oil*
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves or 1-2 drops Clove Bud essential oil
1/2 c. shortening
1 egg
1/4 c. cold coffee
1 – 250 g container mixed fruit (you can find a sugar free version if desired)
1 c. golden raisins
1 c. walnuts (I usually omit these because I don’t care for nuts in my cookies but original recipe calls for them)

 

Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves onto wax paper. Beat shortening, coconut sugar, egg and coffee together until fluffy and light. Stir in flour mixture, blending well. Add mixed fruit and raisins (and nuts if using), mix well. Drop by teaspoon onto a cookie sheet and bake at 375F for approximately 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

Let cool on wire racks. Once cool store in airtight container. Flavors will mellow and voila you have a soft, fruity delicious cookie! Makes 3 dozen.
*Please note that if using essential oils in this recipe to ensure that your essential oil brand is safe to take internally. Not all essential oil brands are created equally and some use synthetic fillers and chemicals in their processing of the oil or added to the oil itself. Due to no governing regulations on producing essential oils a company can say they are 100% or Organic. Due your due diligence and research the brand you are using to ensure your safe usage.


Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

IMG_2489One of the many things I have always enjoyed about the holidays is all the treats and goodies that come with the season. Yummy cookies and squares, family favorites and traditions that I grew up with.

Slowly I have been adjusting these favorites, such as Chocolate Peanut Butter Cereal Squares, Candy Cane cookies and Isch Tartlets, to name a few, to a sugar and dairy free version for us to enjoy. But I love it when  I find a new recipe that I think fits the ‘holiday bill’, that requires no adjusting. This was the case with the Sweet Potato Pecan Pie which I found in Clean Eating magazine. The picture alone looked scrumptious so I knew I had to try it!

I have to admit I did make some adjustments to the original recipe, not because it was not fine as it was, but because I decided to make some different choices. For instance it called for olive oil in the crust and though I am sure it would have turned out fine, the thought of it made my stomach roll, so I used coconut oil instead.

The pie was a hit with everyone, all the kids loved it and my Mum, as she was visiting (though she loves sweet potatoes so it wasn’t a hard sell). Of course it is super good for you too!

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and choppedIMG_2487

1 ¼ c. rolled oats

¾ c. pecan halves

1/3 c. almond flour

¾ c. coconut sugar

2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. coconut oil

1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/8 tsp. plus ¼ tsp. sea salt

1 cup organic firm silken tofu

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

½ c. unsweetened golden raisins

2 tbsp. pure maple syrup

Place potatoes in medium saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender, 12-15 minutes. Drain potatoes and transfer to a food processor. Puree until smooth. Transfer to fridge and chill completely about 30 minutes.

Prepare crust by putting rolled oats and ¼ c. of pecans into food processor. Puree until in a fine powder. Add almond flour, ¼ c. coconut sugar, 2 tbsp. coconut oil, ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice, 1/8 tsp. sea salt. Pulse until combined. Gently press mixture evenly into the bottom of a non stick 9 inch spring form pan. Place pan in oven and bake for 18-120 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let crust cool completely.

Pecan topping

Pecan topping

Prepare filling by pureeing tofu, remaining ½ c. coconut sugar, vanilla, remaining 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice and remaining ¼ tsp. salt until smooth.

Add chilled potato puree and pulse until just combined and smooth. Pour into cooled pie crust and smooth top with spatula. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until filling is just firm in the center, light golden on top and cracks begin to form in the center of the filling. Remove from oven and let cool completely, about 2 hours.

While pie cools, prepare pecan topping.  In a small saucepan on high, heat remaining ½ c. pecans, raisins, maple syrup, 2 tsp. coconut oil and 2 tbsp. water until simmering. Reduce heat to medium and simmer stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until no liquid remains in pan. Transfer mixture to bowl and let cool completely.

To serve run a sharp paring knife around the outside of pie to loosen from sides. Remove sides from spring form pan. Sprinkle pecan topping over top of pie and slice.

Serves 10