White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!)

White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate

It’s been a heavy couple months. Does anyone else feel like that? Then again, the weight of the news, struggles with friends, and the heaviness of our own souls seem all too common. Grief, at least on some level, is always close at hand.

The Christian’s life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world.
— Francis Schaeffer

So what’s the point of little things like this? What’s the point of baking cookies or writing on a food blog or sharing ordinary pieces of our lives on the Internet? I’ve wrestled with this often over the years, and I don’t think there’s a simple answer. Sometimes, for me, I do have to set my creative work aside to deal with deeper heartache in front of me. But other times mixing dough and taking photos, moving our hands and tasting what’s sweet...sometimes that’s exactly what we need when the world feels dark.

A few years ago as I wrestled with the purpose of my own work, I came across Francis Schaeffer’s book, Art and the Bible. He asks, “Is the creative part of our life committed to Christ? Christ is the Lord of our whole life and the Christian life should produce not only truth—flaming truth—but also beauty.”

In the midst of grief, heartache, and a dark and despairing world, we have to be people who speak truth—but we also have to proclaim beauty. It’s not about conforming to the world’s standards of beauty but about reflecting the beauty of our Creator God through what we create.

No, it’s not always the time to bake cookies. It’s not always the time to take photographs or play around in the kitchen. But sometimes it is. Sometimes you have to stop and literally taste once again that even in the darkness, God is still good.

White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate
White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!) | Sarah J. Hauser #cookies #glutenfree #almond #whitechocolate

Most recipes I’ve come across that use almond flour or almond meal include it as a substitute for a traditional flour. Sara Forte’s “Almond Meal Cookies with Coconut and Cacao Nibs” from The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods is one of the first that actually celebrates almond meal. Rather than being disguised as a traditional flour, these cookies embrace the texture and nuttiness of almond meal.

My recipe below uses hers as inspiration, changing up the flavors a bit with ingredients like macadamia nuts and white chocolate.


White Chocolate + Macadamia Almond Meal Cookies (Gluten Free!)
Yields about 12-14 cookies
Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen

1¼ cups almond meal
½ cup chopped macadamia nuts
⅓ chopped dried cherries (optional)*
¼ cup chopped white chocolate
¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
3 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, mix together the almond meal, macadamia nuts, cherries (if using), white chocolate, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until it’s uniform in color. Whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined. Cover and put the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 20-30 minutes.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375. Form the dough into balls, slightly smaller than a golf ball. Set them on a baking sheet about two inches apart. Gently press down the tops to flatten them slightly.

Bake for about 10-13 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool. Serve and enjoy!

*I made one batch with the cherries and one batch without. I honestly couldn’t decide which I preferred. The cherries add quite a bit of sweetness to the cookie, so if you want to tone down the sweetness, leave them out. But if you’ve got a sweet tooth, go ahead and add ‘em!


Dairy-Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices

Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser

My husband and I just finished a Whole30, and I’m trying to ease into other foods gradually. While I don’t have any food allergies or severe sensitivities, I know that diving right into chocolate cake or pizza after having avoided grains and dairy for a month probably wouldn’t be the best decision! (I have to admit it’s tempting, though.)

That being said, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner—which means I at least need a little chocolate. We don’t typically make a big deal about Valentine’s Day, mostly because for the last four years we’ve been too tired or too busy with the kiddos. But, we do enjoy a good date night in at home, a bottle of wine that’s a bit better than what we’d normally buy, and something special for dessert.

This pudding is perfect for just that! It only requires a few ingredients, it’s dairy-free and vegan, and you can make it in advance. (I actually suggest making it in advance since it has to firm up in the fridge and the orange slices have to dry out.) The dark chocolate pairs perfectly with a hint of orange, and the candied orange slices add a fun, creative twist.

I will tell you, too, that this pudding is rich. It may look at first like the recipe doesn’t make very much, but a little goes a long way. You can also add a bit more maple syrup for a slightly sweeter version. (I love really dark, bittersweet chocolate.)

What do you do for Valentine’s Day? Or Galentine’s Day? Do you head out on the town or have a quiet evening in? Let me know in the comments below! I’m always looking for new ideas!

Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser
Dairy Free (and Vegan!) Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices | Sarah J. Hauser

Dairy-Free Chocolate Pudding with Candied Orange Slices
Yields 2-3 servings*
Adapted from Paleo Running Momma

⅓ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup coconut cream (the hardened cream from a can of coconut milk)*
3-4 Tablespoons maple syrup (plus more to taste)
1 Tablespoon Cointreau (optional)
Coconut whipped cream
Zest of 1 orange
Candied orange slices (see note below)

In a small bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, arrowroot powder, and salt. (Sifting helps prevent lumps in the pudding.)

In a small saucepan, add the coconut cream and maple syrup. Heat over medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until the coconut cream melts. LIttle by little, add in the dry ingredients, whisking after each addition until smooth. Add in the Cointreau if using (it’s optional but adds the perfect bit of citrus flavor to the pudding. Skip this, though, if adults avoiding alcohol or kids will be eating the pudding!) Add additional maple syrup if you want a sweeter pudding.

Whisk the pudding constantly for 3-5 minutes until thickened. Turn the heat off and transfer the pudding to containers for serving. (Ramekins, small mason jars, and other types of dishes work great for this.) Refrigerate until cold and firm, at least a couple hours. To avoid a “skin” at the top of the pudding, cover the top in plastic wrap so that the plastic lays directly on top of the pudding.

Top with coconut whipped cream, orange zest, and a candied orange slice (see below).

*This recipe is very rich, so a little goes a long way!

**Put a couple cans of full fat coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours. The cream will separate and hardened at the top of the can, so you can easily scoop it off with a spoon.

Candied Orange Slices

For the candied orange slices, I followed this recipe from Taste of Home, but I cut the recipe in half. After the slices dried overnight, I dipped them in granulated sugar.

Make sure to keep the orange simple syrup that’s leftover. It’s perfect for cocktails and other fun recipes!


Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies [two ways!]

Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser

When I first made these cookies, I intended only to bake the mint chocolate version I grew up eating every Christmas. Maybe you’ve seen similar recipes before. Basically, you make a simple chocolate dough and then melt an Andes mint on top. They’re a family favorite (except with family members who dislike mint in their desserts). I happen to love mint in most desserts, and these cookies are no exception.

I shared the classic Mint Chocolate Cookies below. But as is typical when I cook, I didn’t have enough ingredients on hand to finish the whole batch. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? What I lacked in mint chocolate I had in dark chocolate, so I popped a few pieces of dark chocolate on top of a dozen of the cookies, and then sprinkled on a pinch of flaky sea salt.

You guys. This sea salt version may be my favorite cookie ever (or at least in the top three). The key is the salt. Not all salt is created equal, and it’s worth finding really good flaky sea salt for this recipe. I originally tried it with fleur de sel I had on hand, but what I had was finer than I wanted (however, it will work if that’s what you have easy access to. The fleur de sel I have is from Trader Joe’s). Thanks to a pantry filled with random items including several different kinds of salt, I had a bag of Alaska Pure Sea Salt. You want big, flaky pieces of sea salt here. Sea salt dissolves easily in your mouth and complements the dark chocolate so well. Plus, the large pieces look amazing against the deep chocolate color of the cookies—like little flecks of snow.

If you don’t love the combination of salt and sweet, though, have no fear. Stick with the mint version, or create your own! The main cookie is a basic chocolate cookie, so you can use whatever you want on top—like peanut butter chips or white chocolate! You can also do like I did, and make a dozen or two of one version, and the rest a different version.

(Scroll to the bottom of this post for the recipe.)

Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies [two ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies [two ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser

Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies [two ways!]
Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies

Cookie Dough
¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks)
2 Tablespoons water
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Mint Chocolate or Chocolate + Sea Salt Topping
2 (4.67 oz) packages Andes mint candy, each candy unwrapped
OR
About 8-9 ounces of dark chocolate, broken into chunks (you need 1 chunk for each cookie)
Flaky sea salt such as Alaska Pure Sea Salt

In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the butter, water, and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the butter and sugar melt. Add the chocolate chips and stir until everything is melted and mixed together. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Let it cool for 10-20 minutes.

Turn the mixer on high speed and add the eggs one at a time. Reduce the mixer to low speed. Add flour, baking soda, and salt, mixing just until blended. (Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula if needed.) Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the chilled dough into 1 to 1 ½-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 9-11 minutes. Immediately after taking the cookies out of the oven, place an Andes mint or a dark chocolate chunk on each cookie. Let the chocolate melt a bit, then spread the melted chocolate over the cookie with a spoon. If you’re making the Chocolate + Sea Salt version, sprinkle a pinch of sea salt onto the melted dark chocolate.

Cool completely until the chocolate on top hardens. Store in the fridge or freezer, or serve. Enjoy!

Did you try these? Post a picture on Instagram and make sure to tag me (@sarah.j.hauser)! I’d love to see what’s happening in your kitchen!

Note: Want to know the difference between various salts? Check out this article from Real Simple.


Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Seven years ago on Christmas Day, my husband and I anxiously sat in a hospital waiting room. Carols played in the background, and strands of lights glimmered around the windows. Every once in awhile we heard a chime through the sound system, a tradition signaling the birth of a baby. The reminder of new life became a welcome interruption as we waited to hear from my mom’s surgeon.

Family and friends stopped by to check on us and ask about my mom. One couple dropped off sandwiches and salads for lunch. Later that night in a last minute attempt to salvage Christmas dinner, we heated up white chicken chili from my brother’s freezer.

Two years later, I answered emails and made phone calls while I “worked from home” at my mom’s bedside. The doorbell rang, a frequent occurrence in those last months as people visited and dropped off food and gifts for my family. It was my parents’ elderly neighbor. I anxiously twitched when I saw her, even though she was a perfectly pleasant woman. I couldn’t help but remember backing into car as a teenager and causing $800 worth of damage. But she wasn’t there to relive stories of my negligent driving.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze
Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze
Spiced Chai Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze

Full post and recipe instructions can be found at Coffee + Crumbs!