How do you feel about baking or cooking for people with food sensitivities, allergies, and such? I think it is a fun challenge to make something out of the ordinary, when standard basic ingredients are out of the question, for health reasons.
Of course, eschewing ingredients – or categories, such as meat for vegetarians – may be a matter of personal taste or choice, which I always try to accommodate, too. I particularly like to find ways to bake and cook good things for those cannot tolerate wheat (celiacs, for instance) or dairy. Wheat and dairy, of course, are mainstays of baking, so the challenge can be a bit daunting in dessert preparation.
On two separate occasions recently, I needed to bake, first, for a friend who currently cannot tolerate butter or nuts and then for one who never can eat diary or wheat. The day I needed to bake them for our first friend, I found a recipe in The Cookie Book, by Catherine Atkinson, Joanna Farrow, and Valerie Barrett, for “Malted Oaty Crisps.” Malt is an ingredient I really enjoy using, especially in conjunction with chocolate (Whoppers and Maltesers and other chocolate-malted milk balls are great confections, way up there in my book of candy favourites), so I keep malt powder in my pantry – and sometimes, the chocolate-malty candies, which do not last long enough to be a staple.
Nevertheless, this one recipe called for two tablespoons of malt extract. Malt extract??? I beg your pahdon, guv’nor?!? I had never come across this before. I did not bother to seek the ingredient online, as I wanted to bake it that day – and it goes without saying that a very obscure item such as malt extract will not be lurking in one of our island’s three small food shops. The cookbook (or should I write, “cookery book”?) author was from the UK, so I imagine it is a more typical British ingredient . (I will turn to Jackie of I am A Feeder, as my go-to authority for all food-matters-in-Jolly-Old-There-Will-Always-Be-An-England. Jackie, what do you say about this malt extract matter???)
For the cookie description – and the recipe…
Without butter or flour and full of this is a wholesome cookie, with health benefits of whole oats and a modest amount of oil. The brown sugar provides a rich caramel tone complementing the crisp-and-chewy cookie texture; the edges are almost like candy. I replaced the perplexing malt extract with almond extract and a bit of water. I also believe that chopped almonds could add another welcome textural variation. They go equally well with coffee and tea and would be a nice accompaniment for fresh fruit for a light summer dessert. These cookies are delectable and easy enough to whip up that they make a good everyday treat.
The cookies are thin and pliant, when baked, and one friend who was a professional chef (she of the blog-that-dare-not-speak-its-name) suggest that the cookies could be rolled into a tuile or a small cone, out of the oven – a very good suggestion. The just-out-of-the-oven cookies would wrap easily around the handle of a wooden spoon or a small cone form.
If you seek a super-fast cookie or one that is rather healthful or one for people with dietary restrictions or just a satisfying, crunchy, caramel-crisp cookie, this is a great choice.
Oaty-Almondy Crisps, adapted from The Cookie Book by Catherine Atkinson, Joanna Farrow, and Valerie Barrett
Makes about two dozen small cookies
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats
- 1 ½ cups light brown (muscovado) sugar firmly packed
- 1 egg
- 4 tablespoons neutral oil (sunflower in the original recipe, but I used Canola)
- 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract (or how about substituting vanilla to make “Vanilla Oaty Crisps”)
- 1 tablespoon hot water
(NB: two tablespoons of malt extract can replace the two last ingredients, if you can track it down….)
- Place baking rack in middle position. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease baking sheet, line with parchment, or use non-stick silicone baking mat.
- Mix oats and sugar in a bowl, using a large fork, preferably, to break up any lumps in the sugar.
- In a small bowl, mix the egg until just broken up, add oil, almond (or vanilla) extract and water (or malt extract, instead of these two last items) and add to oat-sugar mixture, blending until incorporated.
- Let rest for 15 minutes (at this point, the dough could go into the fridge for a day or two).
- Using a small ice cream scoop (tablespoon size), place mounds of dough on prepared sheets, leaving three inches between the fast-spreading cookies.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for a minute and then remove carefully (I find a very thin but flexible silicone spatula with a pointed end to work well) onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Enjoy with your sensitive or not-so-sensitive friends….