Paleo/Primal Cookie Bake-Off!

Remember the scientific method?  You formulate a question, make a hypothesis/prediction, conduct testing, and then analyze the results.  I was a big-time science nerd in school, and loved the scientific method.  In our spare time, my nerdy friends and I did silly “experiments” like “What happens when you microwave an M&M?”  and then write up the results.  Just for fun.

Even though I became a lawyer, I still love science. Cooking involves a lot of science, which may be why I love cooking, too.  The problem with some cooking (namely BAKING), is that you can’t really play fast-and-loose with the recipe, or you risk ending up with an inedible mess and wasted ingredients.  I appreciate the science of baking, but I rarely have the patience for more complicated recipes.

Luckily, I have a lazy-person cookie recipe I adapted from a few other recipes online.  Basically, I took the recipes I found and lazified them into a recipe that seems virtually impossible to mess up (so far… I’m still trying).  The recipe requires no sifting, or level measures.  You don’t have to pre-mix your wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls.  It’s great. My lazified recipe is below.

Tonight, I decided to shake things up.  I mixed up TWO quick batches.  In doing so, I decided to pit two formidable foes against one another, to see who would emerge victorious.

It was:  Butter vs. Coconut Oil!   <<<<cue the “Iron Chef ” gong sound>>>>

My hypothesis was that the textures would be roughly the same. My prediction was that based on the highly scientific rule of “Butter Makes It Better” it was almost certain that the butter cookies would win.   Testing was conducted.  Here is where I messed up.  Technically, the cookies should have been exactly the same, except for the oil substitution.  That’s proper science.  Well. I added crushed walnuts to the coconut oil batch, and mixed in 70% cacao chips, whereas in the butter batch, I added no nuts, and topped each cookie with three 70% cacao chips. Also, in the butter batch I forgot to add baking powder. Even though it’s a very small amount of old baking powder (not fresh, meaning it may have lost its efficacy), it might have made a difference?

STILL, it is my duty to present the results, with photographic documentation  <<<<<<cue drum-roll………>>>>>

Butter Batch

Butter Batch

Coconut Oil Batch

Coconut Oil Batch

Cookie Plate

Cookie Plate

I can’t possibly choose between these cookies. But, the Butter Batch was NOT — I repeat, NOT — the clear runaway winner.  The Butter Batch didn’t flatten out the same way, which meant it was less done in the middle. Almost a marzipan-like texture. I liked the way they looked — like coconut macaroons, slightly toasted at the peaks.    The Coconut Oil Batch, with the toasty walnuts and included chips, was nutty and delicious.  If I were making cookies for a party, I might have to make both of these. They were really different!

When my husband gets home tonight, I’ll ask him to vote as well.

Anyway, the moral of the story is, SCIENCE GOOD, COOKIE GOOD.  For my next feat, I’ll omit or reduce the honey sweetener.  I’ve already reduced it from the original recipe (I used 3 tbs. instead of 4), and it came out just as good (in my opinion).   Here’s the recipe. ENJOY!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond meal/flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 6 tablespoons oil (virgin coconut oil or grass-fed butter, melted).
  • 2 teaspoons water (or almond milk, if you stock it. I don’t.)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Between 2 – 4 tablespoons of honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder. I’ve omitted this, and I’ve used up to 1 teaspoon, and it didn’t make a dramatic difference.
  • Up to 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt (may want to omit if you’re using salted butter)
  • Optional:  1/4 cup or so of chopped nuts (I just hand-crunch them, being lazy) and/or dark chocolate chips, and/or chopped dried fruit

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a bowl, combine the wet ingredients (melted oil, honey, water, vanilla).
  • Dump in your dry ingredients, and mix it all up (almond flour, baking powder, salt).  
  • Mix in the “Optional” items of your choice. 
  • Spoon out the mix onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Both of my batches made 15 cookies each.
  • Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes? Or so? What I do is I set the timer for 10 minutes, and then I do what every real baker everywhere says to NEVER do, which is that crack open the oven and start peering at the cookies every 30 seconds. These cookies don’t care. They just keep on doing their thing.  Oh, I use a baking rack toward the top of the oven, so the bottoms don’t get done too quickly.  Or, that’s my hypothesis anyway.  🙂
  • Let the cookies cool before you handle them too much (they’ll be super delicate). Cool them on racks if you have them.
  • EAT COOKIE. (I know, you didn’t need that instruction.)

With that, I am off to bed, sated with delicious science!    

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