I have to brag a little. Lately I’ve been on a fabulous roll of surprising people. Do you know how good it feels to do something extra special for someone who deserves it, from the bottom of your heart, just to make them smile and know someone cares about them? I do! And let me tell you, it’s a very close second to being on the receiving end.
This past weekend, weeks of planning culminated in a surprise 50th birthday party for my mother. (Yes, that’s right, kids. My momma is only 50! And she’s totally fabulous. I had to get it from somewhere, right?) Together with my dad, brothers, and aunt, we managed to pull off a surprise that involved fifty loved ones in attendance, tons of gourmet cocktail party hors d’oeuvres, a collection of only the best photographs from the past fifty years, and even grandparents flying in from Florida and hiding away for 48 hours before the party. Words cannot describe how wonderful it felt to create such a fabulous and memorable evening in honor of the person who has done her very best to craft such memories for me.
But before I could start cracking on that, I had to do something special for my friend Dawn’s little gal.
Dawn and I have become blogging buddies over the past year or so. It’s so fun to find people all over the country and beyond who share the same interests, like exercise and pumpkin! And ironically, her roots are planted not too far from my hometown, so I truly hope she makes a visit that includes me some day I can always count on finding a new delicious recipe or story to make me smile on Dawn’s blog.
Anyway, last month Dawn placed the winning bid on my Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies, which I donated to Ashlee’s virtual bake sale to help cover veterinary costs for a stray pet. I was honored that my good friend chose my item from all the delicious goodies. But one thing I had learned about Dawn’s family over the time we’ve been friends is that her daughter is not able to consume many of the things we can: namely, gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, and nuts. There was no way I could ship off this package without something for her to enjoy as well.
After some careful searching, I found a vegan, gluten-free recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies that fit the bill. Thank you, Gluten Free Goddess! It made me fell wonderful to choose ingredients to make a cookie that this little girl could enjoy, but as it turned out, these were so good she had to share. Starting with a few cookie’s worth of dough for me and 3 baked cookies in about 5 minutes for my husband. Don’t worry, there were still plenty to send! But does that tell you how good these are? The brown sugar gives a caramel-like flavor which is wonderful with the hint of spice, and the texture – slightly crisp yet tender and chewy on the inside – rivals all other cookies. I’m pretty confident she had to share with mom and dad too. The only problem I had was sending them away so quickly that I didn’t have time to take a picture, so I’m really thankful that Dawn did, and that she let me use it! I kid you not, these cookies are just as tasty as any others full of gluten, eggs, and dairy, but all the merrier because more can enjoy. I hope you will as well.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten, Egg, Dairy, Soy, and Nut-Free)
Adapted from Gluten Free Goddess
2/3 cup Spectrum Organic Shortening (soy-free; the only ingredient is palm oil)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup oat flour* made from certified gluten-free oats, such as Bob’s Red Mill
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups rolled oats (certified gluten-free, such as Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life, which are dairy- and soy-free and made in a gluten- and nut- free facility)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine the shortening, brown sugar, applesauce, vanilla extract and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high speed until completely smooth. (Or, use a hand mixer.)
In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients except for the 2 cups of oats and the chocolate chips. Add to the wet mixture, mixing on low speed just to combine, or stir in by hand.
Add the oats and chocolate chips, and mix on low speed or by hand, just to incorporate.
Scoop the dough onto cookie sheets (make sure to use nonstick sheets, or parchment paper, or to grease with the shortening.) Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool on the cookie sheets for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
*To make oat flour, process oats in a food processor or blender until they are the consistency of flour.