January – the month of resolutions. The month that going to the gym or pool becomes a real mission because they’re full of people being all resolute. The month that when you bake things, people tell you they’re on a diet which involves eating three slices of melon as a main meal (because there’s nothing tastier than an unseasonal melon), snacking on a cherry tomato should they get peckish and finishing the lot off with a tub of ice-cream for dessert. You might think I’m kidding, but I have actually encountered somebody who followed a similar meal plan. It didn’t do them much (any) good. Anyway. I digress. January can be a tough month for bakers if people start refusing offered cake (what an idea).
Luckily, Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog, who is hosting this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, has come up with a solution by choosing the theme “sugar-free” – a theme which, I must admit, horrified me when I first saw it. Not because I’m a sugar addict, but because I hadn’t finished reading the rules so I hadn’t realised that “natural” sugars such as honey or maple syrup were fine, and I was drawing an utter blank in terms of inspiration – I absolutely refuse to use artificial sweeteners. I had visions of something like this:
I have no idea what “no ingredients fruit & nut cake” is either, but it made Kat and I laugh when we stopped off at a café in Cambridge (that’ll be Cambridge, NZ) on our way to Hobbiton. In the end, Kat and I decided to make cookies for the challenge – the start of our friendship due to chocolate chip cookies, so it seemed fitting. We followed the rules, but we did it the Mel way – sure, we didn’t use any sugar, but we did add a shit-tonne* of honey instead. Totally allowed.
These cookies gave me the opportunity to try out the cinnamon cocoa nibs that I won from the lovely Lucy over at The KitchenMaid a few months ago – cocoa nibs don’t have any sugar added to them, so they also fitted the rules perfectly. Since we’re both fans of the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, we decided to substitute peanut butter instead of butter in the cookies, but I think this might be why they came out a little dry. They’re excellent for dunking into a glass of milk or cup of tea though, so they were still yummy. Next time, I think I’ll add about 25g of butter to the mix just to make them slightly moister. I really loved the little bursts of intense cocoa flavour from the cocoa nibs – I’d never used cocoa nibs before, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect.
Peanut butter & cocoa nib cookies
Makes about 24 cookies
Adapted from Nana Clare’s Kitchen
These cookies came out fairly dry (not inedibly dry though!), so I’d suggest perhaps adding 25g of unsalted butter at the same time as the peanut butter in order to remedy this. Dark chocolate chips would also work really well instead of cocoa nibs. These cookies will keep for a few days in an airtight biscuit tin.
170g runny honey
130g natural crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
190g all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
20g cinnamon cocoa nibs (or normal cocoa nibs with 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
1. Butter a couple of baking trays. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/fan oven.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the honey and peanut butter with an electric whisk. Whisk in the egg and vanilla extract.
3. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt (and ground cinnamon if using) into the peanut butter mixture and whisk until just bended. Fold in the cocoa nibs. Form teaspoons of dough into balls and place on the baking trays, spaced out a little so that the cookies have space to spread. Flatten each ball slightly with a fork.
4. Bake for 8-12 mins until golden (check they don’t catch), then turn out onto wire racks to cool.
* Shit-tonnes are actual SI units by the way. (Ok, fine, they’re really not. But they should be. Might make certain papers a little more entertaining to read…)