Whole Grain Baby Biscuits

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With my youngest heading off to kindergarten in the Fall, I’m feeling some self-imposed pressure to squeeze in every last “baby” snack I can before my kids get too old and jaded. Before I took a crack at this recipe for digestive biscuits, I thought the taste would be a little bland for our maturing palates. But I was wrong.

Tasting something like the love child of a cracker and a cookie these biscuits perfectly showcase the whole grains’ naturally sweet and nutty goodness. And I really mean it when I say perfectly. My kids and I can’t get enough of them. 

This recipe uses spelt flour which reminds me of coarsely ground whole wheat flour and has a wonderfully nutty flavor. I order it from King Arthur, but I believe I’ve also seen it at Whole Foods. Another recipe that uses spelt flour that I love  is the Pie Dough recipe in Good To The Grain by Kim Boyce.

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Whole Grain Baby Biscuits Recipe

This recipe was inspired by Nigella Lawson’s Digestive Biscuits in How To Eat. From what I gather, digestive biscuits are the United Kingdom’s version of the graham cracker. Unfortunately, I’ve never tasted an actual digestive biscuit. But for that very reason I felt free to get rid of the shortening and generally tinker with Lawson’s recipe which I’m sure perfectly replicates the real thing.

1/2 cup quick oats
1 1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 – 10 chunks
Scant 1/3 cup milk
All-purpose flour, for rolling out the dough

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the oats in a standing mixer with paddle attachment and crush them by running the mixer at medium speed for 3 – 5 minutes.

Add the spelt flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar to the mixer bowl and stir for 10 – 20 seconds. Stop the mixer and place the butter on top of the flour mixture. Mix at low speed for 3 – 5 minutes or until the butter is incorporated but there are still little chunks here and there. With the mixer still running on a low speed, drizzle in the milk and wait 20 seconds or until large clumps start to form.

Stop the mixer and squeeze the dough together into a ball. Split the ball into half. Form the balls into a flattened rectangles and roll them out individually on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. The top of the dough may require a sprinkle of flour in order to prevent the rolling pin from sticking.

Cut the dough into 1 by 2-inch rectangles and transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet. If they are sticky, try using a metal spatula or bench scraper to pick them up. They can be placed close to one another on the baking sheet as they do not expand much during baking.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Be sure to keep an eye on them and check the bottoms after 10 minutes as they tend to brown quickly once they are done.

Yield: 40 biscuits
Prep-time: 30 minutes
Bake-time: 10 minutes

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Graham Crackers

These graham crackers taste more like pie crust than store-bought graham crackers (and given the amount of butter in them, I’m not a bit surprised). This is adapted from the Graham Crackers recipe in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook I’ve looked around for alternatives to try, some of which look amazingly delicious. But Martha’s recipe has less sugar (which I’ve reduced further) and did well with a couple adjustments I made to cut back on time and effort expended.

I found graham flour from Hodgson Mill at my neighborhood grocery store, but it was desceptively labeled as whole wheat flour. Regardless, graham flour appears to be more coarsely ground than regular whole wheat flour. It reminds me a lot of King Arthur’s spelt flour. It does add a noticable texture and taste to the finished cracker, but it is certainly not required. I’ve used whole wheat pastry flour and the world didn’t come crashing down. In fact, they were yummy.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or graham flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

The butter should be soft but not runny. In a large bowl beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and honey and beat well. Pour flour mixture into the large bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until the color is uniform and the dough easily forms into a ball.

Divide the dough into 4 equal-sized balls. Put each ball in-between parchment or wax paper and roll it out with a rolling pin until it is 1/8-inch thick. (If the dough is too sticky, your room temperature may be too high. Wrap up the dough and put it in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.) Cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Use a spatula to transfer the squares onto a parchment lined baking sheet about 1/4-inch or more apart. Pierce each square once with a fork.

Bake the crackers for 5-8 minutes, rotating once, or until the edges are golden.

Yield: approximately 96 crackers
Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 5 minutes

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Avocado Cookies

[donotprint]Cookies are a personal battle when it comes to making “healthy” snacks. When I first started investigating and experimenting, I tasted a lot of low-fat, low-sugar baked goods that were cookies in name but definitely not in spirit. Therefore, my official policy is that cookies should not be tinkered with and be allowed to do what they do best: deliver a luscious combination of fat and sugar.

I am nonetheless tempted to experiment from time to time. And simply because I’ve never eaten an avocado cookie before and avocados are so high in good-for-you fat, I’ve come up with this “healthier” cookie that I feel a little bit better about putting in my kid’s lunch box. Its taste is no where near a Toll House. But I feel like they are probably as close as I am going to get to a “healthy” cookie that my family still enjoys eating.[/donotprint]DSC01810

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

1 ripe haas avocado, pitted and skin removed
½ cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg
½ cup low-fat milk
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, oats, coconut, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Mash avocado with a fork in a large bowl until there are no large chunks remaining. Add butter and mix very well with avocado. Add sugars and stir well. Add egg and stir. Finally add the milk and stir until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Fold in chocolate chips (if desired).

Drop heaping tablespoons full of batter onto ungreased baking sheets or jelly roll pans two inches apart. Bake for 15-17 minutes near the center of the oven, rotating once if necessary. Once the edges of the cookies start to brown, remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack with spatula. Allow to cool slightly and serve.

These cookies will soften considerably if left out overnight. They are best stored in the freezer in an airtight container and thawed on demand.

Makes 38 cookies.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes

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Walnut Wafers

Walnuts + Brown Sugar + Butter = Love

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1 cup unsalted walnut pieces
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place walnuts, oats, flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processer. Run the processer for 15-20 seconds. Chop the cold butter into large pieces, add to the walnut mixture, and process 10 seconds more.

Remove the blade from the processer bowl. Squeeze the walnut mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls with your hands. Press the balls 1/4 to 1/8-inch flat on an ungreased cookie sheet. Space the flattened balls about 2-inches apart. There will be some crumbs, but for the most part the mixture should stick together with some good squeezing and the heat from your hands.

Bake for 15 mintues or until the edges are golden. Allow to cool on baking sheet. Remove very gently with a spatula. Serve or store in an airtight container.

Makes 18 wafers.

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Heath Bar Cookies

[donotprint]This cookie recipe comes close to not being allowed on this blog because calling a healthy snack is just wrong. A lot of the time when I take a normal cookie recipe and reduce the sugar and fat it feels so much healthier than what I could have made and through some magical transformation it becomes “healthy” or a “healthier version”. Anything to justify heath bar. Yum![/donotprint]

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1 1/2 cup white whole wheat all purpose flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 1.4 ounce Heath Bars, chopped into small bits

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In medium bowl, whisk together flours, flaxseed, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In large bowl, cream butter with rubber spatula. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix until batter starts to stick together and form a ball. Add Heath Bar bits and mix into dough.

Scoop dough with a cookie scoop onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges just start to brown and the tops are set. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Inspired heavily by a beautiful recipe from Simply Recipes:
http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/005213heath_bar_cookies.php

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