Ever feel as if the cold of winter wraps it's icy tendrils around everything, and despite the layers of blankets the draft disperses and grows from underneath your skin; winter, in it's stubborn display of the changes to come, the winds and cold, the storms and the crystallised beauty, also wraps you gently at first, comforting and softly, tightening as a cocoon around a caterpillar, with each fibre pushing it's frosty exterior further onto you, freezing to the touch, and never letting go.
Maybe this is why I love winter, it truly is like being wrapped in a forever Snuggy. Forever slippers on your feet, and never thinking that the skies will suddenly brighten, open up, and even disperse.
I find the contrasts of winter's arrival most apparent as I stand on the dock for the ferry. The wind blows carefully at first, testing it's recipients for reaction, and with none, increases intensity. Laughing, it speeds up, as if a child chasing an animal around, it winds precariously through cars, through people, jumping over benches and fences, and still never tiring. Above, clouds hover close, grey and white in patches, but mostly a light grey similar to that of the sparse populations of seagulls buried in their feathers; some gulls peer atop their wings only in the search of dropped food. You feel as if a heavy dome encompasses the world, but there lies the sea, an expansive, vast body which stretches farther than the horizon, although unseen at the moment. By land you can continue on, but by the space above, the star and moon invisible, you are halted. You can travel off the island, there are so many places to be explored; other continents, ones you have traveled others unknown, lie beyond the boundaries far off, perhaps they can be escaped to, and perhaps winter can be forgotten for some time. And yet, situated on a small island between the surrounding mainland, time seems to have stopped after five o'clock each night, and again we wait for winter to pass over in the tranquil escape of our homes.
So with the cold air coddling the timbers of our wooden house, and escaping in through every possible crack, I decided to embrace the winter wonderland it so wishes to be, and turn my counter into my very own personal snow field.
And with that, I poured icing sugar across the counter.
My own winter wonderland.
It's almost December, and surprisingly, I couldn't be more excited for Christmas.
So time to start the Christmas baking, the holiday treats, and decorating all those wonderfully sweetened cookies.
Did I mention that we already have a bottle of organic Egg-Nog in the fridge? A delectable winter treat, creamy and sweet, especially comforting when it's been warmed up on the stove and spiced with a delicate peppering of nutmeg and cinnamon. Remember last Christmas when you sipped Egg-Nog by the window and snow flakes fell, and still, you were warm.
Look, even the restaurants think it's already that time of year.
This is the first time that I have incorporated any of the gums, xantham or guar, into my baking, and although reluctant I thought it was worth a try. So many successfully bake with them, and can bypass the result of crumbly, flaky cookies or muffins which give gluten-free baking such a bad name.
Mum was given a small package as a sample of Bob's Red Mill Guar gum, and for the past couple of weeks it has been peering round the corner of a basket in the cupboard. I admit, I've eyed it a couple of times, however I haven't seen the need to use it. That is, until today.
I was reminded of my friend's comments on my cookies,
"These are sooo crumbly!"
And the picture of the depleted loaf when it came out of the oven, nearly crumbling across the expanse of the counter as I lifted it from the baking tin. No, I don't want disappointment from these picturesque little treats. They should be full of love and fun.
No tears, nor fears, mum would say.
Gluten-Free (and Vegan) Chocolate Snowball Cookies
Truffle-like in taste, but moist and light, these little snowballs will definitely be by my side for every winter celebration and party this year. They're the very essence of winter, comforting and delightful, and like the snow on the ground (may it come soon) they look like little snow balls that fly across the yard.
Quickly and easily made in a short amount of time, it's important to set aside a large area for the icing sugar, which will coat these little snowballs in a feathery dusting. Just remember, this area must be completely dry to avoid actually icing to form, which is very difficult to scrape clean!
Makes approximately 16 1-inch balls
4 oz gluten-free unsweetened chocolate chips or grated chocolate
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp ground flax seed
3 tbsp almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c light brown sugar
1/2 c coconut flour
1/4 c sorghum flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp each salt and guar gum (use xantham gum if you prefer)
approximately 1/2 c icing sugar for coating
Preheat the oven to 325°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, melt together the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave (high for 2 minutes, stir, and repeat for 1 minute or until completely smooth) or in a dish above a pot of simmering water on the stove.
In another, larger bowl, whisk together the ground flax and almond milk. When the chocolate and coconut oil is completely melted, pour into the flax mixture and stir well to combine.
Add the sugar and vanilla extract.
In another bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, salt and guar gum before combining to the chocolate mixture. It should turn out thick and moist. If using shredded coconut, add it here.
With your hands, roll the dough into small balls and place approximately 3 centimetres apart on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Even though the snowballs are still hot (and don't look like snowballs just yet!) roll them in the icing sugar, coating them completely before setting aside and repeating with each.
During this process, the snowballs will begin to cool, so repeat coating them until they are covered completely and no brown of the cookie dough can be seen.
Serve and enjoy!
If you choose to use sweetened chocolate, reduce the sugar to 1/4 c and taste test before baking. For a sweeter treat, keep the same amount of sugar with sweetened chocolate.
Between 1/4 c and 1/3 c of finely shredded coconut can also be stirred into the mixture right before forming the snowballs for a crunchier texture, however after baking the coconut might suck some of the moisture.
Labels: baking, chocolate, Christmas, coconut, coconut oil, cookies, dessert, gluten free, icing sugar, snowball, sugar, sweet, treat, vanilla, vegan, winter