Exploring sprouted rice flour: gluten-free vegan coconut sugar thumbprint (or kiss) and dairy-free gingerbread molasses cookies
Our tiny kitchen has been a veritable bake shop/science lab since November, and it's been bliss. Creating recipes for Ancient Harvest's cookie swap campaign has been the most literally delicious, swoon-worthy "work" imaginable; and bonus, I've had some tantalizing sprouted rice flours from One Degree Organics sprouted rice flours to experiment with, too. Such snowball-cookie effects result from baking: that nostalgic inner glow kicked off by a warm, cozy, haphazardly spiced and floured kitchen; the even warmer satisfaction of preparing gifts comprised of sweetness (even better when paired with wholesomeness); and one of the less obvious pleasures, heady gingerbread-y scents rising up with steamy warm water when washing the bowl.
Nutrition can be as contentious a topic as religion or politics, and is really just as personal. What could be more personal than what we choose to put in our bodies, or more individual? There is a lot of information out there, and it's difficult to sift out (pun not really intended, but kind of fun) misleading agendas while attempting to discover what works best for you. In the case of sprouted grains, I've long been curious and clueless. On the most promising end, they're lauded as being nutritionally superior to their non-sprouted counterparts, recognized by our bodies as plants (thanks to the sprouts), which makes them more digestible and nutrients more readily available. The key note of caution seems to center on potential food safety issues and home sprouting due to humidity requirements.
This week, being gifted with two beautiful bags of sprouted grain flour, I finally did a little more sincere investigating, calling upon the wisdom of my favorite RDs, and playing in the kitchen. The consensus was, there's a lot more to learn, but things look good. "I think sprouted grains can be a great, tasty way to include whole grains, though not at the exclusion of other whole grains," Sue Heikkenin, fabulous RD for Kaiser Permanente, says. "The evidence for health benefits is strong for whole grains. There is an increase in nutrient content/absorbability in sprouted grains, though not not certain it is enough to confer health benefits. I have had people tell me that they prefer the taste of sprouted grain products and find them easier to digest, and when that is the case I would absolutely encourage them to continue using them."
Sue emphasizes that research underscores the benefits of intact whole grains versus flours. Which means the following cookie creations are only so "healthy". But are we ever really, truly fully able to fool ourselves that healthy cookies of any flour might trump chomping down on whole plants? Good news is, for a treat now and then, there is a lot of potential to bake with better health and hang onto great taste.
So far sprouted rice flour has proved really easy to use, almost a 1-1 swap for regular flour. It's very fine, and for cookies, I'm finding it can lend to a graininess which can be offset with almond meal and/or flax; or, you can take advantage of the texture for something that complements it...
Like, coconut sugar thumbprint cookies with just the right amount of softness and subtle crunch. A kiss on top in place of jam makes a great nut-free swap for peanut butter blossoms, too.
Or, soft ginger-y molasses cookies. This dough is just cut-able for shapes, though on the resulting cookies may be on the pillow-y side as opposed to being the cleanest, crispest ones. Be sure to chill first, and have enough extra flour on hand or you'll have a family of blobs. But even if you do, that won't really matter. It probably won't be long before all that's left is crumbs.
Sprouted coconut sugar thumbprint (or kiss) cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free) Prep time: 25-30 minutes, plus 30+minutes to chill dough Bake time: 10 minutes Yield: Approximately 20 cookies
- 1/2 cup softened but not liquid coconut oil
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 2 flax eggs(1 tablespoon ground flax meal mixed with 2 ½ tablespoons warm water per flax egg)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups sprouted brown rice flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2-3 tablespoons cold orange juice (more as needed)
- fruit-only jam or kisses for topping
- In a mixing bowl, beat coconut oil, sugar, flax eggs and vanilla until smooth and somewhat fluffy. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1 tablespoon of orange juice at a time and stir to form a dough that can be pressed into a ball.
- Chill dough at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Form dough into approximately 1-inch balls. Place cookies 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or coated with cooking spray. Carefully use your thumb to indent tops of each cookie. Spoon a small dollop of jam in indentations (or leave room for dark chocolate kisses).
- Bake 10 minutes. *If making kiss cookies, press unwrapped kiss into center of each cookie immediately after baking.
Dairy-free, gluten-free gingerbread molasses cookies Yield: Approximately 15 mid-sized gingerbread men cutouts Prep time: 20 minutes active plus 1 hour+ for chilling dough Cook time: 10 minutes
- 2 1/4 cups sprouted rice flour, plus additional for rolling/dusting
- 1/4 cup ground flax meal
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup molasses
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 1 egg
- Optional: powdered sugar, icing, or decorations of choice
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, flax meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
- In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, molasses,and coconut oil and beat on a low with a mixer to thoroughly blend. Beat in egg.
- Gradually add flour to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Press into a ball, cover and chill dough for at least one hour or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Carefully roll out dough on a floured surface to approximately ¼ inch thickness, generously sprinkling the top of the dough with flour before rolling.
- Carefully cut dough into desired shapes. Use a spatula to lift shapes and place on baking sheet one inch apart.
- Next, use a lightly floured spatula to carefully transfer the cookies to a baking sheet, working quickly. Leave 2 inches for spreading.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes.