Ginger Cookies and Hot Chocolate

Brrr it is cold out there! January weather came early to Ottawa, and the winter coat and boots have been deployed. I find the best way to cope with the early winter is by being as warm and cozy as possible. That is why I made ginger cookies and hot chocolate today. About a month ago I started to experiment with making my own nut milk. Along with getting some fresh-made milk, I use the leftover pulp to make flour, then use the flour in my baking. Kinda neat. I add vanilla protein powder to the milk when having it with cereal to add some protein, too. I have made almond milk/flour, but for this recipe I made used pecans.

Last week I had lunch with my childhood piano teacher, whom I had not seen in about four years. It was lovely; we caught up over a delicious lunch that she made herself. For dessert she had a ginger-snap vanilla gelato from Stella Luna, a fantastic cafe in Old Ottawa South. Unfortunately, I could not eat it because they also make gelato with peanuts. Silly peanut allergy. Ever since that day I have been craving ginger cookies. So, I am kicking off the weekend with a cozy treat.

Here is the recipe for the ginger cookies, inspired by a recipe on food.com

Dry Ingredients
2 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat, 1/2 cup white)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy milk, but the pecan milk would have been delightful)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium bowl I mixed together the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon, and in a small bowl I mixed together the wet ingredients with a whisk. I used the spoon to stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mixed until combined. I then divided the dough into 12 balls, about 1 tbsp each, rolling them in my hands and placing them on a cookie sheet that was lined with parchment paper. I flattened the balls with my hand, then marked each cookie with a fork, in a criss-cross pattern. The cookies were baked at 350*F for 10 minutes. My cookies were soft, but for crispier ones, I could have flattened them even more, and used less dough for each cookie.

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Here is the recipe for the hot chocolate, inspired by a recipe for hot chocolate in The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook.

Ingredients for the pecan milk
2 cups pecans
4 cups water

Ingredients for the hot chocolate
2  heaping tbsp cocoa powder
2 heaping tbsp white sugar (plus more to taste)
1/4 cup water
2 cups pecan milk
pinch salt

I combined the pecans and water in a bowl and let them soak for ten hours. This is to make the pecans really soft. I blended the mixture in a blender on high speed for about two minutes. Then, I drained the liquid with a cheese cloth, squeezing the contents until as much liquid as possible came out. I reserved the pecan pulp in a container for later*

To make the hot chocolate, I whisked the cocoa powder, salt, sugar, and water in a small sauce pan. I heated the mixture until it simmered, whisking constantly. I added the pecan milk and continued to whisk until the hot chocolate came to a boil. I served it immediately.

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The hot chocolate was quite chocolatey, and had a distinct flavour of pecan. I enjoyed a cup of it with the ginger cookies, and shared it all with my dad. I definitely would put a bit of maple syrup next time to make it just a hint sweeter.

*To make nut flour, all I do is lay the pulp left over from the nut milk on a baking tray, making sure the pulp is in a thin layer, and bake it until it is dry and powdery. I think I baked it at 200*F for about 45 minutes to an hour. I kept it in an air-tight container in the cupboard and have used it to make granola bars, muffins, and almond cream. Just be careful, as it does not substitute perfectly for flour. I would use only some of it to substitute all-purpose flour in a recipe.

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