Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Dark Chocolate Chunks (Clean)

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Ooh been a while since I’ve posted a muffin recipe. Been a while since I’ve posted at all, to be honest. Sorry about that, end of semesters are always ridiculously chaotic, but at least Winter Break is just around the corner! One more day!!

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Let me start off talking about the muffins so that you can skip directly to the recipe later without having to read all my random rambling.

I’ve made plenty of muffins in my life, and I have to say, that this is one of my all-time favourites. The crumb is absolutely perfect. It’s not dense, and it doesn’t fall apart when you bite. It’s soft and light and perfect.

And the flavour! It has a very distinctive banana bread flavour, but these are just so much easier. With banana bread, you have to wait over an hour for the banana bread to bake! With these, you need less than 20. Not to mention, muffins are the perfect snack size and easier to bring along as a to-go snack or even breakfast.

But of course, my favourite part would have to be the chocolate. I have a rule when it comes to muffins with chocolate in them. I either eat them cold – straight out of the fridge, or hot – microwaved or baked. When the muffins come straight out of the fridge, the chocolate chunks become so distinct in their tempered texture, demanding you to notice the chocolate chunks and appreciate them fully. On the other hand, when the chocolate chunks turn into melty globs of perfection…well then, they’re melty globs of perfection. It’s quite simple, really.

I happened to have hazelnut dark chocolate on hand, which I thought would add texture and contribute a nutty texture, and I’m really glad I did. Nevertheless, if hazelnuts aren’t your thing, then dark chocolate works fine as well.

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I’m so excited for break. Like, so excited. It’ll be the first time in forever that I’ve spent Christmas at home, and it’ll be extra special now because my family is rarely together nowadays. My brother’s off at university and my dad comes home once every two weeks because he was relocated. My mom is really excited too, going out and buying all sorts of Christmas decorations and gifts while I plan all the Christmas activities and movies and desserts. It’s going to be a good one.

And of course, this weekend my friends and I are going to have the best time ever. They’re both leaving quite early on in the break, so we’re making the most of this weekend – movie nights, visiting TianAnMen square, dinner dates, hot pot…

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If you’re still reading this, which I doubt many of you are, I have a question for you: Would you rather know how you die or when you die?

My friends and I were discussing the question. One friend and I wanted to know when, and the other wanted to know how. It’s an interesting topic and a question worth discussing.

I’d rather know when I die. My reasoning was that I would be able to truly cherish my last moments, whereas, if I knew how I would die, I’d just be paranoid of everything relating to that. For instance, if I knew that I would die by getting hit by a car, I’d just have a fear of cars for the rest of my life.

But then I asked someone else while walking home and he said that he’d rather not know anything about his death. I can’t believe it hadn’t crossed my mind, but as soon as he pointed it out, I realized that it’s not necessarily a good thing to know anything about your death.

If I did know when I would die, I’d see my life as a ticking bomb. I’d feel guilty every second I don’t do something “meaningful” and I’d live in constant terror of finding meaning to life. It’s better to just sit back and go with the flow. Enjoy life, friends xx

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Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Dark Chocolate Chunks

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 3 large bananas, mashed (about 1.5 cups)
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used hazelnut dark chocolate)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or 350 degrees F
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk the egg and coconut sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract, coconut oil, and mashed bananas until combined
  4. Gradually add in dry ingredients, mixing until just combined
  5. Stir in the milk and mix until just combined
  6. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate
  7. Fill each muffin liner 2/3 of the way full with batter. (Optional: Place a very thinly sliced banana slice on top of the muffin and a little chopped chocolate before baking)
  8. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until tops are slightly golden. Remove and let cool

 

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Best Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Cheat)

I don’t bake with fruit much, but bananas are an exception.

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Banana bread and banana cakes – I could never get enough.

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I had such a difficult time letting the cake cool enough to be frosted. As soon as I took the beautifully baked cake out of my oven, the entire kitchen was filled with the aroma of banana cake. It might not sound that appealing, but trust me, it took so much mental effort to not eat the entire cake right there and then. It smelled that good. It was honestly driving me crazy, and I went on this rampage around the house, desperately trying to find something to satisfy my cravings so that I wouldn’t eat the cake before frosting it. I was so keen on eating banana cake that I didn’t even want chocolate truffles, and let me tell you – I never turn down chocolate truffles…well, until now.

Finally, I had no other choice but to eat something completely different. I microwaved a plate of homemade dumplings leftover from yesterday, covered them in vinegar (I love vinegar), and ran away from the banana-scented kitchen. At last, my taste buds had calmed down and I could focus on other things again as my banana cake cooled in the kitchen.

Soon enough, my cravings started up again and I figured it was time to frost the cake up and start eating.

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I think I knew how good this cake was going to be, but nevertheless, tasting it for the first time blew me away. The banana cake is everything you’d want a cake to be. It had a crumb similar to banana bread, only fluffier. The flavour of banana was definitely there, and it paired so beautifully with the cream cheese frosting. I mean, the cake itself was amazing, but the cake and the frosting go together like peanut butter and jelly. It was a perfect combination of flavours and I’m so in love.

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Oh, and in case you were wondering, the cake was gone within two days. It was that good.

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Best Banana Cake

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed (1 and 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk, room temperature

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces (224g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups (360g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. For the cake, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt
  3. In another bowl, use an electric hand mixer or in a stand mixer, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat until creamed together
  4. Mix in the eggs and vanilla, before adding in the mashed bananas
  5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, 1/3 of a time and alternating with the buttermilk (Stir in 1/3 of the dry ingredients, stir in 1/3 of the buttermilk, and repeat with the remaining). Do not over mix
  6. Spread the batter into a greased and/or lined 9×13 inch baking pan and bake for around 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting
  7. For the frosting, using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt.. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes
  8. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving
  9. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days

Banana Bread Waffles (Clean)

So relieved that it’s October break. It’s a very well-needed break. I wrote up a list on my whiteboard of all the things I need to accomplish over these next 7 days, but just looking at it makes me want to cry…UGH LIFE.

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On the bright side, not having school early in the mornings means that I can take a little more time to put together the perfect breakfasts (best meal of the day amiright?). I realise that my last post was also a breakfast post, but this just goes to show how important breakfast is. If you’re into pancakes, go check out that post, but if you’re into waffles, stay right where you are. I’ve got a hella good banana bread waffle recipe for you.

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Anyways, I’m going to take a few minutes here to just focus on how wonderful these banana bread waffles are, and hopefully forget about all my troubles for a bit.

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You’ll notice that I pretty much always top my waffles with ice cream. I’m not really sure why, I just think that waffles and ice cream are the best way to go. Especially when you drizzle over some melted chocolate and let it set and cover it with all sorts of delicious sprinkles and toppings and whatever you like. You know all the little pockets in waffles? The little indents? I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to fill those with ice cream so that you get 50% waffle and 50% ice cream in each bite.

God, I totally need to host a waffle party sometime. Look at all these different combinations! I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have a great time making these.

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The waffles themselves are just what you’d expect from a recipe called “Banana Bread Waffles”. They taste just like banana bread – but in the form of a waffle! They have that sweet flavour of banana infused in a light, fluffy waffle with a wonderfully crisp edge. Yumm! *insert heart-eyes emoji here*

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Banana Bread Waffles

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 cup overripe mashed bananas (about 2 bananas)
  • 1 large egg or 1 flax egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Vanilla ice cream, melted chocolate (optional, highly recommended)
  • Other toppings (banana, berries, granola, nuts etc.) (optional)

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, almond milk, mashed bananas, egg, and vanilla extract
  3. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
  4. Heat a waffle iron. When it’s ready, spray or brush it, to cover it in a layer of oil. Pour the batter into the heated waffle iron, adding enough to just cover the bottom layer of the iron. Everyone’s waffle iron is different, so just estimate this and make adjustments as you go. Cook the waffle according to the waffle iron’s instructions.
  5. Top with vanilla ice cream, melted chocolate, and topping of your choice

Pumpkin Banana Spiced Pancakes with Pumpkin Fro-Yo (Clean)

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This one day during September, my inbox began filling up with pumpkin recipes from all the blogs that I follow, and that’s when I realised that I should probably get started on these pumpkin recipes, so today I’m giving you not one, but two pumpkin recipes!

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Here in Beijing, the temperatures are still in the high 20s, so part of this recipe is a Summer-Fall hybrid. Pumpkin Fro-Yo. All the flavours of Fall, but still keeping the temperature cool for Summer. If you’re not really up for cold food, don’t worry! The pancakes are hot and full of cozy spices, and of course, you can (should) top the whole stack off with a warm chocolate drizzle. Chocolate is great. It’s available year-round and it makes everything better.

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Also – did I mention that the frozen yogurt is only 4 ingredients? Yaaay!

Pancakes are my go-to breakfast these days. I like to make a large batch of them over the weekend and keep them in my fridge or freezer. They’re a perfect grab-and-go breakfast, which is essential now that swim training has started. Having breakfast ready everyday is the ultimate time-saver to maximise my much-needed sleep.

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Pumpkin Banana Spiced Pancakes with Pumpkin Fro-Yo 

Ingredients

For the pancakes:

  • 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

For the frozen yogurt:

  • 1 cup vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Melted chocolate, optional but recommended
Method
  1. For the fro-yo, mix everything together in a large mixing bowl until completely combined
  2. *Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker until it is a smooth and has thickened. Store in freezer.
  3. For the pancakes, in a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the soy milk, vinegar, egg, pumpkin puree, banana, and melted coconut oil
  5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and fold until just combined
  6. Heat a pan over medium-high heat and scoop on 1/4-1/3 cup of batter
  7. Cook until bubbles appear and the sides start to dry before flipping. Cook another minute or so
  8. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  9. To assemble, stack the pancakes and top with a scoop of the fro-yo and a generous drizzle of melted chocolate. Enjoy!

*If you don’t have an ice cream maker, place the bowl in the freezer and stir the mixture every half hour until it reaches desired consistency

Blueberry Almond Granola (Clean)

YAY FOR MORE BREAKFAST FOODS!

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I know that I recently posted breakfast cookies, but c’mon you can’t get enough of breakfast foods, right? I would totally be up for having breakfast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but that’s not really likely to happen. Well, it might. Come to think of it, that should be something on my (nonexistent) bucket list – eat breakfast all day. Hell yes. I’ll make a mental note to do that for my birthday. Just kidding, my birthday’s on a Monday. I just googled (or Yahoo-ed, because my VPN is being a b****) National Breakfast Day and apparently that’s sometime in early March. Seriously? Okay, you know what – I’ll add that to my baking bucket list. I know, it doesn’t really count, but shhh…

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Alright – back to the reason you’re here: granola.

Lemme tell you a little story. One day I came home to find this a bunch of packages of food on our dining room table, and I was so excited. Unshelled macadamias – so good! I just sat there for a good half hour or so breaking apart macadamias, feeling especially proud whenever I broke off the shell and was left with a full, gorgeous, sweet, and aromatic macadamia. Sorry jk that’s irrelevant, but as I was saying, there were a bunch of packages of food, including unshelled nuts and nougats and – dried blueberries. There was this pretty big package and inside it were these perfect snack-sized packages of dried blueberries. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of eating dried fruit. If it’s in a salad or in granola, I love it, but by itself? Nah.

So, eventually we (mostly my mom and grandma) finished off the little packages of dried blueberries, and my mom decided to order another package online. Somehow, she managed to order 5 packages – each with like, 20 mini-packages inside. Okay, that’s a lot of dried blueberries. But then, as a baker, I was like, I CAN BAKE THIS INTO STUFF! I usually don’t bake with dried blueberries because they’re slightly costly and we don’t usually have them around, but now we had a good bunch of dried blueberries, so I went hunting on the web before facepalming and thinking – duh, granola.

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And now we’re here.

Here, with this aromatic almond granola that’s studded with sweet, sweet dried blueberries. Cases like these – dried fruit tastes so darn good.

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I don’t know why I haven’t tried this combo before. I’ve done lots of blueberry-white chocolate, but never blueberry-almond. That’s about to change. This is seriously such a good combo. I’ve been throwing handfuls of this granola into all my nana ice creams and onto my smoothies (after I take a photo, of course, because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see the ice cream/smoothie underneath. Yes, I do put on that much granola).

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Blueberry Almond Granola

Adapted from Recipe Runner

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup silvered almonds
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius or 300 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, almonds, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar until fully combined
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, honey, almond extract, and vanilla extract
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir together until well combined
  5. Spread the granola onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  6. Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown, making sure to remove the granola from the oven and stirring it to ensure that it bakes evenly
  7. After the granola is done, stir in the dried blueberries and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Avocado Bread (Cheat)

Where do I start with this avocado bread? Well, as the original creator says, it’s “like banana bread, but with avocados”, and I agree. It’s like a loaf cake, with just the perfect sweetness and the wonderful scents and flavors of a classic loaf cake.

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Granted, you can’t taste the avocado, which I suppose is a good thing, because I don’t know how sweetness and avocado go together, but nonetheless, the addition of avocado gives it a beautifully pale green crumb and a little nutritional boost.

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By the way, in case you’re wondering why my avocado bread turned out looking a lot shorter and denser than the original one here, it’s because I used a pretty standard-sizes loaf tin, so it’s longer and less tall. However, trust me when I say that the crumb is still perfectly tender and light. It just happens to be shorter, but hey, short food (that’s a really weird term that I’ll probably never use again) can be beautiful, too.

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Avocado Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup (56g) butter at room temp
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup avocado purée (purée about 1 1/2-2 avocados in a food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius or 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt
  3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg and vanilla, before mixing in the avocado purée and lime juice
  4. Add the flour mixture into the avocado mixture and fold until just combined. Do not over mix. The batter will be very thick
  5. Transfer the batter into a small loaf pan, greased or lined with parchment paper, and bake for 35-45 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, with no wet batter sticking to it. Allow to cool completely, before slicing and serving

Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (Clean)

Healthy oatmeal cookies are my life right now! My old go-to snack were healthy muffins, but now, cookies have undoubtedly taken first place (sorry, muffins, I still love you).

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Where do I start with these cookies?

They’re gluten-free, and aren’t insanely sweet like your average cookie, which means that you can eat two (or three!) without feeling sickly full. Nevertheless, they’ve definitely got that comforting oatmeal flavor, which pairs beautifully with the subtle, fruity flavor of cranberries and the undeniable richness of the dark chocolate chunks.

Gotta say – the dark chocolate chunks are probably my favorite part. Chocolate chunks in any recipe will be my favorite part.When it comes to chocoholics like me, it’s inevitable, and when I say chocoholic, I mean chocoholic. I can’t (okay, rarely) go a day without eating chocolate. I just indulged in a decent bunch of chocolate truffles, the ones with the crispy little pieces inside. They’re so good, and apparently each one is over 100kcal but that didn’t stop me from eating 5. You see where I’m going with this? If I ever decided to do a calorie-restricting diet (FYI: never happening), I’d insist that chocolate doesn’t count towards my daily calorie count. How could it? Chocolate is a joy in life that must not be denied.

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But moving on from the chocolate, these cookies are seriously the perfect snack. They’re filling, and satisfy your sweet tooth. I actually like to stick them into my nana ice creams, mostly because aesthetics, but I’m always incorporating these cookies into my nana ice creams and it’s become an obsession. I can’t get enough. I’ve been luxuriating in nana ice cream with cookies and the weather’s still hanging around the negatives. See? I’ve been willing to sacrifice my scarce warmth for the sake of nana ice cream with these amazing oatmeal cookies. I hope you’re convinced – these cookies are the s**t.

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Oh, and LEO WON AN OSCAARRR!

Fun fact: He’s a vegetarian

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One last side note – be gentle when chopping up cranberries. They do not go down without a fight. As I was chopping them up, I had to gently squish them with the knife. If I dared to get aggressive, they would too, shooting out streaks of deep red juice, leaving every object within a 2-meter radius (including me) covered in red dots. Lesson learned: cranberries like to die a slow, gentle death.

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(Update Mar 8. 2016:  I made another batch of those cranberry and dark chocolate oatmeal cookies three days ago, and now there’s only one left. They’re that good. That’s like, 5 cookies a day. I have no regrets.)

Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from Amy’s Healthy Baking

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (100g) quick-cooking/instant oats (gluten-free, if necessary)
  • ¾ cup (90g) whole wheat or gluten-free flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (120mL) maple syrup or honey
  • ½ cup (55g) cranberries, chopped*
  • 3 tablespoons (42g) chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
*You can also use frozen cranberries that have been thawed
Method
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, egg, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Fold in the flour mixture until just combined, before folding in the cranberries and 2 tablespoons of the dark chocolate
  3. Chill the cookie dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or 160 degrees Celsius
  4. Place the cookie dough in 12-15 rounded scoops onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten them into desired thickness and size. The cookies won’t spread much or change shape as they bake. Press on the remaining chocolate pieces on top and bake for 9-12 minutes
  5. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks