long vacation & chocolate walnut besan cookies
It seems that my back to back vacations and busy year-end turned into an unplanned extended break from this whole blogging thing.
Things have been very slow around here since I left for two weeks back home in the states at the end of November. This is in no way the result of a shortage of bloggable material, but rather the opposite! In the space of one month we visited my family in San Francisco, Eric’s family in Wisconsin, spent a weekend in Hong Kong, and took a 10 hour train journey to Kobe and Osaka for the New Year’s holidays. In that time we also met two new babies and several old friends, went to some really awesome concerts, ate a lot of amazing food, and I even threw in a 5k race.
The return to normal life come January was a bit rough. Coming back to Japan after seeing my family always hits me very hard, and I know to expect a few weeks of loneliness and soul-crushing sadness. But adjusting to our regular schedules after a solid month of travel and excitement took more out of me than I’d expected.
Truth be told, the idea of sorting through a month’s worth of pictures and deciding what to blog about was completely overwhelming. I felt a lot of guilt at putting it off for so long and really wanted to write about things while they were still fresh in my mind, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I didn’t want to force it, as I really believe in quality over quantity when it comes to my writing and blogging, so ultimately I decided to take a few weeks to regroup before digging my heels back in again.
Now January has come and gone, and I think it’s about time to dust off the blog. I’ve decided for the sake of my sanity not to play catch up all at once. I do plan on blogging about our trips and end of year activities eventually, but I’ve decided to write those entries slowly and intersperse them with more current goings on and topical posts.
Most of my of my attention over the past month has been devoted to getting back into my normal routines. After a couple of weeks of very simple meals and dinners out I think I’ve finally got back into the habit of cooking most of our meals myself, and I’ve even managed to do some baking (someone remind me to write-up my recent brownie trials at some point)
Exercise has been a bit more difficult to get back into. I’ve been going to the gym regularly again, and have even gone on a few runs after nearly eight weeks off, but it’s still somewhat sporadic and with much lower intensity than I usually aim for. I have some big fitness goals and plans in mind, but that’ll have to wait for another day to post about.
Today I want to talk about cookies.
Several months back I came across a recipe for chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies using besan, or garbanzo bean flour, on ZOMTBakes, and the ingredient list really caught my attention. I love experimenting with alternatives to wheat flour, and was very attracted to the nutritional benefits of using a bean flour to make cookies. Besan flour is not a common ingredient in Japanese cooking, but I am fortunate enough to live close to a Halal Foods store that stocks it for a very reasonable price.
I kept the recipe open in my browser for a number of weeks, but only just got around to making these last night or the first time. I made several substitutions based on my own preferences and what I had on hand, such as substituting oat bran for the wheat germ, maple syrup for the golden syrup, and banana puree for the apple sauce. I reduced the sugar slightly to adjust for the sweetness of the banana, and also went for slightly a smaller cookie. My variation yielded 30 two-bite cookies as opposed to the 18 mentioned in the original recipe.
This recipe makes a lightly sweet, vaguely cake-like cookie with a bit of chew to it. The besan flour is noticeable in the background of the raw cookie dough, but was not pronounced once the cookies were baked. I was impressed with the final cookie, and think they would make a great treat for days when you want something on the indulgent side but don’t want to have too much sugar.
Chocolate Walnut Besan Flour Cookies
adapted from ZOMTBakes
- 100 g jumbo oats
75 g oat bran
60 g besan (garbanzo bean flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
75 g raw sugar
40 g maple syrup
100 g banana, mashed or pureed
14 g unrefined coconut oil
100 g dark chocolate, chopped
35 g raw walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
Whisk the egg, sugar, maple syrup, banana, melted coconut oil, and vanilla in a medium bowl and until light and creamy. Add the besan flour and baking powder and whisk until smooth before adding the oats and oat bran. Once the dry ingredients have been fully incorporated, fold in the chopped chocolate and walnuts.
Use a spoon or small scoop drop onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about an inch between each cookie. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the edges just begin to turn golden.
Makes about 30 two-bite cookies.