Salted Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

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DSC_0127The other day, a friend of mine asked me when it was that I decided to follow my passion for cooking. I couldn’t give her a definitive answer. Was it as a child when I would watch my mother cook? Was it when I received an Easy Bake Oven and baked mini cakes for all my neighbor friends? Or perhaps, it was when I started working in the restaurant industry and really was able to experience all that dining out had to offer. I didn’t know the moment it exactly happened, but I did tell her that it started when I was young. When I was about 10 years old, I used to beg my mom to take me to the grocery store so we could pick up some flour to make banana bread or for some chocolate chips for fresh baked cookies. I was enamored with the whole baking process. I loved that you had to be so precise with recipes and measure everything with accuracy. It was in this exactness that I would be guaranteed a perfect cookie or a perfect loaf every time. There is something lovely about knowing exactly what the finished product will be even before you start. That is why I still love baking and consider it one of my favorite pass times. It brings out a zen-like mood for me; a place where I can just focus on the task at hand and loose all the chaos around me,  the hurried thoughts, or the anxiety of upcoming to-do’s.

The only difference in the adult version of myself,compared to that of my childhood, is that I do like to experiment a little now; think outside the box and manipulate recipes so that I can try new adaptations. Now, when attempting something the new, the finished product is not always known ahead of time. I usually modify a recipe that I’ve always loved, say a little prayer to the baking Gods, and hope for the best. I can say that this method doesn’t always have a successful turnout but the ratio isn’t too bad. This is what happened with these cookies and the result was exactly as I had hoped (and prayed) for. I was inspired by  Not Without Salt’s Cherry, Almond, Chocolate Chip Cookies and I began to think of ways to make the recipe with a vegan twist. I love to bake using a “flax egg” (flax meal & water) because it adds a little nuttiness with the addition of those healthy omega-3’s and lots of fiber. These cookies are incredibly chewy because of the almond meal and the cherries give the perfect tanginess to balance the sweetness. The Maldon sea salt is key and once you taste this cookie, you might never cease this little addition on any cookie from now on. The sweet and salty combination is just heavenly. It seems like these need a lot of ingredients; but once you have almond meal, flax meal, and a fancy sea salt in stock you will find any excuse to use them (they are that good). I suggest you make these as soon as you can get your little booty into the kitchen and get in the mood to loose yourself into the craft. What a wonderful way to de-stress!

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Dark Chocolate & Cherry Cookies {Vegan} 

Makes about 18 cookies
Prep time: 5 minutes, Bake time: 15 minutes 
 
FLAX EGG: 

1 TBSP flax meal

1/4 cup water

DRY INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

WET INGREDIENTS: 

5 TBSP coconut oil, in liquid form

1 TBSP organic maple syrup

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped

1 cup 72% dark chocolate, chopped (option to use Vegan chocolate)

1 or 2 TBSP Maldon salt, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ. In a small dish make the “flax egg”; combine the flax meal and the water and set aside. In a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients and whisk with a fork to combine and eliminate all the clumps. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, add the “flax egg” and mix to combine. Fold in the dark chocolate and the cherries. Using an ice cream scoop for even measurements, scoop out cookies on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the cookies with a few flakes of Maldon salt and bake for 12-15 minutes. (These cookies will appear a bit under-done when bake time is up but don’t worry they are better this way!)

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