On the evening of November 8, 2016 my children and I were watching the U.S. presidential election results roll in. Like most of the country, we were expecting Hillary Clinton to win. However, as the night wore on and the growing likelihood of a Trump presidency dawned on us, I started to feel increasingly glum. In need of soothing, my frazzled mind turned to carbs. Specifically, cookies.
I wandered into my kitchen in search of something sweet and starchy. Alas, there was not a crumb to be found — in keeping with the advice I give my nutrition coaching clients, my kitchen was devoid of tempting treat foods. Darnit.
There was only one solution: I had to bake some cookies. This would have the dual benefit of distracting me for a while *and* yielding comforting treats.
I remembered an oat cookie recipe I’d seen in Good Food, Good Medicine, a wonderful Mediterranean diet & lifestyle guide by internist Miles Hassell MD and Mea Hassell, and got to work. Forty minutes later my children and I were munching on delightfully nutty, crisp and crunchy cookies. They didn’t change the outcome of the election, but they did take the edge off our distress.
Four years later, another presidential election is upon us — one whose outcome will shape the future for generations. So this morning I decided to bake a preemptive batch of election cookies, just in case I need them later.
These cookies — the easiest in my repertoire — consist of oats, pecans and a little flour (I use gluten-free flour) held together by generous quantities of butter. Their texture is crisp and crunchy and they contain just enough sugar to taste sweet, but not so much as to send your glucose levels gyrating. In fact, each cookie only contains 2 g sugar and 5 g net carbohydrate, so even carb-conscious eaters can enjoy these without guilt.
I’ve tweaked the recipe a little, replacing Dr. Hassell’s hard-to-find Scottish oats with a mixture of rolled oats and oat bran, adding vanilla extract and xanthan gum (a prebiotic fiber that strengthens gluten-free baked goods) and drizzling them with melted chocolate. (If you’re a fan of British cookies, you’ll be delighted to learn that painting the cookies with a thick layer of chocolate makes them taste like McVitie’s Dark-Chocolate Hobnobs — minus the cloying sweetness.)
So hurry along and throw a batch in your oven before the polling stations close. And if you don’t have time to bake today, rest assured that these taste great any day of the year, not just on election night.
Election Cookies (drizzled with tempered chocolate, Hobnob-style)
- 1 stick butter soft
- ⅓ cup brown sugar packed
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup traditional rolled oats
- ½ cup oat bran I used Bob's Red Mills to test this recipe
- 1/4 cup all-purpose wheat flour or gluten-free flour blend for the GF version I used Pillsbury Best flour blend
- ½ tsp xanthan gum not necessary if using wheat flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup pecan nuts chopped
- 3 oz high-quality dark chocolate finely chopped with a chef knife; I used Chocolove's 77% Extra Strong chocolate. For an ever lower-sugar cookie, use Lily's sugar-free chocolate chips.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar with an electric whisk until they are creamy. Beat in the egg, then add remaining ingredients, mixing very well.
- Halve the dough and shape into two 1½ inch diameter logs. Wrap in parchment paper and chill for at least one hour, preferably a little longer.
- Preheat oven to 350F and set rack in the middle of the oven. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a serrated knife and gentle sawing motions, slice logs into ¼-inch rounds, place on the lined baking sheet and press down lightly with a fork or your fingertips. You can place them close together; they don't run when they bake.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges turn golden-brown. (I tested these at altitude; if you live closer to sea level, they may be done after 10-12 minutes).
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet. Once they have completely cooled, transfer to an airtight container. These keep 1-2 weeks.
Chocolate drizzle (see note below)
- Put 2 oz of the chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips) in a microwave-proof bowl and heat at 50% power for a succession of 30–second bursts, stirring with a spoon in between each cycle until 3/4 of the chocolate is melted. This should take about 1½ minutes.
- Stir the chocolate until completely melted. Measure its temperature with an instant–read thermometer; it should be between 100 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the remaining ounce of chopped chocolate, stirring constantly until the mixture is at 88 degrees Fahrenheit. If it becomes too cool and starts to thicken, melt a few more tablespoons of chopped chocolate and stir them in to raise the temperature.
- Dip the tip of a knife into the chocolate; the chocolate on the knife should begin to set within 1 minute. It is now ready to be used. Either drizzle onto the cookies with a teaspoon or apply it evenly with a silicone pastry brush.
- Once the chocolate has hardened, transfer the cookies to an airtight tin. These should keep for 2 weeks (if you can wait that long).
- If you're impatient for your cookies, you can speed things up considerably by simply spooning tablespoonfuls of dough onto a lined baking sheet after mixing and baking them immediately (without log-shaping and chilling first). They'll look less neat and regular, but they have yummy lacey edges.
- These instructions show you how to temper chocolate in the microwave; tempering helps chocolate keep its crisp shine, and doing so will keep these cookies looking appetizing even a week later. However, if you plan to eat these quickly, don't bother with tempering -- just melt the chocolate in the microwave at 50% power and drizzle away!