I admit I used to be one of those grinches who used the term "Candy Cigarettes" to describe so-called "paleo" desserts made with nut flavor rather than regular flours. My own reasoning was
- They typically contained large if not larger amounts of things like polyunsaturated fatty acids and anti-nutritional factors compared to their regular counterparts.
- Culinarily, they sucked. They just weren't even worth the calories. And often they had more calories than their regular counterparts.
But despite the efforts of various diet book authors (Whole 9 called them "Sex with your pants on"), they remain quite popular, inundating almost every single Pinterest board and "paleo" or gluten-free cookbook these days.
What changed my own mind about them was probably encountering classic desserts that have endured for centuries that fit the same parameters such as Santiago cake from Spain. I got Ferran Adria's Family Meal cookbook and was interested to see many of the desserts in that book, which is definitely not a "paleo" cookbook, are already wheat-free like custards (or very easily adapted). And they are things almost anyone would think are good. And so why not make them? Especially since they can be easily served to all your friends?
Another influence was Chef Dana Cree of Blackbird in Chicago, who does the kind of gluten-free desserts no one really even notices are gluten free. Because they are just really good desserts. Also the Ideas in Food bloggers who wrote Maximum Flavor, another normal cookbook with a handful of gluten-free recipes. When I talked one of the authors, Alex, when I took a workshop he gave here in Chicago he said that gluten-free has a health food stigma they wanted to go beyond. Some of the recipes in their book I admit I probably won't try though, because I honestly shy away from baking things that require me to buy ingredients I'll never use for anything else. I hardly ever bake. I already have a ton of ingredients, I don't have room for ones I'll use once a year.
And probably some of the uncomfortability diet book authors have is that yes, some of them are so good that they can be overeaten pretty easily, illustrating that "natural" calories are still calories. But just don't make huge recipes or just make them for special occasions.
These cookies I sometimes bake are franky just good desserts, no matter how or what you eat. Save them for someone's birthday or something.
Flourless Candy Cigarette Cookies
- 5 dates pitted and pulsed in a food processor with 1/8 cup water until a smooth paste
- .5 tsp nice vanilla + 1/4 tsp nice sea salt (I used Hawaiian red from Epic Spices) + 1/2 cup nut butter (I used almond butter and coconut cashew manna) + 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1 egg white +1/3 cup nut meal pulsed into the date mix in the food processor
- Fold in 1/3 cup chocolate chips (don't process this)
- Spoon 1 tbsp blobs of batter onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet (or cast iron, that's what I use)
- Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Will be soft and deliciously melty.