Honeynut Squash Cookies
Gluten-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free
Do not get me wrong, I love a good pumpkin bread, but when pumpkin spice becomes a chewing gum flavor, I think that it has gone too far. Also I happen to think that there are so many other gourds out there are that are just as or more delicious that pumpkin.
I love walking by the farm stand in my neighborhood and seeing the squash come in: delicata, butternut, spaghetti and the honey nut. Honeynut is a relatively new breed of squash from the minds at Cornell that basically takes the butternut squash and shrinks it, intensifying the sweetness and flavor. The honeynut is small but mighty (mighty tasty), so thank you Dan Barber and Michael Mazourek for this one. It looks like a mini butternut squash (they’re related), but the honeynut is slightly sweeter than pumpkin, smoother than butternut and perfect for baking.
To make the squash puree, I cut a larger honeynut squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds. Create a tinfoil packet around the squash, place on a baking tray. Cook in a 400F oven for 40 minutes. Take the squash out the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Scrape the flesh into the bowl of a food processor and blend on high for 4 minutes, until smooth. Only puree the squash when it is hot; this will ensure a smooth puree.
It’s a lot of work, but it is worth it and it can be satisfying to make it yourself. Now, don’t fear if you can’t find honeynut or don’t want to deal with that; use canned pumpkin or sweet potato puree.
Maple Sugar AND coconut sugar
Aside from gourds, the other quintessential fall flavor is maple. I adore maple syrup and would drink it straight from the bottle if my dentist wouldn’t yell at me. That being said, adding maple syrup to baked goods will change the texture. These cookies are a delightfully thick, muffin-like cookie, which means you need a dryer sugar. Maple sugar will give you the maple flavor, but without the water content from the maple syrup.
Ok, maple sugar can be expensive, so I use it sparingly and that is why I used a mix of coconut and maple sugars. Also coconut sugar will add little bit more of a caramel-like flavor, which is delicious when paired with the woodsy maple flavor.
If you can’t find maple sugar, use all coconut sugar. You can use maple syrup; I have not tested it with maple syrup. If you use maple syrup, the texture of the cookie will be denser.
Bran gets a bad rap. Those horrible bran muffins have put a lot of people off oat bran, but it doesn’t really deserve the shade. Oat bran is the inner shell of the oat grain; most of this outer shell is processed out when making whole, rolled oats. However, oat bran is packed with more fiber than rolled oats and takes less time to cook. Since oat bran is much smaller in size than rolled oats, they are wonderfully incorporated into a cookie dough, aka, perfect for this recipe.
My preferred oat bran comes from Bob’s Red Mill. You can also buy it in the bulk section at whole foods; however, these are most likely not gluten-free. If you have a gluten allergy, buy the Bob’s certified gluten-free. If it is a preference, then oat bran is naturally gluten-free, but may be processed in a facility that also process gluten.
Ok, enough talking; let’s cookie.
4.5oz / 130g squash puree (you can use pumpkin puree here)
2tbsp / 1oz/ 30g avocado oil (about 2 tbsp)
1/4 cup / 2oz / 57g almond butter (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup/ 40g coconut sugar
1/4 cup/ 42g maple sugar
2 tbsp/ 1oz / 30g date syrup
1 egg (can substitute with a flax egg)
1 cup / gluten-free measure-for-measure flour (you can substitute oat flour if you prefer)
1 tbsp / 7g psyllium husk powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup / 52g gluten-free oat bran
1/4 cup / 20g unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup / 30g golden raisins (dried cranberries would be delicious too)
1/3 cup / 85g dairy-free dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (excluding the sugars; those are considered wet ingredients) and the mix-in’s. Set aside
In a large bowl, whisk together the squash, almond butter and oil until smooth. Add the sugars and date syrup, whisk to incorporate. Add the egg and whisk one last time to incorporate the egg.
Add the dry mix to the wet mix; use a flexible spatula to combine. Using a 2 tbsp cookie scoop, portion dough onto the cookie sheet, leaking just under 2 inches between each. These cookies won’t really spread, but I like them mounded and thick. If you want thinner cookies, give them a gentle press with your palm before baking.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, just until the tops start to crack a bit. Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from the baking sheet and straight into your mouth. I think that these cookies count as breakfast; spread with apple or pumpkin butter, maybe a little sprinkle of cinnamon and salt.
Keep these cookies in a covered container at room temperature for a week. Freeze and then place in a resealable container for up to a month.