After eating a raw food diet for several years I finally took the plunge and invested in a dehydrator. I love the simplicity of raw foods like fresh fruits, smoothies and salads but having a dehydrator offers us so much more versatility with the option to make “fun” foods like crackers, pizzas and interesting desserts.
While it is possible to make scrumptious raw cookies by combining raw nuts and seeds into a cookie shape and putting them in the fridge to set, a dehydrator allows for the creation of a more satisfying texture, while also intensifying the flavors.
A few days ago I had the urge to experiment with making cookies in the dehydrator – and a craving to make something to satisfy my sweet tooth – so I came up with this recipe for a chewy hazelnut chocolate fudge cookie.
Chocolate and hazelnut is a classic combination. What makes these cookies really unique is the addition of mesquite. This is an interesting ingredient that has a subtle sweet, nutty and slightly smokey flavor that works well in both dessert and savory recipes. It reminds me a little of carob powder but is less sweet.
It is a traditional food of native people in the Southwest and South America and research suggests that it is highly effective in balancing blood sugar. Mesquite also contains high levels of protein – between 11 to 17 percent – with an especially high content of the amino acid lysine, which is sometimes low in raw vegan diets. It is rich in minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc and is an excellent source of fiber.
I’ve experimented with mesquite a little and find it works really well in savory Mexican dishes and enhances the flavor of anything containing chocolate. A teaspoon or so added to a cacao smoothie adds a extra layer of complexity but be careful because if you add too much it can tend to overpower the other ingredients.
So I was surprised at the amount of mesquite I was able to add to this recipe without it becoming the dominant flavor. For me it was definitely there, but the chocolate and hazelnuts are the star ingredients. I used dark Argentinian mesquite, which I find to be slightly milder than other types, but any mesquite powder should work in this recipe.
Chocolate Hazelnut Mesquite Fudge Cookies
Makes 36 small cookies
2 cups raw hazelnuts, ground into a course flour
3/4 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup mesquite powder
1/4 cup golden flax seed meal
1 1/2 teaspoons Himalayan salt
3/4 cup agave
1/4 cup maple flavored agave
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons raw almond butter
1 tablespoon raw honey
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs
Mix ground hazelnuts, mesquite, cacao powder and salt in a bowl. In another large mixing bowl combine agave, vanilla, almond butter and honey and stir well to combine.
Add the hazelnut mixture to the liquid ingredients and stir well until the mixture holds together. Add in chocolate chips or cacao nibs last.
Form into balls of about a tablespoon and place on dehydrator trays with the Teflex sheets. Press on each ball slightly to flatten into a cookie shape. Dehydrate for 24-36 hours, turning them over at least once during the dehydration process.
These cookies are fairly dense but the ground hazelnuts add an interesting textural contrast and if you use chocolate chips and eat these warm out of the dehydrator the chocolate will melt in your mouth!
I thought they had just the right amount of sweetness but they are still fairly rich so I recommend eating only one or two at a time. They will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge – if they last that long – and they also will freeze well for a couple of months if you wanted to store them for a longer time.
If you don’t yet own a dehydrator you could also form the cookies into balls and place them in the fridge to set. The texture won’t be as chewy but they will still taste delicious. These are pretty sticky to work with so you will probably want to roll them in some extra cacao powder.
So let me know if you try these. They are guaranteed to add a sparkle to your day 🙂