Friday, February 24, 2012

Cinnamon-Sugar Coated Treats: Sort-of Snickerdoodles and Apple Sunflower Seed Butter Pretzels

Sawyer is an interesting fellow, in that if you offer him dessert, he will probably decline.  In general, brownies, cookies, cake, and pie are all likely to be shot down.  I think because he gets home-made food all the time, a treat in his mind is something that we buy and ration out, like Annie's bunny fruit snacks or pretzels.  However, while finished baked goods are taken for granted, the dough is always savored. When snack time comes around, and I anticipate that Sawyer will not be very excited about his options, I usually whip up some cracker or cookie dough and let him make shapes out of it.  While he does so, inevitably he will eat a good chunk before anything reaches the oven.  Such was the case with this healthy, inspired-by-snickerdoodles, cookie creation.

1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 Tbsp. chia seeds mixed with 3 Tbsp water (could sub flax seed meal)
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. evaporated cane juice
1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 and line two baking trays with parchment paper.  Mix the evaporated cane juice with the cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oat bran, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar and mix well.
3. In a small cup, mix the chia seeds with the water. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the chia mixture, canola oil, agave, and vanilla. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together with a wooden spoon until well combined. You should have a moist but firm consistency. If necessary, add more flour a tablespoon at a time until you can shape the dough into balls that hold together well.
4. Form the dough into golf-ball sized balls and roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Space them evenly on your prepared baking sheets.  Flatten the cookies with your palm if desired, as they will not spread out when they cook. Bake in the preheated oven for 7-8 minutes, until the cookies are just slightly brown on the bottom.  Let them cool on wire racks before serving. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen.

 If that isn't enough cinnamon-sugar goodness for you, Sawyer woke up early this week and declared that he couldn't go back to sleep because he was hungry and wanted to make bread with me.  He loves to smell the yeast and, yes, both he and Abiline even eat yeast bread dough.  Sawyer loves the apple cinnamon pretzels at Jamba Juice, so I thought to make something similar when he hit me up with the unexpected bread request.  My version has a great soft texture; Anthony loved them and was scarfing them down two at a time.  His one criticism was that they did not turn out all chewy on the outside like the ones you buy.  I think the problem is that when I drop the dough in the boiling water, it is hard to maintain the high temperature needed to rapidly cook the outside.  Please let me know if you have any ideas on how to get them chewier!

1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. plus 1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 cup lukewarm non-dairy milk
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
1 apple, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
4-5 cups white whole wheat flour

3 Tbsp. evaporated cane juice
1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil or soy-free Earth Balance buttery spread

1.  In a medium mixing bowl, mix the warm water with 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar and then stir in the yeast until dissolved. Let sit for a few minutes until the yeast gets all bubbly.  Then add the non-dairy milk, applesauce, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, sunflower seed butter, and finely chopped apple bits and stir until all is well-combined.
2. In a separate, large bowl, mix the salt, cinnamon and 4 1/2 cups of the flour. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. If the dough is too sticky to hold its shape for kneading, add additional flour, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough can hold together well enough to be transferred to a floured work surface to be kneaded.  Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding small amounts of flour as necessary to avoid sticking, until the dough is smooth and supple.
3. Form the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl to rise in a warm place, with a damp towel covering the bowl, for 1-2 hours--until a wet finger poked into the middle of the dough leaves an impression without filling in. If the dough sighs, it has risen a bit too long. (I turn the oven on to 400 for a few minutes, turn it off, open the oven, and place the bowl on the door. Once the oven cools down a bit, I place the bowl in the oven.)
4. Gently deflate the dough with damp hands, form it into a ball, and turn the ball out onto a large, lightly floured work surface. Let it rest for 10 minutes, covered with the damp cloth. While the dough is resting, place a large pot of water on the stove to boil, set out some wire racks, line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
5. Then, with a wet knife, cut the dough into four equal pieces. Form each one into a ball and let them rest for 5 minutes more.  Flatten each ball with your hand and then cut each one into 3 equal pieces (so that you have 12 total).  Roll each piece of dough into a long rope and either fold the ends over each other to form the classic pretzel shape, or make whatever shape you want. 
6. Place the shaped pretzels onto your prepared pans. Once the water is rapidly boiling, drop the pretzels in two at a time, let them boil for 30 seconds, then flip them over with a slotted spoon and boil for 30 seconds more.  Remove the pretzels from the water and place them on the wire racks while you boil the rest. 
7. Transfer all of the boiled pretzels back to the prepared baking pans and cook them in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, turning them 180 degrees after 10 minutes and switching the pan on the upper rack to the lower rack and vice versa.
8. Let the baked pretzels cool on wire racks while you prepare the topping. Mix the evaporated cane juice with the cinnamon in a small bowl and in a separate bowl melt the coconut oil.  Brush the baked pretzels with the melted oil and then sprinkle them with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.   

We took a bunch of these pretzels to snack on when we went to Disneyland this week.  The park was very crowded (for Mardi Gras?), but luckily, there is never a line for Abiline's favorite ride: the carousel.

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