CARAMELISED CRUNCHY CHOC BLOCK BUCKWHEAT COOKIES
Probably the longest recipe title I’ve ever given, and because they have a little sprinkle of sea salt I nearly went with “salted caramel crunchy choc block buckwheat cookies!” These cookies are loaded with a bittersweet crunch and are my idea of heaven.
So if like me you’re already Eastered out (why does everyone start tucking in so early these days?!) or if you gave up chocolate for Lent and need to ease back into the sweetness slowly, or (like me again) you’re quite sensitive to the caffeine in chocolate (but also love it), then bake up a batch of these delicious malty cookies with just a dash of chocolate that are savoury enough for breakfast but sweet enough for a cup of tea in the afternoon.
Inspired by the buckwheat banana bread that I’ve been making for years and all you East by West fans know and love, I rustled these up. I took a couple of ripe bananas and mashed them with a whisk (even faster than a fork!), added the extra baking essentials like a bit of sweetener, fat and baking powder and then worked in some buckwheat flour — I felt like a pro as it came together like a proper dough. For me, banana and buckwheat flour work together so well, no other binder needed, so these are great for vegans if you swap the ghee for coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil, as well as being grain- and gluten-free.
I’m a lazy baker so normally I’d get a food processor out but honestly for this recipe, don’t bother. I’ve used jaggery to sweeten it — if you use a more liquid sweetener like maple syrup (please, no honey — check out this blog post or for more on why you should never heat raw honey, as it is considered a poison in Ayurveda). I’ve called them “choc block” rather than choc chip because I can’t find decent chocolate chips, but I’ve always got a good bar of dark chocolate in my cupboards, so I just snap that into natural chunks. Depending on how dark your chocolate is you can reduce the sweetener. I’ve called for a third of a cup of jaggery because I usually have 80% dark chocolate, but if you’re using a finer sweetener (e.g. coconut sugar) or a less bitter chocolate then you can reduce.
Topping the cookies with buckwheat groats (whole buckwheat seeds) gives the ultimate crunch, but leave off if you don’t have those to hand. Be careful of topping with nuts or seeds as these are baked at a high temp so they could burn easily. Finally, if you have some mashed banana left over, distribute it over the top of the cookies before layering on the other toppings — waste not, want not!
150g (½ cup) ripe mashed banana (approx. 2 medium bananas)
180g (1½ cups) buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
40g (⅓ cup) loosely packed jaggery* (or coconut sugar)
2 tbsp ghee, coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
60g (⅓ cup) buckwheat groats, roasted or raw
Pinch of sea salt, plus extra for decorating
50g dark chocolate (70-80%), snapped into squares
*If you have a block of jaggery then grate it before using.
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan.
In a large mixing bowl mix the baking powder into the buckwheat flour to distribute it easily
Add the mashed banana, vanilla extract, half the jaggery and 1tbs of ghee, and mix thoroughly until it comes together to form a sticky dough. If it is too sticky add a touch more buckwheat flour.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Take pieces of the dough in damp hands and roll into walnut sized balls, rewetting your hands if necessary, and place onto the tray.
Press each down with the palm of a damp hand until about half a centimetre thick.
Press a piece of dark chocolate into the centre of each, drizzle with the ghee and top with the remaining jaggery, buckwheat groats and a sprinkle of sea salt and gently press down on the toppings to secure them.
Bake for 10 minutes until browned on the top and edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool and crisp up.
Store in an airtight container somewhere cool for a day or two.
East by West tip: In this recipe you can also pack in the spices if you like - the combination for hot cross buns of orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice etc is really nice, or just throw in some cinnamon.