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Naturally Sweet Holiday Treats

Naturally Sweet Holiday Treats

Earlier this week the BF and I flexed a lil cooking muscle at the Whole Foods in Lincoln Park, Chicago. We signed up for a healthy holiday treats cooking class and made 4 delicious recipes [using simple, wholesome ingredients] and even packaged up our own vanilla extract to take home!

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We discovered this class called Naturally Sweet Holiday Treats on Dabble [a lil powerhouse of a website that curates unique and local activities]. 

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Upon arriving to the class, we were surprised to find out that Whole Foods actually hosts a TON of cooking classes at this flagship location, even beyond what was available on Dabble. They offer a wide array of demonstrations, hands-on, and interactive cooking experiences. Woah. 

We’re signed up for an upcoming holiday wine class [tasting + pairing + appreciating!]… and I’ve got my eye on a winter soups and stews class. Yum. 

Our healthy holiday treats class was led by Amanda Skrip, a natural foods chef and wellness consultant. Amanda started the class by guiding us through the first 2 recipes of the night - maple fig granola and triple seed brittle. We stood nearby as she taught us how to pop amaranth [for the maple fig granola] and trim lil pieces of nori [for the triple seed brittle]. Both recipes were fairly easy to make, and included a minimal amount of ingredients [always a win-win for this gal]. The simpler, the better. Both mixes were spread evenly on sheet pans and popped into the oven for baking.

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We then broke off into smaller teams at individual cooking stations to make two different types of dough for the next recipes on the agenda - raspberry jam thumbprint cookies and dark chocolate peppermint truffles. Yes! I was most excited for the thumbprint cookies so we snagged that station first. 

We got right to work on our thumbprint cookie dough [recipe at the end of this post!]. We rolled the dough into lil mini balls and POW, added ... you guessed it… a thumbprint in the center of each ball and a bitty dollop of raspberry jam. We were reminded that a little goes a long way. I was the designated dough-roller. Keaton was the thumbprint + jam expert. A dynamic duo. 

Next up … the dark choco peppermint truffles. We ended up not making our own batter, but rather used the remaining half from another group who had access to a food processor. It was slightly over-processed so it was rather oily. Oo ditty, those truffles were slippery. We almost lost a few on the floor, but managed to keep our cool :) We rolled the dough into small balls and then coated them in cocoa powder. 

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And last, but definitely not least… the vanilla extract. So super simps, and such a cute idea for a holiday gift. We cut the vanilla beans in half [length-wise] and put them into small glass jars. We then used a funnel to fill the jar to the brim with vodka. Mine overflowed. Cheers. We finished it off by adding a label to the front and little ribbon for some holiday jazz. Just keep in mind that you need to let this sit for about 4 - 5 months, before using! 

And that’s that. All the goodies were removed from the ovens [cookies + brittle + granola], let sit to cool, and then we packaged up our desired treats to take home! 

Honestly, everything we made was bomb.com. I loved it. My favorite recipe was the thumbprint cookies [I knew I’d love this]. And, I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by the triple seed brittle. I was skeptical of the nori, but it added a really nice saltiness to balance out the sweetness from the maple syrup. I’m hoping to make both of these soon for Christmas!

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And geezy, beezy… lemon squeezy, did I have a blast! But, what did I learn in terms of new cooking skills?! 

Well… I learned ...

  1. How to POP [lock and drop] amaranth. Just jokes, nothing was locked, nor dropped, just perfectly popped over high heat. You simply add the amaranth to a very hot pan, cover quickly, remove from the heat and shake. Once it’s done popping, you're good to go! We were able to try a little before mixing it into the other granola ingredients. We agreed that it tasted and smelled like bitty pieces of popcorn. 
  2. That over-processing truffle dough will leave you with an overly oily batter … and you’ll run the risk of dropping your delicious lil choco-bitty ball pieces on the floor! What a travesty. 
  3. There are in fact different measurement containers to use for dry vs. wet ingredients. Alright, alright, I’m no Martha Stewart - that’s for sure - but …. mind blown. seriously. I thought Keaton was joking when he told me this ... but no, the instructor confirmed that it allows for a much more accurate measurement of your ingredients. You live, you learn. You bake betta! 
  4. That I love Whole Foods. Jokes, I already knew this. BUT, dates at Whole Foods?! Even better. I’m one happy gal. No pomp, no circumstance. Just good ole grocery store dining. Sometimes it's nice to keep it simple admist the kookiness of the holidays! 

Also, if you're curious ...  here's the recipe for the raspberry jam thumbprint cookies. Make them for your next holiday party. Girllll, #sleigh 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax 
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt 
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam 

Instructions

  1. preheat oven to 350. line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. whisk together dry ingredients [almond flour, oat flour, ground flax, sea salt].
  3. in a separate small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients [coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract].
  4. add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. mix well. 
  5. roll the dough into teeny tiny balls [about 1 inch]. flatten slightly. intend with a thumbprint in the center of the cookie.
  6. add that JAM! #bazaam. 
  7. bake for 12-15 min. 
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