These have to be the most unusual cookies we've ever made. Improbable, even. Gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy free, they just don't seem like they should work. And yet, they do. And what's even more strange, they are some of the most delicious little treats we've ever tasted.
The first time I made these cookies, trying out a recipe for Popcorn-Oat Cookies from the Columbus Dispatch, I had no idea what to expect. I had a vague mental image of something akin to rice cakes.
But even that was blown by the time I'd finished whizzing the ingredients in the food processor and had a strange, sand-like mess on my hands. I dutifully continued to follow the directions. What else was there to do? The whole time, I was thinking, "No way. No WAY these are going to work." Into the oven they went, and I set the timer for ten minutes.
Nothing much changed in the oven. They still looked like messy little piles of sand. They smelled good though! It wasn't until after I'd let them cool and went to slide them off the baking sheet that I got my surprise.
They were cookies. Somehow, magically, they were cookies. Wafer-thin, crispy as all get out, but they held together in my hand and they tasted incredible. They're almost like a bag of kettle corn, but in cookie form. I think my husband and I ate the entire batch that night.
Look at them now, I'm thinking these "cookies" would actually be more at home on a cheese plate or as part of a mid-afternoon snack with apples and raw nuts. Even my version here is more savory than sweet. Look at these as a nibble to get you through to dinner, and a relatively healthy one at that!
I've tweaked the recipe a bit here. I wanted a more festive version for the holidays, so I added cinnamon and subbed in some maple syrup. I also doubled the recipe because, really, who only makes six cookies? My wafers are a bit more crumbly than the original version. I've been sprinkling the bits that break away over my yogurt in the morning like grapenuts!
If you'd like to take a look at the original recipe, here it is:
• Popcorn Oat Cookies from the Columbus Dispatch
2 cups (about 1 ounce) air-popped popcorn
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounce) gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons canola oil, or other neutral-tasting oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Combine the popcorn, oats, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Drizzle the oil and maple syrup over the top and attach the mixer's lid.
Process the ingredients for 45 seconds or so, scrape down the sides, and then process for another 45 seconds. Everything should be broken down into tiny granules and clump together like wet sand.
Pour the mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Divide it into 12 little piles. Dampen your fingers with water and flatten each pile into 1/8-inch thick rounds, re-wetting your fingers as needed. Neaten the edges of the rounds with your fingertips.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until fragrant and just barely starting to darken on the edges. It's better to under-bake these cookies a bit than over-bake, as they turn more brittle the longer they cook.
Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet. Lift the parchment to loosen each one and store in an air-tight container. These will retain their crispiness for several days.
(Images: Emma Christensen)