Vegan (+ Gluten Free!) Chili Chocolate Cookies

1Photo: Courtesy of Foodie Underground.
Foodie Underground, a project curated in part by Anna Brones, explores our relationship with the origin of our eats. Motivated by an unwavering belief that food should never be complicated or pretentious, Anna — author of vegetarian and GF primer The Culinary Cyclist, is serving up everything from the best veggie BBQ to a beginner's guide to pesto. Hungry yet?
A super simple recipe for peanut butter cookies that I love goes something like this: Scoop out some peanut butter, add an egg and some sugar, bake. You’d be hard-pressed to find a simpler cookie. And, the beauty of that recipe is that it can be tweaked in all sorts of ways, which is how this recipe came to be. But, even if you're not vegan or gluten-free, mastering a few baking recipes that are is always a good thing, since they’re often a bit healthier — and, more importantly, you'll always have something to offer to friends, no matter their dietary restrictions.
While a lot of people might think that baking without the usual suspects — flour and butter — makes things difficult in the kitchen, there are plenty of things that can be done without going the crazy-ingredient route. My mother had given me a package of chili powder she bought in Santa Fe, and I had been trying to come up with ways to use it that were a little more creative than your standard chili sauce. And, what better way to use it than with dark chocolate? Poured into the center of these almond cookies, you have a treat that’s delicious and indulgent. I can assure you: They pair well with a strong cup of coffee. Click through for the recipe!
2Photo: Courtesy of Foodie Underground.
Makes: About 30 cookies, depending on the size you make them

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
3 tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup almond butter

One 3.5 ounce/100 gram bar of dark chocolate
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon olive oil

3Photo: Courtesy of Foodie Underground.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a small bowl, combine the ground flaxseeds with the warm water and stir together with a whisk or fork, and then set aside for about 10 minutes. This allows the flaxseeds to congeal and turns them into a baking replacement for an egg. In a food processor or nut grinder, grind the almonds until finely ground. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the ground almonds, salt and sugar. Add in the congealed flaxseeds and vanilla extract and mix together until blended well, and add in the almond butter. Work together until a ball of dough forms — you'll find that as you work it together, it will get stickier and more solid.
4Photo: Courtesy of Foodie Underground.
Scoop out just a little more than a teaspoon and roll into balls. Of course, you can make bigger ones if you want. Place on a greased baking sheet, or on a silicone baking mat. Using your thumb, press into the center of each ball to make an indent.
5Photo: Courtesy of Foodie Underground.
Bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit for a few minutes then remove to a baking rack to let cool. While cookies are cooling, prepare the chocolate filling.
Chop the chocolate bar into small pieces, and place them in a metal bowl with the chili powder and olive oil. Depending on which type of chili powder you use, you may want to vary the amount. I find that it’s best to start with a little and add more depending on how spicy you want the chocolate.
Slowly melt the ingredients in a hot water bath. To do make sure that the metal bowl with the ingredients fits inside of a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water, place the bowl with ingredients inside, and slowly bring the water to a simmer, stirring the chocolate occasionally.
6Photo: Courtesy of Foodie Underground.
Carefully spoon the chocolate into the center of each cookie and set aside to cool. Store the cookies in an airtight container.
For more vegan and gluten-free holiday recipes, click here!

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