Some of you have heard me rave about teff before. The world’s tiniest grain (teff means “lost” in Arhamic, which they speak (I think) in Ethiopia) and one of the primary grains used in Africa, one handful of it can sow a very large field–which makes it both incredibly economical and also an incredible pain to harvest I am guessing. A good source of fiber, iron, calcium and a complete protein, I like to add it to my yeast breads and oatmeal in its whole, un-milled state. it is also the primary grain used for injera, Ethiopian flatbread. Until now I had never used it otherwise.
I found this recipe in Bob’s Red Mill Baking Book, which I had picked up used a few years back but had not used much. I was intrigued by it immediately, because unlike, for example, whole wheat, I like the flavor of teff. So where I might bypass a healthy whole wheat cookie, I decided to try these. And by the way, in case you are wondering, teff is nearly gluten-free and what gluten there is does not bother most gluten-sensitive people. Which makes this an extra nice cookie to have in one’s repertoire.
The verdict? The family as a whole gave them a thumb’s up. Alex especially loved them, commenting repeatedly that they smelled like peppermint hot chocolate. The texture is different from what we wheat eaters are used to–kind of sandy and spongy and melty and chewy at the same time (yes I know that sounded crazy). Interestingly, the recipe claims that teff crisps beautifully, but I had a strong instinct mine were going to burn if I left them in any longer. So my thinking is that if you want to try the crisp version, reduce the heat by 25 degrees (F) and bake longer, more like a shortbread. The recipe also notes that teff can be fragile, so these are not cookies you would want to ship anywhere, for example. Having said that, so far mine are holding together just fine, stored in layers in an airtight container.
These cookies are being submitted to Weekend Herb Blogging, an event which focuses on dishes (or baked goods) that focus on a particular plant. In this case obviously it is the Teff seed, which, in case I did not mention, is the seed of a species of lovegrass. This week’s host is Cook Almost Anything.
1/2 cup (1/4 lb, 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup Lyle’s golden syrup or honey (I don’t care for lots of honey in baked goods so I used the Lyle’s)
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t peppermint extract
1 cup teff flour, fluffed, spooned in and leveled
1 t baking powder1/4 cup Dutch cocoa (I used Valrhona)
1/4 t fine salt
1/4 cup Andes mint baking chips (chocolate, mint)
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 F (use 325 F for crispier cookies). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Whisk together the teff flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.
Cream the butter until smooth and then add the honey or golden syrup. Cream until smooth. Add the vanilla and mint extract and cream until completely blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture and mix in slowly. When it is almost mixed in, add the chocolate chips and Andes chips. Continue mixing until totally blended and the chips are evenly distributed–but mix on low and be sure not to mix any more than necessary.
Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets. I got 24 cookies exactly, 12 cookies to a sheet (I love it when that happens). Bake for 12-12 minutes at 350 F for softer, chewier cookies and try (I have not done this) 15 minutes at 325 F (or longer) for crispier cookies. For the softer cookies, they are done when they become dull instead of shiny and are slightly firm to the touch. If you make the crispier version please report back and let me know how they go.