The mountains have been calling for weeks. Months. Since we returned from our Europe trip. And thanks to a two week break that required zero commitments on our behalf, we’ve been able to spend a decent chunk of time away from the Mile High City. After visiting the Sangre de Cristo Mountains while my not-so-little brother was in town last week, we decided to spend this week in Telluride, where we’re currently nestled within the San Juan Mountains with a hike of one of its tallest checked off of our list. And as you read this, we’re summiting Handies Peak because we can’t leave the area with only one of its 14ers under our belts.
Whether I’m traveling into the mountains, to campus, or around the globe, I like to bring snacks of the homemade variety because buying them is always so ridiculously expensive. And the other problem? Packaging tends to be bulky. Empty containers get in the way and take up unnecessary room once the snacks have been devoured. So my solution has always been the same: Cling wrap. Although there are a variety of ways to store your food to keep it fresh, cling wrap is undoubtedly my go-to when it comes to traveling because it a) allows delicate snacks to maintain their structural integrity, b) keeps them fresher longer than alternative food storage solutions, and c) takes up no more room in my bag than the food itself. I, admittedly, used to be the type who would buy the off-brand cling wrap because I tend to be unnecessarily frugal at times but, at some point, Thom talked me into spending a few extra bucks on the quality stuff and I haven’t reached for the $2 roll, since.
So these cookies. I had them freezing in a double layer of Glad‘s trusty cling wrap for upwards of three weeks, then we packed them up and brought them across the state where they provided energy during our insanely difficult summit of Mt. Sneffels. If you paid me ten thousand dollars to do it again, I probably wouldn’t because I have literally never been as terrified as I was while scrambling to the top of that mountain. When we made the summit I wanted to cry because, truthfully, I didn’t think we had it in us (especially not with Thom being as sick as he is). But instead I pulled two of these cookies from the front pocket of my pack and devoured them within minutes (after taking a few photos, of course). And then I caught my breath, calmed my nerves, and soaked up the immense beauty that resulted due to millions of years of activity in the Earth’s lithosphere.
High fives for plate tectonics, mountain adventures with the one you love, and double chocolate cookies.
Notes: I think the first thing I should get out of the way is the fact that these cookies are not exactly fitting for dessert. They’re just barely sweet and are a bit on the dense side, making them great to have for breakfast or as a post-workout snack. The best part about these cookies has to be their versatility – you can replace the chocolate chips with your favorite dried fruit, the maple syrup with your preferred liquid sweetener, the oat flour with buckwheat flour or a gluten free blend, and the rolled oats with rolled kamut or quinoa. If you want to load these up with protein, you can replace 1/2 cup of the oat flour with an equal amount of your favorite protein powder (I’ve used hemp with delicious success), but you’ll want to increase the almondmilk measurement by 2 tablespoons.
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTER TRAIL COOKIES
1/2 cup vanilla almond butter, recipe follows
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted
6 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup, room temperature
1/4 cup almondmilk, room temperature
1 1/4 cups oat flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons cacao nibs
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
1/4 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the almond butter, oil, and maple syrup. Once combined, whisk in the almond milk. Add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the oat flour, sea salt, and baking soda, and stir with a wooden spoon until a thick dough forms. For cookies that are a bit on the dense side (how I like them) add the 2 remaining tablespoons of oat flour and mix until combined. Add the oats, cacao nibs, chopped chocolate, and almond pieces; mix until evenly distributed. Wrap bowl with cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Using a 1/4 cup cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared sheet then flatten with your hands. Bake at 325˚F for 14-15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store cookies in an air tight container or on a plate covered with cling wrap, for up to five days. If you’d prefer to freeze the cookies, wrap each individual cookie in a piece of cling wrap large enough that you can triple wrap it. Allow cookies to thaw for 4 hours before eating. Will keep frozen, wrapped in plastic, for at least three weeks.
Yield: 9 large cookies
VANILLA BEAN ALMOND BUTTER
1 cup raw almonds
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, optional
In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the almonds into a fine meal, then scrap in the vanilla bean. Continue processing mixture until the almonds turn into a thick paste (this maybe take 7-10 minutes). Add the maple syrup and continue mixing until the almond butter is at your desired consistency – the longer you blend, the more oil released by the nuts and therefore the runnier the almond butter. I prefer mine to be rather thick, so I blend it for only a few minutes longer after adding the maple syrup.
Yield: 1/2 cup almond butter