There’s something about being rooted in community that just feels right, but you don’t realize how important that is until it’s no longer there.
Over the summer I began to reflect on this. John and I have lived in three cities in the nearly three years we’ve been married and have moved nearly twice that amount in the meantime. While that has allowed us to latch onto and let go of several new friends in our life, it’s left me with an almost eerie sense of not knowing who my community is at any given time and where I belong. When I start to feel a bit estranged in this world I begin to feel like my piece of the island has broken off from the big island and I’m floating off into the sea, all by myself, disconnected, adrift and hardly known by anyone but myself. And some days I’m not even so certain of that last part. But the good news is I can always make change where I see necessary. In most cases healthy, positive change is just one conversation or perspective shift away. The change I needed was to make new community where we’ve currently laid roots. I don’t know how long we’ll be here but for the time that we are here, I want to be present and intentional with the people around us. So John and I did the best thing we knew how to foster that community feel: We invited people over for dinner.
Close to 15 of our dearest friends from various settings including high school, work, church, and other random life events filled our humble little studio apartment one recent evening and it all felt so right; like a big hug from that favorite aunt you haven’t seen in years. I provided the essentials: Two batches of chili, cornbread (gluten free and non) and these gluten free cookies. Wine, laughter and plenty of dirty dishes soon followed.
At one point my friend and wedding photographer Rebecca leaned over and mentioned that the cookies reminded her of Girl Scout Caramel Delights or Samoas. They had all the essential elements but were just missing the caramel and chocolate coating to give them that finishing touch.
I didn’t think much of it then but when I recalled I had a batch of my bourbon caramel sauce tucked away in my fridge I knew gluten free Samoas needed to be born. Since then I’ve made these several times each with positive results and resounding feedback. I gave my (gluten free) friend Laura a small batch one night and she devoured them all in a matter of minutes before my eyes. I believe the adjective she kept using was “uuhhhmaaayyzzing.” Needless to say I think we found her (and my) new favorite cookie recipe.
These cookies may lack the abundance of flour, butter and sugar of traditional Samoas, but they in no way lack the flavor and definitive texture of the real thing. These are a must make not only for the holidays but for all your special gatherings in between. Gluten free decadence has never tasted so good.
- 1¼ cup almond meal (finely ground raw almonds)
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips, chopped, divided
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar + 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 egg
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- bourbon caramel sauce*
- Combine almond meal, ¼ cup chocolate chips, coconut, baking powder, salt and sugars in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, beat egg vigorously until nearly doubled in volume. Whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla, then add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Chill in the fridge for 15-30 minutes, or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and shape dough small discs – about 15 cookies. Place on baking sheet, giving each cookie about 1-1/2 inches of room.
- Bake until edges begin to brown, 10-13 minutes. You want them brown on the edges but not too dark overall.
- Remove from oven, transfer to cooling rack and pop in fridge or freezer for 5 or so minutes. In the meantime, melt ¾ cup chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in 15-20 second increments. Alternatively, melt over a double boiler.
- Remove cookies from fridge or freezer and using a spoon, coat the bottom of each cookie in a thin layer of chocolate. Place back on silicon mat or wax paper and then drizzle with bourbon caramel sauce and remaining melted chocolate.
- Refrigerate or freeze for another 5 minutes to set. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to a couple days. Freeze for even longer freshness.