This is a cookie that will satisfy your craving for both sweet and spicy. It came about the day after I received a baggy of Ras el hanout from my dear friend Merete, who recently came back from Morocco. It came in a pretty parcel with a lemonwood spoon and Florentine stationary, and the best thing about it is that there is no one recipe for this spice blend. Each shop has their own, which strikes me as so beautifully old world and opens up a whole new realm of nostalgia for me. She tells me that my special blend contains, among other things: turmeric, cumin, saffron, cinnamon, and salt. But because I don’t know the ratios (or have the first clue about what else might be in this mix), I would suggest going to a North African market or making your own from a myriad recipes online. I personally like not knowing exactly what is in my spice mix though. Makes it feel more like alchemy.
Anyhow, I first used it in a braised chicken dish and liked the results. But I was itching to bake a sweet bread with this stuff; I just had a feeling it would be phenomenal. As it happens that day there was a book by MFK Fisher floating around and I grabbed it and managed to steal a few minutes to read an article about pain d’epices, or French gingerbread. Perhaps needless to say to those of you who have read her, I was officially inspired.
The result, however, is probably not something MFK Fisher would consider palatable. It is subtle and rustic, baked without the addition of sugar, dairy, or gluten (if you really want to avoid gluten you can buy gluten-free oats which are processed in facilities that do not process other grains). A perfect cookie to give to your one-year-old without worrying about a sugar high (and consequent sugar low), to have with a cup of yogurt in the morning or a cup of tea as an afternoon snack. They are very low in sweetness, which is how I like them, but I can think of a few people who would hold a grudge that I dared to call this baked good a cookie. Anyway, I loved them and they kept Nina busy for about ten minutes, which is a long time to have to yourself in mamaland. here is the recipe.
Moroccan Snickerdoodles (makes 1 dozen if you eat the dough while mixing)
2 cups spelt flour
1 cup rolled oats
A pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
generous tablespoon (or more depending on how spicy you want them) Ras el hanout. (Actually I suggest you experiment yourself and just use this as a loose guideline since all blends will differ, etc.)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine the flour, oats, salt, and coconut in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil. Rub the mixture between your hands until the oil is incorporated. In a small bowl, combine the syrup, water, and spices and add to the flour mixture, blending well. Form the dough into a ball and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
Shape cookies according to your preference (I made them about 1 1/2″ wide and kind of round) and bake about 15 minutes (a bit more for larger cookies, bit less for smaller) in an oven preheated to 375 degrees F.