Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Starry Starry Nights Cookies

These days it’s becoming more and more likely that when you bring baked goods to a party or other event, you’ll encounter several guests who need to know what ingredients were used and if they need to avoid the item in question. I’ve been trying to bring optional offerings to events when possible like gluten free, dairy free, vegan, etc. The latest book from Gesine Bullock-Prado will make this much easier. Let Them Eat Cake is another treat-filled, fun book just like all her others, but this time, every single recipe also has three additional variations to make it vegan, gluten free, or healthier. I received a review copy. Vegan versions, obviously, replace all animal products with plant-based ingredients. So, eggs are replaced with flaxseed meal or a vegan egg replacer product, honey is replaced with agave syrup, and butter is replaced with a vegan butter substitute. Gluten free versions swap out wheat flour for other varieties, and the liquid quantities may change. For the healthier options, the primary changes include using some whole wheat pastry flour in place of all purpose, using organic coconut palm sugar instead of granulated, and in some cases, using some pureed fruit in place of some of the fat. It’s so convenient to have all these options in one place for each recipe. The recipes themselves are classics like we’ve come to expect from Gesine. There’s a checkerboard Battenberg cake covered in marzipan; a Key Lime Double Rainbow Cake with six shades of yellow and orange among the layers; and a Lemon Chiffon Strawberry Cake with mint and almond pastry cream, strawberry coulis, and cake layers. There are also cookies, quickbreads, pies, ice creams, and candies. The little pop tarts on sticks are too cute to resist, and I need to make the Killer Coffee Cake soon. But first, I had to make some cookies. The Starry Starry Nights are described as a chocolate truffle in cookie-form, and they’re already gluten free in the original recipe. 

This is a simple-enough cookie to make, but the process does require planning for chilling at two different stages. It’s made with almond flour and no other flour, so there’s no change for an option with no gluten. To start, eggs, coconut palm sugar, and honey were combined in a stand mixer. Chopped 70% cacao chocolate was melted with some butter in a double boiler and left to cool. Almond flour, cocoa powder, and salt were combined in a separate bowl. The melted chocolate was added to the almond flour mixture and stirred to combine. The whipped egg mixture was added in parts to the chocolate mixture. The first quarter of the egg mixture lightened the chocolate mixture, and the remaining egg mixture was gently folded in. Once mixed, this was covered and refrigerated for at least two hours. The mixture needs to be firm enough to scoop just like making truffles. When the batter was chilled and firm, small balls were scooped and then rolled in sugar before being placed on a parchment lined baking sheet. The scooped cookies can be placed close together here since they’ll be chilled in the freezer before baking. When all the cookies were formed, the sheet pan was covered with plastic and placed in the freezer for a couple of hours. They went almost straight from the freezer to the oven with a short stop for a second coating of sugar before being spaced farther apart on a baking sheet. They baked for about 10-12 minutes. 

For the second coating of sugar on the cookies, I used demerara sugar for the big, crunchy crystals. That also made my Starry Starry Nights have more of an amber-hued twinkle, but they were still glittery. Calling these baked truffles is exactly right. This is the perfect cookie for chocolate lovers, and each one packs a lot of flavor into its small size. Now, when I need to offer multiple options for baked goods or if I ever need to make a vegan caramel sauce, I know where to look. 

Starry Starry Nights 
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from Let Them Eat Cake

You know what I love about these cookies? They are the most delicious and chocolaty treats you’ll ever eat. And they’re gluten free from the get-go. When I first created them in 2004, it wasn’t my intention to make a gluten-free cookie; I just wanted to get as close to a “baked truffle” as I could muster. I wanted a cookie that you could keep around for your chocolate fix but that wouldn’t melt like a chocolate truffle. You can freeze them for up to a month after baking and just pop one in your mouth when you need a fix! 


2 large eggs 
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar 
1 tablespoon honey 
10 ounces (280 g) bittersweet chocolate (like Lindt 70%), finely chopped 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1 cup (100 g) almond flour or very finely ground blanched slivered almonds 
2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder (like Cacao Barry Extra Brute) 
1/2 teaspoon salt 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs, 1/4 cup (50 g) of the sugar, and the honey. Mix on high speed until the mixture ribbons thickly. 

Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water (to make a double boiler) until melted. Let cool slightly. 

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the melted chocolate and stir well. Add one quarter of the egg mixture to the chocolate to lighten it, stirring with a wooden spoon until no egg streaks are visible. Add the remaining egg mixture and gently fold with a large rubber spatula until completely incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm, 2 hours to overnight. It is imperative that the mixture is incredibly firm. 

Put the remaining 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar in a small bowl. Fill a heatproof mug with very hot water. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. 

Using a teaspoon cookie scoop or a melon baller, first dip the scoop in the hot water and then scoop out a round of batter. Roll the ball in the sugar, then place it on the prepared pan (you can space them very close together to freeze; you will use another sheet pan to bake off). Continue to scoop and coat the balls. Cover the sheet pan with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 to 2 hours. 

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). 

Line another sheet pan with parchment, remove the cookie-filled sheet pan from the freezer, re-dip each cookie in sugar, and place the cookies 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart on the new sheet pan, placing any cookies that didn’t fit onto the sheet pan back in the freezer until their turn in the oven comes. Immediately bake for 10 minutes, turning the sheet pan after 5 minutes. The cookies will look slightly cracked but the sugar will not be browned when they are done baking. 

Replace the sugar with 3/4 cup (130 g) organic granulated palm sugar or 3/4 cup (110 g) Sucanat. 

I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program.


  1. Love these naturally gluten free chocolate cookies and the demerara sugar coating must have given these cookies a wonderful crunch.

  2. Very pretty and so tempting! A divine cookie.



  3. They look great! I think I would be ok with less healthy version :D

  4. I would so love to review that book! She's such a talented baker. These cookies look awesome too!

  5. These cookies look delicious! I would love to try them!

  6. I've heard of the cookbook but I haven't checked it out yet. It sounds like a must-have for my collection. I love these starry starry night cookies - so sparkly and pretty xx

  7. A cookie fix! What an introduction! With my resident chocolate lover these scrumptious cookies would never make it to the freezer.

  8. it's so hard to find foods that are still delicious yet suitable for the majority of special diets. these cookies are a win on so many fronts!

  9. I love how moist and tender baked goods get when almond meal is added - these cookies look so delicious, Lisa!

  10. What a terrific concept for a cookbook! These chocolate gems look divine!

  11. I love this type of cookie, indeed a little bit of extra love in their preparation, but totally worth it!

    plus, they do look gorgeous!

  12. What a fun cookie! And I love the name. I'm putting this on my Christmas cookie list right now. Is there anything better than baking with almond flour? I'm addicted to it and I don't even need gluten free!
    Great always review lovely cookbooks, Lisa.

  13. I love everything Gesine Bullock-Prado does, but I didn't realize she was offering GF and vegan options in this new book! SO cool and very handy!

  14. We've gotten to the point that when we bring things to events (baked goods, in particular) we always include a little card listing all of the ingredients. Makes it easy for everyone. Anyway, these cookies look terrific. And anyone should be able to eat these! Thanks.

  15. Lisa, I'd be stoked if you brought these little cuties to my house!
    I hadn't heard of Let Them Eat Cake... I need to check it out.

  16. Hooray! I made these for my review of her book, too! Aren't they so good? Yours look delicious. I want to make another batch now!

  17. So true that it becomes harder and harder to please everybody with cakes or cookies - so many allergies and other food restrictions and very few really good tasting options.
    Your cookies look delightful and I'm so happy to have now something yummy to offer to one of my best friends who has to stick to a gluten free diet.
    Thank you, Tricia!

  18. So sorry for the mistake, Lisa. My friends name is Tricia, this is why I got confused :)

    1. Ha, no problem! I was guessing your friend must be Tricia.


Blogging tips