Birhtday cake with mousse and dusting

It has been far too long since I updated this blog, and it will be long before I can update it again. My half-term tests are coming up in the upcoming weeks, so my next recipe might be posted sometime during the summer holiday. I will use the break to create and try out new recipes – I guarantee delicious, egg-free dessert in the future. But first, let me share this celebration cake. Though it might not seem much from the pictures, this awesome egg-free (and vegan) creation consists of two layers of chocolate cake, two layers with my favorite egg-free chocolate and orange mousse and a generous topping of freeze-dried raspberries.

Its components have been published here before; banana muffins are here disguised as layer cake, and the orange and chocolate mousse was a key part of a chocolate mousse tart. They make a surprisingly wonderful and refreshing combination. As the title suggests, I made this cake for my own birthday party last week. It was a huge success!

I’ve decorated the cake with a dusted layer of cocoa and freeze-dried raspberries. If you seek a less rustic look, it is possible to use an icing bag when covering the cake with chocolate mousse, or to top it with fresh raspberries, blueberries or strawberries. I would not recommend icing fondant – it usually contains egg whites (and sometimes palm oil as well). In addition, it spoils the otherwise refreshing and light cake.

As mentioned in the original chocolate mousse recipe, it is important that you use chocolate with approximately 35% fat – if not, the chocolate mouse will not be able to emulate. The mousse has a quite strong taste of chocolate, so if you’re using dark chocolate for this, feel free to add sugar.

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Recipe adapted from Frie kaker by Anne Spurkland

For six people (or one small cake):

For the orange and chocolate mousse:

200 g chocolate (dark or milk chocolate, as long as it contains approximately 35 g fat)

2-3 (organic) oranges or sufficient for 2 dl orange juice

For the cake:

100 g chocolate

200 g very ripe banana

50 g neutral-tasting oil (I used soy oil) + extra for greasing the form

25 g cocoa powder

100 g flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

For decoration:

cocoa powder and freeze-dried raspberries

Start with the chocolate mousse: chop the chocolate. It is an advantage to chop it finely – then the chocolate melts quicker. Put the chocolate in a medium sized bowl that fits in a sauce pan. Then, squeeze the oranges until you have 2 dl juice. Strain the juice into the bowl with chocolate. Place the bowl on the small casserole with boiling water. Stir well with a spoon until it the chocolate and orange juice have melted together and the mixture looks smooth. Place the mixture in the fridge until it’s at room temperature.

Then, make the cake: Heat oven to 250℃, and grease a small spring form (approximately 15 cm diameter, see tips). Chop the chocolate coarsely. In a smoothie maker/food processor, weigh up the banana, oil and sugar. Let it mix until the mixture is creamy; it should have a smoothie-like texture. Sift cocoa powder, flour and baking soda into the mixture. Let it mix in the processor. Gently fold in the chopped chocolate – try to keep the batter airy. Pour the mixture the spring form, and place it in the oven.  Let the cake bake at 250℃ for 3 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180℃ and bake it an additional 10-15 minutes. Check with a wooden stick if they it is finished before letting them cool off on a cooling rack.

When both the cake and the orange and chocolate mixture are cold, whip the mixture with a mixer or kitchen machine. This takes several minutes, so don’t give up! The mix should have the same consistency as softly whipped cream.

Divide the cake horizontally into two layers (using a long, serrated knife makes this easier). Distribute one third of the mousse on the bottom layer of the cake. Carefully place the other cake layer on top. Again, use one third of the mousse you have left on the sides of the cake, making them smooth. Use the last of the mousse for decoration; I used a spatula to give the cake a rounded top, but you can put it in a icing bag and make small rosettes or other decorative stuff if you want to.

Dust the cocoa powder on the top and sides of the cake. Top the cocoa with sifted, freeze-dried raspberries. Gently move the cake to the presentation plate before consuming.

Tips:
– I used a small spring form for the cake – approximately 15 cm in diameter. It is of course possible to bake it in larger forms, but that will make the cake shorter and more difficult to separate horizontally. (But again, you can skip the whole separation of the cake and put all the mousse on top.) You can also bake the cake in two separate forms to avoid separation.

– The cake is originally a muffin recipe, so why not make muffins? You could still make the mousse and top the muffins with it (thus making them cupcakes) – just use the muffin recipe here.

 

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Post-oven crumble

Crumbles are perhaps the most frequently made desserts in this household. Preparing crumbles is usually a simple and quick process, making them them perfect “everyday cakes” (which, by the way, is one of my favorite combinations of words). Another bonus of crumbles is the fact that you can have almost any kinds of fruits and berries in it. For instance, this recipe is the product of two sad-looking apples, an old bag of frozen blackberries, and a small chunk of dark chocolate. Nannas Mobil_20150303_19_12_04_ProCrumbly crumble

The idea of using chocolate in crumbles stems from this Danish recipe. Even though white chocolate (an ingredient I usually stay clear of) is one of the key ingredients, it was a divine match for the sour red currants. This combination inspired me to try the same with dark chocolate and blackberries. As it turned out, only a small portion of dark chocolate was needed to turn the simple crumble into a luxurious treat.

For one crumble (or four generous portions):

For the filling: 

2 small apples (i used cooking apples)

200 g blackberries (fresh or frozen)

25 g dark chocolate

20 g sugar (white or demerara)

For the crumble top:

25 g butter (room-tempered + extra for greasing the tart pan)

20 g sugar

50 g rolled oats

20 g flour

a pinch of salt

Start with the filling: Peel and core the apples. Cut them into large chunks, about the size of the blackberries. Add the apples and berries to a small bowl. Chop the chocolate coarsely, and add this along with the sugar to the bowl. Mix well. Set the bowl aside while you prepare the filling.

Set the oven to 200℃. Cut the butter into chunks. Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add chunk by chunk of butter to the mixture until it has completely disintegrated and lumps have formed. Grease a large tart pan (about 20 cm in diameter). Spread out the filling in the pan. Add the crumble evenly on top. Let the crumble bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the crumble layer looks golden and crisp, and the filling is bubbling underneath.

Consume the crumble warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Square Granola bars

This is likely to become the simplest recipe ever published on this blog. And what more, it is vegan, healthy (no added sugar or fat) and consists of only two ingredients. If you have a smoothie maker or blender, the dough can be made in a few seconds.

Granola bars pre-oven

I have written about the benefits of bananas in pastry before. Bananas can be an excellent substitute for eggs (especially if you mash them in a blender until smooth and frothy, as done in these chocolate muffins) and are naturally very sweet. This means that you don’t have to add any sugar to the recipe. Though this recipe is – in its basic form – super-simple, easy to make and (I guess?) healthy, the cookies/bars aren’t tasteless, and the recipe can be varied indefinitely.  What about chocolate chunks or cocoa powder? Cinnamon? Apple? Cranberries?

Granola bars post-oven

Recipe adapted from this Norwegian recipe.

For 8 small cookies or bars:

1 small banana (about 90g without peel)

50g rolled oats

Optional additional ingredients; e.g. dried fruits, nuts or dark chocolate, or spices; cinnamon, vanilla, or salt. (I used 30g dried and chopped raisins and apricots, and a pinch of cinnamon.)

Set the oven to 190℃. Peel the banana mash with a fork or in a blender until it has a  smoothie-like consistency. Add the oats to the mixture and mix the two together. Add any additional ingredients, and scoop the cookies out on a sheet. Put the tray in the middle of the oven bake them until the edges look golden (about 15 minutes; the cookies are supposed to be soft and chewy). Let the cookies cool on a rack before devouring.

Notes:

– Use gluten-free oats to make gluten-free cookies.

– If you want to make granola bars, it is possible to roll out the cookie dough on the tray before baking, and cut out small bars from it after baking while it is still hot.

Plum cake

We made orange and plum marmalade last week. Even though the plum season is long gone, we have discovered just how easily plums can be frozen and used later. After we had filled three large jars with jam, we still had a few plums left. Naturally, it became my task to include them in a cake. I googled around in search of appetizing, eggless plum cakes. None of them seemed perfect. In the end, however, I found and decided to try an Indian plum cake recipe.

The recipe needed a bit of modification; I used oatmeal in stead of cashews, replaced oil with butter and milk and simplified the procedure. I have also included an additional, optional step in the process for a truly moist cake.

However, the interesting flavor of the cake remains.

Plum cakes!

Recipe adapted from Veg Recipes of India

For one cake (or 6 persons):

100 g plums (4-5 small ones)

140 g all purpose flour

70 g whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon vanilla powder

Pinch grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

70 g sugar, white or demerara

40 g oatmeal

1 dl and 3/4 dl milk

1,5 tablespoon apple cider

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

100 g melted butter + extra for greasing the pan

Peel and remove the stones from the plums. Chop them coarsely. If they are very juicy or have been frozen, remove as much moisture as possible by resting them on a sieve while preparing the batter.

Grease a small spring form or cake loaf pan with oil or butter. Preheat oven to 170℃. Sieve all the dry ingredients (except baking soda and oatmeal) into a large bowl. Add the butter and 3/4 dl of the milk to the bowl and mix thoroughly. The batter will get a doughy consistency.Add the plums and the oatmeal to the batter.

Now, get ready for the fun part: mix apple cider and the remaining 1 dl milk in a small bowl. Add baking soda to the liquid and mix carefully. It will froth and become bubbly. Fold the mixture gently into the batter. I recommend to whisk the dough carefully to dissolve all lumps. Pour the batter into the greased form, and let the cake bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Part 2 (optional):

approximately 1,5 dl plum juice or freshly pressed orange juice

Once the cake is out of the oven (it should still be warm), poke through the crust with a knitting pin. The holes should be roughly 2 cm from each other. Pour the juice over the holes and let the cake absorb the liquid.

Notes:

– the cake can be turned vegan by using soy milk and oil in stead of butter and dairy milk.

– If you’re making the cake for the first time and are unsure about whether to try step 2, it is possible to only poke the cake on one side. However, make sure to tilt the cake when pouring juice over it, to avoid juice from getting on the unpoked side.

– If you’re skipping part 2, let the cake cool on a rack before taking it out of the form and eating it with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or orange sauce.

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One of my new year resolutions for 2015 was to improve my lunchbox – I aspired to make filling and healthy salads, sandwiches, wraps – you name it. Three weeks ago, this seemed achievable. Now, only two weeks into the semester: not so much. Admitted, I don’t prioritize making fancy lunches as I should – in the morning, I don’t have time to make it. In the evening, I’m too tired. However, there is a solution for lazy lunch-makers (like me). This filling banana bread is one of them.

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The recipe is adapted from Jack Monroe’s book A girl called jack – one of my favorite cookbooks with a truly inspirational message (check out Jack’s blog here – she has loads of cheap, fool-proof recipes, including egg-free, vegetarian and vegan meals and treats).

The bread is easy to make, it stays fresh for a week, it’s super freezer-friendly, and it’s egg-free and vegan. Jack recommends consuming the bread toasted with peanut butter, but apricot or orange jam is also excellent. I’m already planning to make a jacked-up version of this bread with chocolate à la Smitten Kitchen for a seriously indulgent treat.

For 1 small bread (approximately 15 small slices)

2 dl dried fruit (can be skipped)

3 large bananas (roughly 400 g when peeled)

75 g oil (I used soy oil, but any mild-flavoured oil will do)

50 g sugar (white, brown or demerara)

225 g flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180°C, and lightly grease a 1.5 l bread pan.

Peel the bananas and mash them with a fork in a bowl (or let the blender do the work) until they have formed a smooth mixture. Pour into a bowl, and add oil and sugar to the mixture. Stir. Then sift in flour, baking powder and cinnamon and stir well. Chop the dried fruit coarsely (unless you are only using sultanas, which can be added whole) and fold into the lumpy batter.

Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake it for 1 hour in the middle of the oven until it has risen, looks golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the bread cool on a cooling rack before turning it out of the pan. It stays fresh for a week if covered in cling film.

Notes:

– If the bananas aren’t over ripe, use extra sugar, and feel free to add some of the oil when mashing them.

– for more lunchbox friendliness, make banana bread muffins; scoop the dough into a muffin tray until each tray is 2/3 full. Bake the muffins for 15 minutes, or until they have risen and look golden.

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Gingerbread is to me an an inevitable part of Christmas. While the majority of people is content with a few gingerbread men or women, others are committed to making extravagant houses, churches and castles from the same doughUnfortunately, these traditional treats usually contain eggs. I imagine it is to make the dough ductile – I have found a few egg-free gingerbread recipes, but they are often too fragile to roll out.

Luckily, there are some recipes that replace the eggs with treacle and cream – and it works like magic. The dough is made in no time, is easy to work with and doesn’t crack. The recipe I used is adapted from the cookbook “Kokebok for alle – fra boller til burritos“. This book is given to all 9th graders in Norway as a part of the subject “mat og helse” (“food and health”), which aims at educating children in nutrition, both theoretically and practically. That being said, the cookies are by no means healthier than the ordinary gingerbread cookies.

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Gingerbread dough on cutting board

NB: The dough should be made the day before baking the cookies.

For at least 100 cookies: 

150 g butter or margarine (room-tempered)

1 1/2 dl sugar, white or brown

1 1/2 dl treacle

1 1/2 dl cream

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground  clove

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon baking soda

10 dl flour

Cut the butter into small dices and stir it together with the sugar until creamy. Add treacle and cream to the mixture. Sift in 9 dl of the flour and all spices and baking soda. Mix well. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. When the dough is smooth and even, cover it with cling film, and put it in the fridge overnight.

Set the oven to 180℃.

Roll out the dough on a dusted surface – this is important, as the dough will stick to the surface when it is rolled out. Roll out the dough according to size of the cookies – small gingerbread men and women should be thin – around 3 mm thick. Large hearts or walls for a gingerbread house, require thicker dough. Cut out figures from the dough and gently place them on a covered baking tray. Put the tray in the middle of the oven and let the cookies bake for 6-8 minutes, or until they start looking golden.

Note: Wikihow has a similar recipe for egg-free gingerbreads with an instructional video showing each step in the process.

Spice and honey loaf cake cut

Not in Christmas mood yet?

It’s less than four weeks until Christmas (help!) and christmas shopping is in full swing. Every year, I have an ambition of being done with all Christmas gifts before the end of November. But then I end up here – 25 days left, and I’ve only bought two gifts… Chopped apricots

Stress is at an all-time high (cause: Christmas rush combined with half-term tests). Luckily, there is a cure for everything: cake. Especially a dense honey cake with a spicy kick from pepper, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. The cake is perfect for lunch boxes for  instant christmas spirits. Once more, the recipe was found in Frie Kaker (guess what’s on top of my wish list), but I’ve adapted it slightly. The cake butter-free. For a completely vegan cake, exchange honey with syrup, and use coffee or apple juice instead of milk.

Spice and honey loaf cake

For one dense loaf cake:

125 g white sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

125 g honey (or syrup)

2 1/2 dl milk (can be exchanged with apple juice or coffee)

5 dried apricots (can be skipped)

peel of one organic orange

Heat oven to 170℃. Grease a small bread pan. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Gently heat up honey in a small sauce pan until it melts. Add milk to the melted honey and stir until it has completely dissolved. Set aside. Chop the apricots finely. Add peel of the orange to the milk and honey mix. When the mixture has cooled down, add it to the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the apricots and stir thoroughly.

Place the cake in the middle of the oven, and let it bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a cooling rack.

Note: the cake is best a few days after it’s made.

Test cookies

We have a cake arrangement at school. Every Thursday, the class is gathered in a small room where we talk and eat cakes. The baking is organized with a small online list so everyone can see when it is their turn. I had the opportunity to impress last Thursday. Despite the fact that I love baking, I wasn’t too eager to have this responsibility and could feel the pressure to perform well (especially as some classmates are eager blog readers – hi everyone!).

There was also another challenge: in my class, there are at least three persons who are milk (lactose and casein) and gluten intolerant, two allergic to eggs, and one who is allergic to nuts. I wanted to make something everyone could enjoy.

In the previous weeks, I have tried to develop my cookie recipe. The original is both egg- and dairy-free, but I wanted to take it one step further and make it gluten-free as well. I read somewhere that it was possible to replace “ordinary” flour with gluten-free flour in most cookies, but that only 80% of the original amount was sufficient. I tested it. I bought 1 kg Schär pastry flour, and made three cookies with slightly different flour content. One with 80% of the original amount, one with 90% and one with 100% (same amount as in the original cookies).

More test cookies

100%, 90% and 80% of original flour content.

The result is – well, obvious. The more flour, the better. Less flour = more florentine-like cookies. I decided to stick with the same amount of gluten-free flour as in the original recipe. Thus, this is the changed recipe for totally egg, gluten and milk free cookies:

For approximately 10 cookies (depending on size):

50 g milk-free chocolate or cranberries

zest of 1/2 orange or lemon

50 g soy oil

75 g sugar (white or brown)

75 g orange jam (clump-free)

150 g gluten-free flour (I used Schär‘s Mix C: Mix Pâtisserie)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Heat oven to 180℃. Chop the chocolate or cranberries and set aside. In a large bowl, stir oil, sugar and jam well. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture, and mix thoroughly until the dough is solid and free of cracks. Lastly, add the chocolate or cranberries.

Divide the dough into 10 pieces (more or less, depending how small/large you want the cookies). Roll the pieces to round balls and gently press each ball flat together using your palms. (The cookies don’t expand much in the oven.) Let bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the cookies look golden. Let cool before eating.

Note: It’s difficult to tell when the cookies are finished as they don’t gild. I decided to take them out after 20 minutes. If you bake the cookies on hot air, they become crisp but a bit fragile.

Chocolate mousse cake

Wintertime is chocolate time. I love making and eating chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, chocolate muffins and chocolate tarts. I have already discovered that it’s possible to make excellent egg-free chocolate muffins, but can you make chocolate mousse and chocolate tarts without eggs? The question has boggled me for some time. Usually, eggs are the main ingredients in mousses, so I imagined the dish would be impossible to make without them.

Then, I thought of Bavarian cream. Bavarian cream is totally egg-free and consists mainly of whipped cream. Combined with chocolate, it could make a good eggless substitute for chocolate mousse. However, I figured it would not do well as tart filling – most likely, it would only make the crust wet and lumpy.

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Finished tart shell

But a couple of days ago, I found a new recipe for eggless chocolate mousse. I immediately tried it. I whipped the chocolate/water mixture intensely for almost 30 minutes before I gave up. So when I spotted a similar recipe in Frie kaker, I was skeptical at first. Nevertheless, I continued reading and soon discovered that this recipe was way easier than the previous one.

Mousse!

When I first made the mousse, I used a 70%-chocolate. It had a rich, but slightly bitter taste – even with additional sugar. Yesterday, I tried it with milk chocolate. It was superb! The mousse was creamy, and tasted wonderfully of chocolate and orange.

According to the recipe, it doesn’t matter if you choose to use milk or dark chocolate, as long as fat content is around 35%. This is important, because the fat enables the mousse to emulate. It’s also fine to mix different types of chocolate in the mix. Finished mousse cake

For the shortbread crust:

75 g butter + extra for the pan

25 g sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon honey/sirup or orange jam (can be skipped)

2 tablespoons water

125 g g flour + extra for rolling the dough

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

For the chocolate mousse:

200 g chocolate (dark or milk chocolate, as long as it contains approximately 35 g fat)

2-3 (organic) oranges or sufficient for 2 dl orange juice

Start with the tart shell. Mix the butter and sugar thoroughly until it turns creamy. Add honey and salt and mix well. Lastly, combine the flour and water with the dough and mix until the batter is smooth. Wrap it in plastic, and let it fridge for 30 minutes.

Once the dough has cooled down, heat the oven to 190℃. Grease the tart form. On a lightly dusted surface, roll the dough until it’s a few millimeters thick. Place it in the greased tart form, and gently press it to the edges. With a fork, poke holes in the tart shell – the more holes, the better! Place the tart shell in middle of the oven, preferably on a baking grid. Let it bake until the tart shell looks golden and crisp (approx. 15 min), but try to keep an eye on while it’s baking. If the dough starts rising, or it seems like there are bubbles underneath it, poke the bubbles with a fork so it collapses.

Once the tart shell is done, chop the chocolate. It is an advantage to chop it finely, as it will make the chocolate melt quickly afterwards. Put the chopped chocolate in a medium sized bowl that fits in a sauce pan. Then, squeeze the oranges until you have 2 dl juice. Strain the juice into the bowl with chocolate. Place the bowl on the small casserole with boiling water. Stir well with a spoon until it looks smooth. Place it in the fridge until it’s at room temperature.

When the mix is cold, whip it with a mixer or kitchen machine. This takes several minutes, so don’t give up! The mix should have the same consistency as softly whipped cream. If it’s too runny, it will make the tart shell wet. However, if it’s too stiff, it will be impossible to spread out on the tart shell.

Layer the mousse on the tart shell and end off with dusting cocoa on top.

Tips: If the mousse becomes too hard while you’re whisking it, it can be re-melted, cooled and whipped again.

The cake is best the day after it’s made (if you can resist it).

Leaning tower of cookies

Admitted, when a recipe is promoted as “vegan”, I immediately become sceptic. I am not a vegan, and think it’s a bit unfortunate that it is easier to find a vegan cake recipe than an eggless one. Of course, I don’t have anything against vegans and vegan food in general, but I often find that vegan pastry contains replacement products that are unnecessary for egg-allergics. I have previously tried to make vegan cakes before by e.g. replacing the oil with butter. But as cakes are vulnerable to such drastic changes, this has rarely worked well.

Cookie-røreCookies in the making

Cookie-batter

However, I (or rather, my mother) discovered this recipe last week in Frie Kaker, and since then, the cookies have been made no less than 4 (!) times. They are sooo tasty – just as sweet, salty and chocolatey as cookies should be. We have tried different variations during this time. One batch with butter and chocolate, one batch with grape seed oil and chocolate, one batch with soy oil and chocolate and lastly one with soy oil and cranberries. And, to my surprise, the cranberry-cookies were better than ANY of the chocolate cookies (and this is quite an admission for a die-hard chocolate fan who frequently checks blogs such as this to torture herself after lunch).

Cookies, chocolate vs. cranberry

Cranberry cookies to the left, chocolate cookies to the right.

I am sure this recipe can be varied infinitely. I have thought of adding dried apricots or raisins to the cranberry-cookies or making triple chocolate cookies with white, milk and dark chocolate.

For approximately 10 cookies (depending on size):

50 g chocolate or cranberries (for the cookies to be vegan, the chocolate must be milk-free)

zest of 1/2 orange

50 g oil (again, I used soy oil, because it is neutral in taste, but canola oil and butter can also be used)

75 g sugar (white or brown)

75 g orange or plum jam (clump-free)

150 g wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Heat oven to 180℃. Chop the chocolate or cranberries and set aside. In a large bowl, stir oil, sugar and jam well. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture, and mix thoroughly until the dough is solid and free of cracks. Lastly, add the chocolate or cranberries.

Divide the dough into 10 pieces (or more/less, depending how small/large you want the cookies). Roll the pieces to round balls and gently press each ball flat together using your palms. (The cookies don’t expand much in the oven.) Let bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies look golden.