Hi everyone! Welcome to the 3rd Annual Keepin’ It Kind Vegan Cookie Swap Party! It’s just like real life cookie swap parties, except some of your favorite bloggers are going to be stopping by Keepin’ It Kind throughout the next month, sharing their favorite holiday cookie recipes. Fun, right? In case you missed it, you can check out the 2012 party and the 2013 party. If you’re curious, you can also check out all the entries to this year’s party! Also, be sure to scroll to the end to enter the VITAMIX GIVEAWAY!
I love truly innovative food bloggers and marveling at their amazing creations. Rika of Vegan Miam is one of those truly creatively gifted souls and her recipes always amaze me and have me wishing I could pull a chair up to her dinner table. I also love living vicariously through her as she and her partner, Doni, travel the globe and document their vegan adventures. All of her travels definitely influence Rika’s recipe development and these gorgeous Petits Sablés à la Crème de Marron are no exception!
I love eating cookies but I rarely think to make cookies. I’m not entirely sure why, but it probably has to do with the fact that I would likely end up eating half of the batch all on my own. Fortunately Kristy and the Keepin’ It Kind Cookie Swap 2014 motivated me to craft a cookie recipe, and I decided to draw on inspiration from Christmas in Paris last year for recipe.
Last year I also contributed a recipe inspired by our travels, that time I made Sweet Purple Potato Alfajores inspired by a trip to Buenos Aires and also intended to celebrate the Pantone Color of the Year for 2014 – Radiant Orchid. Along with being excited to join the Keepin’ It Kind Cookie Swap, I’m also eager to return home after the holidays in Melbourne so I can get stuck in to Kristy’s first published cookbook! Congratulations Kristy!
These Petits Sablés à la Crème de Marron will always return me to France. Over the winter months, Chestnuts are everywhere in France and are referred to as both Châtaigne and Marron.
One of the best things we discovered during our trip was Crème de Marron – Chestnut Cream. Paired with a plain unsweetened soya yogurt, this was one of our favorite breakfasts. It also made a lovely snack spread on fresh bread or a buckwheat crêpe. At Gentle Gourmet Cafe we tried a mille-feuille cake layered with Crème de Marron, we were in love with this spread. It’s available in jars and tins year-round but there is something undeniably wintery about Crème de Marron. Produced simply and without any additives or preservatives, a Crème de Marron should only contain chestnuts, sugar and vanilla.
Preserved, candied, roasted, toasted, baked – Chestnuts are intrinsic to the winter customs in France. The aroma of roasted chestnuts is one that makes me nostalgic for the streets of Paris on a cold winter day. So with winter and the holidays upon us, I was inspired to make these lovely, nutty and delicate chestnut shortbread cookies topped with a spoonful of creamy and sweet Crème de Marron.
To achieve the wonderful nuttiness in the biscuit base of this cookie, we’ve used chestnut flour. You can grind roasted chestnuts into a fine flour using a food processor, it’s a perfect gluten-free substitute for wheat or all-purpose flour when baking or thickening gravies. Along with providing that nutty flavor we wanted, chestnut flour is also mildly sweet and splendidly aromatic. Unlike other nut flours, it is low in fat and has a low glycemic index. It’s also downright delicious and provides a distinct chestnut flavor.
As dry roasted chestnuts can be difficult to find in the US, you may prefer to purchase prepared chestnut flour like the beautifully decorated tin from Dowd & Rogers. I was able to find Dowd & Rogers Chestnut Flour at my local natural foods store and it was perfect for my Petits Sablés!
These delicate French shortbread thumbprint cookies are soft, buttery and rich. Chestnut flour adds a lovely nuttiness to the vaguely sweetened biscuit base for the Crème de Marron to complement. Once topped with the Crème de Marron, these rustic shaped biscuits become every bit the rich and decadent winter bite-sized treat you’re looking for this time of year!
- ¾ cup chestnut flour* (Dowd & Rogers)
- 1 cup white rice flour
- ¼ cup organic cornstarch
- ¼ cup organic powdered sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup vegan butter or refined coconut oil, softened at room temperature
- ¼ cup chestnut cream (Bonne Maman)
- Arrange an oven rack in the the top third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, sift and mix chestnut flour, rice flour, cornstarch, sugar, cardamom, baking powder and salt together. Make a well in the center and add vanilla extract and butter. Using a rubber spatula or hands, begin to work the mixture. The mixture will be a bit crumbly at first, but gradually will form a soft dough.
- Using a measuring tablespoon, scoop dough and roll into a ball. Arrange on prepared sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Make sure you space cookies at least an inch apart on the baking sheet. To create in indentation, use the back of a ½ measuring teaspoon and gently press into the middle of each ball.
- Bake 16-18 minutes until bottoms are slightly golden, rotating sheet halfway through. Allow to cool on the baking sheet before transferring to a rack. Fill each indentation with chestnut cream, using ½ teaspoon.
Advance preparation: Store unfilled cookies in an airtight container up to 1 week at room temperature or freeze up to 1 month. To defrost, thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Chestnut Flour: You can grind roasted chestnuts into a fine flour using a food processor, it’s a perfect gluten-free substitute for wheat or all-purpose flour when baking or thickening gravies. ¾ cup chestnut flour equals 3.5 oz (100g) dry roasted chestnuts. Used Dowd & Rogers Chestnut Flour.
Chestnut Cream: It’s available in jars and tins year-round. Produced simply and without any additives or preservatives, a Crème de Marron should only contain chestnuts, sugar and vanilla. Vegan hazelnut cream or coconut ‘dulce de leche’ can be used as an alternative.
Recommend using vegan butter such as Earth Balance or any plant-based margarine. Coconut oil can be used as an alternative, but the cookies will be a little more wet.
Arrowroot starch can be substituted for organic corn starch but cookies may be a little dryer in the mouth.
I would like to thank Kristy for inviting me to her Cookie Swap Party 2015, I was so excited to craft a special cookie for the occasion. It’s been a fun party! Make sure you check out other amazing bloggers’ cookie recipes as well.
Wishing Keepin’ It Kind readers a safe, healthy and fabulous holiday with your loved and furry ones! Whether you’re planning your next trip or looking for inspirational recipes from Asia and beyond, stop by Vegan Miam or give Rika a shout-out on Instagram anytime. We are here to help and hope to share the world of vegan food and travel with you. xxx
Rika is the recipe developer, food blogger and part-time photographer behind Vegan Miam. She runs a vegan food and travel blog with her photographer and partner Doni. They are based in Oregon, but living elsewhere as often as possible. The term ‘miam’ is just a way of saying yummy in French and represents their desire to discover decadent vegan cuisine and recipes around the world together.
Thank you for stopping by, Rika! If you want to see what everyone else has brought to the party, check out the rest of the 2014 Vegan Cookie Swap Party! And you can enter…
I wanted to do something extra special for all of you readers who’ve been joining us for the Vegan Cookie Swap Party fun and for supporting Keepin’ It Kind all year. The amazing folks at Vitamix were so incredibly generous to donate a Vitamix 5200 for a giveaway! Please click here for more info and TO ENTER! Good luck!
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