These spiced maple-chestnut clusters aren’t just delicious holiday cookies. They also are your perfect crowd pleaser holiday cookie. Why a crowd pleaser? Because they are the sort of cookie you can serve to nearly anyone who comes to your house. As in, they are both vegan and gluten-free. Don’t roll your eyes. They also happen to be delicious enough to serve to anyone, even lovers of all things dairy and gluteny.
SPICED MAPLE-CHESTNUT CLUSTERS
Start to finish: 30 minutes
Makes 36 cookies
Two 5.2-ounce packages peeled chestnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground dry ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup toasted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
Coarse sugar or red sanding sugar
Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
In a food processor, pulse the chestnuts, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt until the chestnuts are finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the maple syrup, then add the pepitas, bittersweet chocolate, cranberries and crystallized ginger. Mix well, using your hands if necessary. Roll the mixture by the tablespoonful into 1 inch balls, rolling each in your choice of sugar before arranging on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all the mixture is used up.
Bake for 10 minutes, then allow to fully cool on the pan. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.
Nutrition information per serving: 60 calories; 20 calories from fat (33 per cent of total calories); 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 15 mg sodium; 9 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 1 g protein.
Alison Ladman is a chef, food writer and recipe developer for The Associated Press. She also owns The Crust and Crumb Baking Company in Concord, New Hampshire.