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  • Writer's pictureKelly

Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan, Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Fruit-Sweetened)

With this recipe, I've taken a classic and put a healthier spin on it that's just as tasty! Behold: soft, gooey (even after baking), ultra-sweet, chocolatey, melt-in-your mouth chocolate chip cookies! I made these cookies using my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate, but any vegan/sugar-free dark chocolate chips/chunks or a chopped 100% dark chocolate bar will work. These Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies are way more nutrient-dense than your typical chocolate chip cookies, and are free of animal products, gluten, grains, and refined sugar. These cookies are best when warm & fresh out of the oven, and are a sure crowd-pleaser! And there is a way to make these cookies paleo, check the "Substitutions" section of this post.



Looking for healthy, soft & chewy chocolate chip cookies? Then, look no further than this recipe! These cookies are 100% vegan, grain-free, gluten-free, and are sweetened entirely with fresh Medjool dates (even the chocolate chunks!). It doesn't get much healthier (or tastier) than this!


My Mom has always (and still does) make the best, what I call, "conventional" (AKA non-vegan, gluten-containing, sugar-containing) chocolate chip cookies in the world! I'm not joking, her cookies have been touted by just about everyone who's tasted them as the best that they've ever had! They are REALLY addictive. But once I started my strict vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free diet, I had to say goodbye to her otherworldly perfect CCCs (Chocolate Chip Cookies, that is). That's when I decided I needed to make chocolate chip cookies on my diet that lived up to her CCCs (or, at least as close you can get when using fresh dates instead of white & brown sugars). And thus, after lots of experimenting, editing the recipe, and re-testing the recipe, these Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies were born! I can confidently say that I've made chocolate chip cookies that honor the legacy of my Mom's unmatched CCCs.


I want my audience to see precisely how natural my baked goods are, and these pictures show the quintessential appearance of my baked goods: not always perfect but nonetheless delicious & healthy with nothing fake. I could've used wheat flour and refined sugar to make these chocolate chip cookies the "standard" lighter beige color, but I opted for the more clean-eating ingredients. I always do my best to pick the most natural, most nutrient-dense, least-processed, whole-food ingredients I can.


Not only are these cookies healthy, but they are also buttery, moist, gooey, and extra sweet, with just the right amount of dark chocolate. These cookies are probably my favorite on the blog so far, right up there with my Healthy Oreos and my more recent Keto Matcha Snickerdoodles. But if you're in the mood for melt-in-your-mouth date-sweetened cookies, these chocolate chip cookies take the cake (or shall I say, take the cookie?). Prepare yourself for a treat for the senses when you bite into one of these heavenly cookies; between the taste from the rich sweetness of the dates & the bold contrast of the dark chocolate, the fragrant aroma of the freshly baked cookies, and the indulgent mouthfeel of the subtle warmth, the silky soft center, the fluffiness, and the butteriness of these cookies, you'll take your senses on a cozy, luxury vacation, complete with a chocolate spa and a rejuvenating sugar detox for your tastebuds (when can I make reservations?!).


These cookies are easy to make and curb your sweet cravings, without needing to give in to the sugar. And they are dangerously good; I can easily eat 5 of these in a sitting. When you're sitting there after having baked and already eaten 3 of these cookies, remember: I warned you.


Nutritional Profile of my Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies


Vegan butter- vegan butter (like Earth Balance or Miyoko's) is made of healthy vegetable oils and/or plant milks. Healthy vegetable oils are rich in healthy fats that benefit heart, brain, skin, and hair health. Plant milks can provide substantial amounts of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and calcium (if fortified). Healthy fats can help raise "good" HDL cholesterol while lowering "bad" LDL cholesterol. Protein helps build muscle and fiber aids digestion. Calcium builds healthy bones and helps prevent osteoporosis. Opt for a healthy vegan butter like Earth Balance or Miyoko's instead of margarine, which is loaded with unhealthy trans fats which are directly linked to heart disease. Tip: if you need soy-free vegan butter, Earth Balance makes Soy-Free sticks and Soy-Free tubs of vegan butter (look for the pink on the packaging!).


Cashew butter- cashew butter is an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, fiber, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and antioxidants. Healthy fats help keep skin and hair moisturized inside and out. Protein is responsible for nearly every bodily process, fiber promotes heart health, and iron builds red blood cells. Potassium balances electrolytes and calcium & magnesium help build and maintain healthy bones. Antioxidants fight free radical damage, thus helping to prevent various diseases. Choose cashew butter that's unsweetened with little to no salt. I personally prefer unsalted/unsweetened roasted cashew butter mixed with an oil like sunflower oil. However, there are brands that sell un-roasted (raw) 100% cashew butter if you want to go that route (I personally find that roasted cashew butter is much sweeter and buttery and is better for baking).


Coconut butter- coconut butter is loaded with healthy fats (including MCTs), fiber, protein, iron, and potassium. See above ingredients for the health benefits of healthy fats, fiber, protein, iron, and potassium. Specifically, MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, are a type of healthy fat naturally present in coconut that provides quick, high-quality energy for the body. Although coconut butter and many other coconut products are high in saturated fat, new research is beginning to suggest that plant-based saturated fats may be better for you than animal-based saturated fats. Not only is plant-based saturated fat potentially better for you than animal-based saturated fat, but saturated fat from plants may actually have health benefits. Tip: coconut butter (basically puréed coconut meat) is different from coconut oil (the oil extracted from pressing coconut meat), so keep this in mind when purchasing. Coconut butter is an opaque white color whereas coconut oil is a translucent clear-ish color. You may see coconut butter labeled as "coconut manna".


Dates- dates are antioxidant powerhouses that are also a great source of fiber, protein, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Dates help stimulate healthy bowel movements, may help ease PMS symptoms, can protect against anemia, and have the potential as a natural way to induce labor during pregnancy. Dates can also help regulate blood sugar in moderation (believe it or not!) due to their high fiber content. Still, moderation is key, as one single date can have 15 grams of natural fruit sugar. Dates may also benefit bone health due to their magnesium and calcium content. Opt for fresh Medjool dates (my favorite kind of date!) or another fresh variety of date (I use Natural Delights' Whole Fresh Medjool Dates).


Flaxseed- flaxseed (and therefore flax eggs, which are just flaxseed meal + water) is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, and iron. Omega-3s are good for heart, brain, eye, joint, immune, metabolism, skin, and hair health. Fiber feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Protein maintains muscle mass and iron helps prevent anemia. When purchasing flaxseed, opt for flaxseed meal, as this is easier for your body to digest and is better for baking.


Almond flour- almond flour is chock-full of healthy fats, protein, fiber, iron, and vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that's good for skin and hair health, internally and externally. Almond flour is gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, and keto. Be aware of the difference between almond flour (made of finely ground almonds that have the skin removed) and almond meal (made of coarsely ground almonds that still have the skin on). You do not want to confuse almond flour for almond meal. Although on occasion the two can be substitutes for each other, the vast majority of the time swapping one for the other yields a very different baked good, especially in terms of texture.


Coconut flour- coconut flour is rich in healthy fats, fiber, protein, iron, and potassium. Coconut flour can be consumed safely in raw desserts, unlike other gluten-free flours and wheat flour. Coconut flour is also gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, and keto. If looking for more recipes on The Dimpled Date made with coconut flour, check out: my Paleo Zucchini Bread, my White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, or my Lemon Ricotta Thumbprint Cookies.


Sea salt- sea salt is healthier than table salt because it is much less processed than table salt. Sea salt balances electrolytes, nourishes the body with numerous micronutrients, and may benefit adrenal health. As a result of being less-processed, sea salts tend to be rich in minerals and other micronutrients that you won't find in table salt. Choose Himalayan pink sea salt, Hawaiian black lava sea salt, or another healthy sea salt.


Dark chocolate- generally speaking, dark chocolate is packed with healthy fats, protein, fiber, iron, other vitamins & minerals, and antioxidants. Dark chocolate can help with symptoms of PMS (including mood swings and cravings), can significantly increase "good" HDL cholesterol, and can help lower blood pressure. Opt for a vegan/sugar-free 100% dark chocolate bar, or a higher percentage (at least 70%) dark chocolate bar free of dairy. Or if you like your chocolate sweet but can't have refined sweeteners on your diet, try my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate (which is still a very dark chocolate, but it has plentiful sweetness, courtesy of whole fresh Medjool dates, to cut the bitterness of the chocolate). For 100% dark chocolate bar brands, try Eating Evolved's Primal Chocolate Midnight Coconut Bar or Montezuma's Absolute Black Dark Chocolate Bar. For vegan & keto sweetened dark chocolate, try Lily's Stevia-Sweetened Extra Dark Chocolate bars (70% and up), these are crazy good!


Substitutions


You may use any kind of vegan butter, such as Earth Balance or Miyoko's. Use soy-free, if needed. For a vegan/paleo substitute, if you make your own vegan/paleo butter or you want to try making homemade vegan/paleo butter, you may use that (FYI: Bare Root Girl has an excellent recipe for dairy-free butter that's also paleo! The Loopy Whisk also has a great recipe for homemade vegan butter! Just be sure to use avocado oil and a paleo plant milk like unsweetened almond or unsweetened cashew to make it paleo). Or, you can try softened coconut oil in place of the vegan butter for another paleo/vegan alternative, but *PLEASE NOTE: I have not tried this recipe with coconut oil and cannot guarantee the same results* (*I will be updating this recipe if I try it with coconut oil and it works*). You can use any kind of nut or seed butter in place of the cashew butter, such as almond butter, peanut butter (for PB goodness!), macadamia nut butter, hazelnut butter, sunflower seed butter, mild tahini or additional softened coconut butter. To make this recipe paleo, use a paleo nut/seed butter like unsweetened almond butter, unsweetened hazelnut butter, or unsweetened cashew butter with no added oil. The coconut butter can replaced with additional nut/seed butter.


The Medjool dates can be substituted with any other kind of date, such as Deglet Noor dates. If you can have sugar on your diet, you can try substituting 2/3 cup coconut sugar, 2/3 cup maple sugar, OR 2/3 cup date sugar and more to taste, in place of the whole Medjool dates, with varied results. Or you may try using 1/2 to 2/3 cup maple syrup, agave, date syrup, OR honey (if not strictly vegan) and more to taste with varied results. For keto, you can attempt to use 1/2 cup Granular Swerve, 1/2 cup granulated erythritol, OR liquid/powdered monk fruit to taste with varied results (*NOTE: I have not tried any of these substitutions mentioned in this paragraph).


The flax egg can be replaced with 1 chia egg OR 3 Tbsp aquafaba (the water from a can of chickpeas) per single batch of this recipe. The vanilla extract can be swapped out with an equivalent amount of scraped vanilla bean, pure ground vanilla bean powder, sugar-free vanilla paste, or sugar-free vanilla syrup. I do not recommend omitting the vanilla. But if you must omit it, substitute almond extract OR sugar-free coconut extract.


You may use almond flour PLUS coconut flour OR 1 cup oat flour OR 1 cup gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour (like Bob's Red Mill's). Alternatively, you may attempt to use gluten-free all-purpose flour OR cassava flour instead with varied results (*NOTE: I have not tried these substitutions and definitely cannot guarantee good results*). If you try one of these flour substitutions, let me know how it turned out in the comments!


The baking soda can't be substituted since it is the leavener/leavening agent in this recipe. You can use any kind of sea salt (be mindful that you don't want your sea salt to impart too much flavor, though, i.e. you wouldn't want to use Hawaiian Kiawe smoked sea salt for this recipe). Or you can sub table salt or omit the salt altogether.


As mentioned above in the "Nutritional Profile of my Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies" section of this post, you can really use any kind of vegan/sugar-free chocolate. I recommend using my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate (which has everything great: ample sweetness, bold richness, and creaminess, all while being fruit-sweetened), but just ensure you leave yourself enough time to make it as it takes up to 1 1/2 hours to set in the fridge. Or you could use a vegan/unsweetened 100% dark chocolate bar, chopped or a vegan/keto stevia-sweetened dark chocolate bar, chopped (see above in the "Nutritional Profile of my Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies" section of this post for brand names). Alternately, you could use any sweetened vegan dark chocolate chips/chunks (like Enjoy Life) or a sweetened vegan dark chocolate bar, chopped if you can have sugar on your diet. If you don't do refined sugar but can have sweeteners like coconut sugar, maple syrup, turbinado sugar, etc., there are vegan chocolate bar/chips options out there made strictly with these sweeteners (for instance, Eating Evolved's 100% vegan and paleo chocolate offers coconut-sugar-sweetened, maple-sugar-sweetened, and keto monk-fruit-sweetened chocolate bars and chips as well as unsweetened 100% chocolate bars and chips). And get creative!! If you don't want to use dark chocolate chunks, try vegan/refined-sugar-free white chocolate chips/chunks (like my Date-Sweetened White Chocolate (Two-Ways) chopped!), vegan peanut butter baking chips (my Date-Sweetened White Chocolate (Two-Ways) also has a recipe for peanut butter white chocolate!!), or even vegan "milk" (AKA mylk) chocolate chips/chunks. Or you could use unsweetened cacao nibs. The options are endless! Also, if you're not feeling any chocolate chips/chunks at all, leave 'em out! To be honest, I used to prefer my Mom's famous chocolate chip cookies without any chocolate chips, and now on my vegan/gluten-free/sugar-free diet, I still sometimes prefer my cookies chip-less. Also, feel free to include any other add-ins to these cookies, like chopped raw nuts or unsweetened dried fruit. These cookies are customizable, so tailor them to your needs/wants!



Future Recipes Sneak Peek...


I think I want to have my "Future Recipes Sneak Peek" of recipes coming to The Dimpled Date soon (previously called "Weekly Sneak Peek") on a once every 3 posts basis, which is subject to change (I may stretch it out to once every 5 posts, I'm still debating..).


But that means you get a "Future Recipes Sneak Peek" preview today of 3 recipes I'm working on/have perfected and will be posting soon!! These include:


1. Soft-Baked Date-Sweetened Snickerdoodles

2. Chocolate Almond Butter Crunch Energy Balls

3. Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop-Tarts


..AND MORE!! (stay tuned, baking in progress..)


Hope you make and enjoy these chocolate chip cookies and view them in the same eyes as child me viewed my Mom's legendary chocolate chip cookies (like this post if you do).


Enjoy!

-K.



Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan, Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Fruit-Sweetened)


Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 8 to 10 minutes

Total Time: 38 to 40 minutes

Servings: 18 to 22 cookies


Ingredients:


-1/4 cup vegan butter (like Earth Balance or Miyoko's)

-1/2 cup unsweetened creamy cashew butter OR creamy almond butter (OR unsweetened nut/seed butter of choice)

-1/4 cup unsweetened coconut butter

-2 cups Medjool dates

-1 flax egg (check out Minimalist Baker's recipe for a flax egg!)

-1 Tbsp vanilla extract

-1 cup blanched superfine almond flour (lightly packed) (see "Substitutions" section of this post for alternatives)

-1/4 cup coconut flour

-1/2 tsp baking soda

-1/4 tsp sea salt

-1 cup my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate, chopped OR 1 cup vegan/sugar-free 100% dark chocolate, chopped OR 1 cup vegan/sugar-free 100% dark chocolate chips/chunks


Directions:


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 to 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper OR large silicone baking mats.


2. Soak dates in hot water for 5 to 15 minutes. Soften vegan butter in the microwave for 3 to 5 seconds, soften coconut butter, make the flax egg, and make the dark chocolate ahead of time (if using my Date-Sweetened Dark Chocolate recipe).


3. Blend the soaked and drained dates in a food processor until a smooth paste forms, scraping down the sides and re-blending as necessary.


4. Add softened vegan butter and date paste to a large mixing bowl. Cream together manually with a wooden spoon.


5. Add cashew butter, softened coconut butter, flax egg, and vanilla and stir until incorporated.


6. Add flours, baking soda, and sea salt and stir until just combined (DO NOT over-mix).


7. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate into the batter using a silicone spatula.


8. At this point, if you want to include any add-ins, fold them into the batter now (some suggestions: 1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts, 1 cup my Date-Sweetened White Chocolate chopped, 1/2 cup unsweetened raisins/unsweetened dried cherries/other unsweetened dried fruit, 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes).


9. Drop the cookies onto a lined baking sheet using a 1.5- to 2-Tbsp cookie scoop, or measure out 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp of cookie dough and use a spoon to drop the cookies onto the baking sheet. Flatten the tops of and re-shape the cookies into more of a circle as necessary/desired. There should be 6 cookies per large baking sheet.


10. Bake in the preheated oven (at 350 degrees F) for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cookies are a light golden brown around the edges, the tops are no longer wet, and the cookies are fragrant. (Put cookie batter in the fridge between baking each tray in the oven if batter becomes too soft).


11. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for at least 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and place onto a cooling rack/plate/parchment paper to cool more if desired.


12. Serve warm with a large glass of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or oat milk or unsweetened plant milk of choice), with a hot/iced vegan mocha latte, crumbled on top of some coconut milk vanilla bean ice cream, as a garnish on a freakshake, or serve on its own. Enjoy!


Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.


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