Handmade Holiday Gifting, Part 3: Spicy Cocoa Macadamia Nut Crackle Cookies (GF)

Today I come to you with the third and final installment of my Handmade Holiday Gifting series. In the past two weeks we hit the salty and savory notes, so we’re rounding it out with something sweet… and spicy and nutty.

Spicy Cocoa Macadamia Nut Crackle Cookies.

Spicy cocoa mac cookies_pre-bake

When baked they spread slightly and the tops form deep fissures, which is why I call these “crackle cookies.” I think it adds loads of charm, and the bright white macadamia chunks make them look almost snow-capped!

What’s so great about these?

Cocoa powder offers a wealth of antioxidants, essential in battling free radicals linked to cancer, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and other chronic illnesses. It’s also one of the best dietary sources of magnesium — to maintain healthy nerves, muscles and bones, as well as sulfur — for skin, hair and nail health.

Macadamia nuts are not only high in healthy monounsaturated fats and low in cholesterol, but are also a good source of cholesterol-lowering plant sterols, which can help reduce risks of heart diseases, stroke, and inflammation. Their high levels of manganese and B vitamins promote healing, bone and immune health, and proper fluid balance.

Protein– and fiber-rich sorghum flour adds energizing ironselenium and more antioxidants to the mix, while the healthy mono-unsaturated fats and vitamin E found in olive oil may help decrease risk of heart disease by lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. Research shows that regular, moderate intake of olive oil could also improve control of blood sugar and insulin levels. 

Cayenne pepper, should you choose to include it, is packed with vitamins C, B6 and E, potassium, and manganese. The antioxidant phytonutrient capsaicin, as we talked about in last week’s Quick-Pickled Jalapeños post, may improve digestion, protect cells from free radical damage, and prevent bacterial infections.

Furthermore, these are 100% gluten-free, use no butter, and can easily be adapted to fit vegan dietary needs. Oh yeah. Cookies — decadent cookies — for One. And. All.

Spicy cocoa mac cookies_post-bake

Light and cake-y with a subtle, surprisingly pleasing kick, Spicy Cocoa Macadamia Nut Crackles are truly hard to resist, especially when dunked into ice cold milk. They’re perfect as is, though there are all sorts of flavor combinations to play with. Mint extract instead of the vanilla + crushed candy canes in place of half or all of the macadamia nuts for topping would be lovely. White chocolate could be another alternative for the macadamias, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Package several into a pretty tin, festive box or cellophane bag for gifts that everyone on your list will enjoy — whatever their dietary persuasion. If not for gifting, they’d also make for a flashy addition to an otherwise bland cookie platter.

In case my chocolate crackles, the basil-infused salt, and the quick-pickled jalapeños don’t tickle your fancy, here are ten other ideas for unique handmade holiday gifts:

Orange fennel mostarda (via Food 52)

Brussels sprouts kimchi (via Bon Appetit)

Herb-infused honey (via the kitchn)

+ Pretty almond, pistachio and almond dukkah sweetened with dried raspberries, coconut sugar and lavender buds (via Ascension Kitchen)

+ Pistachio- and cranberry-studded holiday granola (via Yummy Mummy Kitchen)

Seeded rosemary fig crackers a la the famous “rainforest crisps” (via A Stack of Dishes)

Holiday snow globes (via Martha Stewart)

Aromatic wax firestarter “cupcakes” (via Hello Natural)

+ And one for next year, given its 6-month steeping requirement — pear liqueur (via Healthy Green Kitchen)

Cheers, Heather

Tell me… Did you make any of your gifts (edible or otherwise) this year?

GF Spicy Cocoa Macadamia Nut Crackle Cookies
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
These gluten-free, macadamia-studded cookies are cake-y, super chocolate-y and just the right amount of crumbly. They're made with absolutely no butter, and can easily be adapted for vegans following instructions in the HGN Notes.
Recipe Type: Cookies, baking, gluten-free
Makes: approximately 2 dozen
  • 3/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot powder (also called arrowroot starch)
  • 2/3 cup Turbinado sugar or unrefined coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened natural process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp good-quality sea salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on how noticeable you want the spice (optional)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (*see HGN Notes for egg-free/vegan option)
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raw or toasted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with baking mats or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, arrowroot, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and cayenne pepper, if using. Add the olive oil, egg, apple cider vinegar and vanilla extract, and stir until the dough comes together.
  3. Spread macadamia pieces in a single layer on a small plate or on the cutting board. With a teaspoon or small scoop, spoon out tablespoon-sized rounds of dough and roll into balls with your hands. Press each ball of dough down gently into the nuts, then transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch of space between. Bake for 7 minutes, then rotate the pans front to back and top to bottom, and bake another 7 minutes.
  4. Remove pans from the oven, and let the cookies cool for 15 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely before storing. Cookies will keep 5 to 7 days in a tightly-sealed container or zipper-top bag on the counter, or better yet, in the refrigerator.
HGN Notes
To make these cookies egg-free, you can use a chia seed or flax seed "egg." For either, combine 1 Tbsp chia seeds OR flax seeds with 3 Tbsp water in a small bowl. Set aside 10 minutes to allow the mixture to gel. This is now your egg substitute.

If you can’t find sorghum flour, use certified gluten-free oat flour or superfine brown rice flour are "medium-weight GF flour" alternatives. Substitute 1:1.

No need to purchase a fancy bottle of olive oil, but one that's fruitier, as opposed to very spicy or "olive-y," would be recommended.

Recipe adapted from Will Frolic For Food.

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