no-bake chocolate granola cookies (gluten + dairy-free)


I came across a cookbook at the library the other day (I won't name it, but it was released this year by a reputable Australian publisher), which contains loads of recipe which are labeled as gluten-free... but all use spelt flour. Around the same time someone in a NZ Coeliac Disease facebook group which I'm part of (I'm gluten intolerant though, not coeliac), asked the question: is spelt flour gluten-free? It turns out her and her coeliac husband had eaten out at a cafe the day before which called it's spelt-flour pancakes, you guessed it... gluten-free! 

It got me thinking that I really wished I had made a few notes about this in my cookbook, so to remedy this I thought I'd chat a little bit about it here instead. I've updated my New to Gluten-free page with info about this too.

Spelt flour is made from an ancient strain of wheat. Yes wheat. It does contain gluten, but in much lower doses than the hybridised (aka mucked-around-with) modern wheat we are all subjected to nowadays. It's true, that some people with mild gluten or wheat intolerance can tolerate goods made with spelt flour, but for most (like me) it is to be avoided along with all other forms of wheat (kamut, wheat berries, farro, eikorn, triticale, bulgar, freekeh etc), rye, barley and oats (more on this later). It made me a little upset to see mistakes as huge as this had passed through the many different eyes during the editing of this particular cookbook, because lets face it, most people new to the gluten-free diet are struggling to figure out what they can and can't eat and don't need anymore confusion added to the mix!

Right, lets also clear up a few things about oats. Oats themselves are in actual fact gluten-free. However, more often than not, oats are grown, harvested and processed in the same area as wheat, causing major cross-contamination issues for those who need to avoid gluten strictly. It is now sometimes possible to find certified gluten-free oats which have been grown/harvested/processed away from wheat and this is great news for some people.... However (again), many of us (me and my daughter included) can't tolerate oats very well (my son is totally fine, even with un-certified oats). See, oats contain a protein called Avenin which although gluten-free, can have the same effect in some people as gluten. Bah, booow. I used to really, really love porridge, especially on a cold winters morning, however I've just had to get used to alternatives such as millet and quinoa, which really ain't so bad after all. 

You'll also often see me using quinoa flakes in place of oats in baking recipes, which is what I've done here when I adapted my friend Izy's recipe from her beautiful new cookbook Top With Cinnamon(Which is far from being a gluten-free cookbook, but doesn't try to make out like it is, using spelt + calling it gluten-free like that other book! I've bookmarked a bunch of recipes in Izy's book to convert to gluten-free and her stunning photos alone are reason enough to buy this book!).

One last note! If anyone is around Perth this Friday (17th) you can come see me whip up a recipe from my cookbook at Westfield Whitford City, 12.30pm, as part of their Taste of Spring Festival. I'll be signing books after the demo at 1.30pm, so bring your copy along or grab a copy at Dymocks while you're there. I'll be posting all the details on my Facebook page in the coming days.

No-bake chocolate granola cookies 
Izy uses rolled oats in place of quinoa, so you can too if you tolerate* (see notes above). Use 3/4 cup though, not 1 cup. She also uses cornflakes instead of puffed millet and out of pure habit when making un-baked treats, I've added a little coconut oil to help set them better and have used raw chocolate to drizzle in place of regular dark chocolate.
Makes 15-ish small cookies

1 cup (70g) quinoa flakes
1/2 cup (90g) pitted dried dates
1/4 cup (35g) almonds
2 tablespoons almond butter (tahini or peanut butter would also work)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon cocoa or raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil, melted
1 cup (15g) puffed millet (or you can use puffed rice)

raw chocolate, to drizzle

Toast the quinoa flakes in a frying pan over low-medium heat for a few minutes until lovely and golden. Transfer to a bowl.
Place the date, almonds, almond butter, maple, cocoa, a good pinch fine sea salt and 2 tablespoons cold water into a small food processor and blend until a rough paste forms, you may need to stop and scrape the sides down a few times.
Add the paste, puffed millet and coconut oil to the bowl of quinoa flakes and use your hands to combine well. Take tablespoonfuls of mixture and shape into cookies (or press into an oiled tablespoon measure and shake out if you want uniform cookies like the ones in the photos). Place cookies onto a tray and place in the freezer 20-30 minutes to chill. Make the raw chocolate following my instructions in this post and drizzle over the tops of the cookies (any excess chocolate can be poured into moulds and set in the freezer). Place back into the freezer to set for a few minutes before eating, or transferring to a covered container and storing in the freezer for later use.

This recipe was adapted from Izy Hossack's No-bake Chocolate Granola Cookies in her book Top With Cinnamon (Hardie Grant, 2014).
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Izy's book courtesy of Hardie Grant, however I would have been buying a copy of it anyway to support a friend and fellow blogger. All views are my own.

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  • Reply
    Lizzy (Good Things)
    October 13, 2014 at 5:41 am

    Interesting post, Em, and delicious recipe, as always. I didn't know that spelt wasn't gluten free… have sent this to my daughter, who has intolerances. That flour is really $$$ here in Canberra, so I have yet to invest in it. Happy cooking lovely.

    • Reply
      October 14, 2014 at 2:05 am

      Thanks love, spelt flour is a great choice for those who have with no issues with gluten (I use it to make bread for my husband), but yes it can be quite pricey. It pays to shop around as some places sell it much cheaper than others. xx

    • Reply
      Anna - Sweet Peas
      October 31, 2014 at 2:57 am

      Lizzy, have you tried Mountain Creek Wholefoods in Griffith? They have an incredible range of flours, nuts etc in bulk and its very reasonably priced.

  • Reply
    The Kitchenmaid
    October 13, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Wow, those look incredible. We are lucky enough not to be GI in this house (just as well, since there is a fine mist of flour dust everywhere) but I so feel for those that are. And naughty publishers should know better! These look from the pics like they have toasted buckwheat in them… would that work, do you think, or would it be too toothbreaky?

    • Reply
      October 14, 2014 at 2:07 am

      I know, naughty eh? I'm thinking of approaching the publisher to mention it. It's the puffed millet that you can see in these cookies, however toasted buckwheat would probably work too, the kind that's soaked and then dehydrated seems to be way less toothbreaky than home-toasted stuff. xx

  • Reply
    October 13, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Love the recipe- trying it ASAP! I've not meant to have wheat so these are perfect

    • Reply
      October 14, 2014 at 2:07 am

      Enjoy! xx

  • Reply
    October 13, 2014 at 9:11 am

    This is such a helpful post and I think people do get very confused. I remember buying an issue of Jamie Oliver magazine here in the UK with a whole section on 'gluten free baking', lots of the recipes including spelt flour! In the following issue they placed an apology stating that this was incorrect, but think how many people could have gone out and bought spelt without knowing!

    These cookies look lovely. I've made several things from Izy's book but not these yet – now I don't know whether to try her version or yours! x

    • Reply
      October 14, 2014 at 2:08 am

      Oh dear, yes I've noticed this issue with spelt cropping up all over the show too. Very scary for those who are coeliac and just finding their way in the gluten-free world! xx

  • Reply
    October 13, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Great post and really good explanation about oats. I think that is a space where lots of people get confused! Well done! Cookies sound amazeballs!

  • Reply
    Abby @ The Frosted Vegan
    October 13, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    These are the perfect kind of 'I can eat this for dessert or breakfast' cookie, LOVE!

  • Reply
    Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth
    October 13, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    It can be so difficult making sure something is actually gluten free. Even though I don't have celiac disease, I tend to be sensitive to gluten. I end up doing a "trial by error" type of thing experimenting with foods to see if there really is gluten and found the oats I was eating must have been contaminated. Thanks for bringing this issues to everyone's attention!

  • Reply
    molly yeh
    October 13, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    ooh these look so good!!! i look high and low for gluten free oats whenever i go grocery shopping for the mister. i should just buy a bunch of quinoa flakes already. also, you KNOW i'm gonna be making these with tahini 😉

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    October 13, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Daaaaaang girl. These are gorgeous!! Loving the drizzled chocolate on top. NEED that book!

  • Reply
    Arika M.
    October 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    I didn't know spelt wasn't gluten-free. Thanks.

  • Reply
    October 13, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    There is a brand of flour and associated cereals in the U.K called Nairns. They do a whole range of gluten free things including oatcakes and muesli plus various biscuits. The oats are guaranteed gluten free. I do not know where I would be without these items so I am writing this on behalf of all your British readers.

  • Reply
    October 13, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Hi Emma,
    I love your blog and your recipes. So Yummy!
    I’m not gluten intolerant but really like the idea of having a wide range of grains in my diet. I’m also a scientist so I cannot stop myself but to do a bit of research on the food I’m eating 🙂
    You seem to be using a lot of millet in your recipes. But did you know that this grain contains goitrogens? Goitrogens are known to suppress thyroid activity and while their concentration in vegetables are usually reduced by cooking (think broccoli, cauliflower…), cooking actually increases the goitrogenic effect of millet. The scientific literature shows that in some parts of Africa and Asia, there is a strong positive correlation between incidence of goitre and millet production per capita. Most scientists agree that it is okay to eat millet every now and then, but it shouldn’t be consumed every day, especially for people having iodine deficiency. Maybe you could suggest to your readers who may have thyroid problems to replace millet by another grain (e.g.: quinoa)?
    Hope you’ll find this information useful

    • Reply
      October 14, 2014 at 2:55 am

      Hi Anne,
      Thanks so much for your comment and for bringing this to my attention. I've never suffered from thyroid issues myself so it's not something I know much about. We actually don't eat any grain everyday and I usually suggest to people to vary their diets as much as possible. It may seem I've gone a little millet mad of late, but it's all been in preparation for a feature on Food52 coming up this week! Sadly loads of ingredients affect certain people, such as the arsenic found in rice, phytic acid in quinoa… which is exactly why I like to change things up daily.
      Thanks heaps
      Emm xx

  • Reply
    Nicola Galloway
    October 14, 2014 at 12:33 am

    Wow that is amazing Emma, that went completely unnoticed with all the editing that ensues during the booking making process. I wonder if they will have to recall the book as that is a BIG mistake to make for those who are very sensitive to gluten!
    Thanks for sharing this recipe, I can't wait to get my hands on Izy's book, her photography is AMAZING, such a talented young woman xx

    • Reply
      October 14, 2014 at 2:56 am

      It's a bad mistake eh?! I'm thinking of emailing the publisher, we'll see if they listen. xx

  • Reply
    Milk and Honey
    October 14, 2014 at 1:30 am

    Thanks for this post Emma. I'm not gluten intolerant, but my sister is and I'd hate to make her sick by using something that she can't tolerate. She loves to eat my cakes and baked goods (in that, we are alike).

  • Reply
    Jessica Holmes
    October 14, 2014 at 3:43 am

    These little cookies look lovely! I love their cute dome shape!

  • Reply
    london bakes
    October 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    A huge thank you for this post! The spelt thing drives me mad too (I've even heard medical professionals say it's fine for gluten free diets…) and you make *such* an important point about oats. None of the coeliacs that I know can tolerate oats (even ones that have been certified gluten free) and it seems to be the default for so many "gluten free" recipes these days which is really not helpful, especially when bloggers/cookbook authors don't acknowledge that a large number of people who can't tolerate gluten also can't tolerate avenin. It makes such a difference to have sites like yours where people can go to get proper and trustworthy advice.

  • Reply
    Nik Sharma
    October 15, 2014 at 3:43 am

    I'm glad you wrote about this, Emma. As a biochemist, I am always surprised when these kind of things get the pass, I don't have gluten sensitivity issues but it is sad to watch information being misrepresented in cases like this. I think with so many food issues coming to the forefront these days, it would be useful to have some dialogue starting in schools to increase public awareness and providing the correct information when it comes to all sorts of food.

  • Reply
    erin {yummysupper}
    October 15, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Emma, this spelt thing is madness. I cannot believe that a GF cookbook would use spelt! Argh…. that really bums me out.
    But your awesome-looking granola cookies are seriously cheering me up:) Those delectable photos of yours… yum!

  • Reply
    InTolerant Chef
    October 17, 2014 at 4:25 am

    I see these stupid mistakes so often and it drives me up the wall! The last one I came across was using barley in a 'gf' recipe- so careless and potentially dangerous too! I can't touch spelt sadly, but can eat GF oats.
    Your recipe looks delicious indeed, and I would definitely be tempted to eat them for breakfast 🙂 x

  • Reply
    Loran Polder
    October 18, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Yummy, yummy looking recipe AND your photography makes everything look so very mouthwatering! Thanks for sharing as we are in the process of going GFCF and need all the help we can get. I like tasty food and don't want to give it up…sniff, sniff….


  • Reply
    October 20, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    These look amazing! Its 9.00am and I am drooling and craving these no bake cookies! Lovely recipe adaption x

  • Reply
    November 18, 2014 at 4:50 am

    I love anything that doesn't require preheating the oven and these look healthy and simple!
    Will definitely be trying these soon 🙂

  • Reply
    November 25, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    No bake cookies sounds gorgeous and with chocolate they are allways winners !

  • Reply
    June 13, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    This is something that my daughter would love. Since this only needs few ingredients then why not give it a try?

  • Reply
    September 28, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Thanks for the peek into your kitchen, now I have another reason to visit Australia 🙂

  • Reply
    August 22, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    I think I got ‘that’ book out of our local library and, on looking through it, realised that there was pretty much nothing I could eat so promptly returned it. Very strange. Thanks yet again for your really helpful explanations, along with great recipes 🙂

  • Reply
    Deb Dunt
    September 25, 2017 at 1:25 am

    Emma could these cookies be baked if I prefer a crunchy cooked biscuit?

    • Reply
      September 26, 2017 at 7:44 am

      I can’t see why you couldn’t try, but as I’ve not tried it myself I have no idea if it’ll work! If you do give it a go, I’d cook them slow and long, so you’re kinda drying them out rather than ‘baking’ as such. I’d love to hear if you try it out and they work!

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