Gathering acorns is dangerous business. Upon finally finding a tree that actually HAS acorns on it, I started gathering un-holey ones off the ground. After a few minutes I felt something whiz past my head. I looked around, couldn't see anything, went back to collecting. Another thing whizzed past my head. I looked up. A squirrel was throwing things at me. We made eye contact and he threw a tree branch. A TREE BRANCH. It missed my head by a few inches. Luckily, I made it out unscathed. Be warned: any person with visions of gathering plant matter being like Snow White dancing through a forest with birds and squirrels dancing in your wake will have their fantasies smashed to pieces really fast. You fight squirrels for their bounty, get whacked in the face by tree branches, scuff hands and knees and generally emerge looking like a scratched up tree-urchin more than a Disney princess.
A funny thing happened when I was preparing to make these cookies. Hank posted something on Facebook about how all acorns need to be leached and I said, "no, no, our local quercus lobata is sweet as can be". He responded with a variation of "are you on crack?" and I thought the same thing about him and carried on shelling a big bag of acorns. As I popped them in the oven to roast, I thought back to what he'd said, and popped one in my mouth for a taste.
And emitted a loud YEUGH right before I spat it out. Really. Seriously. Bitter. I guess the tree I was using before had sweet acorns, which, according to Hank, are extremely rare. I lucked out in it being the first acorn tree I ever used!
Now, until I hike back to the sweet tree I, like everyone else, have to leach my acorns. *sob*
Acorns are labour intensive. It takes a couple of hours to shell a big bag, and then you have to grind and leach them and then I dehydrate them in the oven making it a whole ordeal that I wouldn't dream about repeating every year if it wasn't well worth it. But it is worth it. The nutty, sweet flavour is something you won't find anywhere else, and it's heavenly. Last year I made acorn gnocchi and almost cried when I ran out. This year I gathered more, and started out with cookies. Because, if you hadn't yet noticed, I have a sweet tooth.
Acorn chocolate chip cookies
1/2 cup + 4 tb all purpose flour
1/2 cup acorn flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 tb sucanat or sugar
6 tb butter at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz chocolate, chopped into chunks
Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Then mix in the flours, baking powder and salt. Don't overbeat- when it's all incorporated, stir in the chocolate chunks then set the whole lot aside overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 350. Scoop out little balls (I use a tablespoon measure, or a mini-ice cream scoop) onto a baking sheet. Flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand, and bake for 12-15 minutes. They'll be soft when they come out the oven but will firm up as they cool.
For more information about using acorns for cooking, here's Butter's post on the matter.
And if you're wondering whether it's worth it to try cooking with acorns, believe me, it is. Check back at the end of the month for our Round Up of acorn recipes.