A Climber's Guide to Cookies

Replace boring bars with energy-filled cookies—yes, cookies!
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Replace boring bars with energy-filled cookies—yes, cookies!

This story originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of our print edition. 

climber cookies

Photo: Ben Fullerton

Breaking news from the department of “hell yeah”: Cookies are a nutritionist-approved way to beat the bonk and maintain stoke for a full day of climbing. Of course, if you stuff 20 in your face while sitting on the couch for an eight-hour Family Guy marathon, your six-pack will eventually turn into a pony keg. But for climbers who need fast calories at the crag or in the alpine, these tasty treats pack a compelling array of advantages: Simple ingredients controlled by you, the baker. No unpronounceable stuff or lab-derived chemicals and flavors. Higher moisture content (43%) makes them easier to digest and more hydrating. (Most energy bars require a moisture content at 10% or below to make them shelf-stable.) This recipe uses rice and potato flours so that they can be eaten by anyone, even gluten-sensitive folks. They are small and eminently portable—put them in your jacket pocket to keep ’em soft for belay noshing. Finally, the most obvious reason: Duh, it’s a cookie! It’s certainly one of the most universally tasty ways to get the carbs, fat, sugar, and protein you need.

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons potato flour
  • ½ cup almond milk, heated
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Top with

  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar

Directions

Heat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (except chips). Heat the milk for 90 seconds in microwave or until very hot (but not boiling). Add the coconut oil (or butter as a substitute) to the hot milk to melt it. Quickly whisk in the egg and other wet ingredients. Pour the hot mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir until thoroughly combined. Set aside the dough to cool for a moment while you prepare the topping. Fold in chocolate chips, then shape cookies into 12 golf ball–size chunks. Lightly flatten and top with a generous pinch of sugar and salt (or cinnamon and nuts if you prefer). Bake for 15 minutes. 

Nutrition Facts (per serving, 1 cookie)
Energy: 91 cal • Fat: 3g • Carbs: 15g • Protein: 2g • Sodium: 116mg • Fiber: 1g

Recipe republished with permission of VeloPress from Feed Zone Portables($25). Try more recipes at feedzonecookbook.com.

Change It Up

Hell froze over, and you’re tired of chocolate chips, or—gasp—never liked them in the first place? Try these variations*:

Snickerdoodle Cookies
Out: cocoa powder, chocolate chips
Changes: ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Top With: sugar, cinnamon
Nutrition Facts (per serving, 1 cookie)
Energy: 84 cal • Fat: 2g • Carbs: 15g • Protein: 2g • Sodium: 64mg • Fiber: 1g

Nut Butter Cookies
Out: cocoa powder, chocolate chips, coconut oil
Changes: ¼ cup potato flour, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, ¼ cup almond butter (or any nut butter)
Top With: sliced almonds
Nutrition Facts (per serving, 1 cookie)
Energy: 93 cal • Fat: 4g • Carbs: 15g • Protein: 2g • Sodium: 84mg • Fiber: 1g

*Use same baking directions as chocolate chip cookies.

Mix it Up 

For chewy: Add 2 tablespoons of applesauce or plain yogurt if you like your cookies extra moist.
Done right: Finishing time will vary a bit depending on your oven and the humidity and elevation of where you live.
Protein boost: Turn these into recovery cookies by adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of whey protein powder (and applesauce or yogurt to compensate for more dry ingredients).
Pack-proof: Store in an airtight container, separated if possible, to avoid a massive, single cookie-ball.

By the Numbers: Bar vs. Cookie

Clif Bar, Chocolate Chip Flavor (1 bar)
Ingredients: 27
Calories: 240 cal
Fat: 5g
Protein: 10g
Sodium: 150mg
Fiber: 4g
Water content: 10%

Homemade, Portable, Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie (3 cookies)
Ingredients: 11
Calories: 273 cal
Fat: 9g
Protein: 6g
Sodium: 348mg
Fiber: 3g
Water content: 43%

When the Chips Are Down

Strapped for time? Here are our three favorite store-bought cookies

Tate’s Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies
$23 (three 7 oz. bags)
tatesbakeshop.com
With just 11 ingredients, it’s “a crispy cookie that’s the closest to home-baked I’ve ever tried.” *Trader Joe’s sells the similar Trader Joe’s Highbrow Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Wow Baking Company Chocolate Chip Cookies
$5 (8 oz. bag)
wowbaking.com
Gluten-free and packing 960 calories per resealable bag, “These are surprisingly moist and dollar for dollar one of the best crag-food options I’ve found.”

Back to Nature Chocolate Chunk Cookies
$7 (10 oz. box)
backtonaturefoods.com
Oven-baked with nothing but all-natural ingredients, they’re “a huge chocolate wallop with a Chips Ahoy size and texture. Fueling up rarely tastes so good.”