Friday, November 5, 2010
I Like Me Some Cookies
Baking without eggs. I actually learned to do this pretty well before becoming vegan. You could say that my kid's egg allergy was the gateway drug to veganism for me. I thought, why not? I can do this. Did you taste the cookie that just came out of the oven, made by your own two hands? You can totally do this vegan thing. Because even if you can't think of a single thing to eat all day long, there'll always be cookies. Just smile politely and suffer through each bite of that quinoa whatever because back at home, there are cookies waiting for you.
And cookies are fast. I mean, from start to finish of the first batch is about what? 20 minutes in most cases. That's as long as it takes to cook white ass rice. Not like a cake or some brownies or all that stirring for toffee or all that precision for candy.
So, even though I'm pretty good at cookies, I lose interest in a cookie pretty fast. I need variety. I like to experiment. So many cookies, so little time, I say! So when I saw the library had Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, I thought I'd give it a test run to see if I wanted to actually purchase it for my very own.
The first cookie I tried was — Duh — the chocolate chip cookie recipe front and center, recipe uno. I mean, that's the gold standard, right?
These turned out very well. Almost as well as my applesauce / arrowroot powder sub in most cookie recipes... Everyone in the house agreed, these are keepers. The batter turned out more like a creamy brownie batter than a cookie batter, so I was a little freaked out at first that things were going awry. Then I realized I'd gotten through the whole recipe nearly and had not yet added the tapioca starch. It was supposed to go in at the creaming stage, but oops. As you can see, it didn't affect the outcome any. They were scrumptious.
And there was a smell present. From my childhood. I think it has something to do with the starch. I notice it when I use tapioca starch in a stir fry, too, and the heat hasn't gone down enough. It's pleasant and familiar.
Next, I decided to try another favorite. My chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are, literally, like crack. These are words from the many teens at my son's summer camp. I sent a giant bag with him and he was badgered day and night about them. The kids in his homeschooling group also have big love for them. And what's not to love? Those things have half a pound of butter in them. So, can I produce an equally crack-like cookie with the Chocolaty Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies on page 40?
First, I was a little worried because my experiences using ground flax seed in cookies have been less than stellar. It's just too... flaxy? I am aware of its presence in every bite and am not fond of it. But I did buy this big honking thing of cold milled flax seed thinking it would be better.
And look at the size of that thing. I'd better be adding a little to all my meals if I'm ever going to use it all. Got it at Costco...
I also decided to use the Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk that I'm obsessed with right now as my nondairy milk and then I omitted the almond extract figuring the milk would add enough. Plus almond extract reminds me of butter cookies and shortbread too much to use in an oatmeal cookie just yet.
I also get this trail mix at Costco that my son and I like to eat. It's a Jack Sprat situation. He eats all the mangoes, papayas, apples and some of the walnuts and almonds. I eat the kiwi, strawberries, bananas, raisins and also some of the walnuts and almonds. We both leave the peanuts and the cherries. I snagged what was left in the bag of the cherries (hoping heat will kill the germs that have come from fingers touching them in the sifting process repeatedly) and cut them up.
One thing I changed in the process of this recipe is where the cocoa goes. It called for it to go in the dry ingredients, but I always like to mix cocoa with the fat in a recipe. I saw this on America's Test Kitchen and you know, I can't remember exactly what they said, but it was something about emulsifying or releasing compounds or something. And at the moment I saw it, I just had an epiphany of having made brownies 80 bajillion times and doing it both ways. When I'd done it by mixing the cocoa with the fat and then mixing the dry ingredients in to that, they always came out darker, richer, better, more chocolaty tasting.
It also gets out all those cocoa lumps, which I always seem to have. I'm not much of a sifter.
The dough turned out thick but really moist.
There was an optional "wet your fingers and mash it down" instruction and I decided to do that on about half of them to give them a kind of rustic appearance. Is that the right word? I never used to be a cookie scooper person. But that was before I actually bought one of the damn things. Now I'm little Miss Perfectly Round and Equally Sized Cookie Woman. I decided I wanted these to look like drop cookies in their natural state.
Oh, and you know the best part about making vegan cookies? No eggs in the batter. That is what my son Jacob, professional cookie batter eater, says.
That's right, Ninjas. Stay away from my batter!
Then, I realized that it's not just the butter that was like crack in my old pre-vegan recipe. It was the thing I do to the outside of the cookies. After I scoop them out onto the pan, I take a glass, dip the bottom of it in the batter to get it sticky and then I take 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt and mix it up in a bowl. I dip the sticky glass in the sugar-salt mixture and then use it to flatten the cookie. When you bake it, the sugar gets all yummy and then it's the first thing to hit your taste buds, this little blast of sweet...
Left side: sugary crack. Right side: simple, rustic goodness. They turned out just as good or better than my old recipe and these babies sealed the deal on me buying the book. Luckily that sweet child of mine (and his very thoughtful step-mother) got me a gift certificate to Amazon.com for my birthday so I can get this cookbook as well as a couple others. Feel free to leave suggestions or links to reviews so I can make up my mind. I have $50 and I want to get the most for my money.
Now, I just have one question... is it wrong to keep using this oven mitt now that I'm vegan? :)
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