Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

A while back I was referring to my significant other and I called him my "other half." I didn't call him my "better half" and the person I was talking to (can't remember who it was at the moment) thought that was pretty funny. I didn't mean anything by it, except that we are equals perhaps. At any rate, today I will say that my "better half" is not with me and was not able to take pictures of my food in the spectacular way that he usually does. You will have to live with me and my shitty phone snapshots. Although, he just got this awesome new camera and he already has to send it back to be recalibrated or something anyway, so even if he was here it might not have gone well in the picture department.

My son has been going nuts for the baked goods lately and even though I said I was swearing off white flour and sugar, I guess I lied. Things have been a little stressful at our household -- both good and bad stress -- and I feel like eating cookies, damn it. So, the book I chose is 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes by Kris Holechek.

I think I'm going to just start at the beginning and plow through. (Maybe I should call it a plowthrough, then?)

These cookies are the Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies on page 30. The author of this book plays it pretty fast and loose with the ingredients. She just says things like "milk" or "margarine" and you can choose your own favorites or whatever is easiest for you to get. Mix and match, do what you wish. I like that since I never know what the flavor-of-the-week is going to be in milk around here. Currently we're on an almond milk bender, but I did manage to find some soy that needed to be used up for this recipe. Then I thought to myself, "When did I open this thing?" and couldn't remember, so I settled on using almond milk anyway. I also ended up using Earth Balance in the tub. I try finding it in the sticks (I mean, not out in the country, but stick-shaped product rather), but I just don't go to Whole Foods that often and that's where they have it. Even so, the tub stuff is cheaper, just more of a pain to measure. Oh well.

Ingredients. Pretty simple and luckily it was all stuff I had sitting around the house, otherwise this whole thing would have been delayed because I do not feel like going to the grocery store today. And yeah, I like Costco, okay? I am a Kirkland product junkie as you can see. It's very Idiocracy of me, I know.

I have been using Ghirardelli chips for a long time because they have some that are dairy-free. But, lo and behold, what did my little eyes see right before Christmas this year at Costco? Only this metric friggin' ton of dairy-free chocolate chips. They are tasty, too.

Also, I know that some vegans won't even eat things that are made in factories that share machinery with dairy and eggs, but I am not that kind of vegan. Commence pearl-clutching right away.

My son has a corn allergy and this recipe called for corn starch. Usually in baked goods, I use arrowroot powder because tapioca starch can sometimes give off a funky flavor when it's heated. I was all out of arrowroot, however, and this was only a teaspoon, so I figured it would turn out all right. This starch, mixed with 2 tablespoons of almond milk replaced the egg usually found in a cookie.

Not enough pecans to warrant getting out my Slap-Chop. Ha. I do have one, though. Well, I had one that was one of those that came out before the infomercial. A Zyliss or something. I got as a door prize at a Pampered Chef party. Then we got another one as a gag gift at a gift swap. They're actually kind of fun for some things and great for kids. But in this case, will stick to the Henckels. I got some new ones for Christmas this year and have already cut myself like a hundred times. My old ones need to be sharpened and I didn't realize how badly till I started handling the new ones the same way as the old ones. Ouch.

Eleven damn cookies. I'm not great at spacing and am always afraid I'm going to end up with one giant cookie blob on my stone.

But as you can see, I would have been fine and probably could have squeezed that last sucker in somewhere, Tetris-style. This recipe called for the cookies to bake for 8-10 minutes on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Parchment is expensive and I am loathe to use it except when the cookie batter is really low-fat or high-syrup. Otherwise, I use a baking stone. I also usually add about 5 minutes to the cooking time, especially on the first couple passes because the stone needs to heat up. The cookies above are at the 8-minute mark and are nowhere near done enough for me.

The longest part of making cookies is not the 20 minute prep time. No. It is the time from cooling rack to mouth that is like watching grass grow.

Ta da. I started out with all chocolate chips since my other better half doesn't like getting nuts all in his teeth. Then, when I'd made about half the batch, I added pecans to the rest of the batter. Nuts on the left, please.

These turned out great and I will definitely make them again. It made 46 cookies (rather than the stated 30 which is always a bonus in my book, although I probably don't make huge cookies). The starch added a really light texture to them and the edges were crispy but not at all hard. Not "crunchy" or anything. The tapioca starch didn't funk up the flavor at all, either, so corn-allergic folks can adapt this easily.

I am not the only one to make these cookies and live to tell the tale:

You can also visit the author of this cookbook on her blog nom! nom! nom! or on her Facebook page where she is pimping a new cookbook based on vegetarian stuff you can get at Trader Joe's.


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