Hello, cookie lovers! I hope you haven’t forgotten about me…I apologize for the lack of baked goods recently, but I’ve been dealing with a rather (emotionally AND physically) time-consuming leg injury…
But never fear, for I return. And, boy, do I return with a doozy:
Let me start by stating that I have nothing against non-vegan cookies. In fact, some of my best recipes are non-vegan cookies. But when I came up with a crazy ridiculously out-there idea for a new recipe*, I decided that it needed to be vegan. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because I like a challenge. Maybe because it means I can bake it for my sister when she comes home for winter break. Maybe because I want to be able to sample (read: eat all of) the dough while I bake.
Either way, I knew that this impending cookie insanity needed to have a chocolate chip cookie base. (Oh, and I should interject here to explain that, for the large majority of my cookie recipes, I have two bases: chocolate chip and sugar. The chocolate chip base is made with melted butter, and is dark, rich, and chewy; the sugar base is made with a mixture of creamed butter and vegetable shortening, and is lighter, puffier, and more cake-like. This doesn’t include any of my shortbread cookies, or any of the crazy ones I’ve tried, like meringues, fortune cookies, banana/pumpkin base, etc.)
Why does this cookie need a chocolate chip base? Because it needs a dark, rich, chewy cookie that can stand up to some seriously intense flavor demands. My only problem is that, while I have and amazing Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, which is tried and true and exactly what I would need, I don’t have a vegan Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookie.
And so began the Great Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Experiment of 2011:
Because I’d never made vegan chocolate chip cookies, I decided to start with a tried and true recipe. I looked to Isa Chandra Moskowitz of The Post Punk Kitchen, because she is the definition of vegan baker, at least if the food-blogosphere has anything to say about it. Her chocolate chip cookie recipe is made without fake butter or eggs. In fact, the recipe is as far away from my Better Thank Chocolate Chip Cookies (henceforth BTCCCs for reasons of brevity and convenience) as it can get. Her cookies involve vegetable oil, tapioca starch and almond milk.
The resulting batter was light & yellow, and it tasted very…bright. It was also very oily (which stands to reason, since it was made with oil)…Not exactly conducive to eating raw, which takes all of the fun out of making cookie dough. I put it in the fridge while I made another batter. (Since chilling cookies supposedly helps keep them from spreading as they bake.)
The second batter I made was based on my BTCCCs. In fact, I made the recipe exactly as written, but substituted Earth Balance for the butter and one tbsp of flax for the egg. This batter was dark and rich and spicy, almost exactly like my regular non-vegan BTCCCs. I placed that in the fridge, as well.
I baked my BT(v)CCCs first, because they bake at a lower temperature. The result? Ridiculous, amazing taste, but they spread like crazy and stuck to the baking sheet.
I turned the oven up to 350 and put in the Post-Punk Kitchen cookies. Shaping the cookies was difficult, because the chocolate chip cookies kept falling out. They tasted pretty good though–much brighter and more vanilla-y than the others…but these, too, fell flat and stuck to the baking sheet.
I was stunned. How could both recipes, one oil-based and the other butter/margarine based, spread like that?
I had some ideas (especially about the PPK cookies). And so I forged on.
Maybe, I reasoned, the BT(v)CCCs fell flat because I melted the Earth Balance. Maybe they needed more fat, because margarines have a higher water content than butter. Maybe they would be better served by adding two tbsp more Earth Balance and creaming the EB instead of melting it.
They fell flat.
And since Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome, I decided to be sane and change the recipe completely.
I found a good basic oil cookie recipe–no non-dairy milks or starches added. And then I added more oil. Better oil. Canola oil and a little hazelnut oil for good measure. I tripled the vanilla. I added some spices.
And, holy hell, thus was born the most divine vegan chocolate chip cookies ever. In fact, that’s what I think I’ll call them.
Love & Cookies,
*And this might just be my craziest recipe yet…so check back, because it’s next to go into my oven!