A Duet of Vegan Holiday Cookies

chocolate peppermint cookies and oat thumbprint cookies
chocolate peppermint cookies and oat thumbprint cookies

Ah, holiday cookie baking. The sweet scents that emanate from the kitchen this time of year are drool-worthy. They make you want to bake every cookie recipe you see.

Recently I got inspired by a friend who was madly baking like some Keebler elf, so I joined in the frenzy. The flour was flying and baking sheets were in heavy rotation. I thought that others would also begin their boisterous baking, so I have not one recipe for you, but two.

I wanted a classic Thumbprint cookie to start, and I found a recipe that was healthy and tasty. But, variety is crucial in a cookie tray, along with a bit of chocolate, so I have a chocolate cookie kissed with peppermint and slathered in vanilla frosting. The Thumbprints were already vegan; I merely changed the cooking technique to allow the dough to rest and absorb fluids to combat dryness found at altitude. The chocolate cookie was veganized by using non-dairy milk, and adjusted for altitude with the addition of liquid. I hope you are as excited for holiday cookies as I am!

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies with Vanilla Frosting inspired by NutraMilk

for the cookies
3 Tablespoons almond butter
1 Tablespoon non-dairy milk
1 Tablespoon applesauce
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons almond flour (not almond meal)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
for the frosting
1/2 cup vegan butter
1.75 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup almond milk

Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the almond butter, milk, applesauce, maple syrup, and peppermint extract in a bowl and whisk together. Combine the almond flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a bowl and whisk together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry bowl and stir until a dough forms. Roll the dough into 12 balls and place each ball on a baking tray, flattening each slightly. Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the cookies are firm.

Remove the tray from the oven and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove cookies from the tray and put on a wire rack to cool completely. Make the frosting: add the ingredients to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle blade. Start beating slowly and work up to medium speed. Beat until the frosting is light and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. When the cookies are fully cooled, add the frosting and decorative sugar.

Oatmeal Thumbprint Cookies with Jam adapted from Vegan Jam Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fruit jam, seedless

Place the oats, flour, and walnuts in a bowl and stir to combine. Whisk together the oil, maple syrup, orange juice, and vanilla, then add to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine everything. Place the bowl of dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the dry ingredients to absorb the liquids. It will become sticky.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets. Use the back of the scoop to create an indent on top of each ball. Fill the indents with jam. Bake for 14-16 minutes until the bottoms are golden. Remove the trays from the oven and place on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cookies from the trays and put on a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 32 – 34 cookies.

Until next time, happy Holiday baking!

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Yogurt

chocolate chip cookies with yogurt

chocolate chip cookies with yogurt

Last week at the Vegan Dairy Fair, I was asked what egg substitutes I used in my baking. My reply was that I have tried them all, from packaged egg replacer to tofu. That question got me thinking about revisiting egg subs. I hadn’t used yogurt in awhile, and my hubby was craving chocolate chip cookies, so the following recipe was created.

The original recipe was a healthier rendition of a standard chocolate chip cookie. It used yogurt instead of eggs, but I veganized it by making the yogurt non-dairy. I also modified it with vegan versions of the other ingredients. No changes were needed for high altitude because cookies are forgiving that way. I just tweaked a few of the steps and the oven temperature, and came up with a very tasty cookie.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Yogurt adapted from Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Eat Smart New York!

1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup non-dairy vanilla yogurt
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine sugar, brown sugar, and margarine. Beat until light and fluffy. Add yogurt and vanilla and blend well. Sift together the flours, baking soda, and salt. Beat the flour mixture into the margarine mixture a cupful at a time. Stir the chocolate chips in by hand. Drop by rounded spoonfuls 2” apart onto cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute, then remove from cookie sheets.

Until next time, happy baking!

Peanut Butter Jam Mookies

peanut butter jam mookiesSometimes when I am searching for a baking recipe, I base it solely on an ingredient in my arsenal. I recently got Coconut Sugar from Navitas Naturals so that became my inspiration for this week. Upon scouring my cookbook collection, I found a cookie recipe that suggested coconut sugar as a swap for dark brown sugar.

The recipe was already vegan so that part was accomplished. For altitude I had but to slightly reduce the amount of sugar and oil. I also chose to add jam on top to complement the peanut butter flavor. What I discovered after they baked was that they rose quite more than expected, especially as they were baked at high altitude. The cookbook describes them as a cookie, but I am inclined to see them as a marriage between a cookie and a muffin. That brings me to my new breakfast creation – the muffin-cookie, or mookie.

Peanut Butter Jam Mookies based on Crunchy Nutty Peanut Butter Hemp Cookies
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
scant 1/3 cup refined coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup Navitas Naturals coconut sugar
1/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup plain hemp protein powder
3/4 tsp salt
several TBS jam
Preheat oven to 350F and lightly oil a standard muffin tin. In a stand mixer, beat together peanut butter, coconut oil, sugars, milk, and vanilla until smooth. In a bowl, whisk together oats, flours, protein powder, and salt. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients with a spatula. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Use a spoon to make an indent in the top of each and put jam in the indents. Bake for 14-17 minutes, or until firm. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack in the muffin tin. Store in a loosely covered container. Makes 12 hearty mookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

What Color is Your Baking Pan?

round cake tin stack

Image courtesy of Cooks & Kitchens on flickr.com

When baking, you may find that your results seem quite different than those of the recipe developer. They describe a light, evenly-colored cookie but yours is light on top and dark on the bottom. Or your cake may look the right color but it is undercooked on the inside. Don’t despair. One possible fix is the type of pan you use. The color and material of the pan may not seem important, but they can have an impact on your baked goods.

In the Sweet Kitchen explains that “some materials conduct heat, others reflect it – each of the properties will affect your product differently. In general, shiny or pale materials reflect heat and will produce … lighter-colored pastries… (Using dark or non-stick pans) means your products will bake faster on the bottom and sides, perhaps burning until the middle is done.”

Non-stick cookie sheets are nice for clean-up but can be unreliable for the actual baking. Unless you have a pan with a light-colored non-stick coating, they aren’t the best choice because they bake unevenly. But King Arthur Flour’s website says you don’t need to get rid of your non-stick cookie sheets. “If you already have a dark-colored, non-stick cookie sheet, and it tends to burn the bottoms of your cookies, reduce the oven temperature by 25°F.”

I have used the Williams-Sonoma Nonstick Goldtouch Pans as recommended by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. The surface is light-colored and, unlike most non-stick bakeware, fairly scratch resistant. Regan Daley of In the Sweet Kitchen says that, “lighter-coloured non-stick pans are much more durable, as the finish is part of the material of the pan, not simply a coating.” They are nice to bake with when you need a cake to release easily for a picture-perfect treat.

Because dark pans retain heat, they can help a pie baker. “Dark-colored metal pie pans … transfer heat better … (and) brown crust more quickly … However, most pie pans will brown a crust thoroughly, given enough time; (just) cover the pie’s exposed edges with a crust shield to prevent burning.” Good advice from King Arthur Flour.

You don’t have to rush out and buy all new pans, but reread this article next time you are looking to purchase a bake pan.