Have you ever looked at your baking supplies and wondered what to do with 1/2 cup of this flour, or a little of that flour? I was confronting that dilemma when I found a recipe for oatmeal bars. With all of the rolled oats and other textures, no one would notice that I had a flour mixture added in. I also decided that they would be tasty for breakfast, snack, or dessert, so they were winners.
To adapt to high altitude and dryness, I reduced the baking soda and added non-dairy milk to the recipe. To make them vegan, the easy swap was using oil in place of butter. The original recipe had packaged caramels as an ingredient which are generally not vegan, so I left them out and used jam instead. My final change was to make more of a crust layer underneath, thus creating a sturdier and less sweet bar.
Oatmeal Jammies adapted from Oatmeal Carmelitas
3 cups flour, mixed (I used a mixture of all purpose, whole wheat, and pastry flour)
3 cups quick cooking rolled oats
2-1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 heaping tsp baking soda
scant 1/2 tsp salt
1-1/8 cups canola oil
1-1/2 tsp non-dairy milk
1 cup seedless blackberry jam, gently melted
1 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 13″ x 9″ pan. In a bowl, add flours, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine. Add oil and milk and stir until crumbly. Reserve half of the crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Spoon jam to the edges of the crust in the pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over the jam. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture evenly to coat.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown and bubbling around the edges. Cool for 1 to 2 hours on a wire rack or until completely cooled. Cut into bars, then store covered with foil at room temperature.
Once in a while I get lucky. I find a recipe that’s already vegan that doesn’t need much changing for altitude, and it works when I bake it! This recipe was one of those. My gluten free friends deserved a treat so I went searching and found this cookie recipe that didn’t need much finesse from me.
The adaptations I made were mostly due to the fact that it was a “pre-make the dry ingredients and dump” recipe. I altered the directions to make a smoother batter when the ingredients were added individually. The one nod I made to high altitude was to add more water to account for dryness, and the fact that I swapped the coconut for more oatmeal and it loves to soak up moisture.
Chocolate Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies based on Double Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup gluten free flour blend
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup vegan buttery spread
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 1 TBS water
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1.25 cups gluten free old fashioned oats
3/4 cup dairy free chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream applesauce, buttery spread, vanilla, and water. Add in both sugars and beat until creamy. Add in cocoa powder mixture and beat again. Stir in oats and chocolate chips by hand.
Let dough rest for 10 minutes so it will absorb the liquids. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 17-19 minutes. Makes about 24 cookies.
What happens when you combine peanut butter cookies with oatmeal and chocolate chips? You get perfection. My choice for this cookie was simply pure decadence. And the fact that my husband said I hadn’t baked cookies in awhile (hint, hint).
Originally I was lazy and tried this as a non-gluten free cookie. They were so good that my husband ate 10 of them instantly. (He did say he was cookie-deficient.) When those were gone, two days later, I tried them again as gluten-free. I adapted them for high altitude by adding milk to the recipe, and the oats were ground slightly to make a more cohesive dough. I also switched out the oat flour and shredded coconut for a gluten free flour blend that a friend had given me for experimentation (again – hint, hint).
The results on the second round? Deliciousness.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from the Beaming Baker
1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1 1/4 cup gluten free flour blend
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup peanut butter (made from peanuts only and no additives)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 flax eggs (2 TBS ground flax + 6 TBS warm water, whisked together, set aside for 5 minutes)
1 1/2 TBS almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in top third of oven. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Put oats into a food processor and grind them slightly. In a medium bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, use a rubber spatula to mix together peanut butter, oil, brown sugar, maple syrup, flax eggs, milk and vanilla. Add dry mixture to wet mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold into a dough. Fold in chocolate chips.
Scoop 2 tablespoon-sized cookie dough balls onto cookie sheet, spaced evenly apart. Flatten slightly – these cookies won’t spread much. Bake each baking sheet individually for 13-15 minutes. Carefully slide parchment paper with cookies off baking sheet onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool. Store in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks. Makes 24 cookies.
I collect recipes. I have thousands of them. They usually sit for awhile before I dust them off and use them, but some I refer to immediately. This recipe is one of those. I crave warm spices this time of year, so I thought a spiced cookie would taste good. When I came across this recipe with chai spices I baked it up pronto.
To veganize the original recipe, I used vegan margarine and yogurt subbed for an egg. For altitude adjustments, I added flour and reduced baking powder and oats. I thought they were tasty as is, but my husband thought they were lacking in dessert finesse (due to the lack of chocolate). To elevate them from what he deemed a breakfast cookie, I slathered vanilla frosting between two cookies and made them into cookie sandwiches. Now they were fancy enough for dessert.
Oatmeal Spice Cookie Sandwiches adapted from the Mountain Rose blog Cookies
1 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Chai Spice – 3/4 tsp cinnamon powder, 1/2 tsp cardamom powder, 1/4 tsp ginger powder, 1/8 tsp clove powder, 1/8 tsp nutmeg powder
14 TBS vegan margarine, softened
1 cup vegan sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup vanilla soy yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats Filling
4 TBS vegan margarine, softened
4 TBS vegan shortening, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp soymilk
Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chai spice together. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat margarine and sugars until fluffy and creamy. Add yogurt and vanilla to butter mixture and beat until combined. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until it just becomes smooth. Gradually add oats and mix until well combined. Roll balls of 2 TBS of dough and place on baking sheets. Gently press down each ball. Bake until cookies are golden brown, for 16-18 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheets to wire rack to cool.
Make filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together margarine and shortening. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until well combined. Beat in vanilla and soy milk. When cookies have fully cooled, slather the flat side of a cookie with frosting. Top with another cookie and push down slightly. Makes 12 dessert cookie sandwiches.
During my month of baking cookies I saved a few from each batch to see how they would freeze. I had never tried this before because when I bake there aren’t any leftovers. But after a month and many dozens of cookies, I was willing to offer some up to freezer science.
For this experiment, I started with Tips for Freezing Baked Cookies from thekitchn.com:
“All cookies should be frozen individually after they’ve cooled completely, meaning they should be placed on a baking sheet, not touching, until frozen solid (they can be frozen like this in layers separated by parchment, wax, or freezer paper).”
So, I separated six cooled cookies after each baking session and froze them individually. Then I placed them in zip plastic bags in layers separated by waxed paper. I squeezed out the air and laid them flat in the freezer to wait.
When time had passed, between five days and two weeks depending on the cookie, I removed the cookie bag from the confines of the freezer. I thawed a few treats out on a plate and ate them as is. I also tried this advice, again from thekitchn.com: “You can gently reheat frozen or thawed cookies to mimic that fresh-baked taste and texture: place them in a 275F oven and check on them after 10 to 15 minutes.”
I definitely preferred the baked cookies. They were warm, fresh out of the oven, and reminded me of freshly baked cookies. The thawed-on-the-counter cookies seemed a bit more dry, and didn’t have the enticing fragrance of warm cookies. But neither had the slightly chewy inside that I like.
What did I learn from all this? If you don’t have time to bake, then cookies from the freezer are better than boxed. But, baking cookies from scratch is definitely worth the time because the texture is perfect and the house smells AMAZING!
I have a confession to make. Before trying this recipe I had never made oatmeal cookies before. That could be why I innocently pushed forward when things seemed strange. The batter was wet and loose and I couldn’t form a rounded cookie; I thought the oatmeal might soak up the liquid. Nope. They spread like crazy and I ended up with a sheet-pan sized cookie.
Upon analyzing the disaster, I made some major modifications in the recipe. The flour to oats ratio was off, so I added loads of flour and used fewer oats. There was also too much milk and too little baking soda. Generally for high altitude you add a little moisture and reduce leaveners, but in this case I did just the opposite. Then I adjusted the spices – I think all cinnamon and no cloves enhances the raisins. Ah, the sweet taste of success.
Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies loosely adapted from about.com
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1 cup organic brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup vegan margarine, cold
1/3 cup plain soymilk
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and margarine until smooth and fluffy. Beat in milk a little at a time until well combined.
In another bowl, add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and stir until well mixed. Add flour mixture to the bowl of the stand mixture and blend to combine. Add oats and blend to combine. Remove bowl from stand mixer and stir in raisins.
Drop dough balls the size of 2 TBS onto cookie sheets and flatten slightly with your hand. Bake for 14-16 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies will be slightly soft and chewy. Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies
There were leftovers because my widespread family requested cookies. On their behalf, I will freeze some and see how they fare later.
I hereby declare that March is National Vegan Cookie Month. I just made that up, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?
My plan is to spend March making cookies. That’s a whole bunch of cookies, so I may freeze some. I’ve never had to worry about freezing cookies before as they don’t last that long in my house. But, that will be a new twist on my experiment. I will adapt recipes for high altitude and vegan (if needed) and then freeze them and see how they come out. If I have any left over. Uh, not likely.
The recipes start with the deadly Chocolate Mint Cookies with crushed candy canes from a mystery (with recipes) called Candy Cane Murder. Then we move on to shortbread cookies that I will dress up by dipping and sandwiching with jam. Next are Peanut Butter Agave Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. (Viva la invasion). Our final delicious tryout is a classic – Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.
I drool as I think of the fun and aromatic baking to come. Do you have a cookie recipe that you would like to see me adapt to be vegan and high altitude? Let me know and it may become part of the celebration of National Vegan Cookie Month.