Saturday, November 01, 2008

Baking on a Budget: Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I believe that, even in a small-scale, personal economic crisis (or a big one), one should indulge every so often. Cookies are simple to bake, lift the spirits and, more importantly, stave off the symptoms of SAD (seasonal affected disorder) and PMS (no explanation necessary, I hope). A homemade cookie is also a treat that potentially will not break the bank.

Last week, I decided to bake chocolate chip cookies that both I and my vegan roommate Ruchi could enjoy. But how to do it on a budget? Vegan baking sometimes requires ingredients that I don't typically have on hand. However, when I Googled "vegan chocolate chip cookies", to my surprise, the first recipe that came up required nothing that I didn't already have on my shelves besides vegan chocolate chips. The recipe, from VegWeb.com (a site that features recipes, forums, coupons, and social networking), was so simple that I almost didn't think the cookies would turn out well. I was happily mistaken.

One of the things that usually turns me off about vegan cookies is the texture. Many vegan cookies are chewy, thick, and fibrous (i.e., they're 'healthy' cookies with lots of bran and oats thrown in for texture). These cookies are soft and the cinnamon gives the impression that they are melting in your mouth.

We shared the cookies at our Diwali party the next day, and everyone agreed that they were fabulous cookies, even before finding out they were vegan!

I think it's very important to follow the preparation instructions to a "T." Especially the part about mixing the oil and sugar together separately before adding it to the dry ingredients. I believe that this is the secret to the soft and delicious texture. I did need to add about 1/2 cup more of flour as the dough was clearly too wet with only 2 cups of flour, so I reflected this in the reprinted recipe below. I used about 1 tsp of ground cinnamon, but you can leave the cinnamon out (I don't really recommend it though: I think the cinnamon is what makes these cookies shine). I also did not use raw sugar, just regular granulated sugar. Some vegans do not use regular granulated sugar because it is processed using bone char. I opted out of purchasing special sugar since my roommate is not particular about what kind of sugar she eats.

Oh, and here's another tip if you have a Trader Joe's near you: their semi-sweet chocolate chips are vegan (i.e., there are no milk products or butter in them) and cost only $1.99 for a 12 oz. bag! Enjoy!

Happy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Vegweb.com

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
cinnamon to taste (optional)
vegan chocolate or carob chips - put in as many as you like
1 scant cup sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup water

Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. It will work if they're not at room temp but it works MUCH better if they are.

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon. Add the chocolate chips. Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix sugar and oil very well. Add the vanilla, and then add the water, mixing well. Add the wet ingredients to the well in the dry ingredients. Mix, being careful not to overwork it. Add more chocolate chips if you so desire. Spoon the dough onto ungreased cookie sheets (about 1 TBSP per cookie).

Bake 8-12 minutes. The cookies are done when they seem a little bit softer then you want them to be. They will harden up some as they cool.

3 comments:

Ruchi said...

mmmm, these cookies were awesome - and they really hit the spot (especially in the pms kind of way!) :-)

Jeremy LaBuff said...

I made these for my friend's bd today and I gotta admit, they were yum, though I had to add extra oil cuz the flour was excessive (maybe put 2 1/4-1/2 in?).

Also, they were almost vegan because non-dairy chocolate either doesnt exist or is really expensive here.

Carly said...

interesting...the original recipe called for 2 cups flour, and I found that it wasn't enough. My dough was almost soupy, so I added another 1/2 cup. Maybe it's an altitude thing, or maybe my measuring cups are off!

Good think you're an experienced baker and didn't panic!