Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie That Rocks! (. . . and a snowy day)

At Last! These are what I would call: The perfect vegan chocolate chip cookie.
And as you can see--I like a bit of dough mixed in with the chips, not the other way around.

Slightly underbaked, these will be much better--trust me!

Mmmmm. Chocolate mountain.

What I see right now.

Another shot of what I see. That white square to the right of the picnic table down there in the "hollar"--it's a salt lick for the deer. That big bush of green giant stuff--it's bamboo. Mr. Thyme insisted on it when we moved here--it grows like a weed, soon it may creep into our house. Maybe I can turn it into yarn.

It's a snowy day here in St. Louis. A beautiful morning. I took a photo. I am sitting in our outside deck chair I pulled inside looking at the woods in the back yard. I walked outside with the dogs at six this morning and heard nothing. The snow was like a a giant blanket of cotton keeping sound away. I just loved it. There is something about snow. It's a magical reminder that whatever else is going on in the world (and recently, the news seems to be getting worse and worse)--it reminds me mother nature is our constant. She guides, shakes up, quiets and calms. Snow. Well, that's enough of "Deep Thoughts" by Kelly. On to more enticing things--vegan chocolate chip cookies. Yes, I am still sticking to my New Year's resolution of "sugar is not a vegetable" but that can only last for so long--I must have something sweet to nibble on in this house--just not eighteen sweet things at once.

Lately, I have seen an increase in the number of pastry cookbooks I own. I have a love/hate relationship with baking vegan. I am a great baker--I am not trying to brag, it's just the truth. Oh, there have been some great kitchen catastrophes here, trust me. And I will bake something that perhaps the "rest of the household" doesn't appreciate quite as much as I do--or bake for friends and find the same thing holds true. But I have thick skin when it comes to my baking. Plus, I was born under the astrological sign of "people who make great baked goods"--so my persistence in the area never really wanes. I love vegan baking most when I get things right--like vegan brownies. Don't have this recipe down yet. Will someday--have had good ones, but felt they were heavily ladened with oil--and a few too many calories to keep around this house. But more importantly to me is finding the go-to vegan chocolate chip cookie. I've tried them all. As a beginner vegan, there was a video posting of a "you must make this Toll House-like cookie"--I did, and it wasn't even close. I have tried others of course. Some with a bit of success. Some with a little less. Until this week. My vegan chocolate chip cookie worries can be put to rest. Thanks to a cookbook I found at a local used bookstore--a fave hangout. I've said many times before how much I love used bookstores. There is nothing better than puttering away an afternoon browsing the stacks, looking at the past. Something about the smell, too--all gluey and old. My bookstore has a ghost living there--that makes the visit that much more special.

Enter Maida Heatter's Cookies, a book I can honestly say is worth the time to try to get your hands on. First, she is the cookie queen. I had heard of her, but never owned one of her cookbooks. I've stumbled across her recipes here and there, but never knew who this Maida was. If I pick up a pastry book, I go to the basics first--did they get the chocolate chip cookie right? That is the test. I will say, this cookbook has no photographs. All text. Lots and lots of text. I had to actually read the book to figure out where to start as there are many iterations of several "well-known" cookies throughout. I found the recipe for David's Cookies and knew instantly, this would be the cookie I'd vegan-ize.

This cookie, David's Cookie, according to Maida, originated in the mid-80s in NYC and was all the rage. It was a chocolate chipper, but made with chocolate chunks, vs. chips. It is supposedly a well-guarded secret, yet here it is in her cookbook. Knowing this was intriguing enough. I had to try it. I added a bit more vanilla extract to my recipe and opted for a bit less chocolate--the ratio of dough to chocolate seemed a bit much for my liking when I first made these. From the photos taken after the cookie cooled a bit, you can see the chocolate morsels are just brilliant and all melty. The dough part is such that when you remove it from the oven within the time stated (and that is to make sure to underbake it and for heaven's sake--check your oven temperature--mine is always off by ten degrees)--you will be much happier than to take a look and figure the baking time needs to be extended a few minutes more--don't do it--better to underbake this! I have had two-to-four cookies a night for dessert for the past week. I can honestly say, these cookies still hold their own. But last night, probably was their last full edible evening as I had to hold the cookie in the soy milk for about half a minute to get that milk-dunkingness goo that I love. So, I'd say it is safe to estimate that these cookies stay really good for about a week in an airtight container. As for the chocolate used. I used Ghiradelli 70% Cacao. It is the only chocolate chunk I like that does not contain milk. So yummy! I hope you try these!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
*makes about 35 small cookies

6 oz. chocolate 70% Cacao
2 sticks Earth Balance Vegan Butter (or 1 cup)
1 cup light brown sugar--packed
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
*you could add about a 1/2 cup of your nut of choice, but I am a purist with chocolate chip cookies

Preheat oven to 400. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place the chocolate on a cutting board and coarsely chop. I had my pieces in about 1/2" chunks. Set aside. Now, prep your egg replacer--whisking well, then setting aside. Take the butter out and chop into pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand blender, mix the butter until it is fluffy--about a minute. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla and beat again until the sugar is well incorporated. Add the egg replacer. Mix in well, be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer, beat in the flour until it is all mixed in--this won't take long. Just watch and when you see it is mixed in enough--there might be some flour at the bottom, that is okay--use a wooden spoon for the rest of the mixing. Stir in the chopped chocolate chunks. Take a teaspoon of dough at a time (and I try to make sure I am not just pulling up chunks of chocolate and no dough--I like my chocolate to be spread out in my chocolate chip cookies. So if I grab a teaspoon that is all chips, I re-grab forming a ball that is more evenly distributed--it helps, seriously). Place the teaspoon of dough on cookie sheets about a 1/2 inch apart. They won't spread too much. You will easily be able to fill two cookie sheets. Place your oven racks evenly apart in the oven. Bake cookies for 8 minutes--turning at 4 minutes. Meaning, rotate the top tray to bottom, and turning them from front to back. Then bake 4 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Let sit on cookie tray for about a minute. Remove carefully from the cookie sheet and place on a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way. These are amazingly delicious cookies! Will store in an airtight container for about a week.

3 comments:

  1. these sound and look amazing! i definitely love an underbaked cookie! the gooeyness is a pleasure i love to indulge in anytime!

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  2. Thank you! I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about just how much to underbake until my first bite--then it was pure cookie love!

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  3. Finally making it back to update you on my Vegan meal with these Chocolate Chip cookies for dessert! My oldest daughter and I enjoyed cooking and she made the cookies all by herself. Dinner was great, I thought. The match meat chicken was just how I remembered yours. I made the mashed potatoes, but didn't know which gravy you had made. My daughter searched online for a vegan mushroom gravy which turned out great too. No left overs from dinner. Husband thought it was interesting, he ate it, so it couldn't have been too bad. I loved the cookies. I love dark chocolate, my daughter wasn't too crazy, not a dark chocolate fan. I hope to check your blog often and try many more of your recipes! Thanks for opening a new world of eating to me!

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