My kids grew up in a natural-foodie household—that’s all they ever knew. Brown rice, tofu, stir-fry veggies, and a variety of comfort-foods-gone-natural were their bread and butter, so to speak. Given that I was pretty successful at making it all taste good, everyone was generally eager for dinnertime to roll around.
Until, that is, I’d bring out the desserts. Eschewing white flour, white sugar, butter, and eggs (and lacking any talent in working with their whole-grain vegan counterparts), my desserts in those days left a lot to be desired. I remember the fateful day when I produced yet another dense under-sweetened square I was trying to pass off as a cake, and my daughter looked at me and said, “Mom, just stop trying.”
She was right: Better no dessert than the ones I was trying to serve!
Fortunately for my kids and myself, we have been blessed to have others in our life who seem to have mastered the art of combining high-quality ingredients to produce delicious desserts. If you’ve visited Kripalu lately and had one of our bakery’s delectable cookies, I’m sure you’ll agree.
And yet something always nagged at me. It was one of those childhood memories, the one that included my mother’s always on-hand delicious chocolate chip cookies. They are one of my favorite childhood food memories and were examples of how she delivered love through food. Was I failing my children by giving them only brown rice and broccoli to remember me by?
Not one to give up, I set out to create an updated version of my mom’s chocolate chip cookies several years ago. Her recipe, of course, had come from the back of a bag and included lots of white ingredients. With a little experimentation, however, I discovered that not only could I create a version that worked with all vegan ingredients, but also that the basic recipe could easily work with many variations. So much so that it’s now my standard cookie recipe and I love to use it while baking with a group.
This past weekend, my daughter, home from college with her wonderful beau, Charlie, joined me in the kitchen for some pre-holiday cookie time. As it turned out, it was Charlie’s first-ever cookie-making endeavor. Confident that he’d have a successful time, I handed over the recipe you see below to him and my daughter and told them they could make a variety of substitutions. They chose to add oatmeal to unbleached white flour and include walnuts with the two sizes of dark chocolate chips they used—and they kept the recipe vegan!
The cookies were delicious! Even our non-vegan family members were thrilled.
I’m sure many of you have incredible cookie recipes. Sharing is always welcome here at Foodie Fridays—or send them to me!
One quick trick from my mom on keeping cookies fresh or making a hard cookie soft: Simply place a piece of bread in the cookie jar. Within a few hours, the bread starts to become dry as the cookies become moist. This works especially well in our house, as these cookies come out on the crunchy side, which several of us like, and the soft cookie fans get their half stored separately with the bread. And everyone is happy!
Versatile and Yummy Cookies
Makes 2–3 dozen, depending on the size you like.
1/2 pound Earth Balance vegan spread (or unsalted butter if you prefer)
1 cup Sucanat (dark cane sugar) or another organic granulated sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup (or use agave if you don’t want the maple taste)
2 eggs, or 2 tablespoons cold water to keep it vegan
1 teaspoon vanilla
In another bowl, combine:
3 1/2 cups combination of flours, such as unbleached white, whole wheat pastry, barley, gluten-free AP flour, or oat. (Note: you can substitute up to 1 cup of the flour with quick-cooking raw oats.)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Combine dry ingredients into the wet and fold in 2–3 cups of any of the following:
Dark chocolate chips, crystallized ginger, raisins or other dried fruit, walnuts or other nuts or seeds.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make small balls from the batter and place on baking sheet. Press lightly to flatten. Bake about 15 minutes, depending on cookie size.