One of the [many] things I love about baking is how wonderfully reliable it is.
Now matter how gray the sky is, or how tired I feel, or how many times I dropped my pen in a 10-minute period, I know that I can mix butter, sugar and flour together in a very specific combination and it will make something wonderful. I love that.
It is that passion, in fact, that is what got me interested in vegan baking. Just because someone exercises their personal right to not consume animal products do NOT mean they shouldn’t experience that same reliable joy that a cookie or cupcake can bring. It just shouldn’t.
And so as I tiptoed into the realm of vegan baking, I came across Dreena Burton, author of three quite successful vegan cookbooks and a fantastic blog. I made her chocolate cake and fell in love. But what drew me to her first were these.
Super-Charge Me! Cookies.
Sick and tired of the hydrogenated-oil filled, high fructose corn syrup-ridden, over-processed cookies that are all the rage on grocery store shelves, she got down to the business she knows so well and created a cookie as delicious as it is healthy.
For me, it was love at first bake. The recipe involves OATS, one of my favorite foods, and yet was still adaptable in terms of flavor combinations and add-in variety. Most importantly, they taste.so.good. I kept a constant stash in the freezer and looked forward to whipping up a new batch when the last one disappeared. They made a perfect pre-gym snack, early morning my-stomach-is-not-awake-yet bite, accompaniment to tea. And I can’t remember how many times I would finish a batch and have to make another after the plate of fresh cookies “mysteriously” disappeared when a wanderer happened by the kitchen.
I played around with the recipe a lot, but here is my basic go-to mix when my stash starts to get low. I always play around with the spice combination, add-ins, and nut/seed butter, and every batch turns out just a little differently. You can make them wheat-free (with spelt flour) if you’d like – this recipe actually introduced me to spelt flour and I’ve kept some around ever since!
1 c. rolled oats
2/3 c. spelt flour OR scant 2/3 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 – 1 tsp. cinnamon (I always use more like 1 tsp because I’m a cinnamon addict)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom
3-4 Tbs chocolate chips (I use vegan chips because they taste the exact same and are cheaper at Whole Foods)
1/4 – 1/3 c. dried fruit (cranberries are my fave, but anything will work – you don’t have to add any at all, if you’d prefer!)
1/3 c. ground flax
1/2 c. maple syrup (or any kind of liquid sweetener; maple seems to have the best texture)
3 Tbs. nut/seed butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (can also do combinations of vanilla + almond, vanilla + rum, etc)
2 Tbs oil (olive, canola, sunflower…walnut oil makes one amazing cookie!)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. I always forget that part, and then I have to use all of my will power to not eat all of the dough…don’t do that to yourself.
Mix the oats, flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium-large bowl.
Then add the chocolate chips (or butterscotch, or peanut butter…) and the dried fruit and mix it in.
Next in a smaller bowl, mix your wet ingredients: flax meal (yes, I know, not really ‘wet’, but it has just enough moisture that it works better mixed in here), maple syrup, extracts (vanilla and whatever else – I’m a fan of rum extract myself ;), nut butter, and oil. Not gonna lie – I’ve used half oil/half applesauce before for various reasons (walnut oil is, um, a tad pricey), and it works [almost] just as well.
I highly recommend experimenting with different nut butters – even the brand makes a difference in flavor. I’ve used different peanut butters, almond butters, and most recently sunflower seed butter (one of my roommates is deathly allergic to nuts). Nutella is next on my list…
You probably know where I’m going with this: wet —> dry!
Mix it all together, put it on a silpat mat/parchment papaer/aluminum foiled/greased baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes – check it then. They can dry out, but in my experience they need more time in the oven rather than less.
And while you’re waiting….lick the spoon.
These freeze really well, and I’ve found they last longer if I freeze them after letting them cool for about an hour.
And by “last longer,” I mean it becomes slightly more difficult for me to eat 4 in one sitting.
Do let me know if you make these and come up with a particularly amazing combination – I’ll do the same.