The lifestyle of a vegan appeals to me, as equally does a lifestyle of eating out of a rubbish bin. I’m not criticising and I’m not saying it’s wrong to live as a vegan- it’s just not for me. I like meat and I like cheese, end of story. But just because I’m not vegan, doesn’t mean that I’m not up for trying vegan foods and it was shock, horror and a little head spinning that took place when I discovered that these cookies were not only vegan but they were also some of the best cookies that I’ve ever made in my life. Who knew a cookie without butter and eggs could be better than an “okay, considering it’s healthy” cookie? I have to give credit where credit is due, begrudgingly though it is- the idea came from the Skinny Bitch in the Kitch vegan cookbook (which no I did not buy, I was given because nobody else at work wanted it).
The book itself irritates me by the very recipe titles alone- why call something “chicken salad” if it’s made using a substitute soy product made to look like chicken. For those who don’t know what a vegan is- let me give you the dictionary definition: ‘a person who omits all animal products from their diet’ and this includes dairy products, eggs and honey. The whole concept of the book rests on the idea that if you cut out meat, dairy and foods with preservatives that you eat then you will be healthier and slimmer (and it implies that the lack of animal in you life will also turn you into a bitch). It’s a nice concept and the book, which is a follow up recipe book to Skinny Bitch, is funny and the recipes straightforward. But they promote using products like soy*, of which there is great debate over and vegan cheese and veganaise which are processed just as much as normal processed cheese and mayonnaise, only without the flavour. Some of the recipes I tried like “Macaroni and four cheeses” not only looked completely indigestible but smelled fake because of the use of fake cheese. Like I said, I can respect these two skinny vegans for their discipline and principals, but I will never be one.
However, the skinny bitches do have a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, which didn’t seem all that healthy to me but having never once eaten a cookie that was marketed for people with dietary intolerances that didn’t taste of cardboard, I was compelled to try. The flavour of the cookie was promising- though I found it a little sweet for my tastes and far too greasy. So, over the past two weeks I have played around with the concept of this recipe multiple times and culinary miracle worker that I am, I ultimately have come up with a couple of far healthier versions without turning myself into a kitchen bitch or compromising on their flavour and dairy-free origins. I say versions, because I found through making slight alterations in the ingredients you could produce an entirely different texture in the cookie- and we all have a type of cookie that we like. For me, I steer away from the soft and chewy cookie- if it hasn’t got crunch and a trail crumbs strewn across my jumper when I take a bite then it’s not my kind of cookie. But you can take your pick when making the recipe below following the guidelines for omitting and adding certain ingredients.
I never thought the day would come when I would add a vegan cookie to my top baking recipes of all time, let alone a relatively healthy one- but here it is, dairy free and ever so addictive. The coconut oil gives a wonderful natural flavour make sure that you use it when it’s in it’s solid form in a jar, like all oils it can melt. I recommend making them only when you have company or you may find your hands wandering to the biscuit tin a little too often- and that might make you a fat bitch in the kitch.
* for more on arguments against soy
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
This recipe as written, is for thin, crispy cookies, which spread during baking (as pictured above), if you want a chewier centre then omit the baking soda all together and don’t press down your scoops of dough before baking. If you want a more solid crunchy cookie (more like the texture of shortbread as shown below recipe) then add an extra 50g/2oz whole wheat flour and cut the ice water down to 60ml/ 1/4 cup. I’m told good high percentage cocoa chocolate (or bittersweet) is dairy free and I would recommend it over using carob
Difficulty: if you can bake cookies, you can bake these.
225g/1 cup coconut oil (in solid form)
150g/ ¾ cup sugar
80ml/1/3 cup ice cold water
1 tbsp molasses
185g/1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour (or whole wheat flour)
100g/1 cup rolled oats, blitzed in a food processor until quite fine
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
225g/8oz dark/bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped (vegan)
50g/1/3 cup cocoa nibs (optional)
125g/ 1 cup chopped walnuts
1/ Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Beat together the coconut oil and sugar (preferably in the bowl of an electric mixer) until creamy (about 3 minutes). Beat in the ice water and molasses (it may look like the mixture has separated but it will come back together.)
2/ In another bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients except for the chocolate and walnuts. Add in 3 additions to the wet mixture, mixing on a slow speed to combine.
3/ Stir through the chocolate chips, cocoa nibs and walnuts and mix to combine. Scoop heaped-tablespoon sized balls onto a baking tray 5 cm/2.5 inches apart and gently press them down with the palm of your hand. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and set. Cool on a rack.