This is the festive and magical time of year when we delve deep into the richness of the internet, discover scrumptious holiday treat recipes, attempt to vegan-ize them, fall short, throw a little fit, open a bottle of wine, re-try, fall short again, pour more wine, try again, fall short and pass out from holiday anguish (and wine).
I mean, obviously.
I don’t need to tell you things don’t go perfectly at the holidays even if certain people make it look that way. (I’m lookin’ at you, Martha Stewart.)
I found this recipe on the internet from Martha Stewart for ginger chocolate chip cookies. Her recipe includes no eggs, so the only thing to do was to swap out the butter for Earth Balance, a vegan “butter alternative,” a non-hydrogenated, plant-based spread along the lines of margarine. Right?
(You may find Earth Balance products in organic sections of most grocery stores or in the margarine section of the dairy case. I find it’s pretty widely available. There are many varieties. I always use “original” flavor.)
But wait. Not so fast. I did the swap, Earth Balance for butter, and expected nice, chewy regular-looking cookies. You know.
What I got instead were um…well…balls:
I intended to go with it! They tasted great. They were fine.
Until the next day, when they were a hardened mass of ginger-fied sugar.
Back to the drawing board. A few times. But persistence often pays off and I finally hit on the magic! Here are my tips along with a very successful vegan cookie recipe. (Your non-vegan friends will never know.)
- Measure flour correctly. Too much flour in a cookie recipe may lead to what I am now calling “the ball problem” (see above). In this recipe, I kept the flour measurement the same as Martha’s, but I measured the flour correctly. That is, instead of scooping my measuring cup into the flour canister, I spooned the flour from the canister into my cup a little at a time, skimming the excess flour off the top gently with a kitchen knife. This prevents packing in–what amounts to be–too much flour.
- Use the appropriate sugar. In her recipe, Martha–as I like to call her as though we were on a first-name basis–uses brown sugar. Apparently, this works for her and her butter-filled recipe. However, brown sugar may lead to a denser, puffier cookie. Regular, granulated sugar allows the cookie to spread a little more readily. I often use this brand.
- Adjust baking racks accordingly. Ideally, cookies should bake on a rack placed in the middle of the oven. This promotes even baking. Most of us real human beings have limited time and therefore require doing at least two things at the same time. This recipe makes enough to fill three baking sheets. Instead of placing all three sheets using all three baking racks–top, middle and bottom–all at once, I used both my ovens. I placed two sheets in my top oven and one sheet on the middle rack of my second oven. Alternatively, you may bake the cookies in batches: two sheets in one batch and one sheet in the next. Even baking. It’s important.
- Refrigerate the dough if necessary (or not.) Refrigerate the dough for a few hours or overnight if you would like a denser, chewier cookie. I wanted to promote spreading, so I skipped the refrigeration stage.
Gingerbread Chocoloate Chip Cookies (Vegan)
Makes 24 cookies.
Seven ounces vegan dark chocolate chips
One-and-a-half cups all-purpose flour
One teaspoon baking soda
One and one-quarter teaspoons ground ginger
One teaspoon ground cinnamon
One-quarter teaspoon ground cloves
One-quarter teaspoon ground nutmeg
One tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Eight tablespoons (1 stick) Earth Balance
One tablespoon freshly grated ginger
One-half cup granulated sugar
One-quarter cup unsulfured molasses
An additional one-quarter cup granulated sugar for decoration
- Line three baking sheets with parchment. Preheat oven(s) to 325 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cocoa and baking soda.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat Earth Balance and grated ginger until whitened, about four minutes. Add granulated sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.
- Beat half of flour mixture into “butter” mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture.
- Mix in the chocolate chips by hand.
- Drop cookies or roll them gently with your hands (about one and one-half inches in diameter each) two inches apart on baking sheets. Roll each cookie in granulated sugar to coat. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, about 12 minutes.
7. Let cool five minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
THAT’S a perfect holiday cookie even Martha Stewart would be proud to serve!