Earlier this summer I was asked to provide a vegan dessert for a party. I already had some homemade sorbet on hand — I’ll post about that at another time — but I wanted something more traditionally sweet as well. So I searched for some recipes and found this list of Oh She Glows’ top 21 vegan desserts of 2011, and on it found this recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies, and so I tried it.
This particular recipe is a pretty simple substitution project: replace the butter with a vegan spread, replace the eggs with flaxseed and water, and make sure the chocolate chips don’t have dairy.
I was grateful for that because I was searching at the last minute (how unlike me, I know) and didn’t want to have to traipse all over town looking for unusual ingredients. I did stop at our neighborhood health food store because I knew the non-dairy butter selection at our regular grocery can be iffy, but most grocery stores should easily have ground flaxseed and non-dairy spread. If your grocery doesn’t have refrigerator space for the ground flaxseed, it still may have a regular display of Bob’s Red Mill with the whole seeds, which you can then pulverize in a food processor or clean coffee grinder. (If your grocery store stocks ground flaxseed at room temperature, shop somewhere else.)
As for the chocolate, semisweet chocolate chips should be made without dairy, or you can get a fancy high-cocoa chocolate bar without dairy and chunk it up. Check the ingredient list. I used Trader Joe’s semisweet chips.
If you’re experienced with baking chocolate chip cookies, this one will be easy as pie. The only variation in technique from the regular recipe is for the flaxseed egg. In a cookie, eggs provide binding and texture as well as supporting the leavening provided by the salt and soda. The flaxseed substitution — 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed plus 3 tablespoons of water to make 1 egg equivalent — provides excellent binding and just a tad less leavening, which means that your cookies will sink a wee bit more as they cool than the non-vegan kind will. This is not a bad thing by any means.
The cookies were a big hit at the party. I want to make them again but I think next time I’ll cut the cinnamon and bump up the vanilla. The cinnamon, I think, is intended to help mask the absence of a strong buttery taste, but it was a little more cinnamon than I wanted; I think vanilla will fill that hole nicely. I could add a drop of almond extract too, though not more — a little of that goes a very long way.
So I heartily encourage you to surprise the vegans in your life with fresh-baked cookies. And at some point, perhaps closer to the holidays, I plan to build on this to see if I can make vegan Igor Bars.