I have experimented with veganizing nearly every cookie recipe in the book.
From chocolate chip and snickerdoodle to gingerbread and sugar cookies – I have conquered them all. It wasn’t until last weekend, though, that I finally decided to take on the challenge of veganizing – and upgrading - one American classic: the peanut butter cookie.
Most cookies you’ll find at your local bakery will contain eggs, which serve as binding, leavening and moisture in the baking process. The trickiest part about vegan baking is finding an ingredient to act the same way an egg might act in, what you might call, “regular” baking – because no one likes a dry, crumbly cookie.
Many people think it’s impossible to make a delicious cookie without the scrumptious cholesterol of a runny egg, but it’s actually quite easy once you know how different ingredients will contribute to your baked goods.
Most grocery stores provide egg replacers for baking, such as Ener-G egg replacer, but I prefer using the natural foods I already have in my pantry. Replacing an egg in cookies is different than replacing an egg in cakes and muffins – keep in mind that cookies and cakes are fluffier and cookies are firmer and more dense than cakes and muffins.
There are many variations to replace an egg in cookies including 1⁄4 cup of pureed silken tofu; 1⁄4 cup of pureed fruit, such as banana or applesauce; one tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of warm water; 1⁄2 tablespoon of vegetable shortening and 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder; one tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with three tablespoons of warm water – let mixture sit until it has turned into a gel-like form.
Any of the above can be used to replace an egg in vegan baking. If the recipes call for more than one egg, then double or triple the egg replacer recipe. For example, for two eggs you would use 1⁄2 cup of applesauce instead of 1⁄4 cup.
For these delicious chocolate-covered peanut butter cookies, I used cornstarch and water to replace my egg because it works best, in my opinion, to prevent crumbling in denser, more fattening cookies like these, which contain lots of peanut butter, sugar and oil.
This recipe was adapted from www.everydayhomecook.com
Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Cookies
1⁄2 cup vegan butter, softened (I use Earth Balance)
1 cup natural peanut butter (I like Trader Joe’s peanut butter)
3⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of warm water
1 tablespoon almond or soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1⁄4 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
3⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces chocolate (for melting and dipping cookies)
Cream together the softened butter, sugars and peanut butter with an electric mixer or with a spoon until well combined. When I don’t have an electric mixer on hand, I normally like to get my hands gooey and use them to cream the ingredients together.
Next, add the cornstarch and water mixture, milk and vanilla extract and beat together well.
Now your mixture should look brown and sticky. Try not to steal a spoonful as one will not be enough and it is more than likely there will be no batter left for cookies; it’s that good.
Last, mix in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until you can no longer see the flour and all of the ingredients are mixed thoroughly together. Again, I like to use my hands to be sure all of the dough is blended and there are no dry lumps.
Once your dough is mixed together well, spoon out balls of dough in a desired size (each of mine come to be about two tablespoons of dough), round them with the palms of your hand, and place them on a large cookie sheet with 2-3 inches of space between them. Twelve to 15 balls should be able to fit depending on the size of your dough balls and the cookie sheet. This recipe will make about two dozen.
After all the dough balls are placed on the cookie sheet, take a fork and press your dough balls down – what’s a peanut butter cookie without the signature fork mark, anyhow?
Bake them in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. They won’t look or feel completely done but, trust me, they are done. Allowing them to cool for 15 minutes will give them that chewy, moist cookie texture you desire.
While the cookies are cooling (I suggest putting them into the freezer to prevent breaking when dipping them into the chocolate), place the chocolate into a medium glass bowl. Put two cups of water into a saucepan big enough to place the bowl over, and turn the oven on to a medium setting until the water is boiling. When the water had boils, turn the heat to a low setting.
Place the glass bowl with chocolate over the saucepan and watch the chocolate melt as you stir it frequently.
Once the cookies are cooled, quickly dip them into the bowl of chocolate one by one, being sure not to leave them in the hot chocolate too long as its high temperature will break them apart.
After each cookie is dipped, place it on a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap. When all of them are finished and coated in chocolate, place them in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. As much as you may not believe me when I say, “You won’t believe these cookie are vegan,” I mean it. Why else would my fellow Hornet reporters be running around the newsroom like excited children after only a bite of these scrumptious babies? You’ll have to bake some to find out.
Janice Daniels can be reached at email@example.com