I am not a vegan. But since I learned about vegan glitter cookies that required no baking (and even attempted them myself — blog post later), I suddenly developed a fascination with vegan baking. Especially when my friend and I were walking down St. Mark’s and stopped inside a vegan bakery, where she bought (among other baked goods) vegan chocolate chip cookies. I had a few and I loved them. So I looked online for a good recipe.
I found a recipe from Elana’s Pantry, which got so many great reviews from various people that I figured this recipe had to be tried out. The recipe warns that you must not use Bob’s Red Mill brand almond flour, as it does not yield successful results. So what did I do? Used Bob’s Red Mill almond flour, of course! Cynical girl that I am, I thought that she must have been getting paid by the particular brands she mentioned to push their particular product. And this is what happens when you are too cynical to follow a helpful tip. You see, sometimes people really don’t have a hidden agenda. Sometimes, they really are trying to help.
Bob’s Red Mill almond flour yielded flat, mushy cookies that blob into each other on the pan. Dejected, I scraped them all together and stored my cookie blobs in a plastic container, to be consumed by me and only me. I wouldn’t serve them to other people because of how they looked. They tasted amazing though. I wouldn’t say that Bob’s Red Mill is a horrible product, but for this particular recipe, it was certainly not the right almond flour of choice.
Not wanting to give up because I loved how the cookie tasted, I sucked it up and bought one of the two brands recommended — Honeyville blanched almond flour. Yes, at $29.99 for a 5-lb bag, it’s quite a splurge, but it was worth it to see successful results…
The following is the original recipe from the site, and the first time I made the cookies, I followed the recipe as-is. However, I found the cookies to be a little too oily and a little too soft and adjusted the amount of grapeseed oil (I was excited at the idea of using grapeseed oil as I had never used it in anything before, nor did I know it could be used in baking!) the next time I made them. Instead of using 1/2 cup of grapeseed oil, I used 1/3 cup, and it yielded a firmer, but still soft cookie with less oiliness.
Gluten Free and Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 ½ cups blanched almond flour (do not use Bob’s Red Mill brand)
½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup grapeseed oil (I adjusted this to 1/3 cup after the first time)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup agave nectar
1 cup dark chocolate chips 73% cacao
1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl
2. Stir together wet ingredients in a smaller bowl
3. Mix wet ingredients into dry
4. Form ½ inch balls and press onto a parchment lined baking sheet
5. Bake at 350° for 7-10 minutes
6. Cool and serve
Makes 24 cookies
The cookie dough was firm enough to make little balls out of without refrigerating, but I refrigerated anyway. The best part was that you could eat the cookie dough without fear of salmonella poisoning from raw eggs as there were no eggs in the recipe. You also don’t even need a mixer to mix the ingredients! Just a wooden spoon!
The baked cookies tasted nutty, sweet and very close to its original, non-vegan counterpart. The most noticeable difference, however, is in the texture. Due to the almond flour, the cookie’s texture is just a little bit coarse, as opposed to the smooth texture of the original chocolate chip cookie.
A word about chocolate chips being vegan — the first time I made these, I used Nestle’s chocolate chips, which worked just fine, except that I couldn’t really call the cookies vegan. For those who don’t know, vegan means absolutely no animal products can be used. Some chocolate contains a bit of milk, milk solids or milk fat — and we all know milk comes from yes, that’s right, a cow, which is — an animal. I don’t know if Nestle’s contained any of these three, but I wasn’t going to assume it didn’t. The next time I made them, I used Trader Joe’s chocolate chips, which contain no milk solids, milk fat or any milk. They aren’t advertised as vegan, but if you read the ingredients, you will see that TJ’s chocolate chips are indeed vegan-friendly. Whole Foods also sells chocolate chips that explicitly say “Vegan” on the packaging. And then of course you can also use carob chips in place of chocolate chips, but I say why sacrifice the taste of chocolate when you don’t really have to?
Most people will make a face or at least mentally make a face when they hear that something is “vegan”, particularly when the word is placed next to the name of a baked good. It’s like telling someone you’ve got fat-free, sugar-free ice cream…I mean what’s the point, right? If you’re going to indulge in something, why not indulge in the real thing? However, one taste of these cookies and you will feel just as much guilt as when you eat their non-vegan counterparts. You even have to remind yourself that what you’re eating is actually good for you because of its healthful ingredients. And then you can breathe a sigh of relief as you reach for another…then another…then…okay, even too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. But you get my drift.