The cookie chronicles, vol. 2

My confidence in my vegan baking skills is growing.

There are definitely some differences. The texture is different, not different in a bad way, just different. It’s harder to get the wet and dry ingredients to combine, resulting in a cookie that tastes somewhat unfinished. I am determined to keep playing.

In this round, I tweaked:

  • Chocolate, chopped instead of chips (yes!)–stayed with bittersweet
  • Brown sugar&granulated sugar (yes!) instead of just granulated
  • Tripled the vanilla (yes!)
  • Did not chill the dough (maybe)

When it came time for taste testing, my teenage judge took half a cookie (he was skeptical after round 1)….”Can I have the other half?” Victory 😊

The texture still needs work, it’s a bit gritty, which I think might be the sugar/tahini combo. Am going to play with an alternate for some of the tahini. I don’t want more vegan butter but something else. Have some ideas.

The chopped chocolate was brilliant and made up for less sugar by having it melt in small flecks throughout the cookie. I am going to chop even finer.

Both the chocolate and the brown sugar gave the cookies a more natural appearance–golden brown. This is important because we will be using the Minnesota State Fair baked goods entry and judging criteria for the contest. The components are:

    Appearance, color
    Flavor, aroma
    Texture, internal appearance

I think I am making progress across all. I know from my experience in working at the State Fair in Marketing/PR that to win I must also demonstrate exceptional consistency (ie same size cookies, same amount of chocolate etc). Am determined to get there through devoted practice 😇

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The Cookie Chronicles, vol. I

Do you prefer cooking or baking? The answer tells me how to talk to you 😉

It’s a way of classifying personality in my brain.

The cooks are creative, free-flowing, use a recipe as inspiration and general guidance. Bakers are more rule followers, precise and careful.

I have the mind of a chef. Baking has never really been my thing, as I prefer to just throw things together, which doesn’t generally deliver great results in baking.

So I have stayed away from vegan baking, as it is particularly intimidating. The ratios are even more important and the ingredients more difficult to find.

There is nowhere to hide. No escaping the results of sloppy “measuring”. No buttery richness to distract the palate. It requires greater skill.

But I am curious. And so started experimenting with a classic baked good: chocolate chip cookies. I mean most people will eat even a crappy chocolate chip cookie. Lots of room for forgiveness.

I researched several blog posts and found a range of methods to cover off the substitutes I wanted to try first for butter and egg. I decided to start with a vegan butter and flax egg.

Avery and I also ate at a new vegan restaurant– Seed Cafe. We love the chocolate chip tahini cookies. The tahini is a substitute for some of the butter and I added a vegan butter as the remainder.

I then tried out the binder: flax egg.

So 1 tbsp of ground flax seed to 3 tbsp water is the recommended ratio. Mix it and let it sit for 30 minutes or so. It definitely looks and behaves a bit like glue that’s partially set but materially flavorless. 😉

But then I added the tahini. Yum. It’s nutty but not overwhelming. I used dark chocolate chips. The combo was definitely for a more refined palate. It was not sweet.

The technique called for chilling the dough overnight (really, who does that?) This was a test of my rule following, so I did it. I don’t think it mattered. But technically I didn’t test it without chilling.

I baked 2 rounds for different lengths, one in a ball and one smashed slightly. And topped with coarse sea salt.

The texture was good if not a little gritty. The color being a bit dull since there’s no butter browning.

This first round was good but not great. An A- from my adult taste tester, and a C from the teenager. Somewhere in between was my self-assessment. I could do better.

More work to do, but keep:

    Tahini gives a nice nutty flavor
    Flax egg makes a good substitute and isn’t as hard as I thought
    Salt flakes on top make for a nice punch in combination with the tahini. Vegan baking definitely requires some flavor pops.
    Dark chocolate over semisweet
    Underbake, hey no eggs means less risk

Oh, I forgot to mention that I might have opened my big mouth and bet a baker friend that I could beat his traditional cookies. (A month of vegan eating being the bet.)

If you’ve got tips for me I will take them! The bakeoff is in early February.

More taste testing to come!

Chocolate makes everything better

I am seriously tired of zucchini. And I mean, I really do generally like it.  But after several weeks of eating it every week, I was thrilled to find this recipe to ahem, cover up some of that green vegetable taste. I have made these Chocolate Zucchini Muffins twice now. The first batch was met with suspicion. The second was requested. And the full dozen was gone the same day.

The recipe has quite a few ingredients, but most things you should have in your cupboard (I used the Silk vanilla soy creamer and mini chocolate chips seemed to work better). This recipe reinforces a life truth: Chocolate makes everything better.

Photo Aug 25, 8 49 58 AM