Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate-Chocolate Chip,
White Chocolate Chip, & Dried Cranberry Cookies

gluten-free-chocolate-chocolate-chip-white-chocolate-chip-and-dried-cranberry-cookiesYield: approximately 2 dozen cookies

Just in time for the holidays are these handsome and festive cookies appropriate for even the most gluten intolerant on your guest list.

I am not a gluten-free baker but, occasionally, I make treats for my high school art students.  And, in my large Advanced and AP Studio class of 31 students, I learned that I have one girl with a gluten sensitivity.  So, feeling badly about her not being able to indulge in the treats I shared with them, I decided to experiment.

A few years back, I created a recipe for gluten-free cookies made with white bean puree and chickpea flour. They were delicious, but not as handy to make as if they didn’t call for the white beans.  And, I recently learned that my small neighborhood Kroger no longer carries chickpea flour, though they seem to stock every other kind of flour imaginable.  So, I chose one that was less expensive than most and that I thought might have a similar texture to the chickpea flour, namely brown rice flour.  Good decision.

Whie some gluten-free baked goods call for special flour blends, xantham gum, egg substitutes, and the like, I wanted mine to be straightforward and absent of ingredients that most bakers wouldn’t have on hand.  As a result, these absolutely delicious and beautifully-textured cookies were born.

I had found, trhrough previous experiments with gluten free cookies, that adding almond extract, in addition to vanilla extract, helps mellow any “off” taste that results from using flours that are stronger tasting than all purpose white or white whole wheat.  But, it occured to me that a teaspoon of espresso powder might further counteract those sharper flavors of some of the alternative flours without lending a pronounced coffee flavor.  And I was right.

As for texture these are a little crispy and ever-so-slightly sandy in texture–like the commercial “Pecan Sandies” of my youth–which everyone who has tasted themhas  found very appealing.  And I hope you do.

I served these with Prosecco to guests who stopped by after a concert.  It was lovely pairing and a special way to end the evening.

 

1/4 cup vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup demerera sugar (or 1/2 cup granulated and 1/2 cup brown sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almon extract

1 teaspoon espresso powder (or coffee/instant coffee ground to a powder in a spice grinder)

1/8 teaspoonsalt

1 cup brown rice flour (I use white whole wheat)

1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Special Dark)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk (or up to 4)

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips (I ordered these online) + 1/4 cup additional (optional)

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (I found a bag of pre-chopped ones) + 2 tablespoons additional (optional)

Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper; set aside.  Preheat oven to 3530 degrees.  Beat butter and shortening until fluffy.  Beat in sugar and continue beating until well creamed.  Add extracts, espresso pwder, salt, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda, and mix on lmedium-low speed just until well-combined, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Mix in the non-dairy milk, adding an additional tablespoon or two if necessary, as the brown rice flour is very absorbant.  On lowest speed, mix in both typs of chips and dried cranberries.  Using a tablespoon or small scoop, arrange mounds of dough about 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Flaten with your middle three fingers to abotu 1/2-inch thick.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until desired doness is reached.  Remove baking sheet to wire rack and allow cookies to cool completely before removing to a serving platter.  If desired, drizzle with 1/4 cup white chocolate chips, melted; I use a pastry bag for this task.  If more color is desired, press a couple of tablespoons of dried cranberries into drizzled white chocolate, distributing among cookies.

 

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Vegan Toasted Coconut and Chocolate Chunk Cookies (coconut oil is the secret to THE BEST chocolate chip cookies ever!)

Toasted Coconut-Chocolate Chunk CookiesYield: approximately 3 dozen cookies

In my go to chocolate chip cookies, I like a blend of vegan butter and vegetable shortening for the best of both worlds.  Craving cookies, but with no shortening, I decided to substitute coconut oil (solid at room temperature) and oh, boy, those of us who haven’t been baking cookies with coconut oil have been missing out!  The resulting cookie has the most delectable crispy-crumbly-tender texture imaginable, but they don’t fall apart, no sirree!  They are perfection in every way.

The coconut oil imparts to the cookies a very subtle hint of coconut flavor, that will make coconut lovers swoon; but not so much that the coconut averse would object.  However, we love coconut in this house, so I decided to add some toasted coconut instead of nuts and the result was addicting and just as comforting as old-style chocolate chip cookies.  However, feel free to load them up with the chips, nuts, and dried fruit of your choice.

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 1/2 cups demerara sugar (or lightly packed light brown sugar)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspooons baking soda

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

10 ounces vegan dark chocolate chunks or chips (most organic brands are vegan; check the label)

1 1/2 cups lightly toasted coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper.  With an electric mixer, beat together butter and coconut oil until creamy.  Add sugar and continue beating until fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  (Note: if using dmerara sugar, because of the larger crystals, they will not dissolve completely.)  Add baking powder, soda, sea salt and one-third of flour, mixing on low speed just until combined.  Add remaining flour in two parts, continuing to mix on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Add chocolate chunks and coconut and mix just until combined.  Drop by generous rounded tablespoons onto baking sheets, using dampened fingers to gently flatten the tops of the cookies.  Bake 9 to 11 minutes, rotating pans after 5.  Cool pans on wire racks.

 

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Vegan Plum Delicious Double Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

A small number of almost over-ripe plums gave rise to this unusual and unusually good cookie.  The plums provide mostly moisture in addition to subtle flavor and color, not to mention added nutrition–as do the walnuts– to an otherwise decadent treat.

To create this recipe, I started with my go-to brownie batter, omitting the water/coffee and adding plum puree plus a tiny bit of baking soda.  The results are plum delicious!    Note:  I only had a few plums, so I made one-fourth of this recipe.  It quarters or halves very nicely.

2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or unbleached white flour)

2 cups natural sugar

1 cup unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/4 cups canola oil (this sounds like a lot, but you’ll need it)

2 cups very ripe pitted plums, pureed in food processor until fairly smooth

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups vegan chocolate chips (I like Trader Joe’s–what  a great value!)

2 cups chopped walnuts plus 36 extra halves or  large pieces for garnish, one per cookie, if desired

Preheat oven to 35o degrees.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper and set aside.  (Line two if you have them, or bake the cookies in two batches.)  In a large mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients, except chocolate chips and nuts just until well combined.  The dough should be just slightly stiffer than brownie batter.  Stir in chips and nuts.  Spoon tablespoon-size mounds of dough onto prepared sheet, about 2 inches apart.  (I use a very traditionally-shaped shallow tablespoon measure, as I like the ration of height to width.)  Bake 12 minutes.  Check after 8 and after 10.  They should be set, but shiny in some spots, as they will continue to cook after they are removed from the oven.  Allow the cookies to cool slightly until they are easy to handle and then use a metal spatula to remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

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Vegan Spiced Double Chocolate-Lime Cookies

“Boss’s Week” came and went last week, but other priorities prevented me from acknowledging it in any way, except to have one of my talented students create a “Happy Boss’s Week” poster, by special request, featuring caricatures of each one of our administrators.  It was adorable and well-received, but I wanted to give our incredibly supportive principal and assistant principals something homemade.

I decided that a favorite chewy chocolate cookie would be perfect.  But I had just come home from the Asian market, so I decided to spice them up with a little lime zest.  (I remember, when I was a child, someone in our family was under the weather and a neighbor brought us a delectable chocolate-lime pie, a flavor combination I’ve rarely had since.)  When I tasted the dough, though–one of the beauties of eggless cooking!–it cried out for cinnamon and, especially, ginger to complement the sweet-tart lime and the pleasantly, but strongly flavored molasses and cane syrup (I used a combination).  Voila!  Vegan Spiced Double Chocolate-Lime Cookies were born.  Then, my husband suggested I attach the recipe plus three more, one for each season, from my brand new cookbook.  What a bloomin’ inspired idea!

Enjoy at your Memorial Day BBQ or any time…perhaps with  little lime sorbet?

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

1 cup vegan butter, room temperature (I like Earth Balance)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/3 cups natural sugar plus 1 cup for coating
1 cup light-flavored molasses, pure cane syrup or, if you dare, dark corn syrup
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or to taste)
Zest of 1 fresh lime
8-9 ounces vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line two cookie sheets with Silpats or parchment paper and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, place butter, oil, and 1 1/3 cup natural sugar.  Reserve remaining 1 cup sugar. At medium to medium-high speed, cream mixture until well-combined and fluffy. Add cane syrup and vanilla and beat just a few more seconds to combine, scraping bowl, as needed. Mixture may look slightly curdled, but don’t worry. Add remaining ingredients, except chocolate chips, and beat on low speed, scraping bowl as needed, just until combined. Taste and add more cinnamon and ginger, if desired.  Add chips and beat on low just a few seconds to distribute.

Cover dough well and chill for half an hour, but no longer. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a small scoop with a release lever, scoop out balls of dough about 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Roll in reserved 1 cup of sugar and place a generous 2” apart on baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time for 4 minutes, open oven door and, using a spatula, quickly flatten each cookie slightly to 1/2-inch thick. Close the oven door and continue baking for 6 more minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cookies should be ever-so-slightly cracked, look a little moist and soft in the center, and be more set around the edges. Leave cookies on baking sheet and set on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Then, using a spatula, transfer cookies to the racks and cool to room temperature. Repeat with remaining baking sheet.  Store in an airtight container.

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Vegan Oatmeal, Apple-Nut, Chocolate Chip Spice Cookies

Yield: 24 “normal” cookies or 12 “behemoths

(If pressed for time, I make the big boys. But these are equally good large or small.)

Today, I had an appointment with a periodontist and scheduled gum-grafting surgery for September 3. It seems that for years I’ve done a little too good of a job of brushing my teeth and have some gum recession to tend to before getting the aforementioned Invisiline braces. I now know, first-hand, from whence the phrase “long in the tooth” comes.

What does that have to do with these cookies? It is the only reason I can think of for why I had an especially irrepressible craving for something sweet and tender, chock full of crunchy and chewy morsels like nuts and dried apples, foods I won’t be able to eat post surgery. I was told that I would need to eat a soft diet for two weeks. Hmm…that sounds like soy lattes, wine, soups and vegan ice cream to me. So, in the meantime, I think I should hoard the forbidden foods in my jaws like a squirrel.

Once again, my favorite dough (but with half whole wheat flour and a little oatmeal) plays a supporting role in these cookies that star dark chocolate chips, walnut pieces, dried apples and a warm and toasty blend of spices which is especially tasty. Be sure to use all four spices because they are more than the sum of their parts.

½ cup vegan butter, room temperature (I like Earth Balance)
½ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk, preferably at room temperature (plain or vanilla soy milk works too)
1 generous teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
pinch nutmeg
scant 1/2 cup oatmeal
scant 1/2 cup vegan dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
scant 1/2 cup walnut pieces (or almonds, hazelnuts, pecans)
scant 1/2 cup diced dried apples (a 1/4-inch dice seems just right)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, shortening, brown sugar, and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Slowly blend in the soy milk, vanilla and maple extract. Add the flours, baking soda and spices, and mix on low speed until well combined. Then fold in the remaining ingredients. Drop 24 small scoops onto Silpat-covered, oiled or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Press tops of mounds down slightly and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Or make 12 extra large cookies using two scoops of dough, pressing the mounds down to about a 1/2″ tall disk, leaving 2″ between, and baking for approximately 12-15 minutes. Check after 12 . Cool slightly on cookie sheets and then remove to racks to cool completely. Store in airtight containers.

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Vegan Oatmeal, Dried Fig, Chocolate Chip and Nut Cookies

Yield: 24 “normal” cookies or 12 “behemoths

(As I have said before, like so many people, I seem to always be pressed for time, so I make gigantic cookies. But these are equally good large or small.)

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. Last week, I needed a few food gifts and wanted to make my chocolate chip cookies (posted on this site), but with dried cranberries or cherries. However, I discovered that I didn’t have enough chips and the only dried fruit I had on-hand were figs, already cut into 1/4 inch cubes from a previous recipe.

No worries. I simply made the dough as usual, but nudged it gently in a more wholesome direction by substituting 1 of the cups of all-purpose flour with 1 cup of whole wheat flour. And, instead of adding 1 1/2 cups of chips (or 3/4 cup of chips and 3/4 cup of nuts), I added 3/4 cup oatmeal and 1/4 cup each of dark chocolate chips, nuts and dried figs. A combination of ground cinnamon and ginger provides just the right spicy background for these cookies that subtlely suggest that autumn is just around the corner.

½ cup vegan butter, room temperature (I use Earth Balance)
½ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk, preferably at room temperature (plain or vanilla soy milk works too)
1 generous teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt (omit if butter is salted)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup vegan dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup of pecan pieces (or almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, walnuts, etc.)
1/4 cup diced dried figs (a 1/4-inch dice seems just right)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, shortening, brown sugar, and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Slowly blend in the soy milk and vanilla. Add the flours, baking soda and spices, and mix on low speed until well combined. Then fold in the remaining ingredients. Drop 24 small scoops onto Silpat-covered, oiled or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Press tops of mounds down slightly and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Or make 12 extra large cookies using two scoops of dough, pressing the mounds down to about a 1/2″ tall disk, leaving 2″ between, and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes. Check after 12 . Cool slightly on cookie sheets and then remove to racks to cool completely. Store in airtight containers.

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Vegan Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: approximately 8 mega cookies or 20-24 normal size

I met Reannon Peterson, the creator of my inspiration recipe, a couple of years ago when I consulted with her for “Vegan 101,” a story I wrote for The Virginian-Pilot. She was and is employed by PETA, though she recently returned to school and has almost earned her teaching license. (What a great addition to the profession she will be!) You can find her original recipe, known as “RP’s Famous Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies,” at http://vegcooking.com/. One taste and you’ll know why they’re famous. I didn’t monkey with her recipe too much, but I did add almond extract, as I think it deepens the peanut butter flavor, making it a little more complex. I also substituted 1 cup of the flour with whole wheat flour. And finally, I omitted the tiny bit of water in the original recipe, gave a more specific amount of soy milk and added more chocolate chips. You’re sure to enjoy either version whether raw–the dough is irresistible–or cooked.

1 cup peanut butter (preferably, non-hydrogenated), creamy or crunchy
1/4 cup vegan butter (I like Earth Balance)
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup granulated sugar or raw sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsweetened soy milk
6 ounces vegan (non-dairy) chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with Silpat. (If making normal size cookies, use two baking sheets.) In a large mixing bowl at medium-high speed, cream together the peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and almond extract. Add the sugars and continue creaming until fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, mix in flours, baking soda, salt and soy milk. Dough should be soft enough to hold its shape, but not sticky. If too stiff, add more soy milk, a teaspoon add a time until desired consistency is reached. When almost combined, add chocolate chips and mix until all ingredients are well combined and chips well distributed. Avoid over-mixing.

For mega cookies, use an ice cream scoop to make 8 mounds of dough, about two inches apart, in three staggered rows on one cookie sheet. (To make normal size cookies, use a small scoop to make 20-24 mounds of dough, divided between two baking sheets.) Flatten each scoop to approximately one-third of an inch thick using your fingers. Press fork tines lightly into dough first in one direction, then turn the fork 90 degrees and press again to make a classic criss-cross design. If fork sticks, dip in flour or spray with non-stick spray. (For mega cookies, press fork two to three times, side by side, in one direction to nearly cover surface before turning 90 degrees and repeating.)

Bake mega cookies for 13-15 minutes and normal size cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are golden, rotating sheets halfway through. Be careful not to over bake. Cool cookies slightly on trays until they hold their shape, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Source: Slightly adapted from Reannon Peterson at http://vegcooking.com/

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Chocolate Chip Cookies with Orange-Espresso-Hazelnut Version

Yield: 25 to 30 “normal” cookies or 9-10 “behemoths

(Like so many people, I seem to always be pressed for time, so I make gigantic cookies using an ice cream scoop. But they are equally good large or small.)

Twice in less than a week, I have gifted visiting artists at my school with these cookies as a partial “thank you” for their generosity. Today’s artist called me tonight to request the recipe because she had attended a dinner meeting after work, but had not had time to prepare a dish. So, she took the cookies as her contribution to the “pot luck” and they received rave reviews from three women who happen to be vegans. Instead of sending her the recipe, I decided to make this favorite recipe my first official post and direct her to The Blooming Platter.

This is a very forgiving dough with which to experiment, so feel free to substitute other liquids, chips and nuts and please share your results.

½ cup vegan butter, room temperature (I use Earth Balance)
½ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk, preferably at room temperature (plain or vanilla soy milk works too)
1 generous teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt (omit if butter is salted)
approximately 1 cup of vegan chocolate chips (semi-sweet or dark)
approximately 1 cup of finely chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, shortening, brown sugar, and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Slowly blend in the soy milk and vanilla. Add the flour and baking soda and mix on low speed until well combined. Then fold in the chips and nuts. Drop small spoonfuls onto Silpat covered, oiled or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Press tops of mounds down slightly and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Or use an ice cream scoop to make 9-10 extra large cookies, pressing the mounds down to about a 1/2″ tall disk, leaving 2″ between, and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Cool slightly on cookie sheets and then remove to racks to cool completely. Store in airtight containers.

Orange-Espresso-Hazelnut Version

Make the same as above, except:

  • Substitute 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate for 1 tablespoon of the soy milk
  • Dissolve 1 tablespoon of instant coffee or espresso powder in the 3 tablespoons of soy milk
  • Add the zest of an orange with liquid
  • Use hazelnuts as your nut of choice
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