Tag Archives: cookies

Good Morning, Vegan Cinnamon Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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I am exceptionally lucky to have met my partner, James, but I am also incredibly lucky that, as part of the package of falling in love with this great guy, I get to spend occasional time with his terrific folks. Down-to-earth, witty, loving, and considerate, it’s no wonder great parents like them produced such a lovable kid.

James’s mom, Nancy, is an awesome cook (as well as a phenomenal knitter). A lot of moms, when confronted with a child’s decision to adopt a vegan diet, might freak out or panic about what to serve them. Any trepidation Nancy might have had about James’s vegan tendencies have long since been eschewed in favor of veganizing old favorites, as well as seeking out new recipes to throw into the mix. Her efforts have delivered delicious vegan dish after delicious vegan dish. (Just goes to show you that you don’t have to live a diet to cook for the diet. All you need is a willingness to try out new ingredients and adapt what you already know about cooking and baking into an unfamiliar realm. The basic skills still apply.)

On a recent visit, Nancy showed me a new addition to her cookbook collection: Chloe Coscarelli’s Chloe’s Kitchen. Don’t know who Chloe Coscarelli is? Neither did I, but apparently she took the top prize on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Her stuff is all vegan, thus her success on a Food Network reality cooking competition has allowed her to leap-frog other established divas of the vegan cookbook scene.

Okay, I wasn’t exactly being fair-minded when I first started looking at the book. Cookbooks from TV stars tend to disappoint. Either the recipes are fairly simplistic dishes with exotic touches (usually hard to find or rare ingredients) or they’re extraordinarily complicated (more complicated than I suspect they even have to be). There’s also an incredibly annoying tendency to put the persona of the chef before the food itself – so instead of mouth-watering photographs of dishes you can’t wait to recreate, there are irritating shots of the smiling, doe-eyed cook laughing with friends, holding a cupcake or cookie, or standing near food that one presumes she has just whipped up, in between photo shoots and loving life.

Yes, I’m simply not a fan of this type of cookbook. Chloe’s Kitchen, however, offers more than a cursory glance at its contents might suggest. Yes, there’s the requisite ‘wholesome girl-next-door chef’ shots, plus a pretty grating introduction and bland writing throughout…

BUT I am always willing to overcome my prejudices to try out a promising recipe. Having long searched for an appropriate vegan replacement for my favorite meatloaf recipe, Chloe’s tempeh loaf recipe was too tempting not to attempt.

I’m a fan of the policy that one good recipe can make a cookbook worthwhile. If that policy holds, then Chloe’s Kitchen should be on every vegan’s cookbook shelf, based off that tempeh meatloaf alone. The result was so delicious, it warranted another round with the cookbook. Because Chloe is first and foremost known as a vegan baker, I decided to give one of her desserts a try.

I changed some of the proportions on this cookie recipe. Most notably, I was not able to easily locate instant espresso powder, so I used instant coffee instead. It worked just as well and added a little extra buzz to a sugar-packed, delicious cookie. Plus, when a baked good has coffee in it, you can practically call it breakfast. At least I did.

Cinnamon Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients- 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 cup vegan margarine
– 2 tbsp instant coffee (Finely ground, if possible. Cheap is OK – I used Taster’s Choice packets from Family Dollar)
– 1 cup powdered sugar
– 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
– 1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips
– Granulated sugar for sprinkling

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper or foil. (Note: aluminum foil will brown the bottoms of the cookies faster.)

- Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

- Using a mixer, beat together margarine and instant coffee until well combined, then add powdered and brown sugars. Beat until blended thoroughly. Mix in flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time.

- Stir in chocolate chips.

- Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll into semi-round disks. Roll each disk in granulated sugar. Place on baking sheet 2-3 inches apart.

- Bake cookies about 12-14 minutes or until edges are browned.

Good Morning, Potomac Bakery!

I have yet to have anything from that was less than delicious from Potomac Bakery, but a mix of at-odds schedules and my workplace’s proximity to Graham’s Bakery in Mt. Lebanon has kept me from becoming a frequent customer. I should probably be thankful for this: The last thing I need is more food obsessions to empty my wallet and expand my waistband.

But the occasional  treat is alright by me. I used photographing the Valentine’s displays at Potomac as an excuse to try two delectable little tarts, a cherry pastry tart and a blueberry tart with Linzer torte pastry for the dough. They were the perfect pre-V-Day sweet treat, and at a $1.50 for the pair, well worth the money. Heart-shaped cakes and cookies and cupcakes with mountains of frosting and sprinkles are all well and good, but I like to keep my baked goods simply and classy. (Cause Classy is my middle name…. Immediately following “Not Remotely,” of course…)

In regards to the picture, tea and pastries has become my absolute favorite thing to come home to after a long workday. I’ve always been a fan of the British scheduled tea-time, as it helps break up the day without making too much of an interruption in the middle of a work flow. Not to mention it’s a great excuse to drink a hot beverage and snack on something tasty.

Were I able to, I would have a private ten-minute tea time every day, just around four, when my energy was getting supremely low and I needed something to push me through the last hour. Instead, I’ve taken to coming home from work, making a pot of coffee in the French Press or warming up a mug water in the microwave for tea, finding something on the sweet side to indulge in and just sitting down at my kitchen table to enjoy a few minutes of solitude, quiet, and light snacking.

Perhaps with that post-work dream state in mind, I will be making more stops in at Potomac Bakery in the future. I’ve already got a plan for a few preserves-stuffed, sugar-dusted cookies I spied the other day while in the shop.

Chocolate Chip Cha-Cha-Cha


While seemingly every sell out in Hollywood is busy adapting some 70’s television show or 80’s Atari game for some hack film project, they’re missing a prime opportunity to tell a (possibly) riveting story: The invention of the chocolate chip cookie.

The story is that one night, Ruth Wakefield, proprietor of the Toll House Inn, desired to make chocolate-butter drop cookies for her visiting guests. Upon finding that she was short of baker’s chocolate, Wakefield substituted fragments of semi-sweet chocolate, believing they would melt in the oven. They didn’t. What was should have been almost a dense chocolate shortbread was instead the rough draft of what would become the signature chocolate chip cookie recipe: The Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Who else would be the leading provider of semi-sweet chocolate but Nestle, of course. After Wakefield’s accidental recipe caught on, the two entities, baker and chocolate entrepreneur, came to a bargain. Nestle would print the Toll House recipe on the back of every package of semi-sweet chocolate. In exchange, Mrs. Wakefield would receive free chocolate for the cookies made at the Inn. Thus, a cookie empire was born.

Woudn’t that make a decent movie? Okay, you’d probably have to add some kind of corporate intrigue. A sinister executive at Nestle trying to screw the Wakefields out of their invention, or something. But you could call this “Chocolate Chip Cookie: The Movie” and people would most likely come to see it. They’re just that popular. (For instance, while the actual number is disputable, it’s estimated that nearly seven billion chocolate chip cookies are eaten annually.)

I try to do my part to contribute to the world popularity of the chocolate chip cookie. It’s not hard to understand why it’s so popular. It’s a malleable creation that can be manipulated in any number of ways. It can be flavored with extracts, made softer or crunchier or chewier, made giant-sized or bite-sized, super dense or wafer thin. It can be very sweet or a little salty or even a little spicy. It can be crumbly or melty. You can eat it with ice cream. You can eat it with peanut butter. The variations are endless, and short of flat out improper baking, it’s hard to ruin a chocolate chip cookie.

They’re also incredibly easy to veganize. Something that many people worry about when considering veganism is a loss of the familiar foods they’ve eaten all their lives. That’s why you see so many veggie burgers, so many different kinds of vegan macaroni and cheese, and why some of the best-selling vegan cookbook titles are focused on baked goods. People want to know that even if they make a choice to actively and avidly rid their diets of animal products, they will not have to go without their comfort foods.

My favorite vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe to adapt is the one found in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking (which I’ve mentioned before, but is worth mentioning again, because it’s such a fantastic book). I like Colleen’s recipe for several reasons, but mostly because there’s very little fuss to it. Like many of her recipes, she doesn’t play around too much with various ingredients, throwing in random fanciness because she can. Her recipes are designed to produce the best-tasting traditional baked goods a vegan chef can hope for.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Ingredients
- 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
– 1 cup vegan margarine
– 3/4 cup white sugar
– 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
– 1/4 cup sugar-in-the-raw (turbinado)
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 to 2 cups of vegan chocolate chips
– 1 cup finely chopped pecans (I like using finely chopped because it gives it an almost toffee like crunch, but it’s a matter of preference.)

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

- Cream together the margarine, sugars, vanilla. Add the applesauce and mix until thoroughly combined.

- Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt, then gradually beat the dry mixture into the wet. When almost completely mixed, add chocolate chips and nuts.

- Drop by tablespoon onto the sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Move to a cookie rack for cooling.

(Adapted from recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau)

5 Christmas Songs That I Actually Like and Their Potential Recipe Counterparts

I love Christmas, but I hate a lot of Christmas music. This happens to a lot of people. If you work in retail for long enough, you start to hate Christmas music, and long after you’ve moved on to new employment, the beginning strains of most holiday music makes you go numb with terror. At least that’s been my experience.

Still, I’m not a total Scrooge, even where Christmas music is concerned. There are at least a dozen Christmas and holiday-related songs that I actively like. What’s more, this time of the year when I’ve set about doing my baking and entertaining and drinking, I like to have some seasonal tunes in the background, infusing the experience with holiday cheer and sentiment and all that softy goo.

In the spirit of Christmas (and because I am desperately trying to kill some time at work on this, the last day before my holiday), here’s five Christmas (or non-specified “holiday”) songs that are allowed in my house.  And because this is, after all, a food blog, I’ve matched each ditty with a compatible recipe. (I promise, these recipe-song match ups were done in a very scientific, not-at-all-arbitrary process. )

- “Christmas All Over Again” by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Recipe: A weirdly comforting, weirdly upbeat song about the routines of the annual holiday (“Long-distance relatives, haven’t seen’em in a long, long time/Yeah I kind of missed ‘em, I just don’t wanna kiss ‘em, no/It’s Christmas all over again”) deserves a traditional, but quality comfort offering.  Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing from Conor & Bella’s on-going series using recipes from The Joy of Vegan Baking (a personal favorite) should do the trick. Just like the song, they’re a little gem in the dressing of something routine and expected.

- “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues, ft. Kristy McColl

Recipe – My favorite Christmas songs are both celebratory on the season and a little sour or a little melancholy. For people who have never heard this song, I describe it as thus, “It’s about being hopeful and hopeless and drunk and in love during Christmastime.” Get drunk and hurl insults at your beloved by visiting Delicious Noise for Monica’s seasonal offering, the Godfather cocktail.

- “Christmas in Hollis” by Run DMC

Recipe -  I don’t want to take the holidays too seriously, and this song really helps. Many people don’t realize that they know this song until they hear it. And because it gets a shout out early on in the song (“It’s Christmastime in Hollis, Queens/Mom’s cookin’ chicken and collard greens“), why don’t you try out Food’n’More‘s recipe for Collard Greens Southern Style?

- “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight)” by the Ramones

Recipe – I know that plenty of people have peaceful, joyful Christmastimes, but holiday gatherings with my extended family often meant fighting. Play this song to honor the spirit of both fighting and trying not to fight during Christmas, then throw back some holiday brews (cause beer encourages peaceful behavior, right?). Need some suggestions? Check out Mike’s on-going “12 Beers of Christmas” over at Burghertime.

- “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses

Recipe – I’ve already posted this song here, but it bears a repeat, cause this is my favorite Christmas song. An upbeat number that’s still a little melancholy, a lot joyful, and even a little romantic. Plus it’s got a great sax line! As far as a recipe to match, look no further than Amanda‘s Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookies. Perfect song and for people who hate that they love the holidays. (People like me.)

Got a favorite Christmas tune? Share it with me in the comments! (But so help me if you pick “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney…)

Good Morning, Cookie 2: Electric Boogaloo

Peppermint Snowball Cookies from Mamma Town

Haven’t done your holiday baking yet? You’ve got five days to mix up that batter, roll out the dough, set that oven, and cut out that cookie. If you’re waiting for decent recipes, you only have yourself to blame. Everyone’s got cookie fever right now:

- Epicurious is having full-on holiday fever. If you’re stuck for ideas, their 25 Days of Christmas Cookies is definitely a good starting place. Sparkly lemon sandwich cookies, florentines, shortbread, gingerbread, every variety of cookie for the holiday season. And if anyone tries the brownie thins recipe, let me know how it works out.

- Miss Yunks over at Foodies at Work gets creative with her cookie swap recipe, combining a Martha Stewart and Joy of Baking recipe for Peppermint Meringues with Chocolate Ganache Filling. It seems she had a little trouble getting it all to work properly, but they ended up looking delightful and very Christmas-y. Plus added cookie porn from a Boston blogger cookie swap! (Those salted caramel thumbprint cookies look divine…)

- Need more peppermint? Mamma Town has you covered with a recipe for Peppermint Snowball Cookies. These cookies look like little sacks of peppermint chunks bursting open. (Seems like all I’m doing these days is crushing peppermint candy. I’m gonna need to get a grinder just to have on hand for candy fragments.) Because this recipe offers easy options for vegan substitutes, it’s definitely on my “Nice” list.

- If you crave the cookie, but not the crazy sweetness, check out Les Saveurs for their Spicy Gingerbread Cookies. With their dark, rich color starkly contrasting with the little dots of white icing, these classy cookies are perfect for a seasonal gathering of unspecified nature, a very modern way to celebrate the holidays. Or if you want to sit around your house in flannel pajamas eating cookies. I suggest combining the two and having a holiday pajamas and cookies party.

- Peppernuts, Pfeffernusse, Pepernoten – by any name, these cookies are still crunchy, tasty, and utterly unique to a holiday cookie spread. Sarah gives us a neat and tidy little recipe for the traditional cookie (a favorite of the Pennsylvania Dutch). Remember, kids, if it’s not chock full of black pepper, it’s not proper pfeffernusse!

Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

In which a genuine attempt is made to invoke the holiday spirit via baked goods.

I have made my particular opinion on holiday-themed treats known, but I will reiterate: In general, with a few exceptions, I am not a fan of holiday baked goods, my reasons having been best laid out here. Too much fuss, too much gunk, not enough good, simple flavor to make all the effort seem worth it.

But I’m no Scrooge. I am susceptible to Christmas cheer as much as the next hot-blooded American consumer. And on Monday morning, I was struck with the urge to make merry, watch sappy Christmas movies, share some wine with friends, and bake bake bake holiday treats.

Epicurious has a nice collection of holiday cookie recipes, many of which aren’t super ornate. I had one of the visiting friends pick a recipe from their selections, and she chose the Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies. Now these are more elaborate than I tend to make, as I’m not a huge fan of icing sandwich cookies (it has to be just right in flavor, texture, and ratio of icing to cookie), but they looked fun, Christmas-y, and a once over of the recipe proved that they could easily be veganized. So-ho-ho why not?

Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

Cookie Ingredients
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
– 1/2 cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 cup sugar
– 3/4 vegan margarine (I used Smart Balance Light)
– 1/4 cup silken tofu

Filling Ingredients
– 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
– 3/4 cup vegan margarine (for heavier filling, use 1 cup)
– 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
– Red and green food coloring

1/2 cup crushed red-and-white peppermint striped candies.

- Mix flour, cocoa, and salt in bowl. Cream together sugar and margarine in mixer, then beat in tofu. Add dry ingredients, beating until blended. Store the dough in the fridge for at least an hour.

- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets. Once the dough is hardened, scoop out with a tablespoon and roll into little balls, placing them about 2 inches a part on the sheet. This is where I flubbed a bit, leaving the balls to bake as is, instead of following the directions and flattening them. Whether or not you do that, the cookies will bake properly. It’s all about how you like your cookie sandwich.

- Bake cookies for about 11 minutes, until a fingertip pressed on the top leaves an indentation. Remove and let cool on cookie rack.

- For filling: Beat sugar and margarine together. Add peppermint extract. As for food coloring, if you just want one color, add a few drops to the main bowl. Otherwise, portion some into another bowl and add the red to one, green to the other.

- Peppermint candies – We put the candies in a bag and hammered them. Lay a dish towel down, put the candies in a large Ziploc bag, then using a mallet or hammer, gently shatter and crush the candies until they are reduced to merry little peppermint shrapnel.

- Assembling the cookie sandwich – Match cookies to like sizes. Add a teaspoon of filling to the flat side of one cookie. Place second cookie on top, squeezing together so the filling just peeks out from the sides. Then take the cookie and roll the edges in the peppermint candy pieces. If this process proves to be ineffective, add the peppermint candy pieces to the filling on the cookie before sandwiching.

Overall, the recipe was good, but not great. The cookie sandwiches weren’t quite sweet enough (the cookie or the filling), and the filling reminded me too much of less than substantial cupcake topping. They were definitely pretty to look at, but their method of adding the peppermint candy to the sides was better in theory than in practice.

With minor tweaking, however, I’d say this is a recipe worth giving a try, especially if you’re in need of something to go with a big mug of hot chocolate. I ate mine while listening to my favorite Christmas song, “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses:

(Recipe adapted from Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies on Epicurious)

Lisa Loeb Can Teach Me to Do Anything

In the midst of searching for cookie recipes, I came across this on Epicurious.com

Sigh… I love her.

Good Morning, Cookie Cookie!

[Say the above in your best Cookie Monster impression]

I have not made a single cookie in the month of December, which nearly criminal considering how much I:
1) Love cookies
2) Love to bake
and
3) December is INTERNATIONAL Bake a Shit Ton of Cookies Month

What is wrong with me?!?!?!? I straighten up, fly right, and get back in the kitchen for a serious Cookie Baking Fest. I certainly have a great deal of awesome cookie recipes to pick from. Here’s a few I’ve come across in just the past few days:

Mint-Chocolate Ravioli Cookies from <i>So Hungry I Could Blog</i>

- I do so love the ladies over at So Hungry I Could Blog, but they’re really out doing themselves with their “Holiday Dozen” series, featuring twelve holiday cookie recipes. The Mint Chocolate ravioli cookies are my new obsession. I can’t deny the power of the pastry pocket!

- Veganthropology gets a little Pennsylvania Dutch/Lancaster Amish action and shares an awesome recipe for vegan Whoopie Pies. She even adds a little peppermint to give them that ho-ho-holiday touch.

Gingerbread Drag Queen from Food for the Thoughtless

- Okay, I’m a little bit in love with Food for the Thoughtless’s Gingerbread Drag Queen. Uh, or, er… rather, I’m in love with the hilarious mind that came up with this rather novel Christmas swap cookie. (If you haven’t yet, check out Michael’s blog. It’s one of the funniest, most charming food blogs online.)

- Oh, Katie @ Sweettater – You had me at cornmeal. My cornmeal renaissance continues with this delicious-looking share of Martha Stewart’s intriguing cookie recipe for Lemon Cornmeal Cookies.

- Hey, Two Cheap Vegans, if cookies are really a “sometimes” food then why do they taste delicious ALL OF THE TIME? Huh? Answer that! And while you’re mulling over that question, make me some of your Ginger Molasses Cookies. Quick, it’s been like three hours since I had a cookie!

Okay, take it away, Cookie Monster!

Cut That Cookie Out!

When people ask me what my favorite dessert is – and in my fantasy world where everyone is dying to know what I think about various food matters, this happens frequently – I don’t have to hesitate: Cookies. Cookies. Cookies. All kinds. Every kind. Big cookies. Little cookies. Soft cookies. Chewy cookies. Crunchy cookies. Baked. No bake. A giant mess of ingredients or the simplest sugar cookie, I. Love. Cookies.

But… I am usually lazy when it comes to making them in my own kitchen. More often than not, I make drop cookies, which require no chilling, no rolling or shaping. These don’t make the best looking cookies, but it doesn’t really detract from the taste.

Recently, though, I’ve felt like I’ve been too lazy with my cookie making, relying mostly on recipes and variations thereof that I have done hundreds of times. But if I’m going to starting rolling and cutting out some proper cookies, I’m gonna need some good cookie cutters, right? (Just follow me here, people…)

Enter DowntownDough.com: When searching for cookie cutters online, I found their listing of “1600 Cookie Cutters: The Largest Selection Online,” and trust me, they aren’t kidding. This is one huge depot for cookie cutters. They’ll even make you a custom cookie cutter shape. If it’s variety and savings you’re looking for, this is the one-stop cookie cutter shop. (Hey, DowntownDough, that one’s on me.)

I’m still perusing my options, but here are some of my favorites thus far (all images from DowntownDough.com): Continue reading

Friendsgiving 2010 – Part One

As I’ve gotten older, Thanksgiving has become a problematic holiday. When I was a kid, the holiday meal rotated through the families annually, meaning one year at Aunt Nancy’s, one year at Aunt Patty’s, one year at Aunt Connie’s, etc. This tradition started to come apart late in my college years, as my generation of the family got older and started their own traditions, and the various jobs I had kept me tethered to the city for both work on Thanksgiving and its evil sister, Black Friday. So most of the family still gathered in one way or another, but I was mostly with one or two members of my little corner of the immediate family.

It’s not that it’s been bad times. Far from it. But I’ve missed the big sit-down dinners from Thanksgivings of my youth. Last year at Aunt Nancy’s, half the guests didn’t even eat because they were going to my cousin’s dinner a few hours later in the day. I hate to deride a family get together because everyone didn’t eat together… but come on, it’s freaking Thanksgiving. We can’t all sit down and eat? What’s the point of having a big meal then? Why not just everyone agree to show up already having eaten dinner and just enjoy some pie together?

Scheduling-wise, it just can’t seem to work out smoothly with family. Leading up to Thanksgiving, a thought occurred to me: the best sit-down big dinners I’ve been a part of this year have not been family gatherings (sad to say) but get togethers among friends. Keeping that in mind, myself and a bunch of friends decided to plan our own dinner, a few days before Thanksgiving, and dubbed it Friendsgiving. Having the nicest dining room (as those who looked at her Harry Potter setup can see), Jackie agreed to host, as well as tackle the key elements of the Thankgiving dinner: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and carrots. It would be an almost formal potluck. Everyone invited was asked to bring something, whether it was an entrée or side dish, dessert or beverage.

I admit, I was excited. Continue reading