Vegan Grandma

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Nothing living should ever be treated with contempt.
Whatever it is that lives, a man, a tree, or a bird, should be touched gently, because the time is short."

"Civilization is another word for respect for life.........."

Elizabeth Goudge, The Joy of the Snow
Festive Vegan Cashew Cookies and Some Tips for Cookie Baking

I needed to bake some cookies for a veg club event, but I didn’t have much time, today. I found this easy recipe in Simply Vegan, Quick Vegetarian Meals, by Debra Wasserman, published by the Vegetarian Resource Group, page 110. I think they’re good.

Festive Vegan Cashew Cookies
makes 2 dozen

2 cups raw cashews

1 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup molasses or maple syrup

½ cup water

1/4 cup oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

small jar of unsweetened jam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, grind the oats and cashews in a food processor for a few minutes. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and add the other ingredients except the jam. Mix thoroughly.

Form 24 round balls and place on a lightly piled cookie sheet. Using your thumb, form a small well in the center of each cookie. Fill the well with jam.

Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool before removing from the cookie sheet.

Some Tips for Cookie Baking

To blend ingredients evenly, bring all ingredients to room temperature before using, especially fats and oils.

Make sure you measure your ingredients properly.

When rolling out dough, always roll from the center outward.

To freeze dough for drop cookies, place balls of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, place in freezer until the dough is hardened, then put into a zipper-lock freezer bag.

To make chewy cookies, use a high protein flour such as bread flour.

To make cookies with a chewy surface and soft center, chill the dough. This causes the surface to brown and crisp before the center cooks.

To make tender, cake-like cookies, use a low protein flour such as cake flour. Mix the fat, flour, and sugar before adding liquids. Don’t over mix, because that will cause gluten to develop and toughen the cookies.

Use fresh ingredients. Ingredients such as baking powder, baking soda, and yeast loose their leavening ability as they age.

Measure your ingredients accurately. To accurately measure dry ingredients like flour, use the dry measuring cups that are level at the top. Spoon the dry ingredients into the measuring cup, do not pack the flour, or shake the flour into the cup. Level off the top with the back of a knife blade. For wet ingredients, use transparent measuring cups that have measurement lines on the side. Always view the cup at eye level.

Use parchment paper. Parchment paper is made for use in the oven and won't burn. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the cookie sheets and drop the batter on the paper. After baking, slide the paper off the pan and let the cookies cool on the paper. Parchment paper will make the pans easier to clean.

To make a crisp cookie, press the cookies down to make them flatter and bake a few minutes longer that the recipe calls for.

As soon as you finish mixing your batter, put it in the oven immediately. When the wet ingredients mix with the dry ingredients, the leavening activates. Make sure your oven is preheated and ready as soon as your batter is ready.

Keep the dough chilled between baking batches of cookies.

Dark baking pans absorb more heat, so check your cookies 5-10 minutes before the directions suggest. Lighter pans reflect the heat and may need the full baking time or longer. You should still check them earlier than recommended.

Use only one baking sheet at a time in the oven. If you do use more than one, switch them halfway through baking and space the oven racks 6 inches apart.

To bake cookies evenly, rotate the baking sheet halfway through the baking time. Make sure the cookies are the same size. Use a melon baller or a measuring tablespoon.

Make sure baking sheets do not touch sides or back of oven.

Allow baking sheets to cool between batches. Dough will spread
on warm baking sheets. Cool your cookie sheets by running tepid water over the back of them.

For bar cookies, rack should be in the center of oven.

Watch cookies carefully to avoid over baking. Check them at the minimum baking time, then often to make sure they do not over bake. It is generally better to under bake than over bake.

Make sure your oven temperature is accurate. If your oven temperature is off by even 25 degrees, your baked goods could burn or fail to rise. To calibrate your oven, use an oven thermometer. Set your oven to 350 degrees and place the thermometer in the center of the oven. After 10-15 minutes, check the thermometer. If it's below 350 degrees, wait another 5-10 minutes and check again. If your oven is not calibrated correctly, you can either have the oven professionally recalibrated or take the knob off and make a quick adjustment yourself, or you can remember how much your oven is off and set it to the needed temperature. For example, if it's 25 degrees too hot, set it 25 degrees lower than the recipe calls for.

Remove the cookies from the oven just before they look done. Cookies continue to bake even after you take them out of the oven, For chewy cookies, it's generally good to remove them from the oven a minute or two before they look done. They will firm up after they're out of the oven. If you're using parchment paper you can slide the cookies off the hot pan immediately so the bottoms of the cookies don't burn.

Soft cookies should be stored in a container with a tight lid. If they tend to dry out, add a slice of apple to the container.

Crisp cookies should be stored in a container with a loose lid, like a cookie jar. If there is a lot of humidity , add a piece of bread to the container. The bread helps to absorb the moisture.

To "veganize" non-vegan cookie recipes, use soy margarine to replace butter, use nut milks, soy milk, or rice milk to replace milk. Egg replacers include the following:

The following two egg replacer recipes come from

1 Tbsp tapioca or corn starch
1 Tbsp potato starch
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp xanthan gum (if you have it)
Add a scant 1/2 cup water and 2 tsp oil. Whisk until thoroughly combined and somewhat frothy.
This egg replacement works well in delicate, light-colored items like yellow cakes, and sweet muffins.


2 Tbsp. Finely ground flax seeds plus 3 Tbsp. water replaces one egg.
Mix them together in a small bowl or mug, and let sit a couple of minutes until it becomes like jelly, then add as you would eggs

Flax goop has a nutty flavor that works fine in cookies, bars and brownies, and things like zucchini bread, but may not be what you want in cakes or lighter vanilla-flavored items.
It does help with browning, and it provides some omega-3 oils and fiber which we all like.

Or, try the following to replace one egg:

2 oz of soft tofu can be blended with some water and substituted for an egg to add consistency. Or try the same quantity of: mashed beans, mashed potatoes, or nut butters.

½ mashed banana replaces one egg.

1/4 cup applesauce or pureed fruit replaces one egg.

1 teaspoon soy flour plus 1 tablespoon water replaces one egg.

You will have to experiment with recipes to see how these things work.


Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale