Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vegan Compost Cookies

Might as well start things off on a sweet note...with vegan baking!

Lately I've become lazy obsessed (ie internet obsessed) with Christina Tosi, baker at David Chang's offshoot from Momofuku-Milk Bar in NYC. I love Christina's bizarre non intuitive/intuitive baking style adding pre baked goods into baked goods recipes and taking flavors from the customer's (and her) childhood and melding them together in simple, yet elegant and fun ways. Now Milk Bar, as amazing and clever as their menu is ,(check out crack pie and cereal milk probably quite easy to veganize...hmmm...) is not the most vegan of places, as you might imagine.

Cookies stacked at Milk Bar.

Luckily, the plethora of vegan bloggers is a clever crew, and it's pretty easy to Google your way to a vegan version of almost anything you could dream of. So as my obsession with the idea of Christina's compost cookies grew, and my push back into veganism came closer, all coniciding with a trip to Vermont that would definitly merit snacks, I knew the time had come to rock the vegan compost cookie.

Sometimes I think I have typing fingers of gold when it comes to recipe searches. Seriously. Almost every time I Google an idea for a recipe, I always find a brilliant (if not brilliant with a few tweaks) recipe from someone out there on the internet. Readers who food blog, you are a brilliant lot. This specific recipe for the Vegan Compost Cookie comes from the blog The Runner's Kitchen, a non vegan who generally is working towards building a body for marathon-ing through nutrition and training, from what I can discern. She writes a cute little tale about how she had the Compost Cookies at Milk Bar, and swore she'd create a dairy-free version for a friend of her's. What she came up with was brilliant. I haven't changed it much except for my notes (in parentheses). You can find the orginial blog entry here.

Vegan Compost Cookies (adapted from Christina Tosi of MilkBar and Momofuku, adapted from the Runners Kitchen)

  • 1/2 cup packed earth balance (not the same as smart balance, FYI)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp instant coffee powder (I left this out and it survived, Christina Tosi suggests coffee GROUNDS, you know, compost? Get it?)
  • 1 Tbs ground flax (A big bag of ground flax is amazing and will last you forever. Put it on cereal, popcorn, sneak it in pasta sauces, bread, etc. Also you can buy it whole and grind it yourself in a coffee grinder).
  • 3 Tbs water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 BIG handful of chips, roughly crushed (Just keep it salted or flavor free. This could be tortilla, potato, etc, etc...a small 'to go' bag works great. I've used both sea salt kettle chips and Cape Cod chips with excellent results).
  • 2 oz. pretzels, roughly crushed (I used 2 large pretzel rods)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped (nut of your choice, or leave it out. The second time I made these I used rice krispies and it was brilliant)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or 8 oz chopped vegan chocolate of your choice. Remember, Ghiradelli semi sweet chocolate chips are VEGAN and available at most major supermarkets if you can't find sunspire brand or 365 brand (available at Whole Foods Markets).
The idea with the last few ingredients is that you basically have a 1 and 1/2 cups each of what Tosi calls 'Your favorite snack foods' 'Your favorite sweets'. I would avoid Swedish fish or anything that will melt too harshly in the oven, but why not shake it up? Crush up some oreos and throw them in there. I think batch 3 is going to be the 'ultimate vegan compost cookie' with fritos and oreos (sort of an in-joke amongst local vegans here as it's all you can get to eat at 3 AM from 7-11 that happens to be vegan).

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (Not needed, you can earthbalance or cook spray the sheets).
  • With a mixer, cream together the earthbalance, sugar, and instant coffee powder
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax and the water until smooth, add the vanilla extract
  • Fold the flax mixture into the earth balance & sugar
  • In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (oats through chocolate chips)
  • Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until incorporated
  • If the batter isn’t holding together well, try chilling the batter for about 20 minutes
  • Scoop rounded Tablespoons of batter on to the cookie sheet and bake for about 10-13 minutes or until golden brown (make sure you watch these, they go fast! Remove when cookies are golden but still a little 'raw' looking in the very center).
  • Cool on the baking sheet for a minute or so and then transfer to a wire cooling rack
Nutritional stats (per cookie – approximate): 95 calories, 4g fat, 13g carbs, 1.5g protein, .5g fiber.

Cool and eat! More to come this week, hope yours is going great!

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