I would be lying if I said vegan baking wasn't a challenge. As both a professional and home baker, butter and cream have become my nearest and dearest of friends. Scarcely a day has passed in the last few years where we haven't created beautiful things together (or, at the very least, greeted one another when I opened the refrigerator door). I like to imagine I've developed a feel for baking—for the elasticity of bread dough beneath my fingertips or the proper weight of a cookie balanced on an outstretched hand. I've grown so much as a baker in the last couple years, from my hesitant beginnings to hereandnow.
Vegan baking, however, makes me feel like I've started back at square one.
I made a promise to you when I took on this challenge—to use familiar, everyday ingredients and keep the recipes approachable. Little did I know it was much easier said than done. There are so many recipes out there that use "faux" versions of butter, eggs, and cream in place of their real counterparts (and the recipes just don't measure up). While I know butter isn't good for me, I can't imagine partially hydrogenated soybean oil is going to be any better. I can't even buy vegan egg replacement in my neck of the woods.
The vegan recipes I want to share with you aren't intended to be lesser versions of originals, but rather unique and delicious on their own accord.
With these lofty goals, I approached the kitchen last weekend feeling confident. After scraping half a dozen inedible delights into the garbage can, it was obvious I had come up short. Somewhere between the banana bread and the brownies, I lost hope in any of my baking abilities, growing frustrated by the deceiving scents wafting throughout the apartment. I gave up. Good riddance, I yelled at the batter splatted spatula and dirty mixing bowls as I threw them in the sink.
I made granola instead.
Late Sunday evening, when the sun hung low in the sky, I crossed my fingers and gave vegan baking one last chance. And it worked.
Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies are soft baked and chewy. The batter may be a little unusual to put together, but the final product, scattered with chocolate chunks, is a treat. While these may not replace your go-to recipe, they are a lovely dairy-free, egg-free cookie for feeding friends and family who may have allergies. I brought them to work and nobody could guess they were made without butter. I call that a success.
Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Adapted from Post Punk Kitchen
Yields 2 dozen cookies
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup almond or soy milk (regular milk will also work for non-vegans)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped (use dairy-free chocolate to keep it vegan)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, and milk for several minutes until the mixture resembles a smooth caramel sauce. Stir in the vanilla.
Fold in the flour, baking soda, salt. If the dough is not stiff enough to hold its shape, add more flour by the tablespoon until it holds together. Mix in the chocolate chunks.
Drop cookies by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet, keeping the cookies at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges. Cool on the baking sheet for several minutes until transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.