Holiday classics like Russian tea cakes? Yup. Cookie jar favorites like snickerdoodles? Sure. Vegan cookies like sugar cookie cutouts? Absolutely.
That’s right, one of the most talked about cookies we made last year was the Vegan Sugar Cookie recipe we created for The Betty 10
. We were inspired by the food trend of so-called “alternative diets," like veganism, going mainstream.
We decided (and were excited) to embrace the vegan during the holiday baking season by creating a vegan version of a classic Betty Crocker recipe. Surely one vegan cookie recipe isn’t enough to fill your cookie jar, so we asked Mattie from Vegan Baking
to share tips on how to make vegan cookies.
Click here for our Vegan Sugar Cookie
Adapted from Mattie at Vegan Baking
1. Keep it simple
When I first started to veganize cookie recipes over a decade ago, I would develop complex schemes often involving things like cashew butter, raisin purée and a complex assortment of vegetable starches. The cookies never really seemed to emulate their classic version and I'll bet you can guess why. Later I learned that simplicity is key to veganizing recipes in most cases. Try to avoid putting ingredients in your cookies that you wouldn't want to eat by themselves. Most cookies just need substitutions for eggs and butter. Once you've figured those out, you're already half way there.
2. Pick an egg replacer
My favorite egg replacer consists of 1 Tablespoon golden flax meal whisked together with 3 Tablespoons water and allowed to sit for about 10 minutes until it thickens. This starchy mixture does a great job of binding in recipes with up to about 3 eggs. Keep in mind that this goopy mixture is suitable for cookies in the realm of chocolate chip, oatmeal and peanut butter styles. It's not going to help you for those meringue cookies you may have your eye on. I recommend storing the flax meal in the freezer for up to one year to keep the highly perishable oils from going rancid.
3. Choose your fats wisely
Depending on the style of cookie you're veganizing, it's important to choose a fat that is similar to the one you're replacing. Vegan margarine is the recommended substitute for butter. Vegan margarine sticks are recommended over tub margarine because the sticks have a water content that's more similar to butter. If you'd like to substitute canola oil or coconut oil for the butter, keep in mind that you should use less because butter is about 15% to 20% water (and oil contains no water).
4. Do you want your cookies to be chewy or crunchy?
Eggs are amazing culinary miracles of nature. Taking them out of a recipe can have all sorts of ramifications including reduced chewiness, dryness and crumble issues. If you'd like your cookies to be on the chewier side, consider adding a touch more of molasses, brown rice syrup or barley malt syrup, which will hold onto moisture. The ratio of fats also controls how chewy your cookies will be. Generally, look for a ratio of 1:3 of saturated fat to unsaturated fat for the chewiest cookies. This would mean that for the chewiest chocolate chip cookies you would want to use about 33% coconut oil and 66% canola oil.
5. Make your dough slightly thicker than normal
Eggs have a tendency to really pull together and thicken batters during baking. Since you're not using them, it's a good idea to use slightly less water-based liquid in your recipe to make your dough slightly thicker to compensate for this.
6. Choose your baking sheets with care
Vegan cookies are often more sensitive to burning on the bottom. To ensure you don't need a chisel to free your cookies from their baking sheets, use thick aluminum baking sheets lined with parchment paper for baking. The thick aluminum will allow for optimum heat distribution and the parchment paper will guarantee effortless removal from the sheets. This will also make cleanup a cinch as well because you won't even have to worry about washing the baking sheets later.
These six tips should significantly reduce your cookie veganizing drama in the kitchen. Soon they will be second nature and whipping up vegan versions of almost any cookie recipe will be almost as easy and fun as eating them.
Thanks to Mattie for sharing his vegan cookie baking tips. And, check out his recipe for Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Jennifer, BC Taste Seeker