Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Veganizing Chocolate Chip Cookies: The Battle Goes On

I've previously written about my battle with veganizing chocolate chip cookies, and I am sad to report, the heartbreak continues. I am still eternally grateful to Anita E. for her awesome vegan chocolate chip coffee bars; I've made them a few times now, and they have been a huge hit wherever they've gone. My quest to turn the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe into a vegan dream that tastes identical to the original, though, soldiers forward, although the troops are pretty beat up at this point.

My latest endeavor was to try and take out the eggs. Although I often use bananas and applesauce to take out eggs, I'm not totally confident that would work in cookies. The banana flavor, though that has the potential to be yummy, would certainly not duplicate the flavor of the original Toll House cookie, and applesauce adds a moistness that works well in a dessert that is in bar or bread form, but I don't think it would provide enough structure for a cookie that needs to stand up on its own.

What did I do, then? I used soy flour. Greg very cleverly read the back of the soy flour bag and found instructions on how to use soy flour as an egg substitute in baking, so I decided to give it a try. I think this is definitely a trick I will use again. First, it is easy to do: you use one tablespoon of soy flour plus one tablespoon of water mixed together to replace one egg. The result is amazing; there is definitely the same quantity and texture as if you had cracked an egg. I think this is good news, because you can easily replace the volume that the egg would have taken up in the traditional recipe. Second, I was able to use something I already had in the house. As I think my other posts have revealed, I am often in a position where 1) I'm baking and realize I'm out of something so have to make a quick substitution, or 2) I'm just lazy and don't want to go to the store to buy one ingredient unless I really, REALLY need it. I always keep soy flour in the house to make Greg's goodies, so I have it on hand. I know there are great products out there, like Ener-G Egg Replacer, but I've never used them because I don't already have them and I never think to buy it. Although I do hope to try Ener-G one day, I'm really happy with the soy flour substitute for now and I think it works well.

Well, I should clarify: I think it has the potential to be a perfect substitute in other recipes, but not in the world of Nestle. Don't get me wrong - the final product was good, but it definitely didn't perfectly emulate the original Toll House cookie. Sigh. If you are a fan of cookies that have some crispness to them, then I strongly recommend you try the recipe below; it has great flavor, and the cookies were crispy without being burned. I assume this is because of soy's natural tendency to add a little brown color and crisp when baked...I probably should have thought of that before trying to make a soft cookie. Cue handsmack on forehead. But the cookies were still yummy and gobbled up.

I should also note that these cookies, when baked...well, they look kind of odd. There's no nice way to say it. They rose, but in kind of funky shapes, and they sort of had a hill/valley thing going on. Greg was slightly weirded out when he saw them, but then he ate them and really liked them. So I guess the moral of the story here is 1) don't judge a book by its cover, and 2) if you insist on judging a book by its cover, just close your eyes when you eat these and you'll be just fine.

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Vegan Attempt #1
(For lovers of crispy cookies with a face only a mother could love)
Yields: 4-5 dozen cookies

1 c. non-dairy butter substitute softened, like Earth's Balance
3/4 c. white sugar
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. soy flour + 2 Tbsp. water, mixed together
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
12 oz. vegan chocolate chips, like Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1) Cream together butter substituted and sugars. Mix in soy flour mixture and vanilla, until well mixed.
2) On low speed, add soda, then slowly add flour 3/4 c. at a time, until just mixed. (If dough looks a little tight or dry, add 1-2 Tbsp. of water until it loosens up like traditional cookie dough.)
3) Mix in chocolate chips.
4) Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, scoop out dough into little balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 8-12 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown.
5) Place sheets on cooling racks for 1-2 minutes, then remove cookies and cool completely on the racks.

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