Sunday, October 18, 2009

How Chocolate Chip Cookies So Wrong Ended Up Being So Right

My quest towards vegan chocolate chip cookies that taste like Toll House cookies continues on. A friend from law school had a good suggestion for substituting pumpkin puree for the butter, and given the appropriateness of the season, I decided to give it a try.

Did the final result taste like chocolate chip cookies? Frankly, no, not even close. I could tell by the time the dough came together that there was no way I could scoop these into cookies. However, I don't like wasting food, so I went ahead and mixed in the chocolate chips, poured the dough/batter into a pan, and baked off the concoction. The result? Delicious! I used to make chocolate chip cookie bars during the holiday season each year, but now I think I will make these instead; they have some of the flavors of the season while having the melty chocolately goodness that I love.

When you look at the recipe (and some of the others I've posted), you'll probably notice that I used raw (also called demetra) sugar instead of white sugar. The reason I used it? I was already baking when I realized that I was out of white sugar, and this was all I had in the pantry. (Something else you may have noticed as a theme in my'd think I learn...)

Anyway, I like baking with raw sugar. First, in the vegetarian community, it's always a crowd pleaser because, unlike some brands of white sugar, raw sugar is always vegan. Second, raw sugar gives baked goods a certain depth of flavor; I like to think of it as a cross between white and brown sugar. Many recipes say that you can straight substitute white sugar and raw sugar. Technically, I think this is correct. I find that I get the best results, though, if I add the raw sugar with the wet ingredients and let the mixture sit for a minute or two; that way, the raw sugar crystals can dissolve and the texture of the final baked good isn't affected too much. Of course, though, this substitution works both ways, so if you'd like to make these bars with white sugar, feel free.

Pumpkin Chocolate Bars
Yields: 16 bars

1/2 c. pumpkin puree
6 Tablespoons brown sugar
6 Tablespoons raw sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 -1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. + 2 Tablespoons flour
1 c. vegan semisweet chocolate chips

1) Mix together puree and sugars; mix in applesauce and vanilla.
2) Gradually add flour and baking soda. Stir in chocolate chips.
3) Pour batter into greased 9x9 square pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

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