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Sunday, May 17, 2020

Cooking in Confinement: Cookies

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies
Ok, so maybe we aren't all in confinement anymore. But, at least here in Spain, restaurants are not open yet (although that changes tomorrow, yay!!). Have you all settled in to a habit of cooking and baking at home? I have. Oh, wait. I was already doing that.


But, in all honesty, I had fallen out of the baking habit. There are so many lovely bakeries here with delicious desserts. And there is gelato. I was barely baking at all, except for my usual sourdough bread. So, one of the things we enjoyed doing while being stuck at home for weeks on end was to plan what new recipe we would try for our weekly treat.

Today I have four cookie recipes to share with you. They are not my own, but some I slightly adapted to suit our tastes. I will include their links (click their titles) along with the changes I made.

In an effort to use up pantry items because we are leaving this beautiful country in six weeks (sob), I have been enjoying baking some vegan treats. I've used things like coconut flour, chia seeds, and black beans. And then I wondered, why haven't I been doing this more often? I am decidedly not vegan, even though I see benefits of occasional veganism here and there. But for cookies. I mean, I eat eggs and butter in other meals. Why include them in treats, too?

Black Bean Brownies
So today I have for you two vegan recipes and two non-vegan recipes. All four are incredible. And you should make at least one of them this weekend. Let's start with the vegan ones.


Coconut Flour Peanut Butter Cookies
Super satisfuying little peanut butter cookies. 

This first recipe is from Well Plated. This recipe uses coconut flour. You cannot substitute a different flour, as coconut flour is highly absorbent. I made a couple of changes to this recipe.

First, she calls for eggs. But I didn't have enough eggs, and I wanted to use up my chia seeds. Here is how to make a chia "egg":

1 tablespoon chia seeds
3 tablespoons water
Mix together and let it soak for about ten minutes until the mixture looks like gel. This equals one regular egg.

The chia seeds lend a pleasant crunch to the cookies. It's hard to describe. It's not crunchy like nuts or potato chips, but rather like a slight give when you bite into it.

Second, instead of mixing chocolate chips into the batter, I instead chose three different variations of this cookie. The first was plain - just the straight peanut butter dough. The second was to roll the balls into sesame seeds. And the third was to put a piece of chocolate right in the middle, gently pressing down to flatten.

My family and I loved these cookies. In an effort to use up some tahini, I made them again that same day, substituting tahini for peanut butter. My kids liked them, and we all ate them, but I do prefer the peanut butter version. If it came down to it, I could see doing a half peanut butter, half tahini cookie dough. But I found just tahini to be too bitter. However, it's nice to have it as an option if I want to include a nut-free cookie in my kids' lunches next year at school.

Vegan Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies

Black Bean Brownies. So fudgy. 
It may seem weird to include black beans in a dessert recipe, but you can't even taste them. It gave the brownies a nice, fudgy texture.

The only change I made to these brownies from The Minimalist Baker was to use two chia seed eggs instead of two flax eggs. I baked them in a muffin pan, as the recipe says to do. I was able to remove them with the help of a spoon, but only when they were cool. And the form changed a little. Next time I may bake them in silicone muffin liners to make removing them easier.

We enjoyed them warm, the day they were made. But the next day, after taking them out of the fridge, they were even better. They had solidified and become even more fudgy.

A great recipe for anyone who likes dark chocolate. I will definitely make these again.

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chew Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie -- my idea of the all American cookie
Last month we just needed a good, classic cookie recipe. I found it at allrecipes.com.

Incidentally, I have a French friend here who, when I told her we had to get going because we were going to make cookies, said, "Oh, how American!"

"What, other cultures don't make cookies?" I asked.

"Not really," she said. "We always think of Americans making cookies." Who knew?

Anyways, these oatmeal cookies were perfect. They reminded me a bit of a cookie my mom used to make that had oats, nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, and chocolate. Basically, everything. These oatmeal cookies had less going on, but definitely had a pleasant chew and a depth of flavors.

I made three changes to the original recipe.

First, I used all natural sugar, because that is what I had. No white sugar or brown sugar. Just raw natural sugar.

Second, I used milk chocolate instead of dark. My kids are always begging for milk chocolate in baked goods. So there you go.

And third, I used whole rolled oats instead of quick-cooking oats. I really wanted that chewiness, you know? It was the right decision.

I hope you make these and tell me what you think. It's the quintessential cookie to enjoy with a glass of (raw) milk. If milk is your thing.

Dorie's Classic Jammers

Be careful: Dorie's Classic Jammers are dangerous


Have you ever made jam thumbprint cookies? Dorie's Classic Jammers are the same idea, but much, much better. The dough is rich with butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks. The cookies are pressed into a muffin pan, dolloped with jam, and scattered with streusel. Dorie Greenspan says she literally dreamed up these cookies.

I made this cookie dough a couple of nights ago, along with the streusel, and stuck it in the fridge. The next day Evelyn helped me assemble the cookies. They were as good as I'd imagined, but pretty dangerous.

I loved these. But I don't think I will make them again unless I have some accountability. As in, this is how many cookies we will get, please count them after I bake them so I don't eat three right away.

Unlike the above cookie recipes that have beans, coconut flour, peanut butter, and oats, these cookies are pretty much straight sugar. Sometimes, that's just fine. But for me, well, let's just say I have realized sugar still has a bit too much power over me if I let it.

I made a couple of changes to the original recipe.

First, like some of the above recipes, I only had one type of natural, brown-ish sugar, so that's what I used. No white sugar, powdered sugar or traditional brown sugar.

Second, Dorie says to roll out the dough and cut out two-inch rounds to put in the muffin pan. I did not want to roll out dough and I did not have a two-inch cutter, so instead I rolled dough into balls and pressed it flat with my palm. Then I placed them in the muffin pan and pressed my thumb into each one.

I used blueberry jam for these and we were all happy with it. These cookies would go incredibly well with black coffee or strong black tea.

These would go well with a cup of black coffee or strong black tea

Well what do you think? Do you plan to try one of these recipes? Will you let me know how they turn out? We can eat cookies together. :) Although, I may need a break after all this. Maybe give me a week.

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