Friday, May 31, 2013

Chewy Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies


I've said it many times before, but I'll say it again. I'm really not a big fan of baking. I think it's the combination of making sure you follow the recipe exactly (I hate following recipes...I always adapt them) plus all of the measuring involved (which always means more dishes to wash). And most of the time, baked goods aren't all that healthy to eat anyways, so when I do bake, I'm always trying to make it healthy. I have to say that these cookies came out far better than I ever imagined. I adapted an old favorite recipe of mine (one that uses lots of butter, an egg, and brown sugar) and made it totally vegan and 100% whole grain without any refined sugar! And you know what? They honestly taste just as good as the original. It's incredible.
 I used a new-to-me sweetener in this recipe and that is the lovely coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut tree and has a lower glycemic index than regular table sugar, which means it doesn't spike your blood sugar levels. The sugar is shown along with the oats in the second picture above. It's got a golden color to it and a complex sweetness that's not overpowering. What's really great is that you can substitute it for regular sugar perfectly in every recipe. Keep in mind, it is still a sweetener, and although it's much healthier than refined sugar, it is not okay to consume loads and loads of it.

Another important point about this recipe worth noting is the use of chia seeds in place of the egg. Chia seeds are crazy high in Omega 3's. Unlike flaxseeds, which need to be ground up to make the Omega 3's digestible, chia seeds can be eaten whole. Chia seeds, when combined with water, become thick and gelatinous, making it a perfect egg substitute for vegan baked goods. In fact, the rule I always follow when substituting egg in a recipe is:

1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water= 1 egg

For this recipe to be successful, however, you must let these cookies cool completely after removing them from the oven. They will fall apart if you don't. I know, I know, it's really hard to resist when you have beautiful hot cookies straight from the oven just asking to be devoured straight from the cookie sheet. But trust me on this one, they're worth the wait.

Chewy Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies (makes about 12 cookies)

1/2 cup coconut oil (8 tablespoons), melted
2/3 cup coconut sugar (or rapadura sugar)
1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds plus 4 1/2 tablespoons water, combined in a small bowl to make a gel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole spelt flour (or other whole grain flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups + 3 tablespooons rolled oats
1 dark chocolate bar (at least 70% cocoa content), chopped
1/2 cup walnuts (65 grams), chopped (optional)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Pulse half of the oats (3/4 cups) in a food processor to make a flour. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine the melted coconut oil, the chia seed gel, and vanilla. Wisk very well.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the spelt flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together. Stir this into the coconut oil/chia mixture. Stir in the oats plus the oat flour you made earlier, chocolate chunks, and walnuts, if using them. You should have a nice, thick dough. If needed, you may want to put the bowl of dough in the freezer or refrigerator for a few minutes to let it firm up a bit. (this will ensure thicker cookies and not flat pancake cookies)

3. Scoop cookies into balls two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven) taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Remove from the oven.
*Important* Let them sit on the baking sheet for at least two hours to let them cool, otherwise they will fall apart. If you let them cool completely, they will stay together perfectly.
Enjoy!



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