Chewy Vegan Coconut Cookies

Let’s not talk about the fact that Labor Day weekend has come and gone, okay? Instead, let’s talk about chewy, melt-in-your-mouth rich vegan coconut cookies. The kind of cookies you could bring to a gathering of even the staunchest omnivores and feel good about. The kind of cookies that you just want to keep on eating and eating and eating, even when your stomach groans in protest.

I’ve made these cookies three times in the past few weeks, twice to share at events, and they haven’t let me down. I’ve basically veganized this recipe, toned down the fat and sugar just a bit, and tweaked a few other things to my taste. I highly recommend using shredded (not flaked!) coconut — it seems to melt into the cookies, providing them with coconutty goodness, without those noticeable flaky bits that might distract from your eating pleasure. (I buy it at Wegmans, but Amazon also carries shredded coconut from Bob’s Red Mill.) Adding the coconut early on helps it soften up and become infused with the creamed sugar and butter. The result is a true delight.

chewy vegan coconut cookies

Almost as good as the final product? The fact that this recipe is so, so easy — you can make it in a single bowl, plus a small one for mixing up your flax egg. I use my KitchenAid stand mixer, but a hand mixer or even good old-fashioned elbow grease will do the trick.

If you’re feeling decadent, I bet these would be amazing drizzled with chocolate… but I’ve been too impatient to try that!

These tropical treats are a perfect vegan Memorial Day recipe, and they work equally well as a vegan Labor Day dessert. Heck, they’re good any old time!

Chewy Coconut Cookies
Makes ~18 cookies

  • 6 T Earth Balance buttery sticks, softened
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 flax egg (1 T ground flax mixed with 3 T warm water)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and have two cookie sheets ready to go. (You can line them with parchment paper if you’d like; it’s not necessary, but if your sheets are finicky, feel free to try it.)

First, make the flax egg by whisking the ground flax with the water until combined. Set aside.

In your stand mixer (or using a hand mixer or your own brute strength), cream together the Earth Balance, sugars, and vanilla until well combined; it should take two to three minutes. Pour in the flax egg and mix for another 15 seconds or so.  Add the shredded coconut and mix on low until it’s folded in to the creamed butter and sugar.

With the stand mixer (if using) off, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then mix on low until all ingredients are incorporated. It should take just a minute.

Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto your cookie sheet, leaving about 2″ between each cookie. Press down slightly. Bake for 10 minutes, and let cool for another 5 before removing from the cookie sheet.

Enjoy!

chewy vegan coconut cookies

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Strawberry-Coconut Granola

I’ve got a pretty robust travel tag going, and for good reason: I love, love, love to travel. And I love talking about traveling! Besides daydreaming about my next trip, planning a detailed itinerary, and overthinking my suitcase strategy, every trip I take involves lots of pre-departure food research. This New Zealand trip has been no exception! And one very important part of my food planning is deciding what travel snacks to bring.

My strategy hasn’t deviated much from the one I employed when I went to Italy a few years ago. It’s all about nutritious, protein-rich snacks to keep my tummy full. I made a Wegmans and Trader Joe’s run to stock up on pre-made snacks, and I also whipped up a batch of granola for munching. Since I knew I’d mostly be eating this by the handful (not in yogurt or with plant milk), I needed to make sure this granola had lots and lots of big ol’ clumps. I’ve seen oil-free granola recipes that use applesauce for moisture, so I decided to try something similar. But I wanted to experiment with a different, bolder pureed fruit, one that would add flavor as well as moisture. Strawberries seemed like the perfect choice, and they worked wonderfully, especially when paired with coconut. Mmm.

Strawberry-Coconut Granola

Strawberry-Coconut Granola

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mix-ins of choice (I used chopped almonds and chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350˚ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spread liberally with coconut oil.

In a food processor, blend the strawberries until they’re nearly pureed. (If you’re using frozen strawberries, they should be the texture of a slushie.) Set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine, heating over low so that the oil melts. Once all three ingredients are well mixed, stir in the dried coconut. Let sit for a minute, then turn off the heat. Add the pureed strawberries and stir to combine, then set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, ground flax, and salt together, then pour in the wet ingredients. Stir to combine, then fold in any mix-ins you’re using.

Pour the granola onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a thin layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, then remove from oven and let cool completely before eating.

Pineapple-Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

During a season where pumpkin unquestionably reigns as the queen of all flavors, I’m bucking the trend and turning my attention to another p-fruit: pineapple! Not because of any contrarian desire, however; I just happened to have an open can of crushed pineapple I needed to use. I contemplated pancakes, muffins, quick bread… but they all seemed too predictable. (Well, I suppose pineapple pancakes aren’t predictable… I was just too lazy to make them!) Instead: cookies! Soft, subtly sweet pineapple-coconut oatmeal cookies.

I’m sure I’ve had pineapple cookies at some point, but I couldn’t tell you when. My most recent pineapple memories are of the summer before this past one, when my sister had a small (I believe the word is “intimate” in wedding parlance) wedding on Maui. Her husband’s family vacations at a resort there every summer, and her grandfather-in-law was incredibly gracious and generous, booking rooms for my immediate family to stay so we could make it to the wedding. Every morning, the hotel staff had Pineapple Time, where they’d chop up fresh, sweet pineapple and teach eager tourists something about Hawaiian culture. I can’t think of a better way to start a warm summer day than on the beach with freshly cut pineapple—I feel so relaxed just thinking about it! That was a magical week, easily the most laid-back vacation I’ve ever taken. My travels are usually much more action-packed, but I wholly enjoyed the chance to lay back, relax, and take in the scenery.

I wholly enjoyed these cookies, too. Pineapple and coconut are always a winning pair, and in tandem they offer a refreshing spin on the traditional oatmeal cookie. Like most of my baked goods, these are relatively low in sugar so that I can delude myself into thinking they’re okay to eat for breakfast. ;) If you prefer a sweeter, more dessert-like cookie, feel free to use all brown sugar instead of coconut sugar.

Pineapple-Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Pineapple-Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 15 cookies

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, solid
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax
  • 1 cup canned crushed pineapple, with most of the juice strained out (measure after straining)
  • 1 cup + 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom (optional but recommended)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened flaked dried coconut

Using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or good ol’ fashioned elbow grease, cream together the coconut oil, sugar(s), and vanilla extract. (If you’re mixing by hand, you might want to heat the coconut oil just a little bit to soften it—solid coconut oil can be stubborn to work with!) Once the mixture is creamed and a bit fluffy, add the flax and pineapple and continue mixing.

Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom. Mix until well combined, then fold in the rolled oats and dried coconut.

Place the dough in the refrigerator and set the oven to 350˚. Prepare a baking pan by lining it with parchment paper or spraying it with non-stick cooking spray (coconut oil works great here!).

Once the oven is heated, remove the dough from the refrigerator and use your hands to scoop it into balls; they should have about two tablespoons of dough. Flatten slightly in your hands and placed on the baking pan about 3/4″ apart. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until they begin to turn golden. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before eating.

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What’s your favorite pineapple recipe?

Baked Sweet Potato & Mung Bean Croquettes with Peanutty Coconut Sauce

LVV MoFo 2014 main

As I said to S yesterday, “One of the best parts about Vegan MoFo is that we eat really well.” Spurred on by my desire to offer up high-quality recipes, I force myself to overcome my laziness and get creative. So far this week, I’ve dug deep into my pantry and fridge; I haven’t had to make any special grocery store trips (other than my weekly shopping on Sunday). Today, though, I ran to the store for a red bell pepper, because I knew this particular dish needed it.

Sweet Potato and Mung Bean Croquettes with Peanutty Coconut Sauce

These baked croquettes not only taste amazing, but they feature two nutritional superstars: sweet potatoes and mung beans. The combination offers a one-two punch of protein and iron (and don’t you worry, we’ll be talking about iron soon!). Three of these patties will load you up with 23 grams of protein, 39% of your daily recommended value of iron, 17% of your daily calcium needs, and goodly doses of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. And that’s not even including the coconut-peanut sauce, a creamy topping that’s a breeze to prepare. And did I mention these are gluten-free if you use a GF tamari or soy sauce? Celiac friends, rejoice!

Baked Sweet Potato & Mung Bean Croquettes with Peanutty Coconut Sauce
Makes 15 croquettes and one cup of sauce

  • 2 cups whole mung beans, ideally soaked overnight
  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes (about three medium-sized potatoes), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped (measure after chopping)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 2 T toasted black sesame seeds
  • 1 to 2 T sambal oelek (depending on your heat tolerance)
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2-3 T coconut flour (or other gluten-free flour of choice)

For the sauce:

  • 3/4 C full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 C unsalted creamy natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsp sambal oelek
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Boil the sweet potatoes for about 15 minutes or until soft. At the same time, either boil or steam the mung beans. You can boil them right along with the sweet potatoes, or if you have a steamer pot set, steam them right on top of the potatoes. (I have a set like this one and that’s what I did.) When the sweet potatoes are soft, drain the pot and set them and the mung beans aside to cool.

While the mung beans and potatoes are cooking and subsequently cooling, chop the garlic, scallions, and red bell pepper and set aside. Next, make the sauce by whisking all five sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

Preheat your oven to 375˚ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or oil it lightly (coconut oil works great here!).

When the potatoes and mung beans have cooled a bit, add all the sweet potatoes, all the garlic, and about half the mung beans to a food processor and pulse a few times. Add half the remaining mung beans, pulse again, and then add the remaining mung beans. Process until the sweet potatoes are fully mashed and most of the mung beans are incorporated into the mixture. It’s okay if some of the beans are still whole; you want a nice variation.

Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the scallions, red bell pepper, sesame seeds, sambal oelek, and soy sauce. Mix until combined using a wooden spoon or plastic spatula. Add 2 tablespoons of coconut flour and mix again. Depending on how much sambal oelek you added, your mixture might need another tablespoon. The mixture should stick together easily but shouldn’t be at all dry—you want it just the tiniest bit sticky.

Using your hands, scoop about 1/4 cup of the mixture at a time and flatten it into patties about 3/4″ thick. Spread evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are beginning to brown. At that point, remove from the oven and spray or brush lightly with coconut oil, then broil for another 3-5 minutes, being sure not to burn them. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Top with coconut sauce, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and extra scallions if you have ’em. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato and Mung Bean Croquettes with Peanutty Coconut Sauce

What’s your favorite use for mung beans or sweet potatoes?

MoFo Monday: Pumpkin Coconut Caramel Sauce

Happy MoFo Monday! I’m still in Rhode Island, but I prepared this post ahead of time so I could gush about yet another coMoFoer. Except… just like last week, I’m breaking my own rules for this sub-theme. Yes, a MoFo participant *did* blog about this recipe, but… it’s from a cookbook she was reviewing. Oh well. Rules are for breaking, right? (No way, says my rule-abiding inner child.)

Anyway, when I saw this post for Pumpkin Coconut Caramel Sauce come up in my Feedly last weekend, I immediately knew I was going to blog about it. Ever since discovering the magic that happens when you combine coconut oil or milk with a sugar or syrup, I’ve been salivating over any coconut-based caramel recipe I encounter. So this one, with its addition of pumpkin, was a siren syrup I couldn’t resist.

Now, here’s the thing: this recipe comes from Kathy Hester’s new slow cooker book. And I… well, I don’t exactly have a slow cooker. We have S’s rice cooker, which has a slow cooker setting. And I’m just assuming it does the same thing as a “real” slow cooker. It certainly works just fine for chilis and the like!

So I made this caramel in the rice/slow cooker. It didn’t thicken up as much as the caramel in the photo, but I can’t exactly blame the rice cooker because I also only cooked it for a little over five hours… I had to go to bed, and I didn’t want it to reduce down completely overnight.

Other than tasting a little spoonful of this caramel, I’ve only used it in my coffee, with mixed results. Visually, coffee with this caramel is quite unappealing—the oils in the caramel create a nasty shiny ring around the coffee, tinged bright yellow from the pumpkin. It looks positively radioactive. But it adds a mellow, subtly sweet pumpkin flavor that’s definitely appealing.

So, my verdict? If you’ve got a slow cooker, go for it! I’m excited to try it on oatmeal (big surprise) and maybe pancakes.

How do you use your slow cooker? 

I apologize for the lack of photos—I just didn’t have time to snap a good one before heading to RI!