I Found the Holy Grail… of Cookies

Orange rectangular banner that says "Vegan MoFo" and "Vegan Month of Food 2011."

Ages and ages ago (read: two years ago), I tried a VegWeb chocolate chip cookie recipe and was disappointed in the results. So I continued my search for the holy grail of vegan chocolate chip cookies, and a year and a half ago I tried a PPK recipe, hoping it would answer all my cookie desires. It was good, but not great. But Nora left me a comment recommending Dreena Burton’s Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies, citing the awesome caramel-y flavor that a healthy dose of maple syrup and a bit of molasses lends them. Intrigued, I gave them a try. But I made the mistake of baking while distracted, and I misread the 1/4 tsp of molasses as 1/4 cup. Yep. Needless to say, the results were not exactly reminiscent of the chocolate chip cookies of my childhood. However, they were still yummy in their own right, and I made a mental note to re-try Dreena’s recipe – I figured that if it could stand up to my horrible miscalculation, it was probably a pretty damn fine recipe.

Two cookies on a plate next to a glass of almond milk.

You have chosen... wisely.

And it is. Oh man, it so is. It’s awesome. I made these cookies last night, and I want to devour them all for breakfast today. Nora was totally right; the maple syrup and molasses combine to make a cookie that is not just sweet, but flavorful. Just like I don’t enjoy things that are spicy for the sake of being spicy, I don’t always like sweetness for sweetness’ sake. I want depth of flavor and a nuanced sweetness, and these cookies bring that to the table (literally). They are so, so good.

Another shot of the two cookies on a plate.

Nom nom cookies.

I made nine big ol’ cookies in this batch; next time I’ll make them smaller so the recipe will yield more. They were delicious when warm and they’re delicious when cooled, and the dough is amazing straight outta the bowl. And that’s an essential part of a good cookie recipe, don’t you think? ;)

So, in short, this may very well be my holy grail of cookie recipes. The 1/3 cup of maple syrup is a bit much, though, so I doubt I’ll make them incredibly often. But when I do, I know they’ll be worth it.

What’s your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe? Have you tried Dreena’s?

BUI: Baking Under the Influence (…of the internetz)

This is a cautionary tale, folks, a warning for those of you who sometimes feel an urge to bake but can’t drag yourselves away from the internerdz while doing so. You’ve got the recipe open on one tab, Gmail on another, Google Reader on a third, Jezebel on the next, and the PPK on yet another. Your iTunes is blasting some ridiculous and probably embarrassing tunes, and maybe you’re trying to keep up a Gchat conversation simultaneously. This is worse than drunk!baking, people. It’s distracted baking, and – much like texting while driving* – it can have Serious Consequences.

Sometimes, baking while under the influence of the INTERNETZZZ!!!11!1!!! can cause you to do things that make you seriously question your intelligence… or at least your ability to perform the simplest of tasks. Graduating magna cum laude with distinction in my major from a top college? No sweat; I can pull that off in my sleep. But reading a recipe? That’s beyond me. Somewhere between the [super embarassing] S Club 7 music video I watched on YouTube and the irritated e-mail I fired off to my best friend, I misread 1/4 tsp as 1/4 cup. Yeah. And the ingredient in question? Blackstrap molasses.

And the most embarrassing bit – the bit I very nearly decided to omit from this post – is that it took me an obscenely long time to realize my error. It wasn’t ’til I’d combined the wet and dry ingredients and was wondering why the result was more batter than dough that I figured something was wrong. And then – suddenly – I thought, “Hey… chocolate chip cookie dough isn’t s’posed to be brown.” Y’think?

So – let’s just say that my chocolate chip cookies quickly morphed into chocolate chip-molasses cookies. The good news? Dreena’s recipe can stand up to even this assault of stupidity; they were still surprisingly delicious, if a little too sweet, given the inclusion of maple syrup + sugar + way too much molasses.

Somethin' just ain't right.

I’d just like to try and recoup a meager 2% of my Baking Legitimacy by saying that this fiasco was caused because I was baking for the end results. When I bake for the sake of baking, I treat each step in a recipe with love and care, tenderly measuring flour and leveling the top of my measuring cups with a knife to ensure precision. I use my best Pampered Chef spatula to scrape the sides of a bowl, making sure no speck of flour goes unmixed. But baking for the end results is a much more slapdash experience, a mad rush of pouring and distracted stirring wherein all I care about is the finished product (and maybe a few spoonfuls of batter along the way). I’m disconnected from the end product and the recipe on the page; I’m pouring and mixing and measuring individual ingredients without thinking about how they’ll work together as a whole. It’s bad juju, man.

So, in conclusion – focus on your baking! That series of tubes might be super distracting, but don’t let it distract you so much that you commit a baking mistake that would make Betty Crocker cry and shun you from her kitchen forever.

*Plz don’t text while driving. It’s stupid and irresponsible. Guess what? In the olden days, people couldn’t even talk on the phone while driving – and they survived! You can wait 10 minutes to text your bff about the slowpoke old lady doing 25 in a 55 MPH zone. Trust.