Recipe: Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans

 Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans

These cookies have received some of the best compliments I've ever gotten on my baked goods, from fellow vegans as well as from some (formerly!) vegan-skeptical folks. I get recipe requests almost every time I bring them anywhere. So here's how to make them yourself, along with some helpful tips...first one is that this dough requires at least two hours of chilling before baking, so feel free to make these late at night for next day baking.

Printable version of recipe (pdf file)

VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES WITH PECANS (1st Place Award at the 2014 San Diego County Fair against non-vegan competition)

Yield: 4 dozen

2 cups all purpose flour (10 oz. by weight)

1 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking oats; 3-3/4 oz. by weight)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

12 Tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) Earth Balance vegan butter (6 oz. by weight)

1/2 cup tahini sesame seed paste (4-1/2 oz. by weight)

3/4 cup organic sugar

1/4 cup organic light brown sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped and toasted (4-1/2 oz. by weight)

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1.  Toast chopped pecans in a dry pan over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring very frequently to prevent burning. Set aside to cool.

2. Whisk together the flour, rolled oats, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3.  Beat the vegan butter and tahini in a stand mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.

4.  Add the sugar and brown sugar, and beat about one more minute or until light and fluffy.

5.  Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract, and almond extract (if using), and beat for another minute.

6.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir by hand just until incorporated.

7.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips and cooled pecans by hand, making sure they are evenly distributed. Place in an airtight container, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (overnight is best).

8.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two half-sheet pans or cookies sheets (or line them with silpats or parchment paper).

9.  Portion out rounded generous tablespoons of dough, roll into balls, and place on prepared baking sheets at least 1-1/2" apart. Press down to flatten slightly.

10.  Bake at 350°F for about 12-13 minutes, or until lightly browned.

11.  Cool for two minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Recipe tips: Ingredients

 

Earth Balance Vegan Butter: This is the only brand of vegan butter I can recommend. It's available at Whole Foods and other health food stores, but also in many mainstream grocery supermarkets as well (Vons & Safeway stores carry it). If you want your cookies to taste good, please do not use cheap non-dairy margarine. Vegan butter is not the same thing as margarine. Unlike many margarine products, Earth Balance vegan butter is non-hydrogenated, contains no trans fats, and is GMO-free. It's available in tubs as well as baking sticks, and can be substituted one-for-one with dairy butter.

 

Semi-sweet chocolate chips: Many people are surprised to learn that nearly all high-quality semi-sweet and dark chocolates are naturally vegan. In most cases, only milk chocolate contains dairy. Just check the ingredients list to make sure there are no milk fats, milk powders, whey, or other dairy. Cocoa butter comes from a cocoa bean (not a cow!), so it's vegan and totally fine if you see it listed. Sunspire makes excellent chocolate chips which are organic and fair trade as well. Sunspire 42% cacao chips have a very pleasant chocolate flavor, but feel free to use your favorite brand.

 

Tahini (sometimes called tahina) is probably the most unusual ingredient in this cookie recipe. But all it is, is blended sesame seeds (think peanut butter, but made with sesame seeds instead of peanuts). The consistency is a bit thinner than peanut butter. The higher quality ones (without preservatives and stabilizers) tend to naturally separate, so just be sure to mix it well before measuring it out.

Tahini is one of the key ingredients in hummus, along with garbanzo beans. My favorite brand is Al Wadi, and it has a bit of a bitter edge to it. Al Wadi can be a little difficult to find (I get mine from a couple of local middle Eastern grocery stores), but you can now find many different brands of tahini in almost every mainstream grocery store. Try to get one that is made from as few ingredients as possible (the Al Wadi brand contains only sesame seeds and nothing else). I tried making my own tahini once in my food processor, but the sesame seeds just kept flying and spinning around and around in the carafe. I suppose a little bit of sesame oil or a more high-powered appliance like a Vitamix or some commercial-grade processor is needed.

 

Maple syrup: For this recipe, I always use Grade B. When it comes to maple syrup, the Grades have nothing to do with quality, but rather when in the season it was harvested. Grade B has a deeper, richer, flavor than Grade A maple syrup. But because of the confusion this causes (many people mistakenly think that Grade A is somehow higher quality than Grade B), the industry has recently changed the grading system. I'm not up to speed on all of that yet, and since my beloved Trader Joe's still carries the lovely Grade B syrup, I will continue to buy that. Under no circumstances should you use artificial maple or pancake syrup in this recipe (or ever, for that matter)...please! Actually, the same comment goes for vanilla extract --please use the real thing, not artificial. The good stuff costs more, but the results are well worth the extra cost.

Recipe tips: Baking and Cooling

1.  As mentioned in the first paragraph of this post, this dough is somewhat soft when initially mixed, and needs to be refrigerated for at least two hours before baking. If you only have a couple of cookie sheets and need to rotate, put the dough back in the fridge between batches. I usually make the dough the day before, and let it chill in the fridge overnight. This dough stores very well in the freezer also; just take it out and put it in the fridge overnight to defrost.

2.  You will get the best results if you use a food scale to weigh ingredients (especially flour) instead of measuring by volume. But if you don't have a scale, don't worry, this recipe lists ingredients by both weights and volumes. I have found that recipes turn out more consistent when ingredients are weighed. I'm even considering measuring by grams (like they do in many places in the rest of the world) when coming up with new recipes, increase accuracy even more.

3.  When the cookies come out of the oven, let them cool on the hot cookie sheet for two to three minutes before using a spatula to gently slide them off directly onto a wire rack to cool completely. If you take them off too early, they will crack.

I really hope people will try this recipe! If you have any other questions about the ingredients or method, please feel free to comment on this post, or contact me through Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or email at susan@bigtentvegan.com.

Thanks for reading. Peace and love to all who live.

Susan