Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve made a lot of dairy-free recipes over the years, but haven’t ventured far into vegan territories. After a couple negative experiences with less-than-great vegan recipes, I worried that all the ingredient substitutions just couldn’t lead to an awesome final result.

Well, dear readers: I stand corrected. These Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies are pretty darn amazing. If someone handed you one of these cookies on the street*, you’d never guess they’re vegan. And based on what I read on baking blogs, that seems to be the ultimate compliment for ingredient-restricted recipes.

These cookies swap in coconut oil and coconut milk for more standard cookie ingredients like eggs and butter. I’d never used either ingredient before, so I wasn’t totally sure how this would go. But the final cookies have such an amazing texture! They’re thick and chewy, with a nicely firm exterior. The original recipe writer recommended making these decently big, and I took that advice. The final cookies were truly delicious, and very satisfying.

I guess these cookies have officially convinced me that vegan baking can be awesome. Maybe I’ll try this vegan chocolate cake next…

* If someone actually handed you a cookie on the street would you eat it? Because I definitely wouldn’t! My Lyft driver took one of these and I will always wonder if he actually ate it once I got out… or tossed it in the trash. Stranger danger! 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original recipe: Baker by Nature. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~30 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~60 minutes

Cook Time: ~10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil. I used refined/virgin oil because I read it has less of a coconut taste. Your coconut oil needs to be totally solid—if it has started to melt at all, stick it in the fridge for a few minutes to get it back to a solid state
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk. I got the Thai variety based on the recipe’s original notes, but you can use any kind you want
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips. If you really need these to be vegan, make sure to find vegan chocolate chips! I use the Enjoy Life brand

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F
  2. Use your mixer to beat the coconut oil, brown sugar and vanilla. They should be well-combined before you move on.
  3. Add in your coconut milk and applesauce, and beat again.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. Pour your dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and mix until the ingredients are totally combined. Note that your batter will be thick! If it seems too sticky, you can add a little more flour. If it seems too dry, add another tablespoon of coconut milk.
  6. Stir in 1.5 cups of chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
  7. Scoop your cookies onto a lined cookie sheet. I used a two tablespoon scoop to measure out my dough.
  8. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the centers are set. Keep a close eye on them—they’ll start to burn if you leave the cookies in too long.
  9. Cool your cookies on the baking sheets for 15 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack and let them finish firming up.

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars

Looking for a party-ready, easy treat? I’ve got you covered.

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These Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars are a salty sweet treat that’s easy to whip up, and super easy to scarf down. The prep is really simple: just make some cookie dough, mix in your pretzels and chocolate, and throw it in a pan. No other prep, no chill time…you don’t even need to roll the dough into balls! These are a great pick for events outdoors since they’ll keep nicely in hot temperatures and they’re easy to transport.

I’ve made these a few times, and they’re always a crowd pleaser. The actual cookie dough is delicious on its own, and the pretzel/chocolate combo takes it up a notch. The original recipe also includes a chocolate and peanut butter drizzle, but I’ve never tried that part and the bars certainly don’t need a drizzle to be delicious!

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars

Original recipe: Brown Eyed Baker. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 32 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips (or semisweet, if you prefer)
  • 1½ cups mini pretzel twists, coarsely chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Whisk your flour, baking soda and salt
  3. Using your mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until it’s light and fluffy (it will take about a minute)
  4. Beat in your eggs and vanilla
  5. Switch the mixer to low speed, then beat in the flour mixture until it’s just incorporated
  6. Stir in your chocolate chips and pretzel pieces by hand
  7. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray
  8. Pour your batter into the pan and use a spatula to make sure it’s evenly spread
  9. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown
  10. Let the pan cool completely, then cut into squares and enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Chippers

This easy recipe puts a pumpkin spice twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie. The recipe calls for a rather standard list of ingredients–with one very important, very notable exception. What’s that, you say? Why, Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter of course.

I’m obsessed with Trader Joe’s pumpkin-flavored cookie butter because it combines so many wonderful things: nutmeg, pumpkin and little bits of cookie, to name a few. In this recipe, the cookie butter gets mixed right into your cookie dough. It adds a really satisfying complexity with nuanced flavors.This is a pretty cakey chocolate chip cookie, so the insides are soft and delightful. Like most things “pumpkin spice,” you’ll taste the cookie butter’s spice mix more than its pumpkin.

img_2396I’ve baked up many cookie butter recipes in the last couple years, from Cookie Butter-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies to Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Blondies. I’ll take cookie butter any way you want to serve it… but I definitely prefer using it in base doughs rather than using it as a filling. It’s an easy way to amp up the flavor in simple recipes!

For these Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Chippers, I started with a recipe for Biscoff cookies, and simply swapped in the seasonal cookie butter flavor. I bet these would be delicious with standard cookie butter, too! You could try that same trick with other cookie butter recipes, like these Cookie Butter Bars with Nutella Swirls.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Chippers

Original recipe: Sally’s Baking Addiction, with a cookie butter flavor swap. I’ve written things a bit and added commentary, too. 

Yield: 20 cookies 

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: 45 minutes for the recipe, total of 4 hours including chill time 

Cook Time: 9 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (you can swap in dark if you need to)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Step by Step Directions

Make your dough 

  1. Use your mixer to beat the butter for a minute on medium speed until it’s smooth and creamy
  2. Add your granulated sugar and brown sugar, then beat the mixture on medium-high until it’s fluffy and light in color
  3. Beat in the egg, extra egg yolk and vanilla on high speed
  4. Beat in the cookie butter until your entire mixture is completely combined
  5. Use a separate bowl to whisk the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt until combined
  6. Turn your mixer to low speed, then slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients
  7. Switch the mixer to high speed to beat in your chocolate chips
  8. Cover your dough tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and chill for at least 3 hours, and up to 3 days. Chilling gives the dough great flavor, so don’t skip this step. You can also freeze dough balls if you want to bake the cookies later on

Bake your cookies 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Let your dough sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes so it’s easier to scoop into balls
  3. Start scooping doughs of ball onto your lined baking sheets
  4. Bake the cookies 9-10 minutes (mine took 9 minutes on the dot!). They’ll look pretty undone in the centers and really soft-but they’ll finish firming up as they cool, so don’t worry about it!
  5. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on their baking sheets, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely

These will keep for up to a week if you store them in a covered container, or in your fridge.

 

Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve already given you several “stuffed” recipes. The Cookie Butter-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies. The Thin Mint Stuffed Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies ( a personal favorite). Oh and those crazy good Peanut Butter Cup Brownies.

I’m not over it yet.

Thing is: merging two delicious things together is just such a good plan. Whether it’s spreads and doughs, doughs and cookies, cookies and brownies – adding two flavors and textures together elevates baked goods so much more than simple mix-in additions could.

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Adding in the caramels

These cookies jumped off my baking list and into my kitchen for a birthday party. Two friends shared a party, and I did some digging to find overlap in their baked good preferences. Caramel won the round! I’d already made caramel-stuffed Snickerdoodles a bit before and loved how the melty caramel centers came out. I decided to work with caramels again, and thought this chocolate chocolate chip cookie recipe might be a nice change of pace.

The cookies turned out great… though I will admit they made me really late to the party! Let’s just say that a side experiment to stuff the same dough with frosting did not turn out so well. No big loss, because the caramel-stuffed cookies were winners (and the birthday was a come-and-go thing, anyway!). My friends gobbled these up real fast. The chocolate base has a satisfying depth to it, with cocoa in the dough plus chocolate chips added in. I swapped in sea salt for regular salt and think it made the base dough even more tasty. Once your dough is ready, caramel candies get stuffed into the cookie dough balls. You stuff them in the middle, but they’ll sink to the cookie bottoms somewhat while baking. When you bite into a cookie you’ll get a nice caramel-y surprise. The caramel does harden over time, so you’ll need to serve these warm if you want a gooey effect.

This dough was a little challenging to work with, so I’d chill it next time. Otherwise, you might find it’s a little hard to form your caramel-stuffed balls.

Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original recipe:  Crazy Little Projects. I’ve edited the recipe a bit and added my own commentary. 

Yield: ~30 cookies 

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~2 hours 40 minutes, including 2 hours for chilling the dough 

Cook Time: ~9 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 package of caramel square candies – I used Kraft. You’ll probably have leftovers, which you should definitely use to make Caramel Doodles.
  • Extra sea salt for sprinkling

Step by Step Directions

Make your dough 

  1. Cream butter and sugar together
  2. Add the cocoa and eggs, and mix together until it’s combined
  3. Add in the dry ingredients and mix again
  4. Stir in your chocolate chips (I decreased the number of chocolate chips vs. the original recipe because it started to look like a lot of chocolate chips in the bowl. Feel free to dial it back up to 1.5 cups of chips if you so desire!)
  5. Chill the dough for at least a couple hours so it’s easier to work with and doesn’t spread as much while baking

Assemble and bake 

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F
  2. Unwrap 12 caramels to start, and cut each caramel in half. You will probably need more than this but I’d lowball upfront so you don’t waste unwrapped caramels!
  3. Line your cookie sheets
  4. Roll out balls of dough so they’re each roughly 1 to 1.5 inches large and place them on your cookie sheets at least an inch apart
  5. Take a caramel half and press it on top of each ball of dough. Push the caramel into the center of the ball and cover it up completely with dough (see pictures for reference). Unwrap more caramels as you need them to fill all the balls of dough!
  6. Sprinkle the tops of the cookie balls with a bit of sea salt
  7. Bake the cookies for ~9 minutes. They’re done when the edges firm up a bit, but the centers still look a little soft
  8. Let them cook for a few minutes before biting in

As I mentioned, the caramel will harden up the longer you let the cookies cool. Still, you gotta let them sit for a few minutes before chomping down – that caramel can get mighty hot!

Web-Hopping vol. 22

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day. Is that a real holiday, you ask? Probably not… but I am more than happy to justify eating a lot of chocolate chips today. And I’m guessing you’re cool with the excuse, too. So, today’s round-up is full of chocolate chips! Here are some of the most drool-worthy chocolate chip links I’ve added to my “baking list” this week. I also plan to bake up some chocolate chip goodness later today… but haven’t actually decided what to make just yet! We have a bake-off at work tomorrow and I keep oscillating between trying to pick something I think will be a “crowd pleaser” vs. making something a little riskier. Stay tuned for how that one nets out…

In the meantime, here are some deliciously chocolate chip-y links for your Sunday drools.

cheesecake-cookie-bars

From Hugs and Cookies Xoxo

Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies: I’m not a huge cheesecake eater, but I do like cheesecake as a topping, filling, etc. I think these bars have just the right dose of cheesecake, stuffed into cookie bars.

S’mores Bars: I’m pretty obsessed with s’mores and have a really long list of bookmarked recipes that incorporate some combo of marshmallows/graham crackers/chocolate. I’m determined to make a ton of them this year.

mango-dark-chocolate-chunk-scones-1

From Two Peas and their Pod

Mango Dark Chocolate Chunk Scones: Can’t wait to try these soon – I love fruit and chocolate together!

Orange Chocolate Chip Shortbread: Orange chocolate is one of my favorite fruit-chocolate combos, and this looks super easy. One of these days I just need to buy tons of oranges and knock off lots of the orange recipes on my list.

Peanut Butter Chip Shortbread: Yup, a second shortbread! I forget about shortbread and I should stop that – it’s so easy and satisfying.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Blondies

The minute I saw Trader Joe’s was selling Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter, I knew I had to bake with it. Cookie Butter has been on a rapid ascent to U.S. popularity over these last couple years, particularly within the crowd that shops at Trader Joe’s. It’s actually not a Trader Joe’s invention: abroad it’s known as “speculoos” and it’s been popular for quite some time. It’s also been sold as Biscoff spread here in the States. But Trader Joe’s definitely gets credit for making cookie butter accessible to more Americans- and for that, I salute them.

Once I had a jar of Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter in my 20151031_191932hands, I had an important decision to make. Should I put it into a cookie dough, adding that flavor into the cookie base itself? Or should I stuff it into chocolate chip cookies, like I did with regular cookie butter earlier this year? The answer was clear: I wanted to see what flavor the cookie butter would impart to dough itself. So I turned to my trusted Cookie Butter Blondie recipe from Confessions of a Baking Queen. I’ve made this recipe with regular cookie butter, to great results. I had my winner.

IMG_2754.jpgI followed Elizabeth’s original recipe, only swapping in the new variety of cookie butter. It turns out that putting Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter in her recipe is a really, really delicious choice. The flavored spread added a nice touch of pumpkin, along with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Yes, that’s right- unlike many “pumpkin spice” products, this spread does have pumpkin, along with all the spices usually included in “pumpkin spice.” So you get hints of allspice and cloves, pumpkin, plus the gingery taste of the typical cookie butter ingredients. Add that to a blondie base with chocolate chips- and I think you’ll understand why my friends were excited to see these appear at a Halloween party. Another important note about these blondies: they were the first thing I baked in my new apartment’s oven. Monumental, right?!

I plan to make these again very soon, probably to share with coworkers. Trader Joe’s actually sold out of the spread at the store closest to me, and the worker told me they probably won’t restock. So, dear readers, I encourage you to go out right now and seize the day- and seize some Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter, too.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Blondies

Source: Confessions of a Baking Queen, with just a flavor swap 

Yield: One 9×9 pan of blondies (roughly 20 blondies, depending on how you cut) 

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~45 minutes 

Cook Time: ~25 minutes 

I broke the original recipe into a few more detailed steps and wrote my own commentary below. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, at room temp.
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin Pie Spice cookie butter (if you can’t find any, I implore you to still make this with regular cookie butter!)
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips/ chocolate chunks
  • Sea salt for garnish

Directions

Get prepped to bake 

  1. Melt your butter
  2. Line a 9×9 inch pan with foil, and spray with non-stick cooking spray
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 350F

Make your dough 

  1. Once the butter is cooled, combine it in the mixer with sugar, brown sugar and vanilla
  2. Then, add in the egg and mix until incorporated
  3. Mix in the cookie butter, and set the bowl aside
  4. In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt
  5. Add the dry ingredients (flour etc.) into the wet ingredients (butter etc.) and mix
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips (I always do this part by hand so I don’t over-mix the dough) 
  7. Spread the dough into your prepared pan, trying to make it even on top
  8. Sprinkle sea salt lightly over the top of your dough. Just a sprinkle does the trick, you don’t want the entire top covered in salt!

Bake your blondies 

  1. Bake for ~22-27 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine took a little longer so I ended up leaving it in around 25 minutes
  2. Let cool for 30 minutes in the actual pan, then use the foil to remove the blondies from your pan

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups with “Cookie Dough” Frosting

When friends announce they’re having a party, my scheming wheels start to turn. Recipe-scheming, that is. I love any excuse to try new recipes, and parties are the perfect venue to share the baking bounty. So when my friend Amanda decided to have a birthday fiesta, I jumped into Baker-Planner mode:

1. Intelligence-gathering: I furtively determined her favorite kinds of desserts and decided to go with a cookie-dough theme.

2. Recipe-Hunting: Nothing on my “to-bake” list qualified for my vision, so I set to Googling. I found a few great contenders and decided on a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I use Sally’s blog a lot, and find her recipes dependably awesome. This particular recipe was for “cookie cups”- a.k.a. cookies baked in muffin tins to create a cupcake-like shape. The frosting on top emulates cookie dough, but it’s eggless and therefore safer to eat than cookie dough itself. It seemed like the perfect recipe for Amanda’s tastes.

3. Execute: I made the “cookie cups” the morning of the party and then slathered them in frosting. The treats disappeared very quickly at the party, so I think they were a hit!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups with “Cookie Dough” Frosting 

Only 2 left... and then these disappeared, too

Only 2 left… and then these disappeared, too

Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Yield: ~24 cookie cups

Suggested equipment: stand mixer or hand-mixer

Total Time: ~45 minutes

Cook Time: ~15 minutes 

Italics below are my personal comments on the original recipe. I broke the directions into a few more steps, too.

Ingredients

Cookie Cup Ingredients 

  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (set the butter out a bit before you’re going to start baking)
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature preferred (set the egg out a bit before you’re going to start baking)
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (aka cornflour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cup (225g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/4 cup (225g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup + 1 Tablespoon (215g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (160g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (95ml) milk 
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (270g) mini chocolate chips

Step by Step Directions

Make your batter

  1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and light in color
  2. Mix in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt
  4. With the mixer on low-speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. The dough will be thick!
  5. Stir in chocolate chips (I did this by hand vs. with the mixer paddle) 

Bake your cookie cups 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  2. Line your muffin pan with liners
  3. Press 1.5 tablespoons of dough into each liner
  4. Bake ~12-13 minutes, removing the pan from the oven when the edges begin to slightly brown, and the centers still appear soft. Do not overbake!
  5. Allow cups to cool while you make your frosting

Make your frosting and assemble 

  1. Using your mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar at medium speed
  2. Add vanilla and beat well
  3. Stir in flour and salt until the frosting gets doughy
  4. Beat in the milk until the frosting gets fluffy
  5. At this point I recommend a taste check. I ended up adding some more vanilla and salt to taste because the frosting was a little sweet for my preferences. Do a test and see whether you need adjustments for your own taste, then add in extra vanilla and/or salt as needed to get to the taste you want. Add just a little bit extra at a time! 
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips
  7. Frost cooled cookie cups
  8. Un-frosted cookie cups stay fresh covered at room temperature for 5 days. Frosted cookie cups must be stored in the refrigerator