Final paper turned in. I am — almost, waiting for diploma on Saturday — done with grad school. For now, anyway.
How to celebrate? More cookie baking!
For the record, I’m not actually the biggest cookie fan, and I don’t normally make cookies this often. But one of my dearest friends in the world is getting married next weekend, and is having a cookie table at her wedding. Thus, I get to do two great things: help contribute to a friend’s special day, AND have fewer things to transport south on the big move. Win-win!
So, this is a vegan recipe. I am not myself a vegan, but friends and family members are, and so I try to make sure recipes are vegan-friendly whenever possible. I also have a variety of dietary restrictions (some health-related, some religious), so I eat vegan recipes regularly, and am happy at the expansion of really good meat substitutes — I grew up eating very sad veggieburgers, which, just, no. Now, you can pry my Morningstar chik’n strips from my cold, dead fingers.
The main thing to remember when making vegan desserts is that they have nothing holding them together, really. Egg is a stiffening agent: without an egg, there’s really nothing keeping your dessert together. Egg substitute doesn’t work the way it promises on the bag — it’ll be way too dry without adding some fruit preserves or something moister.
A few years ago, my college roommate (a vegan) got married on a beautiful, hot summer day. I arrived early at the (non-air-conditioned) venue, just before the cakemaker arrived. She was in a panic, because as the beautiful, three-layer vegan wedding cake had gotten into the car, it actually started collapsing under its own weight. I spent about half an hour organizing an ice bucket brigade for the cake while she got more frosting so no one saw how maimed the cake had gotten. Believe you me, you never have more moral authority then when you’re saying, “I NEED ICE FOR THE WEDDING UPSTAIRS RIGHT NOW!”
I more-or-less made this recipe myself. I’m not actually a big fan of oatmeal raisin cookies — cookies that are healthy? What gives? — but they’re Beloved Husband’s favorite, so I’ve been working on variations of the recipe that we can both like. This time I used cherry preserves, which I think was a mistake — more on that later.
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 cup sugar (can be white/brown/raw)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg/egg substitute
- 1 teaspoon fruit jam (optional)
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (or more, depending)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon (soy) milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 ½ cups craisins
- Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
- Add vanilla, oats, and craisins.
- Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.
I tend to use a whole can of pumpkin, and so I basically double the recipe. Instead of oats and cranberries, you can sub in nuts (walnuts work well) and/or chocolate chips. If making the recipe vegan, add a little more vegetable oil and be sure to use something that can help the cookies thicken, such as apple sauce or other fruit puree.
So, I’ve made this recipe (with variations) several times before. The last few times I’d had cranberry jam, which is perfect for a pumpkin cookie: this time I added some cherry preserves, which may have been a mistake. Because I’d mixed the dough, added everything together, it smelled great and tasted wonderful, but…
It was probably nothing. So I baked the first batch. My oven here is total crap (sorry I didn’t warn you, future leaser!), so I wasn’t surprised 15 minutes wasn’t enough: I put them back in for another five.
And yet…these cookies just seemed…off somehow.
(The cookies above are the Kahlua-Espresso Chocolate Chip cookies from the previous post. They are not green.)
I think the problem is the cherry preserves interacted somehow with the rest of the dough, and so they are slightly underbaked…and with a weird tinge. They’re definitely not spoiled, I’ve eaten several and I feel fine, but yet. Green.
So, now I have six dozen pumpkin-oatmeal-craisin cookies that are somewhat unappetizing-looking, even if they are delicious. What am I going to do?
Oh, right, I live on a college campus. I can just put them somewhere with a sign saying “FREE”.
Well, I didn’t promise perfection with this blog.
EDIT: I have redone the cookie baking without the cherry preserves, and am pleased to report that my cookies and dough are now a healthy golden brown.
What have I learned from this? Cherry preserves are the devil.