This week I entered them in a chocolate chip cookie bake-off that was held at my office, and they placed second. Not bad considering they were up against recipes containing up to two sticks of butter. No one had any clue that they were vegan – and that’s my test for any vegan baked good.
But these cookies come with a mystery attached. The first time I made them, the cookies came out very flat, as you can see in the photo – and the flatness really pleased Francine, my #1 taster. However, when I tried to replicate the recipe later, the cookies weren’t nearly as flat. Figuring out why became an obsession, but after seven batches varying the sugar, oil, baking powder and other factors, I am giving up. (I think I gained several pounds in the “testing” process!) I’m down to two possible explanations that I may test at a later date, after many hundreds of gym workouts:
- The thin ones were made with Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour, while the slightly thicker ones were made with Arrowhead Mills brand, which could be coarser.
- The thin ones were baked on an insulated baking sheet vs. a regular one.
But in the end, it doesn’t much matter - they are great both ways. Feel free to experiment with this recipe on your own - if you’re not a vegan, you can use an egg instead of the flax/water mixture, you can try regular chocolate chips, etc. And do let me know if you solve my cookie mystery!
Chocolate Chunk-Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies
1 tablespoon ground flax seed (flax meal)
2 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup organic canola oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted creamy peanut butter – see note
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup rolled oats (optional variation: grind in a food processor)
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 ounces of 70% dark chocolate, cut into small chunks (you’ll have 1/2 cup)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flax and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for a minute, until a thick, egg-like consistency is achieved. (30 seconds in the microwave will also do the trick.)
Vigorously whisk together the flax mixture, oil, brown sugar, peanut butter, maple syrup and vanilla in a bowl. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then fold in the chocolate.
Drop by tablespoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 11-12 minutes, until flat and starting to turn golden on the edges.
NOTE: You need a very creamy peanut butter for this, not a coarsely ground type. Most importantly, make sure the ingredient list is just peanuts and nothing else.