Oh She Glows Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_2554Time for another Recipe Review post! Presenting my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe: Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies by Oh She Glows! I get so much satisfaction in finding the “perfect” recipe for pretty much anything – vegan biscuits, chocolate cakes, etc. Although I have yet to find the perfect vegan biscuit recipe, I think this is pretty much the perfect vegan chocolate chip cookie.

Here’s what you need to know:

* this is not health food. I’m good with that, if you are!

* I consider this to be a very good, classic chocolate chip cookie. For me, that means they are soft, chewy, very sweet, and full of buttery vanilla flavor.

* these cookies contain gluten. As for soy and nuts, that just depends on which brand of chocolate chips you use. I used Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips and they are my new favorites! I like them much better than Enjoy Life brand, which are too sweet and one-dimensional for me.

*The recipe gives you an option for the fat source: you may use 7 tablespoons Earth Balance and 1 tablespoon olive oil for a crispier cookie, or a full 8 tablespoons (half a cup) of Earth Balance for a softer cookie. I opted for only Earth Balance, resulting in a very soft and chewy cookie.

*making super large cookies (mine were about the size of my palm), the yield is about 9 cookies.

* I found that this recipe took me about 30 minutes to get into the oven, mostly because I used a stand mixer rather than a hand mixer. Pretty easy, as far as cookies go!

* I baked my cookies for about 12 minutes, but it’s easy to tell when they are done. They will be puffy (though they flatten down when out of the oven), with very slightly golden edges and still-pale tops.

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I highly recommend this recipe to anybody, vegan or otherwise, and I hope you enjoyed this post! 🙂

Question of the Day:

Will you be cooking for Thanksgiving? Or will you be enjoying somebody else’s labors? I plan on doing both!

 

 

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Vegan Macarons?? My experience so far.

I made vegan macarons!!! I’m sorry for using my outside voice but I thought that was pretty cool. Have you ever made macarons, vegan or otherwise? I hadn’t until this weekend, and I had to do it twice before I could post anything about them on the blog because, as I found out, macarons are kind of tricky (duh).

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I used this recipe from Morsels and Moonshine (but I left out the amaretto!). It’s for chocolate macarons with a chocolate filling, but I altered the filling to make it strawberry and chocolate flavored instead. I’ll write the altered filling recipe at the bottom of the post, but now, let’s talk details, as I love to do!

The first time I attempted this recipe, I processed my dry ingredients in the food processor and sifted manually through a sieve. This made my finished macarons super silky and smooth, but I didn’t add enough of the dry mixture to my meringue, making them too runny and thin. The second time I made the recipe, I processed my dry ingredients using a blender and… did not sift. I just couldn’t face all that manual sifting! This meant that my macarons were a little more lumpy, but I personally don’t even think that is noticeable once the macarons are baked. Also, on the second go-round, I added all of the dry mixture to the meringue, and the texture was much better.

I used the aquafaba (which is simply the liquid from inside a can of chickpeas) from one can of chickpeas, and reduced it on the stove down to about 1/3 of a cup. To make the meringue, I whip the aquafaba using a stand mixer. I have done this both when the aquafaba was still hot from the stove and when it had cooled for 10 minutes or so, and got the same result each time. First, I whipped the reduced aquafaba on level 6 for 2 minutes. After the first two minutes, I added the granulated sugar and whipped this mixture on level 8 for 5 minutes. Finally, I added a teaspoon of vanilla and whipped for one more minute on level 8. This seriously produced the BEST meringue! It’s super glossy, super thick, and doesn’t even taste or smell like chickpeas.

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ugh. so pretty

To make the actual macarons, I put my combined batter (dry mix + meringue) into a piping bag, used a basic circular piping tip, and piped out little circles onto a baking sheet. The recipe recommends a Silpat baking mat, but lacking one of those, I used a sheet of parchment paper (and it worked just fine).

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my unbaked cookies, first try. you can see that they’re perfectly smooth, but a few have run into one another.
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un-baked cookies, second time. they are not quite as smooth but the texture is stiffer and they hold their shape.
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un-baked cookies, second time

The recipe instructs that the unbaked macarons should sit out on the counter for 45-60 minutes before baking. Each time I made the macarons, I did this. The first time, they never became fully dry to the touch. The second time, they were dry to a very light touch.

I followed the recipe’s instructions for baking, which are as follows: bake at 205º F for 30 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the cookies inside for 15 minutes; and finally to open the oven door but keep the cookies in it for another 15 minutes before taking them out. That seemed to work pretty well, though I’m not sure exactly the reasons for doing so. I’d imagine it’s something to do with easing the temperature transition from hot oven to cool kitchen. Also, I learned by experience (this was very #pinterest, trust me) that you definitely shouldn’t lift the baked macarons off of their cookie sheet until they are completely cool. If you don’t wait long enough, the bottoms won’t come off properly.

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and they’re baked! this is the second batch. they had not cooled yet (note to self- WAIT before touching!)

Finally, I made my frosting just by stirring together in a bowl. No mixer required! 🙂 I didn’t pipe it onto the cookies, either… I just put a nice blob on one half and twisted the cookies together.

Strawberry and Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegan shortening

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons seedless strawberry jelly

almond milk as needed (I used about 1 tsp)

pinch of salt

Procedure:

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl with a spoon. You may use a small blender or food processor, but it’s not necessary.

Then, to make the sandwich cookies, I just put a blob of frosting on one cookie, put another on top, and twisted lightly to bind them together.

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This was such a cool project to try, especially since I just realized that I’ve made almost zero international baked goods. Now I’m super excited to make cool baked goods from different cultures! I think I’ll try to make vegan Christstollen, and for sure different flavors of macarons. Morsels and Moonshine has a recipe for earl grey + lemon macarons, and that sounds fabulous. What’s your favorite baked good from somewhere other than the US?

The Full Helping Pumpkin Gingerbread Spice Muffins

Hey guys! I’m coming at you with another Recipe Review: Vegan and Gluten Free Pumpkin Gingerbread Spice Muffins, by Gena Hamshaw! Gena blogs at The Full Helping, which you may have previously known as Choosing Raw. I’m excited to tell you about these muffins, because I have to say that they are very unique.

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The flavors are great; the muffins are generously endowed with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and the batter is laced throughout with molasses. Thanks to those ingredients, the muffins are very autumnal and Thanksgiving-y.

The texture? Well, it’s a little different. The batter calls for a lot of leavening. Like, 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Those ingredients, when combined with the teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, make the batter practically explode with fluffiness before the muffins even get in the oven. I think that’s pretty evident in the picture below:

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However, even though I was skeptical of how good the muffins would be after seeing the crazy fluffiness of the batter, I have to say that they texture of the baked muffins is really nice! They are super soft and light, almost feeling more like cake than a muffin. They are not as chewy as more traditional muffins, though they might be if you use wheat flour instead of the gluten-free flour the recipe recommends.

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See? Check out that ultra-soft texture! I ended up really enjoying these muffins, as did my family and our church-family 🙂

Question of the Day:

Do you like raisins? I know that’s a bit of a polarizing issue!! I like them a lot, although I like chocolate chips even more in muffins.

Halloween 2015

Happy Halloween! This year was our first Halloween in Ada, and it was definitely a lot different from Halloween in Escanaba. Instead of staying at our own house and handing out candy, my family and I went to our neighbors’ house, where they went all-out with decorations.

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There were so many trick-or-treaters! I got to hand out candy to the sweetest little children, which was really fun. There was a taco bar at our neighbors’ house, so we ate dinner there. Many people dressed up, but I was the only one of my family who did (you see, I am the cool one of the family).

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I was a bunny, and I made my costume myself! I wore grey sweatpants and a grey sweatshirt with a pink shirt, because bunnies have pink tummies (or at least in my fantasy world, they do 😉 ) I also made Oh She Glows vegan and gluten free brownies to bring to the party, which were so unattractive but so delicious! They were probably the best vegan brownies I’ve ever made.

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And now, it’s the morning after Halloween, the first morning of Standard Time, and I woke up early enough to make a pretty breakfast. The decorations were totally inspired by Haselnussblond, who makes the most beautiful breakfasts in the world.

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This particular breakfast was made with my favorite adaptation of CCK’s Chocolate Banana Bread in a Bowl. I’ll have to post specifically about it on The Kale Storm soon, because it’s my go-to breakfast! The decorations here are golden flax meal, sliced dried figs, and cashews.

Question of the Day:

What did you dress up as for Halloween?? Do you prefer to be spooky or sweet? I’m more of a fluffy-bunny-cuddly-costume person myself.