Every holiday season, just as I register a certain chill in the air, the invitations for cookie exchanges, office parties and open houses begin to pile up. As a long-time vegan I like to take advantage of these events to impress all the people in my life with how delicious and decadent vegan baking can be. But let’s be honest, not every vegan cookie is created equally. Over the years of experimenting in my kitchen I have definitely had mixed results, there was the birthday cake my brother described as a ‘sweet loaf of bread’ and the cookies that I ended up using as a pie crust because of the strange aftertaste they had. With these experiences in mind, I wanted to arm all of you with some incredible and reliable cookie recipes that you can use to assure the world that cruelty-free baking is not about deprivation.
In order to find the best recipes for your holiday baking I pulled out eight favourites from my cookbook collection and recruited the discerning taste buds of colleagues, the TVA’s Wednesday RC volunteers, Vegetarian Haven diners and a man who stopped by the RC with some time to kill. I selected four chocolate chip cookie recipes and four ginger cookie recipes that have been toted in the online vegan community as the best. Carefully, I followed each recipe to the letter and created a detailed scoring sheet for our judges to complete-all to ensure that this year there is no doubt that you will amaze the masses with your addition to the ‘sweets table’.
The chocolate chip recipes came from: Vegan with a Vengence, Vive le Vegan, The Complete Vegan Kitchen and How It All Vegan.
The ginger cookie recipes came from: Vegan with a Vengence, How It All Vegan, Simple Treats and the Artful Vegan.
Using a hot cup of tea to cleanse their palates the judges carefully tasted and re-tasted all of the selections to determine the best combination of flavour and texture in each cookie category. The evening left our judges smiling with a glow on their cheeks (probably from all the sugar), I hope when you share these treats with your friends their pleasure will be as palpable. Based on the blind taste-test I reviewed the results and averaged the scores. Now, the results are in and winners may surprise you!
In the chocolate chip cookie category there was a clear winner. Dreena, the queen of cookies, did not disappoint. Her homestyle chocolate chip recipe from Vive le Vegan stood out against the competition. The judges described being transported back to their childhoods by Dreena’s moist, chewy and chocolately delights. I was impressed that Dreena’s recipe reigned supreme although it does not use Earth Balance and anywhere near as much sugar or chocolate chips than the competitors. Since I was given Vive le Vegan as a gift a couple of years ago this has become my staple cookie recipe. Trust me-the amazing results are incredibly reliable. At home I replace the all purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour and the cookies retain that distinctive chewy texture.
Although Dreena’s cookie was the clear winner the judges felt that any of the cookies in the competition would be a delicious indulgence to share with friends and family members-and would not disappoint.
The spicy variations of ginger cookies created a more complex competition, with a great deal more debate about the favourite. Honestly, I am an admitted ginger fanatic, and the spicier the better. Luckily, the judges brought a more diverse perspective and palate to their tasting duties. In the end, there were different elements that the tasters enjoyed about each contender. But, based on the scoring there was a tie between the recipe from Vegan with a Vengence (with a hefty toping of Demerara sugar) and the Millenium restaurant’s Artful Vegan’s recipe (which includes orange zest and a crystallized ginger topping). Both of these cookies were chewy, sweet and spicy-and some judges suggested a combination of the two recipes would result in the ultimate variation-with the dough recipe from the Artful Vegan and the sweet Demerara sugar topping from Vegan with a Vengence. For those who see ginger as an essential element of any festive celebration either of these two recipes will satisfy that need. I personally suggest sandwiching some chai ice cream between two cookies for a delectable indulgence your guests won’t soon forget.
I would like to thank all those who volunteered their taste buds to ensure this holiday season will be full of vegan baking successes!