My dad's favorite bumper sticker is "Eat a Vegetarian". We're no down-home Texan cattle ranchin' carnivores, but as close to it as you can be coming from a suburb of Washington, D.C. Not only is my dad a total grill master with all things meat, he has christened his cherished barbeque as MOAB (Mother Of All Barbeques). I'm considered the black sheep of the family, with my wacky hair styles and art school degree, and horror of all horrors- vegetarian and vegan friends! At one point I had two roommates, one of each gastronomical persuasion. Throughout the years, I have learned, enjoyed and branched out to all sorts of culinary substitutions for animal product, and I like to think in my case it is simply an even further extension of my diet. I don't care to restrict myself in any way other than obvious healthiness, but I completely understand the vegan/vegetarian decision for purposes of animal cruelty. I could go into the reasons why being a vegan isn't necessarily "healthier" in my opinion, but that's a completely different argument.
Surprisingly, it was my sister who brought Eric McKenna to my attention with this article. A noted vegan baker in New York, her BabyCakes bakery explores the oft-snuffed world of vegan baking, which is a difficult art to flourish. in. Baking is incredibly dependent upon animal products, and while tofu and soy are often acceptable substitutes in the savory world, they just can't cut in in a cookie recipe. Her new BabyCakes cookbook is out now for every vegan with a sweet tooth to snap up in stores everywhere.
Even if you aren't a vegan or vegetarian, take a peek at some of the tasty treats she's made as simple as 1-2-3 for home baking. They're also perfect for those with sensitive food allergies, like the unfortunate gluten allergy. I have only one friend stricken with this debilitating allergy, and believe me I feel for her. Gluten-free options are becoming more common these days, but it's not a guarantee to find them at any given time. BabyCakes offers all kosher, sugar-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, casein-free, and egg-free options, leaving only delicious flavor for us to enjoy.
Until you get your hands on her cookbook, get your tastebuds motivated with this recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies:
»1 cup coconut oil
» 6 tbsp homemade applesauce or store-bought unsweetened applesauce
» 1 tsp salt
» 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
» 1 1/4 cups evaporated cane juice
» 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
» 1/4 cup flax meal
» 1 tsp baking soda
» 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
» 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix oil, salt, applesauce, vanilla and cane juice. In another medium bowl, whisk together flour, flax meal, baking soda and xanthan gum.
Using a spatula, carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Stir until a grainy dough forms. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
With a melon baller, scoop dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing portions 1 inch apart. Press each with the heel of your palm to help them spread.
Bake cookies on center rack for 15 minutes, rotating the sheets 180 degrees after nine minutes.
Let cookies stand on sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before covering. Makes 36.
(picture taken from expressnightout.com)