Italian Spumoni Holiday Cookies

As much as I love traditional cookies like chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin,  it’s fun to have a unique cookie recipe saved just for the holidays. Of course you can make them any day of the year, but the unique flavor of these cookies make them extra special to wrap up and give out to friends. They’re based on the Italian ice cream Spumoni, which is a traditional dessert flavored with chocolate, pistachio, and cherry. The original idea to turn them into cookies belongs to the Food Network, but I’ve replaced all the animal products with wholesome, healthy ingredients to add an extra kick of cruelty-free deliciousness. These cookies are total crowd-pleasers, and if you don’t portion them correctly you’ll have eaten them all before you even get a chance to wrap them up!

Italian Spumoni Cookies, or “Spumookies”

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance), melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pistachios
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cherries

Directions

2013-12-14 10.44.37Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix your flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a butcher’s knife or other large, flat blade knife, roughly chop the pistachios and cherries.

Next, add three tablespoons of water to a small bowl with the ground flax seed. You’ll want to use the mixture about 3-4 minutes after you do this, so it’s had a bit of time to set but not so long that it becomes gelatinous.

In a large bowl, melt the butter and then whisk in your brown and granulated sugars. You can just hand-whisk, there’s no need for a machine. Add the flax seed mixture, vanilla, and almond extracts and whisk until fully mixed.

Then, with a rubber spatula, slowly fold the flour mixture into the large bowl. Once the flour is fully folded in and you cannot see any remaining white powder, use a wooden spoon to stir in the chocolate chips, pistachios, and cherries.

Using two teaspoons or clean, dry hands, scoop the cookies into roughly 1/4 cup balls and space evenly on your cookie sheets. There are about 26-30 cookies in each batch. With one baking sheet on each shelf, bake for 10 minutes. Then, switch racks and rotate each sheet 180 degrees. Bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown. If you prefer a softer cookie, take them out a little sooner and let them sit on their hot pans outside of the oven to finish setting. If you prefer a chewier cookie, leave them in for the full 10 minutes.

After they’ve cooled on the cookie sheets, use a metal spatula to remove to cooling racks. After the cookies are fully cooled, feel free to wrap up to give to friends for the holidays, or simply enjoy them yourself. Either way, happy eating!

Advertisements

Chocolate Chip Cookies

20130427_193650There are few things more delicious in this world than chocolate chip cookies. The warm, gooey center. The crisp, chewy edges. In my egg and butter eating days, I adored one chocolate chip cookie recipe above all else: Alton Brown’s The Chewy. Alton Brown is an amazing chef, and I love watching him on the Food Network, whether he’s hosting a competition or doing the cooking himself. Either way, he’s incredibly scientific about his recipes, never stopping until he has the perfect dish on his hands. So, that’s why his chocolate chip cookie recipe was so appealing to me. But The Chewy commits three non-vegan crimes: it contains butter, eggs, AND milk. So if I was going to continue to enjoy Alton Brown’s concoction, I was going to have do a little altering. Did I dare mess with Alton Brown’s masterpiece?

I dared, and it was delicious.

There are so many things I love and want to note about this recipe. Firstly, the butter is melted, so you don’t have to remember hours before you bake to bring your butter to room temperature. Secondly, the ingredient I use to replace eggs in all my baking recipes is flax seed. Ground flax seed is filled with all sorts of amazing nutrients, and if you mix one tablespoon with three tablespoons of water and let sit, it forms a consistency very similar to an egg. Alton’s recipe needed an egg and an egg yolk, so I adjusted accordingly.

Also, sift your flour. I know, I know, it’s an annoying process that results in one extra dish to clean, but running your flour through a strainer is incredibly important in making these cookies moist and creamy, instead of tough and crispy.

Lastly, because this recipe calls for melted butter, the dough will be extremely wet and you cannot bake it immediately after stirring together. You’ll have to chill the dough in the fridge for a minimum of an hour. But don’t worry: it’s worth it.

The Vegan Chewy: Or, a Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk or any non-dairy milk you prefer
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation

In a small bowl, pour three tablespoons of water over two tablespoons ground flax seed. No stirring is necessary. Set aside for ten minutes.

Melt your butter in a measuring cup or any microwave safe bowl. Alton Brown says to melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, but nuking it in the microwave is much faster and super easy. This recipe is vegan, not complicated!

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Yes, SIFT! A side-to-side motion sends the ingredients through the strainer faster than an up-and-down shake, in case you’re curious.

Then, pour the melted butter into a large bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar and mix until creamy. You can use an electric mixer if you want, but because the butter is melted it’s incredibly easy to stir all the ingredients together by hand with a wooden spoon. After it’s creamy, add the flax seed mixture, the milk, and the vanilla extract and stir again. Next, slowly incorporate the flour mixture until combined. Even with the flour, the mixture should be very dark brown, due to a larger ratio of brown sugar to white.

20130426_131059

Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips. Then cover with plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or even a large plate- you don’t need to seal out the air, the cover’s just to keep other food spilling into the bowl. Chill in the fridge for a minimum of an hour. It will keep overnight if you want to make the dough ahead of time and cook the next day as well.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Scoop the cookies onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake each batch for about 9-12 minutes. I have a slightly over-heated oven, so everything bakes faster for me. You want to bake the cookies until they look slightly raw, then take them out. Let each batch sit on the cookie sheet for at least five minutes before removing to a cooling rack, and those last five minutes on the hot pan will cook the rest of the cookie through without burning the top.

And then, enjoy! As a note, I prefer my cookies very creamy and almost slightly under-cooked, so I like to scoop very large scoops and cook for the same amount of time as smaller cookies. They come out of the oven with the middle still looking too raw to eat, but a few minutes on the hot pan cooks them through to the perfect consistency without burning the tops. If you prefer smaller cookies or more crispy ones, just scoop smaller batches.

Enjoy! 20130427_194450