For almost 20 years I have been baking a vegan chocolate chip oatmeal cookie that is so good that my friends call me “the Cookie King.” It is actually an old Quaker Oats recipe that I originally clipped off a box of Quaker Oats, and adapted to make it vegan or dairy free. Over the years I have tried all kinds of variations, using different ingredients (vegetable oil, whole wheat flour, etc.), and have settled on this recipe as being the best one:
2 sticks Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, softened
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
1-1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
3 teaspoons Egg Replacer whisked into 4 tablespoons of water
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Almond Breeze vanilla almond milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 package (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
2-1/2 cups rolled oats
I like my cookies soft, and I like them to retain their chewy consistency, so I make sure to let the margarine soften, but not too much. If it is the consistency of modeling clay, it is probably ready for creaming with the sugars. I once let the margarine get too soft, almost to the point of being a liquid, and the cookies didn’t come out right – they were rock hard (I know, some people like to almost break their teeth on their cookies).
After measuring out the sugars and dumping them into the mixing bowl, I like to mix the two sugars together, to make sure there are no lumps in the brown sugar. This also makes creaming the sugars until they are smooth much easier.
The Egg Replacer and water mixture takes the place of eggs (obviously). I should say, though, that when I gave up being a vegan, I did try making these cookies with eggs, and they came out too moist. It may have been that the eggs I used were too big, but I love the way the cookies come out with the Egg Replacer, and I also love that I can share these cookies with my vegan friends. Mix the Egg Replacer, along with the vanilla and almond milk (you can use rice milk instead if you like – I just prefer the taste of almond milk) with the creamed sugars.
Once I’ve got the wet ingredients well-incorporated into the creamed sugars, then it is time to add the dry ingredients: baking soda, salt and flour. No surprises here, although I will say that I prefer to use King Arthur flour. But if Gold Medal floats your boat, go for it.
Once the flour is mixed thoroughly, with no dry spots anywhere, then to me the mix finally starts to look like cookie dough. Now you’re ready to add the stars of the show, the chocolate chips (I like to use Ghirardelli) and walnut pieces. The nuts really help to balance out the chocolate chips, in my opinion. But if there is anyone with a tree allergy coming to your party, you can always leaves the nuts out. There was one time I went to a party and made half a batch of cookies with walnuts and half a batch without. The batch without walnuts only got half eaten. That was the last time I did that. So really mix those chips and nuts into the batter. You’ll see the volume of the dough increase dramatically. Are you getting excited? I am!
The last step is adding the rolled oats. And if it seems at first like you will never get those 2-1/2 cups of oats incorporated into the dough, don’t worry, it will happen. Just give it some time, and a bit of elbow grease! Make sure each piece of oat gets wrapped up in the dough. Once again, the volume will increase with this step, although the dough will still be pretty sticky when you finish mixing. Don’t worry: it’s a sticky dough.
Now comes the fun part, putting these babies out on a tray and baking and eating them. 9 minutes in a 375 degree oven will do it. I like to use parchment paper on my cookie sheets and bake them 2 dozen at a time, otherwise I will be baking forever (the recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies). An over-sized tablespoon of dough per cookie sounds about right, although I usually vary the size, because I know some people like smaller cookies and som like larger ones. As long as you leave enough room in between them so they can spread out without banging into each other, I think you’re in good shape.
After I remove the cookies from the oven, I leave them to cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing them to the cooling rack to finish up the cooling.
Oh, one last thing. If I am making cookies for a party, I will go ahead and bake the whole batch. Otherwise, I will frequently just bake a dozen or two at a time to have at home or share with friends. I put the leftover dough in a Chinese takeout quart container and freeze it. Then when I want more cookies, all I have to do is take the dough out of the freezer, let it come to room temperature, divide the dough up and put it on trays, and presto! more amazing cookies. The dough does tend to get dried out a bit in the freezer, which isn’t usually a problem – it makes the dough a little easier to handle the second time around. However, if your dough was on the dry side to begin with, after freezing, you may need to dab the dough with some drops of water here and there to help the cookies hold together. Otherwise, you may have cookie crumbs!
Or you could just eat the leftover dough by the spoonful – not that I’ve ever done that, of course (wink, wink). I’m pretty sure there is an extra special heaven for people who do that, though – I vaguely remember reading that in the bible when I was a kid. Or maybe that was in my mom’s Betty Crocker cookbook. Maybe.