I wanted to bring a dessert to a dinner party hosted by my fabulous vegan friend Katie last night, so yesterday I made my first foray into the world of vegan baking (except for one unintentional time, when I was dying to make chocolate chip cookies but realized I had neither butter nor eggs!). There were no vegan dessert recipes in any of the “regular” cookbooks I own. Many of the vegan dessert recipes I found online contained margarine and other processed dairy substitute ingredients that I wanted to try to avoid, but I ultimately found two recipes from the book Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar where the only “specialty” ingredient was almond milk (and I ended up using soy milk instead).
The magical combination of chocolate and peanut butter immediately sold me on this recipe. It requires making the chocolate cookie batter and peanut butter filling separately. Then I spread out a large sheet of wax paper and rolled the peanut butter filling and the chocolate batter each into twenty-four small balls.
To assemble the cookies, I took a chocolate ball in my palm and pressed my thumb into the center to make an indentation. I filled the indentation with the peanut butter ball, pinched together the chocolate to close the seam around the peanut butter, and then re-rolled the ball to make it smooth on all sides. After I put the balls on a parchment-covered baking sheet, I gently flattened each into a disk with the bottom of a glass.
They taste almost like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!
These cookies contain cayenne pepper and a lot of cinnamon, so they have a pleasant spicy kick without being overwhelming. The cookies are formed by rolling the dough into walnut-sized balls, and then pressing the ball into a small disk in a plate of sugar-cinnamon topping.
I love the professional-looking cracking on the tops. I realized from trial and error during the course of making these that the cracking only occurs if the disks are sufficiently thick. I pressed a few disks too thin, and they came out ugly and smooth on top, and were also too hard and crunchy, rather than chewy like the others.
I did notice that the vegan dough is very oily, which gets all over your hands, and doesn’t have quite the same consistency as dough made with butter and eggs. This is a small price to pay, however. Taste-wise, I don’t think you’d be able to tell that either of these cookies were dairy-free, and I would definitely make them again, even for a non-vegan crowd.