Vegan Chocolate Agave Oat Cookies

Vegan and gluten free chocolate chip cookies 

After honing her skills in Chez Panisse, Claire Ptak opened up a modest bakery in East London that fully delivers on flavor and comfort. I’ve been dreaming of visiting the bakery ever since, sitting outside the bakery, watching the world go by-as one does in Europe. Once I saw these vegan cookies, a stroke of inspiration hit as I immediately dived into a recipe from Claire Ptak’s The Violet Bakery Cookbook.

A lot of her best hits have graced the blogosphere in the past few years, from her incredible Butterscotch Caramel Blondies to her classic Buttermilk Banana Bread. Naturally, I gravitated towards these reliable favorites like everyone else. But, believing in Claire’s foolproof recipes, I ventured past the shiny classics and discovered a hidden gem, a dark horse, if you will: Chocolate Oat Agave Cookies.

chocolate chip oat and agave vegan cookies 

It’s easy to brush past a vegan, sugar-free, and potentially gluten-free cookie. My first reaction: Is that even a cookie anymore? I’ll take the blondies, thank you very much. My second reaction: how good can they be, really? I had to satisfy this insatiable drive to experiment on all things foreign and obscure. 

perfect vegan chocolate chip oat cookies 

half eaten fresh chocolate oat cookies

These cookies are light on sugar, heavy on time in terms of buying such unfamiliar ingredients. With these cookies, I realize that I’ve barely scratch the surface of the complex world of alternative baking techniques. The laundry list of foreign flours and binders can be daunting, but if you have an afternoon to head over to Whole Foods and buy these flours, I could think of a worse place to start.

Once you pass that initial hurdle, you’ll have opened up yourself to a whole new world of flavorful flours, maybe learn a thing or two on the science behind binders and why they work. At the very least, you’ll appreciate eggs a whole lot more.

Ultimately, Claire’s poetic description convinced me to make these humble little cookies: 

These cookies are deeply satisfying. Oaty and chocolatey in equal measure, they are sweetened only with agave nectar. There is, of course, a small amount of sugar in the chocolate itself, so you could replace the chocolate with cacao nibs or use chocolate made with 100 percent cocoa solids. We used to call this “the vegan cookie,” but found that nonvegans wanted to try it, too. It is made with gluten-free oats and other gluten-free flours (if you can’t find oat flour, just pulverize rolled oats in a food processor). We substitute flaxseed for the eggs, because the flax meal thickens the dough and binds it together in the same way eggs do, and instead of butter and milk, we use vegetable oil and shredded apples. Once we changed the name, these cookies remained popular with our loyal vegan and sugar-free customers, but new fans caught on, too.

Beetroots and Polar bears,
Crust

cooled vegan and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies 


chocolate oat agave cookies

slightly adapted from The Violet Bakery Cookbook

YIELDS 12 large cookies

Cook time: 45 minutes

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 355° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. 

In a medium bowl, combine wet ingredients well. Then slowly pour mixture into the dry ingredients. With a spatula, stir until fully incorporated. Add in the chocolate chips. 

Scoop a dough into large tablespoons of dough, squashing the dough into 1/2 inch disks.  Leave 1 inch in between, these don’t spread much in the oven. 

Bake for about 15 minutes until cookies are a light golden brown.

Serve while warm with a warm cup of tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS

dry ingredients

1 3/4 (190 g) cup oat flour*
6 tbsp (50 g) chickpea flour
3 tbsp + 1.5 tsp (30 g) arrowroot flour**
3 tbsp + 1 tsp potato flour***
1 tsp xanthum gum
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt

wet ingredients

1/4 cup (30 g) ground flaxseeds
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp (100 g) agave nectar
2/3 cup (150 g) canola oil
2.5 ounces (75 g) apple, peeled, cored, processed in food processor
1.5 tbsp vanilla extract

5 ounces (150 g) dark chocolate pieces

 

Baking Notes:
*pulverizing rolled oats in food processor works perfectly; substitute with gluten-free oats if desired
**substitute with cornstarch or tapioca starch if needed
***substitute with rice flour if needed

Storage Notes: Cookies keep well in an airtight container for up to a week. The dough freezes well.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Matcha Frosting

Zucchini Matcha Cake, frosted and ready to be served with some tea

I know, I know, I’m very much channeling my inner Asian girl. But I’d like to argue to that I go above and beyond the typical obsession, that I freakin’ went to Uji, Japan: the capital of Matcha. Indeed, I am a hardcore fan. I have a dedicated matcha cup, a fancy whisk,  a whisk holder for said fancy whisk. Plus, I store my ceremonial grade matcha in the freezer. What do you say to that, haters! What’s that? I’ve said this before and only my social anxiety gives a damn about my oh-so-sterotypical penchant for matcha baked goods? Oh okay. 

You’d think I wouldn’t fall for every matcha recipe I see on the internet, but only if you don’t know me and my undying devotion to all things Matcha.

Matcha sugar cookies

Matcha cookies with white chocolate

Matcha in Every Dessert: Not Always a Good Thing

What a beautiful disappointment.

However much I love my matcha desserts, there are definitely hits and misses. Alanna’s recipe in The Alternative Baker for chocolate Cake with matcha frosting? A hit. Bon Appétit’s Matcha-white chocolate sugar cookies? An unfortunate miss. What’s worse, food52, my trusted go-to site for recipe inspiration, called them matcha snickerdoodles. If there ever was a misnomer, this was it; naming a sugar cookie a snickerdoodle held it up to expectations of cinnamon covered chewiness that supposedly blends together white chocolate and matcha into a delectable treat. 

As much as I wanted to love these cookies, the sugar was too overwhelmingly present, and the matcha did not shine through-instead, it was more for aesthetic purposes. I don’t want my food to merely look good, but taste delicious. Every recipe I’ll post will be greater than the sum of its parts; it’ll have that nuanced contrast of textures and flavors that linger in your mouth, making you wonder what that one ingredient is, how you must take a another bite to be pin down what exactly makes this cookie so great. 

I’ll be honest, even if St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t this Friday, I would’ve made this cake. As it is, St. Patrick’s days means a green-tinted tsunami of matcha desserts will undoubtedly coming out way. I mean, how could I resist Four & Twenty Blackbird’s matcha custard pie? Or Molly Yeh’s black and matcha cookies?

Back to the cake. Zucchini always adds moisture into cake recipes, and this one is no different. Dutch cocoa powder adds that appetizing rich, darkish color and toasted nutty flavor. The cake is not too sweet, and is especially lovely when combined with that light tartness from the matcha cream cheese. A faint, but detectable matcha flavor adds that unique quality to the otherwise traditional chocolate cake.  I didn’t have sorghum flour on hand, so I substituted AP Flour, which I always have in hand (you know, just in case I absolutely need to bake a batch of muffins in the middle of the night à la Kirsten Wiig in Bridesmaids).

matcha chocolate cake and tea time!

With a 9 – 5 job, I’ve learned to sacrifice sleep in pursuit of more interesting things in life. Indeed, although social conventions have molded me into a upright citizen who gets up at 7:20am every morning, I’m convinced I secretly night owl at heart. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve stayed up later writing a blog post, but with a 9 – 5 job this necessary sacrifice of sleep takes its toll. Is this perhaps the breaking point, the barrier to entry for new bloggers, a feat held together by sheer determination and willpower to continue typing late into the night? 

This is only my second post and I have yet to understand all that there is to blogging, but like everything that you care for in life, doubt and anxiety–along with excitement–manages to creep in. But hey, if I wasn’t a bundled mess of excitement and nervousness, then I wouldn’t care very much about this. So hello, world. 

Chaos in Uji, 
Crust

Deeply vibrant green matcha frosting on chocolate zucchini cake 


Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Matcha Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from The Alternative Baker

YIELDS One 8-inch square cake

Cook time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

Cake

1 cup (225 g zucchini or 2 small or 1 large)
1 cup (215 g) packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil or sunflower oil
1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk*
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup (60 g) Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (115 g) AP flour**
1/4 cup (25 g ) sweet white rice flour
2 tsp (8 g) baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

Matcha Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cup (170 g) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (85 g) powdered sugar, sifted
1 tbsp (5 g) matcha powder
pinch of salt 

Baking Notes:
*30 ml evaporated milk and 30 ml water works too
**original recipe uses 115 g sorghum flour

Storage Notes: Cake can be wrapped and stored for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. If you’re not serving the cake right away, chill for up to 1 day. 

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or grease pan with softened butter.

To make the cake, grate zucchini on a box grater (or in my case, a microplane-totally works!). Place zucchini in a large bowl and add brown sugar, sugar, eggs, oil, milk and vanilla extract. Stir to combine. Then, sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt into the large bowl. Using a spatula, stir well to combine until mixture is deliciously dark.

Scrape the batter into the prepared square pan, making sure the layer is evenly distributed. Bake the cake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs, but is not wet. Let cool completely on a rack for at least 30 minutes until completely cooled. 

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, matcha powder and salt in a food processor and blend until the frosting morphs into beautifully light green fluffiness. 

When the cake has cooled, use an offset spatula to spread the frosting over the top.

Serve up that deliciously ~moist~ matcha-frosted cake. Cheers.