My last foray into baking vegan cookies was met by the comment “they taste vegan”. Well, duh. Yet the inflection suggested that by making them vegan, I was committing a crime against cookies. According to this ‘higher power’ vegan is the witchiepoo of the baking realm. It was clear that any future sorties with vegan baking would be met with significant apprehension and – most probably – displeasure. That’s a pretty negative and narrow perspective don’t you think? I must admit the cookies in question were quite horrid – I only ate them in a stubborn attempt to pretend that my cooking surely couldn’t produce anything that bad. I should have swallowed my pride and saved my taste buds from some unnecessary torture. Despite that first abortive attempt at vegan baking, I remained unperturbed. Just because one recipe was a shocker, didn’t mean that they all would be. Right? And they couldn’t be any more horrid than cookies that tasted like concrete. Well, I sincerely hoped not.
My next venture was completely unintentional. It wasn’t until I was combining all of the ingredients that I realised these Carrot Walnut Cookies were in fact vegan. Shucks. The next 25 minutes were spent standing in front of the oven, tensely tapping my foot. Would they be concrete cookies 2.0, featuring new and improved vegetables? I needn’t have worried. When I pulled the trays from the oven I was greeted by small, luscious rounds of carrot cake-like goodness. They were soft & moist just like good carrot cake should be. There were walnuts for crunch (you can argue this point all you like, but a carrot cake is not a carrot cake without walnuts). Around the time I discovered the cookies were vegan, I also baulked at the fact they had no added sugar. Adding a tablespoon of maple syrup – a piddly amount, I know – made it feel like I was doing something to fix that problem. It really wasn’t necessary. Big juicy bits of raisins, mashed banana, grated apple and orange juice provided more than enough sweetness. You’ve pretty much got your two-and-five a day covered in a few cookies!
These cookies freeze exceptionally well and thaw in no time at all. I grabbed a few just before heading to the airport last week and they were completely defrosted by the time I pulled them out for brekky two hours later. If you’re after a ‘proper’ cookie then these probably aren’t for you, but I dare you to venture outside the conventional cookie bubble. Be brave, be bold and give them a go. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? If I can survive a batch of concrete-cookies, you can take the plunge and make a batch of these. If all else fails, you can always feed them to your rabbit – there’s enough veg in there!
Vegan Carrot Walnut Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies
1 cup raw unsalted walnuts
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup sultanas
½ cup wholemeal flour
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
1 large carrot (or 2 small), grated
1 apple, with skin on, grated
1 ripe banana – the riper the better – peeled and mashed with a fork/potato masher
3 tbsp orange juice (about 1 navel orange)
1 tbsp maple syrup
Preheat oven to 175C. Grease and then line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Blitz the walnuts, oats and sultanas in a food processor until they resemble a slightly chunkier and rougher texture than breadcrumbs (think mini m&m’s). If some of the walnuts are about the size of choc chips, that’s perfectly fine. If you want a smoother cookie, then pulse until very finely ground.
Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger into a large bowl. Stir through the walnut-oat mixture. In a separate bowl combine the carrot, apple, banana, orange juice and maple syrup. Add to the ‘dry’ mix and stir until well combined and a sticky mixture forms. Scoop up a tablespoon of the mixture and use your hands to shape it into a ball (I warn you this is messy business!). Place on a prepared baking tray and squash slightly with a fork or the palm of your hand. Repeat with the remaining mixture, leaving about 2cm between each cookie.
Bake for 25 minute or until browned on top. Place baking trays on wire racks and leave to cool for 10 minutes, before removing from trays.
Cookies may be stored in the fridge for a few days, otherwise they freeze exceptionally well.
Source: Barely adapted from Wholefoods Market