How to Stop Your Cookies From Spreading

Spread Cookies image courtesy of crypto on flickr.com

Spread Cookies image courtesy of crypto on flickr.com

Here in the Decadent Vegan Baker’s kitchen I have whipped up my fair share of cookies. I always want them to look good for pictures, and for bragging rights, so I did some research on how to avoid the dreaded cookie spread. You know — when the cookies turn into unsightly blobs or, worse yet, fuse into each other. Here is what I found out …

A tip I got many years ago was to be sure to cool baking sheets down before placing the next batch of raw dough on them. That’s easy enough to do in the winter as I just prop them on the wall near an outside door. In the summer I have to wait patiently while the sheets cool off, but that time can be well spent engaged in the next piece of advice.

My second item of advice is to place the dough in the fridge prior to baking the cookies. “Chilling the dough solidifies the fat in the dough, meaning that it will melt more slowly under the heat of the oven and result in taller, thicker cookies,” say the chefs at Food52. Dough that is too warm can make cookies that look like flat blobs.

On the King Arthur Flour website they recommend two things for attaining the perfect cookie: lowering the baking temperature while also extending the baking time. For a recipe that called for cookies baked at 350°F for 14 minutes, they “dropped the temperature to 300°F, and extended the baking time: 22 minutes for chewy, 30 minutes for crisp.” They explained that “the fat in cookies is a big part of their structure, prior to baking…Once those cookies hit the oven, though, the fat starts to soften and melt. And the hotter the oven, the more quickly it melts. If the oven’s hot enough, the fat melts before the cookies set. And since their flour/liquid matrix hasn’t yet had a chance to harden, the cookies spread.”

A final trick offered by Food52 is that “when a recipe calls for room temperature butter, you should be able to make a small indentation easily with your finger without the area sinking under its weight. If the butter is too cold, you’ll have to do more mixing to get it to properly incorporate.” Unincorporated butter leads to airy dough that leads to cookies that fall in the oven, and that leads to the ugly blob.

If you find that you have tried all of my recommendations and still produce unsightly cookies, do not worry. Send the cookies to my house and my husband will dispose of them properly … for dessert.

Blueberry Banana Breakfast Cookies

Blueberry Banana Breakfast Cookies

Blueberry Banana Breakfast Cookies

Sometimes I need breakfast (or a snack) on the run, but I don’t want it overly sweet. These breakfast cookies are a good way to satisfy your hunger without getting a huge sugar rush. Almond flour is the base so they don’t offer a blood sugar spike while also making the cookie gluten-free. Translating recipes to gluten-free is difficult at high altitudes so I prefer not to. But if I stumble upon a creation that is naturally without gluten, like this one, then it is a bonus.

To make the recipe vegan, I omitted the egg and incorporated baking soda. I also created a version of a flax egg with the flax in the recipe to help replace the egg and to add moisture needed in the dryness at high altitude. Enjoy this healthy snack.

Blueberry Banana Breakfast Cookies based on Blueberry Almond Breakfast Cookies

1 TBS ground flaxseed
3 TBS warm water
1 banana, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups almond flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, whisk flaxseed into the warm water and set aside for 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together banana, vanilla, and flaxseed mixture. Add almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and stir until combined. Gently fold in blueberries.
Spoon 12 rounded mounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Move pan to a wire rack to allow cookies to cool.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Yogurt

chocolate chip cookies with yogurt

chocolate chip cookies with yogurt

Last week at the Vegan Dairy Fair, I was asked what egg substitutes I used in my baking. My reply was that I have tried them all, from packaged egg replacer to tofu. That question got me thinking about revisiting egg subs. I hadn’t used yogurt in awhile, and my hubby was craving chocolate chip cookies, so the following recipe was created.

The original recipe was a healthier rendition of a standard chocolate chip cookie. It used yogurt instead of eggs, but I veganized it by making the yogurt non-dairy. I also modified it with vegan versions of the other ingredients. No changes were needed for high altitude because cookies are forgiving that way. I just tweaked a few of the steps and the oven temperature, and came up with a very tasty cookie.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Yogurt adapted from Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Eat Smart New York!

1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup non-dairy vanilla yogurt
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine sugar, brown sugar, and margarine. Beat until light and fluffy. Add yogurt and vanilla and blend well. Sift together the flours, baking soda, and salt. Beat the flour mixture into the margarine mixture a cupful at a time. Stir the chocolate chips in by hand. Drop by rounded spoonfuls 2” apart onto cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute, then remove from cookie sheets.

Until next time, happy baking!

Spicy Gluten-free Pumpkin Cookies

Spicy Pumpkin Cookies

Spicy Gluten-free Pumpkin Cookies

You may be thinking that pumpkin season is long gone. And you would be right. This batch of cookies was made several months ago and then frozen. I wanted a back-up cookie that would do well from the freezer. They performed marvelously, or I probably wouldn’t have shared them with you. But now you know that you can make these and stash them away in the freezer for future decadent snacking.

The original vegan recipe had tips for using coconut sugar instead of light brown sugar. I opted for coconut sugar, because I was out of light brown sugar, so I heeded the advice and measured it out and then ground it up. Also, I would have used less vegan margarine for the dryness at altitude, but I used more due to the recommendation with the sugar swap. To further combat dryness, I added extra pumpkin puree. So enjoy these immediately, or freeze them for when you get an attack of the munchies any time of year.

Spicy Gluten-free Pumpkin Cookies based on Chewy Pumpkin Spice Molasses Cookies


2 cups gluten free flour blend
1 3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp powdered nutmeg
pinch of powdered cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup vegan cane sugar
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/8 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup + 1 tsp pumpkin puree
sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Measure out coconut sugar, then grind it in a coffee grinder that is not used for coffee. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, place vegan margarine and both sugars and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses, vanilla, and pumpkin puree and mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients to stand mixer a little at a time while mixing on low speed. Mix until just combined.

Pour a few tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl. Form 1” balls of dough and roll in sugar. Place balls on lined cookie sheets and flatten them slightly with the heel of your hand. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 24 cookies.

frozen pumpkin cookies

frozen pumpkin cookies

To freeze, scoop sugared dough balls onto a cookie sheet and freeze for one hour. Place dough balls in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Until next time, happy baking (and freezing)!

Espresso Chocolate Cookies

Espresso Chocolate Cookies

Espresso Chocolate Cookies

Who doesn’t love the combination of chocolate and coffee flavors? And, who wouldn’t enjoy those tastes combined in an easy cookie recipe? Not to mention that the cookie is not too sweet to allow for the espresso to shine, but also has added chocolate chips for decadence. Yes, this cookie is a winner.

The recipe I found was vegan, but I added non-dairy milk to account for the dryness at altitude. I also added the mini chocolate chips to make them more luxurious. To create with less effort, I made the dense dough in a stand mixer but the original recipe called for a bowl. The choice is yours.

Espresso Chocolate Cookies adapted from “Vegan: 100 Everyday Recipes” edited by Love Food

1 TBS espresso powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 TBS unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 TBS non-dairy milk
1/4 cup vegan mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Dissolve espresso powder in 1 TBS of boiling water and set aside to cool slightly.

espresso liquid - the secret ingredient

espresso liquid – the secret ingredient

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Add brown sugar and combine well.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, thoroughly mix margarine and oats. Mix in dry ingredients. Add non-dairy milk and espresso liquid and combine to form a soft but thick dough. Stir in chocolate chips.

Form the dough into 16-18 small balls, place on the baking sheet, and flatten slightly. Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until crisp. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. These may be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Cookie Sandwich with Flavored Fillings

chocolate cookies with flavored fillings

chocolate cookies with flavored fillings

Periodically I go through my baking supplies to find expired items. It also helps reacquaint me with lesser used ingredients. A recent search uncovered black cocoa powder from my Cream-Filled Mini Cakes. This cocoa is a Dutch process cocoa powder which is “washed with a potassium carbonate solution that neutralizes cocoa’s acidity to a pH of 7.” The black version is bittersweet and is alkalized to a pH of 8. It is also the signature taste of Oreo Cookies, so I went into the kitchen to make a version of that iconic treat.

I found a chocolate cookie recipe that I veganized by substituting with non-dairy equivalents. I was concerned about using my special cocoa powder because Dutched cocoas, especially the heavily Dutched black cocoa, are used a little differently. “Since Dutch process cocoa isn’t acidic, it doesn’t react with alkaline leaveners like baking soda to produce carbon dioxide. That’s why recipes that use Dutch process cocoa are usually leavened by baking powder, which has a neutral pH.” When I realized that you want an Oreo-type cookie flatter to make cookie sandwiches, I stuck with baking soda as my leavener and it worked beautifully.

To finish my cookie sandwich, I dug up a recipe for flavored cookie fillings. I took the standard vanilla type and added coffee extract which added deeper flavor and a slight hue. I also thought that mint sounded tasty and was the perfect backdrop for my Color Garden plant-based food colors. Their food coloring isn’t as intense as artificial ones so I used more. If using another brand, use a drop at a time to get your shade. I liked my filling pale green.

Chocolate Cookie Sandwich with Flavored Fillings adapted from The Cooking Channel and Sugar Hero
1/2 cup vegan stick margarine, softened
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar, well packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup black cocoa powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 1.5 tsp non-dairy milk
In a stand mixer, cream together margarine, sugars, and vanilla until light, about 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powders, soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to margarine mixture and mix just to combine. Add milk, in a few segments, and mix just to combine. Form dough into two 1 1/2-inch-thick logs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours.
To bake: preheat oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice each log of dough into 1/8-inch-thick coins. Arrange on baking sheets with 1 1/2 inches between cookies. Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating trays in the middle of baking time. Bake for another 2 minutes or until they are dry looking and firm. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes, then slide cookies onto racks to finish cooling. Makes 4 dozen cookies, or use the filling below to make cookie sandwiches.
Flavored Fillings
1 cup vegan stick margarine, at room temperature
4 cups organic powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
For Coffee Latte flavor: 1 tsp vanilla bean paste + 1 tsp coffee extract
For Mint Flavor: 1 tsp mint extract + 18 drops Color Garden green food color
Combine margarine, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until powdered sugar is moistened, then turn to medium speed and mix for 1-2 minutes, until it has a lighter color and fluffy texture. Don’t over-mix. It needs to be somewhat firm. Divide into two portions to make two different flavors. For Coffee Latte: add vanilla bean paste and coffee extract. For Mint: add mint extract and green food coloring.

Color Garden food colors

Color Garden food colors

Until next time, happy baking!

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread Cookies

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread

Recently a local tea shop offered a matcha green tea tasting. Being a lover of all things tea, I attended and brought along hubby so we could experiment together. We learned that he is not a big fan of matcha, being a coffee aficionado. But I left with the inspiration to bake with the green tea powder. The challenge was to make it palatable for hubby, so I found a matcha cookie recipe and used a matcha / cocoa blend to appeal to his taste for chocolate. The result was a light, not too sweet cookie that we both enjoyed.

To veganize the recipe I replaced the butter with vegan margarine. My high altitude adjustment was to introduce a little non-dairy milk to counteract the dryness. You may think that adding tea to a recipe would make the cookie gritty, but matcha is powdered, not ground. If you find that your matcha is a little chunky, then sift it before measuring out the amount. These cookies are an eye catching green, but I couldn’t resist getting artistic and drizzling them with chocolate.

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread based on Matcha Green Tea Shortbread Cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1 TBS matcha with cocoa powder blend
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 cup vegan margarine, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup organic powdered sugar
2 tsp non-dairy milk
chocolate chips, for garnish
Sift flour, matcha, and salt into a bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat margarine and powdered sugar until fluffy. Add non-dairy milk and beat again. Add flour mixture to mixer bowl and mix slowly until dough just comes together. Form dough into a log that is 2” in diameter. Wrap dough log in parchment paper and place in freezer for 30 minutes or until dough has firmed to the touch.
Preheat oven to 325F. Slice dough into 1/4” rounds and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, 1” apart. Alternatively, take dough from freezer, pinch off round balls, place on cookie sheet, and flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes (or until cookies are just starting to turn golden around the edges), turning pan halfway through baking time. Remove cookies immediately from cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler on the stove. Decorate cookies with melted chocolate. Store in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Holiday Sugar Cookies

holiday sugar cookies

holiday sugar cookies

For someone who doesn’t have the patience for making roll-out cookies, I have been creating quite a few of them lately. Perhaps it’s my new fascination with shapes that cut cookies, from adorable cookie cutters to water glasses. Or maybe it’s just the season. Whatever the reason, I was excited to enter the #DecemberBakingChallenge at Handle the Heat and come up with a recipe that added a few of my tweaks.

For making vegan cookies, I used vegan buttery sticks for the butter and chose organic sugar. My egg substitute was non-dairy milk with white vinegar added. For the dryness at high altitude I added extra milk to this egg substitute. I draw the line at spending hours to decorate cookies, so if you feel the same way then use any decorations you can find. For me it was frosting and sparkling sugar and sprinkles, oh my!

Holiday Sugar Cookies adapted from Easy Cut Out Sugar Cookies with Icing
5 TBS non-dairy milk, at room temperature
1 tsp white vinegar
3 sticks Earth Balance buttery sticks, at cool room temperature
1 1/2 cups organic sugar
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
icing, food coloring, etc., as desired
Combine non-dairy milk and white vinegar. Let sit for 15 minutes to curdle. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat buttery sticks and sugar on medium-high speed until well-combined and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add vinegar-milk and vanilla and beat until combined. On low speed, slowly add in flour and baking powder and beat until incorporated. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Place one dough portion between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out to 1/4” thickness. Repeat with remaining dough. Place sheets of dough, with their parchment paper, on a baking sheet and chill for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line large baking sheets with fresh parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Remove dough from fridge and cut into shapes, re-rolling any scraps and cutting more shapes. Transfer shapes to prepared baking sheets. If dough is too warm, freeze for 15 minutes or until firmed again. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are set and begin to brown. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. When fully cooled, decorate with icing, chocolate chips, colored sparkling sugar, or anything you like.

Until next time, happy baking!

Gingerbread Cookies with Chocolate – Two Ways

gingerbread cookies with chocolate

gingerbread cookies with chocolate

It was time to choose a cookie to bake for Santa, so I asked my husband what he thought about gingerbread cookies. His reply: “They’re okay, if you can add chocolate to them.” So, my spin on the classic holiday cookie was born. And because I couldn’t decide, I added chocolate to part of the batch before they were baked and some cookies were sandwiched in chocolate after they cooled. They are delicious both ways.

Cookies require only a little adaptation for altitude. I added small amounts of flour and non-dairy milk and used less baking soda. For my taste buds I reduced the cinnamon so the spices wouldn’t overpower the chocolate. These cookies are about the gingerbread, but they are very much about the chocolate. Happy Holidays!

Gingerbread Cookies with Chocolate – Two Ways adapted from Food52
2.75 cups all purpose flour (plus extra for rolling)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup + 1 TBS almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Vegan chocolate chips
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together molasses, oil, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until uniform. If adding chocolate chips to dough, do so now. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to overnight.
To bake, preheat oven to 350F. Dust a clean surface with flour. Roll dough out to a scant 1/4” thick. Cut into shapes, with some cookies having centers cut out if making sandwiches. Bake cookies for 12 minutes or, for cookies with chocolate chips, bake for 16 minutes. Let cool. For sandwich cookies, melt chocolate chips over a double boiler. Pair up cookies so each sandwich has a bottom cookie, without the center cut out, and a top cookie with a cutout. Take bottom cookie and flip it upside down so the flat side is facing up. Spoon melted chocolate into center of cookie and place match on top. Allow to cool. Repeat until all cookies have been sandwiched.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

This is the time of year for bake sales. Recently, a gluten-free friend asked me to contribute to the bake sale for my local Humane Society. How could I say no? I decided that a cookie would be easiest, and in her honor I tackled a gluten-free version. Admittedly, cookies don’t have to rise much so I figured they would be an easy stab at gluten-free at high altitude. They were. The toughest step was the rolling and cutting, but I worked through that for a good cause.

To combat the dryness at altitude I used extra non-dairy milk. I also strayed from the original recipe by adding a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top instead of a glaze to make transport easier. In hindsight, the star shape was not the best for traveling with the cookies but that just meant that I had to eat the ones where the points broke off. Oh, darn.

Chocolate Roll-Out Sugar Cookies based on Gluten Free Vegan Halloween Chocolate Sugar Cookies
1.75 cups gluten free flour
1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 cups organic powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
1/3 cup refined coconut oil, softened
1/3 cup + 1 tsp unsweetened non-dairy milk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
crushed candy canes
In a bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together powdered sugar, coconut oil, milk, and vanilla until creamy. Add flour mixture and mix until combined. Split dough into two discs and wrap each in plastic wrap. Let dough rest in fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a flat surface, lay out a large piece of plastic wrap. Place cookie dough in center and top with another piece of plastic wrap. Roll with rolling pin until dough is 1/4″ thick. Cut dough using a cookie cutter. Place cookies on baking sheets. Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes; the centers will still be soft. Remove cookies from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cooled, dust with a mix of powdered sugar and crushed candy canes. Store cookies in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!