I consider these Vegan Pistachio & Vanilla Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies my greatest contribution to society so far.
NO SPECIAL FLOURS
NO COCONUT OIL
NO FLAXSEEDS, CHIA SEEDS, BANANAS OR APPLESAUCE
NO COMMERCIAL EGG REPLACERS
Best of all? There’s no dairy, no flax, no chia, no coconut oil, no applesauce, no special flours and no mixer required! They spread beautifully (thanks to @sarah_kieffer and her revolutionary #bangonapan pan-banging technique) and the flavours are on another level of spectacular.
Describing the qualities of a perfect cookie is almost as subjective as trying to describe what breed of dog is the cutest, which Avenger is the most badass or what the coolest kind of shark is. Everyone will give you a different answer. My choices are as follows: Soft cookies with crispy edges, golden retrievers, Thor and hammerhead sharks. My momma didn’t raise no fool.
I’ve been testing this recipe for a long time and am pleased to say that even without eggs and dairy, they’re the perfect chocolate chip cookie. They spread beautifully so you’re baking real cookies and not shortbread. I’m overjoyed with how this batch turned out. They’re exactly how I like them — thin and crispy around the edges, with soft middles that’s cookie perfection right there. Each one is studded with dark chocolate chips and pistachio nibs. I made my own vanilla salt by infusing flaky Maldon sea salt with fragrant vanilla beans. This was sprinkled on top of the cookies whilst they were still warm. It’s honestly the most gorgeous thing. Not to mention, I now want to sprinkle vanilla salt over EVERYTHING!
Some important things: The cookie dough needs to rest for 24 hours. I know, it’s a test of willpower but in order for the flavours to develop, and the moisture and fats in the dough to hydrate and solidify correctly, this resting period is crucial. Make sure you start the day before if you want a perfectly-spread vegan chocolate chip cookie. If you bake this dough straight away you’ll find the flavour is less pronounced and the texture is very soft and doughy without the crispiness and chewiness of the rested dough. If you like your cookies to have a melt-in-the-mouth quality, go ahead a bake them straight away. This logic is not the same for all cookie recipes, however. It very much depends on the ingredients you use and how they are combined.
For example, a cookie made with coconut oil instead of vegan butter (equally proportional in the recipe) will yield a firmer, crispier cookie that spreads much less, even before resting because the vegan butter contains hydrogenated fat (basically fat + water) which also hydrates the dough and evaporates slowly whereas coconut oil is considered a pure, non-hydrogenated fat. Again, the final result depends on the combination of all the ingredients in a recipe, as each modification will produce different cookies in both taste and texture. I’ve tried what feels like every trick in the book when it comes to replacing eggs in baking recipes (20 years+ experience), from boxed commercial egg replacers, to soy-based alternatives, applesauce, bananas, yoghurts and the oh-so fashionable aquafaba, flaxseed and chia seed “eggs”. I’m not discrediting the merit of any of them. Their effectiveness at replacing the binding and leavening agents of whole eggs is relative to the food you are making. In short, some egg replacers work better than others, depending on the recipe.
First you need to figure out the purpose of the egg in a particular recipe, and then work out what ingredient/s work best to substitute. In my recipe, a combination of aquafaba, baking soda and cornflour do the job required to achieve my idea of the perfect chocolate chip cookie; One that is golden and crispy around the outside and soft and crinkled in the middle.
Hit up your favourite health food shop, well-stocked supermarket or online retailer for vegan chocolate chips. My current favourite is Sainsbury’s free from chocolate chips and Ombar Vegan Milk chocolate. If you can’t find vegan chocolate chips, chop up your favourite vegan chocolate bar for delicious chocolate chunk cookies with puddles of melted chocolate. I use two kinds of chocolate in my cookies for a more rounded flavour.
MORE IDEAS: Swap the pistachio nibs for chopped roasted hazelnuts or almonds. Use spelt flour for extra nuttiness or for a gluten-free version, use gluten free plain flour for a crispy chocolate chip cookie. Vanilla beans are important in the flavouring of this recipe but if you can’t get them, replace the vanilla in the dough with 1 tbsp good vanilla extract and sprinkle with plain sea salt flakes.
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