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Decadent Yes, Vegan Also Yes!
I have a confession to make. When I worked downtown, I was hooked on the Starbucks fruit and oat cookie. I tried to fight it, but in the 15 minutes after lunch, the temptation of a nice stroll outside, a hot coffee and one of these beautiful cookies is just too strong. I knew I would try to make something similar eventually. I also knew I would stay away from the usual cookie ingredients (butter, refined sugar and eggs) and make it vegan. The end result may not qualify as health food, but it has a whole lot of fruit and nuts in it and I like the taste. It's still a dessert after all. The recipe below can be made into bars or cookies (as long as you reduce the cooking time to about 12-15 minutes for cookies). I've done both.
The recipe came together pretty quickly after a little wander around the internet. (Can anybody remember what people did before everybody started posting recipes? Writing family recipes out on little index cards to pass around to eachother? I'm as sentimental for the good old days as anybody, but things have gotten seriously better in the home cooking department since the web became a giant recipe box.) The first destination was a newspaper column where the cookie recipe was addressed directly. Apparently I'm not the only one who craves these. This seemed like a good starting point, but the butter and eggs had to go, and I was also hoping to substitute out the brown and granulated sugars. Next stop was a delicious looking vegan cookie over at Trinity's Kitchen. Trinity went with coconut oil instead of butter, and maple syrup instead of refined sugars. Check and check. To bind everything together, she chose banana and tahini. I like both of those things. The recipe I experimented with was a combination of these two recipes. Surprisingly, considering I'm a cookie traditionalist, I ended up really enjoying both the flavour and the texture. You are, of course, welcome to use any part of this recipe as a starting point for your own experiments. Please let me know what you did and how it turned out in the comments!
P.S. As you look over the ingredients, you might be thinking that the grocery list seems a little exotic, full of hard-to-find stuff. I was pleasantly surprised that my local bulk store had all the dried fruit I wanted and the dessicated coconut as well. If you can't find ground almonds, just get blanched almond slivers and grind them in a food processor.
300 g (about 2 cups) rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tbl tahini
1 Tbl vanilla extract
3/4 cup sultana raisins
2/3 cup dried apricots, chopped into 1/4" chunks
2/3 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
Slice the apricots, one at a time, into long slices 1/4" wide, then slice crosswise to get 1/4" chunks.
Mix the dry ingredients except the oats together in a large bowl.
Add the oats and mix everything well.
Melt the coconut oil just before adding the wet ingredients. Add all the other wet ingredients first, coconut oil last. (The bananas look brown in the picture because they were frozen and thawed. It doesn't affect the taste. Whenever a banana is getting overly ripe, I slice it up, put it in a freezer bag and pop it in the freezer. The day before using it, I thaw it in the fridge.)
Mix quickly before the coconut oil has a chance to re-solidify. You'll probably have to mix by hand at the end because the dough is too thick for a spoon.
Add the fruit and continue mixing until evenly distributed.
At this point, you have a choice. You can either make squares, or the big, rich cookies that inspired this adventure in the first place. I like both, so I'll show you both.
To make squares, line a 9X13" pan with parchment paper and spread the dough to the edges.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until light brown on top and crisp on the edges. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
Remove the crisp sides, then slice into 2" squares. They taste good warm or cool, but something magical happens with the coconut oil if you microwave them for about 20 seconds.
To make cookies, line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Form the dough into 4" diameter, 1/2" high cookies and arrange them on the cookie sheets. Depending on how big you make them, you'll get somewhere between six and eight cookies.
Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes depending on how crispy you like them. Let them cool for 20 minutes or so on the cookie sheets, then transfer to a cooling rack.
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Posted: Sunday, December 7, 2014