Thursday, November 12, 2009
You may not realize it yet, but a revolution is afoot. I've got 2 words for you: vegan cookies. Here's the deal. Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, the same vegan mavens who gave us my favorite cupcake book, have just unleashed the cookie equivalent. I suspect they know that everything's cuter in pairs (smart ladies!). Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar holds a gorgeous collection of egg and dairy-free recipes for everything from old favorites (like chocolate chip cookies, fudgy brownies, and NYC black & whites) to what're bound to become new classics (like Mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodles and Irish creme kisses). Even adaptations of some store-bought cookies, including Lazy Samoas and Nutter Betters, make an appearance.
By now, you can probably see why I've been salivating since this book arrived last week. In the meantime, I've come up with a plan of action and hope you'll follow along with me!
THE PLAN: I'll bake 4 cookies from Vegan Cookies in celebration of its release, post a review shortly thereafter, and also give away some free copies of it. If you'd like to win one of 3 copies of this book, simply leave a comment including a way to contact you on any post in this series, including this one. I'll pick the winners randomly and announce them together with my review.
Just in the last week it seems, the leaves in my neighborhood have all turned brilliant hues. Inspired by the season, I chose these Spiced Sweet Potato Blondies as my first. Isa and Terry recommend trying the recipe without chocolate "for really gorgeous sweet potato flavor" and they were right. These bars struck a beautiful balance between the autumnal spices and earthy sweet potato. Probably due to my pan choice (my fault, not the recipe's), the blondies were a bit more gooey than I like. All-in-all still an excellent, unique, and indulgent fall treat. They'll definitely be made again with adjustments for texture.
EASE OF PREPARATION: 4.5/5
Spiced Sweet Potato Blondies [Printable Recipe]
Reproduced with permission (Isa rocks!) from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar
with my comments/changes in brackets
Makes 1 8 x 8-inch pan or 12 to 16 blondies, depending on how you cut them
XIAOLU'S NOTES: I used Pyrex glass because that's all I had and so should probably have baked these slightly longer. Also, I stuck with aluminum foil (Pun intended? Yea I'm a dork.) to stay faithful to the recipe, but next time I think I'll really stay with my MO and use parchment since the bars clung to the foil a little.
3/4 cup cooked, well-mashed, orange-colored sweet potato (less than 1 lb raw)
1/2 cup canola oil
2/3 cup sugar [I think you could even reduce this slightly with no detriment to taste]
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup nondairy milk [I used soymilk]
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups unbleached [all-purpose] flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans or walnuts [I used pecans]
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Line an 8 x 8-inch square metal brownie pan with enough aluminum foil so that it folds over the sides of the pan by about an inch. Spray the bottom of the covered pan with a little nonstick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potato, oil, sugar, brown sugar, nondairy milk, and vanilla until smooth. A few tiny chunks of sweet potato are okay.
Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Mix just enough to moisten, then fold in the nuts and chocolate chips, if using. Do not overmix.
Pour mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula [metal works too]. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, checking the bars at 28 minutes by poking a toothpick into the center of the cake. Bars are done if a toothpick comes out mostly clean; a few moist crumbles here and there are okay. Take care not to overbake. Allow the blondies to cool at least 30 minutes for the texture and flavor to fully develop, then slice into 12 bars. Store in a covered container.
MORSELS: A regular old fork is probably the best sweet potato mashing device ever made. Just mash away until it's as creamy as you can get it.
NEXT UP IN THIS SERIES: Espresso Chip Oatmeal Cookies