Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chocolate Malted Cookies

My best advice for vegan baking is this: don’t let it daunt you!

When I first began baking as a vegan, I assumed I could simply substitute. Egg substitute for eggs, soy milk for regular milk, vegan butter for the real thing etc. Half the time, my creations would come out great; the other half, cakes would collapse, pies wouldn’t really gel together, and I found myself a bit frustrated. Then I read an article about the chemistry of baking – what the butter does, the role that sugar plays in preventing flour from making gluten etc. etc. etc. So, armed with a few new tricks and a bit more awareness, I learned to tweak recipes more, and bake properly as a vegan.

That said, it’s always still a bit of an experiment, and I never know quite what I’ll get! This cookie recipe in particular posed a problem right off the bat just in reading the name: Chocolate Malted Cookies. Any recipe listing malted milk powder as the second ingredient had to be pretty dependent on it, right?

So I began to research. First, I thought to try barley malt powder, assuming it was the maltedness of it that would make a proper substitute. No websites confirmed this hunch though, so next I turned to soy powder. Soy powder – not soy flour! – advertised itself as being great in baking. I thought: malted milk powder vs. soy powder, seems pretty similar, so I took the plunge and bought it. Luckily for me and for you, it worked!

Grab a couple bowls and let’s get started.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup packed (organic) brown sugar, 6 tablespoons soy powder (such as Fearn’s), 5 tablespoons vegan butter, softened, 3 tablespoons chocolate syrup, one tablespoon vanilla extract, and the equivalent of one egg made from egg substitute.

For vegan butter, as always, I use Earth Balance ( For chocolate syrup, try Ahlaska! dairy free chocolate syrup, in a bottle eerily similar to the Hershey’s squeezable one, but without any of the animal ingredients. Here's the link:

For eggs, as always, I use Ener-G (

Beat it all with a mixer at low speed for two minutes until completely smooth.

In another bowl, combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. salt. When measuring out flour, I’ve learned this helpful tip: spoon it into measuring cups instead of scooping, then level with the backside of a knife. This ensures the proper weight of flour, which can be off by several ounces if you use the scoop method.

Slowly pour the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, beating at low speed to combine.

Here’s where I hit a common vegan snag: my mixture was crumbly and didn’t look like it would hold together well, while shaping cookies. Thinking quickly, I added another tablespoon of warm tap water. The recipe called for a large egg, whereas my egg replacer simply made standard sized eggs with two tablespoons water to a teaspoon and a half of the powder. Adding this one extra tablespoon of water seems to have done the trick, and I stirred it all together gently with a wooden spoon, abandoning the electric mixer.

Now gently stir in 1/2 a cup plus an additional 1/3 cup chocolate chips.

Yes, vegan ones exist! I used to use the vegan carob chips (available from several different companies), but found they had a slightly off-chocolate taste that made my vegan cookies obvious for what they were. This time, I discovered Whole Foods’ 365 brand vegan semisweet chocolate chips right there next to the regular ones. Before you could blink, they were in my shopping cart. Yum yum.

Shape the dough into 30 patties of about a heaping teaspoonful each. Another snag I’ve frequently encountered as a vegan was that my cookies didn’t spread out the same way normal ones do during baking. Then I read it was because butter actually aids that spreading! So this time, I cheated a little and gave my vegan butter a head start by smooshing the cookies into flattened discs before baking, instead of putting them into the oven as balls. This seems to have worked beautifully.

Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Remove from oven and let sit on the cookie sheet 2 minutes, then transfer over to wire racks to cool completely. If you don’t own a wire rack, sheets of wax paper on the countertop will do in a pinch.

soy powder $4.39
flour $3.39
chocolate chips $2.99

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance