So the allergic kiddo and I officially have a new favorite soft-baked vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe to add to our dessert and snack toolbox. It is so very, very chocolatey, there is really barely any flour to be found underneath all the dairy-and-nut-free chocolate chips and chunks, nut-free cocoa powder and black beans.
I mean, look at this in-progress photo. Seriously.
These Double Chocolate Devil’s Food cookies come from Kathy Hester’s wonderful recently-released cookbook The Great Vegan Bean Book: More than 100 Delicious Plant-Based Dishes Packed with the Kindest Protein in Town! – Includes Soy-Free and Gluten-Free Recipes!. They are soft, rich and melty, like a wonderful cross between a cookie, a cake and a brownie, and they STAY soft for at least a few days (I hid a few in a cupboard out of temptation’s sight to use in a dairy-free sundae for my daughter).
Best of all, they required no complicated allergy-free adaptations on my part beyond using my safe list items for the ingredients, and even with all the cocoa and chocolate chips, they cost me less than half the price of an equivalent amount of my favorite ready-made Enjoy Life soft-baked cookies (the double chocolate brownie ones, naturally). They are vegan and free of all the top 8 allergens (if you make the gluten-free variety, though I have only tested the wheat-containing one). AND Kathy Hester gave me kind permission to reproduce the recipe here (scroll down, and thank you Kathy!)
Oh, and please don’t fear the beans — there is no noticeable beany taste to these lovely chocolate morsels —they just add moistness, richness (and fiber!) to the cookies.
The allergy-free challenge: Wonderful allergy-friendly cookies free of eggs, dairy, nuts and more are now widely available and great in a pinch (thanks to Enjoy Life and Lucy’s and Divvies!)… but are often double or more the cost of homemade. (And are generally gluten-free–which is great for the wheat allergic, but not for whole-wheat lovers like my family).
The allergy-friendly solution: Vegan whole-grain cookie recipes to the rescue! Our two current favorite recipes (the ones we make over and over, and NEVER tire of) are:
1. Double-Chocolate Devil’s Food Cookies by Kathy Hester from The Great Vegan Bean Book. (reprinted below with kind permission). I make these whole-grain cookies with no alterations, except to use safe ingredients (see sourcing notes). They can be made free of all Top 8 allergens, though I haven’t tested the gluten-free variation.
2. Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies by Dreena Burton from Vive le Vegan!: Simple, Delectable Recipes for the Everyday Vegan Family. (Show above, recipe also available on her website, and as a Youtube video). These quick and easy cookies really are amazing–chewy, soft, rich and delicious. They are tender and “buttery” cookies without all the… butter. Or eggs. Or even dairy-free margarine. The key ingredients: maple syrup and just a hint of molasses. (Note that these do not have a gluten-free variation—I usually make with whole-wheat pastry flour as indicated, but at my husband’s request sometimes use all-purpose flour.
The verdict: I bake these chocolate chip cookies maybe once a month or so for my family and they do NOT last long enough to put in a jar. But the true test of a vegan/allergy-friendly cookie is: will non-vegans devour them for real (and not just to be polite)? So I assure you that I’ve brought both of these cookies in for work parties several times and they were very popular with the non-vegan and non-allergic set!
- 1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour (or use gluten-free for gluten-free version)
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1½ cups cooked black beans (or 1 15 oz can rinsed and drained)
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp warm water
- 1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk (use soy-free for soy-free version)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ cups vegan chocolate chips (leave out or reduce for oil-free version)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a cookie sheet (or line with parchment paper for oil-free version).
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
- In a food processor, add the black beans, flaxseed and water mixture, nondairy milk, both sugars, and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry in the bowl along with the chocolate chips and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Scoop the cookies using a small cookie scoop (about 1½ tbsp) onto the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies look dry on top and spring back when lightly touched.
Safer sourcing ideas:
DISCLAIMER: Please proceed with caution, read labels, check with companies yourself and use these allergy-friendly sourcing ideas as a starting place only. These are the options that work for our particular family and our daughter’s allergies and sensitivities as of the time of this writing. Ingredients and labels and cleaning practices can change at any time without warning.
- Whole Wheat Pastry Flour: Both of these cookies work especially well with a finer, lighter, but still whole grain whole-wheat pastry flour. Hodgson Mill’s wheat flours and corn meals were also sesame-free and nut-free as of a recent email, so I use their whole wheat pastry flour quite a bit.
- White Whole Wheat or All-Purpose Flour: If you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, our current general go-to flour for all-purpose, bread and whole wheat is Gold Medal (they’re part of General Mills, which has a labeling policy for all of our allergens, including sesame). Gold Medal now also has a lighter White Whole Wheat flour available that’s good for baked items—it’s rather hard to find, but they seem to carry it at Wal-Mart and on Soap.com.
- Chocolate chips and chunks: Enjoy Life chocolate chips and chocolate chunks are Top 8+ free, and our most trusted safer option — I often get them as part of a bulk order from Vitacost. I like to mix them up in the same batch of cookies.
- Sweeteners: If you want to go for a more natural or fair-trade sweetener,Wholesome Sweeteners sells organic and fair-trade raw and less-processed sweeteners that were free of contamination from dairy, nuts, sesame, eggs and more as of February 2014 (this does NOT include their Stevia product).
- Vanilla extract & spices: We use McCormick vanilla (available as an Amazon subscription), cinnamon and nutmeg (not actually a nut, apparently), as that is our go-to-brand for safer single spices and extracts. As of a recent email, they seem to take allergen safety, cleaning and cross-contamination very seriously. (Most other spice companies I’ve contacted run everything on shared lines with mustard and sesame).
- Beans: The only canned and dried beans I’ve been able to find that are safer for our family are Eden Organic (and they’re BPA-free to boot). We buy dried black beans as part of regular bulk orders from Vitacost (and they have canned ones, too, on sale now for $1.69 a can!).
- Flax Seeds: We get whole flax seeds as part of regular bulk orders from Gerb’s to ensure they won’t be contaminated with sesame, but there may be more easily available sources if you don’t have all of our allergies (such as Spectrum, which has a wheat/milk/soy warning, but not a nut one). And the recipe might work with Ener-G egg replacer instead, though I haven’t tried it yet.
- Cocoa powder: We use Hershey’s Cocoa Naturally Unsweetened cocoa powder, which is top 8 free and available pretty much everywhere (they couldn’t promise me sesame wasn’t an issue, but it seems unlikely to me). And Now Foods has an organic cocoa powder that they say is free of eggs, dairy, gluten, corn, soy, nuts and more (see their allergy policy and allergen data table for more info) but I didn’t feel certain enough about sesame.
- Non-dairy milk: Use your favorite faux milk, though my daughter and I love unsweetened organic oat milk. It’s easy to make, or you can be lazy like us and buy 12-packs of Pacific Organic Oat Milk by Amazon subscription for slightly over $2/quart (compared to an average $4 in many local Brooklyn stores). Do note that Pacific runs some products containing cashews and dairy on the same line, but told me they take their cleaning practices very seriously—your comfort zone may vary here. We also like So Delicious Coconut Milk.
Happy cookie baking! Here’s a picture of my daughter enjoying a special chocolate cookie dessert for dinner in bed (she was sick a high fever and wanted something cold), made with bananas, the double chocolate cookies, a sprinkling of chocolate chips and a big scoop of So Delicious vanilla frozen dessert:
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