Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Treats
Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar is a tasty new book by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. It looks so good I’m tempted to eat it, Cookie Monster-style, but then I wouldn’t be able to follow the recipes. I felt the same way about the authors’ earlier book, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World when we received it as a wedding present. I was pretty sure their cookies would be as amazingly delicious as their cupcakes had been, and I was right.
Now, a short side note here, for transparency: As far as my cooking expertise goes, I can make salad, and I can make sandwiches. (I’m particularly good at slicing sandwiches into triangles.) Whenever I try anything more complex, I tend to either get carried away with details (gingerbread mansion of December 2003 rings a bell) or simply wander away and let pots boil over or toasters go up in flames. (Yes, I consider making toast cooking...) So when it came time to try out these cookie recipes, I asked my wife Sarah Thomasin, baker to the stars (well, the stars of the zine-writing, Ladyfest gigging, performance poet scene, anyway) to do the honors.
This book has a great introductory chapter that even I understood, with basics like the difference between regular and all-purpose flour (which I’d always wondered about) plus more specific stuff (like the tools they use to make those cool star-shaped cookies at the bakery). A list of vegan ingredients and where to find them is helpful, and there’s a handy food substitutions section for people who haven’t got the time, money, or inclination to get the specialty stuff. The recipes themselves are very clearly explained and illustrated in full color with what I can only call… cookie porn.
Feminist? Much mainstream media urges women to be skinny at any cost, so it’s pleasing to see a book on the shelves that role-models cooking and eating for pleasure (albeit sensibly, with healthy options throughout the book, and warnings about hydrogenated oils and trans-fats).
Now, to the cookies. Sarah jumped right in to the Fancy Cookies section at the back, and made Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows. Her version didn’t look like the cute, fluffy Cinderella’s-glass-slipper style cushion in the book, but wow did they taste like a fairytale with a chocolate outer layer and a mouthful of melted, sweetened peanut butter inside. While visiting New York for the holidays, we took the cookies to my sister’s boyfriend’s house on Christmas Eve, and another batch to my cousins’ for Christmas Day. For the uninitiated, New York Italian Christmas dessert spreads are heart-stoppingly indulgent, and these friends and relatives were, um, not vegan, so this is major deep-end road-testing here. The verdict? Awesome and fought-over by hardcore carnivores who held them on a par with the coveted home-made struffoli.
One success behind us, we tried an easier recipe: Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles. (Okay, we’ll admit it—we wanted to make these because the word snickerdoodle sounded like a silly innuendo.) The cookies were fantastic, and they looked exactly like the ones in the picture on Moskowitz’s and Romero’s website and in their book. They were easy to make and included the palate-friendly contrasting flavors of chocolate and chilli. We took some as holiday gifts later on in our trip, and, again, our non-vegan friends were shocked there weren’t any animals in there. Even a friend's older brother, a former marine-turned-butcher, has been turned onto these vegan delights.
So the taste tests were deemed a success. We can’t wait to try Moskowitz’s and Romero’s other recipes, like their take on the traditional NYC Black and White Cookies and the Ooh La Las (vegan sandwich cookies). I’m not vegan, but I don’t eat milk products, so this book is excellent for me. The cookies were much better than store-bought vegan cookies, and tasted better, too. I totally recommend it.