Technically, I did this on Thursday… but it was more experimental than the other dishes I made this week so I felt it qualified for Friday Night Bites. 🙂
Long before we became vegans, I used to bake goodies for family members and mail them out for the holidays. I did this for a few years in a row, until I was informed that the package arrived with moldy food. 😦 It turned out that I was taking on too many recipes at once. I simply couldn’t keep up with all the delights I wanted everyone to have while working a full time job and then finding the time to mail out the packages. Unfortunately, I stopped sending out these packages of goodies. I don’t know if anyone misses those care packages, but it was a fun time while it lasted.
Most, if not all, of these goodies came from a cookbook called, Favorite Brand Name Gifts From The Christmas Kitchen. One of my favorite recipes from this cookbook is Pfeffernüsse Cookies (translated from German: “pepper nuts”). Once we became vegan, I kept thinking about those cookies and whether or not I could veganize the recipe.
After reading the wikipedia page on Pfeffernüsse Cookies, I’m guessing that it is odd that this recipe doesn’t use nuts. Also, you might be thinking pepper in cookies? Yep. It’s an interesting combination, the recipe uses cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper… and somehow it tastes like ginger bread. In fact, several people were astonished to find out that my cookies did not have ginger in them at all. 🙂 So when you make these cookies, don’t be stingy with the dash of pepper, don’t be scared… it’s not like cayenne… this dash can be a big dash, I use probably 1/8 tsp of pepper. I grind the pepper over the dough and treat it like I’m peppering any other dish.
I realize that this is traditionally a Christmas cookie, but I’ve been so caught up in the German Food Fare that I felt this was a good time for me to try out this experiment. I wondered if I replaced the butter and egg with margarine and flaxseed/water, repectively, if that would work… could it be that easy? I decided to do a bit of research on the topic first. Turning to my favorite vegan authors, Isa Moskowitz & Terry Romero, I read several of the chapters pertaining to tips for vegan cookie baking in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. And I looked at ginger bread cookie recipes for inspiration (because Pfeffernüsse Cookies taste very similar to ginger bread).
I teetered back and forth on whether to do the flaxseed/water blend for the egg, remove the egg and have no replacement, or do further research to see if I could get lift from baking soda and vinegar. Ease won that battle… I decided to try it the way I had originally thought and then tweak from there. But now I was armed with more vegan cookie knowledge, and that ended up coming in handy, as you will soon find out.
The short version is: I replaced the butter with soy garden (margarine), made a flaxseed/water mixture to replace the egg (1 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp water = 1 replaced egg). The dough was just a tad bit dry, so I added non-dairy milk (silk soymilk) a Tbsp at a time until it was the consistency I wanted (4 Tbsp total). Then I cooked each batch of cookies at a slightly different time (12, 13, 14 minutes). I decided to do the different cooking times because, in the name of science, I wanted to know the difference a minute or two could make. Plus, it was a great excuse to try three cookies. 😉 The original recipe claims that it makes 4 dozen cookies, mine made one cookie shy of 3 dozen (35), but I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten 4 dozen out of this recipe.
Even though the wikipedia page says that these cookies are hard, mine have always been cake-like. The vegan version looks, feels, and tastes the same as the non-vegan version I made in the past. The texture difference with the various times was minuscule… we liked the 12 minute ones just as much as the 14 minute ones… and after awhile, we weren’t even sure there was a difference. We might have been high on sugar by then, we managed to eat a dozen cookies together yesterday. 😛 It was fun to ask what number though…
Me: Want another cookie?
Him: Sure 😀
Me: What number? 🙂
Him: hmmm… how about a [number] this time.
It was a fun experiment, with tasty results! 😀
Old World Pfeffernüsse Cookies
from Favorite Brand Name Gifts From The Christmas Kitchen
adapted and veganized by nic – the auspicious squirrel
Yields: ~3 dozen (35 cookies)
1/2 cup margarine ( I used soy garden)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
3 Tbsp. water
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
dash pepper (about 3-5 twists of pepper grinder)
1 to 4 Tbsp. non-dairy milk (I used soy),
powdered sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Beat margarine and brown sugar in a large bowl until creamy.
- In a separate container, blend flaxseed and water at a high speed until it is thicker and viscous-like… I’ve used an immersion blender or a magic bullet to do this.
- Add flaxseed/water mixture and molasses to the margarine/sugar mixture, beat until light and fluffy.
- Mix in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper. If too dry add, a Tbsp at a time, non-dairy milk until the dough is at a consistency of something similar to play-dough. You will be rolling it up into a ball with your hands, you don’t want it too dry or too wet.
- Shape level tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets.
- Bake 12-14 minutes until set. Move to wire racks and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- Cool completely. Store in airtight containers.
I hope to put up another post today showcasing this week’s adventures in German food… Wednesday, I made a cucumber salad and Thursday, I made an attempt at jaeger sauce… I intend to make a veggie goulash today. Another post (or two) is on the way… stay tuned! 🙂
Until next time…