If you can't tell already, I know and love Tofu Mom of the Vegan Food: More than Tofu and Sprouts! blog. Though I cook plenty of my own things, I like a lot of her recipes, such as this vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe that her daughter developed. That's not the recipe involving beer! If you want really awesome chocolate chip cookies, I suggest you make this recipe to the tee.... No substituting of ingredients, even in terms of subbing whole wheat flour for all-purpose, etc. The cookies are not supposed to be healthy! They're supposed to make your friends insanely jealous when you give your friends one bite and then say, "Sorry. I need the rest of the cookies because of my special vegan diet!" (No, seriously, your friends will love these. They don't taste "vegan", whatever that means.)
The recipe is infallible in the sense that if you follow these directions, you will come out with an awesome chocolate chip cookie. I can't seem to get my cookies to turn out exactly like her daughter's, but I come up with cookies that I give out to people and they clamor for more. The recipe is well-calculated and has been studied and revised as much as recipes in a good cookbook are. But somewhere in the process, I am doing something differently without knowing it. This recipe is not one in which she has left out the secret ingredient or knowingly left out a detail of the process. She wants people to succeed in making the recipe. Thing is, her cookies flatten out into these nice thin chewy disks, and mine are these thick cookies that are crunchy on the outside and chewy in the center. Neither of these results is a bad cookie... Her's by far are more aesthetically appealing. Mine are more of the "If it tastes awesome, who cares?" camp. The only thing I can guess is that I need to buy honest-to-goodness all purpose flour, use Smart Balance Light and not Earth Balance. The flour and oil matter in the recipe a lot. You don't want the gluten in the flour hanging on for dear life to keep the cookie in its original shape and the oil has to start out solid and then give in order to spread the cookie out in the pan while the cookie bakes.
Beer and Chocolate
So now that I've bragged all over Tofu Mom's daughter's vegan chocolate chip recipe, I want to tell you about a little experiment I tried the other night. Did you know that beer and chocolate pair well? No, I am not talking about that one night you put on your "Whoa there, Stallion!" baseball cap, drove down to the quick shop and picked up a six pack of Bud Light and a Hershey Bar! I am thinking of something more along these lines. If you have not tried Rogue Chocolate Stout and you enjoy a good beer, you should. On tap is even better. (I found it on tap in Portland. I could not tell you how likely you are to find it in a bar, as I seldom go to bars.)
Knowing this, I decided I would start with a good chocolate chip cookie recipe and substitute beer in for the liquid. Well, okay, it was on the spur of the moment late at night when the stores had already closed, and even if they hadn't, I did not want to go. So the beer was not the only substitute I made. I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour, no-sodium baking powder (doubled in amount) for the baking soda, and doubled the flaxseed because I suddenly found myself without Ener-G Egg Replacer. I even considered using corn starch in place of the Ener-G, which would be a poor substitute, and found myself even without cornstarch. Hey, but I have plenty of pinto beans and quinoa!
The cookies did not turn out to be a disaster. They're just a bit drier than they should be -- so actually pretty acceptable for a homemade chocolate chip cookie.
The part that disappointed me was the part the beer played in the cookie. I broke out the 1554, a dark ale, but not quite a stout or porter and added the 1/4 cup of it for the liquid in the recipe. The first disappointment is that I used the beer to mix the flaxseed and it just was not coming together. Flax seed is a substitute for eggs in baking, and you mix the flaxseed with a liquid and beat it thoroughly to bring out its egg-like binding properties. The flaxseed will begin to congeal with the liquid and pretty soon you will notice the flaxseed refusing to just let that water settle in the bowl like it was before. Now it has some binding properties. Not with the beer! I could not quite figure this out. Flaxseed works with plant milks and I assume it works just fine with water. So what the heck is it about beer? I beat the flaxseed into the beer for quite some time and it finally became a little bit bindy. I would have to settle for that result.
The next part was even more disappointing. 1/4 cup of beer -- even a good strong tasting beer -- is just not much beer, and I was wondering if it was going to come through in the dough. I tossed a little more in before I decided to have the rest of the beer myself. I mixed it into the dough and tasted it. I could taste the beer a little bit, but I was suddenly not sure what I thought of it. The beer was coupled with sugar, margarine, and coconut oil, and I was tasting buttery beer with sugar. It was a little bit fruity. Maybe baking it would resolve matters.
I baked the cookies and gave them a taste. I thought I could not taste the beer. I was having a hard time telling because I was sick of chocolate by the time I got the cookies baked and any taste of chocolate seemed too strong. I tasted the cookies the next day and they were good -- but something was off. After contemplating it for a while, the "off" taste in the cookies was -- the beer!
So, the reaction I imagine from others if I were to give them these chocolate chip cookies is:
"Wow! These are good chocolate chip cookies. What's that weird taste, though?"
"Beer? Why'd you put beer in chocolate chip cookies?"
"I thought it would taste good."
"Yeah, I'd leave that part out."
"Want another one?"
"Could you make a batch without the beer?"
And that in short, is why we have beer bread but not beer chocolate chip cookies.