It’s a crime that all bakers have committed at least once in their modest or illustrious baking career, and one that I can not deny being guilty of as well. Always well-intentioned, who could blame us mad pastry chefs for occasionally dropping some sort of dessert bomb… And not the kind smothered in chocolate. No, far from it. After the shock of a particularly indulgent recipe beings to wear off, we seek some sort of half-baked way to repent for our sins, perhaps switching out chocolate chips for fruit, upping the whole wheat flour, and really, is all that oil absolutely necessary? The attempts at “health-ifying” desserts are valiant indeed, but there comes a time to draw a line. No, I do not want sugar-free, fat-free, taste-free cardboard cake, thanks.
One sweet treat most commonly burdened with this misplaced desire is by far the oatmeal cookie. Depressingly few vegan recipes exist that don’t attempt to make them into breakfast-friendly bricks of portable oatmeal, or bona fide granola bars. Don’t get me wrong, those cookies are plenty tasty and I would have a hard time turning one down regardless, but sometimes, as the weather grows colder and the need for comfort foods becomes more pressing, I just want a damn cookie. Like the oatmeal cookies I grew up with, before being vegan, before caring what on earth was making those morsels so irresistibly sweet and chewy, before everyone started fearing eating a full-fledged dessert for dessert’s sake.
If you really wanted, you could still spin these as the smarter choice, being vegan and cholesterol-free of course, but really, they’re just good cookies. The best thing they can offer your health is perhaps a temporary elevation in mood, which is still more than I can say for a plain old granola bar.
Bakery-Style Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
2 Cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Chopped, Toasted Walnuts
1 Cup Raisins
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
2/3 Cup Date Syrup/Molasses
1/2 Cup Non-Dairy Margarine, Melted
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line two or three baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper. Set aside.
First things first, place the oats in your food processor, and pulse until they’re mostly broken down and look like “instant” oats, but still have slightly more texture and some whole oats remaining. If you were short on time, you could substitute half rolled oats and half instant, but the texture isn’t quite the same. Transfer the lightly ground oats to the bowl of your stand mixer or just a large bowl, and add in the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, walnuts, and raisins. Stir to distribute all of the dry goods evenly and coat the raisins with flour so that they don’t all clump together, and set aside.
In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix the brown sugar, date syrup, melted margarine, and vanilla until smooth. Pour these wet ingredients into the bowl of dry, and mix until you achieve a thick batter, and no dry patches of flour remain. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl every now and then as you stir to make sure you don’t miss any big clumps hiding out there.
Scoop out a scant 1/4 cup of dough for each cookie (I find that an ice cream scoop is an indispensable tool for even cookies here) onto your prepared baking sheets, and very lightly press down the tops so that they’re not mounded up in the center. Bake for just 10- 12, and err on the side of less time to ensure soft, chewy cookies. Slide the silpats or parchment papers off the hot sheets immediately after pulling the cookies from the oven, and let cool completely before storing in an air-tight container, or serving up with a tall glass of non-dairy milk.
Makes 2 – 3 Dozen Cookies