For the Sake of Dessert

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

Printable Recipe

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54 thoughts on “For the Sake of Dessert

  1. I recently fell in love with the peanut butter oatmeal from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. But I probably shouldn’t make them a third time. Instead I am trying your recipe which is so awesome because my pb hater boyfriend will also like this.

  2. I’m guilty of health-ifying dessert recipes too. I don’t know why I do it because it never tastes as good as the original. These cookies look decadent and delicious! No cardboard here!

  3. This recipe sounds like my kind of cookie! I agree, I don’t want an applesauce filled cookie, but a more dense chewy cookie filled with all kind of goodness. I will definitely be making these Hannah!

  4. Yes! I so agree. You’re always wonderful at voicing exactly what I am thinking! I don’t mind healthifying desserts but I think there is a line and also, I don’t think the real stuff on occasion is a bad thing. I personally find it much more satisfying to eat the real thing on rare occasions vs. a super duper healthy version on a regular basis that in my opinion often just makes my cravings for something real and indulgent worse.

  5. What do you mean? These ARE healthy! Especially when you compare them to say, oreos? They’ve got oatmeal, raisins, nuts (look at all that good fiber)-haha!… you go, girl!

  6. I completely agree with you Hannah. Sometimes I will add applesauce to decrease the fat in a baked good but only when I know it will taste good and less sugar just cuz I don’t like too sweet. But most of the time if I’m making a dessert, cookie, etc. I’ll make it the original recipe way just cuz it’s a treat! Like you said eating something that tastes like cardboard isn’t my thing! Blah!
    These oatmeal cookies look perfect!

  7. I love oatmeal cookies, I never try to make them overly healthy, you can tell because I always add chocolate chips instead of raisins :)

  8. Totally agreed. I’m willing to healthify some things but sometimes you just want a little down and dirty indulgence, ya know! These cookies look awesome. oatmeal raisins are my favorite and I’m so glad that now I can have them without the heartache (literally)!

  9. Nothing like a good old fashioned oatmeal cookie now and again. I am certainly guilty of slipping flax seed and toasted wheat germ, etc in mine from time to time.

  10. Yum! Oatmeal cookies are my favorite. Sometimes I try to “healthify” dessert/snack recipes if I am feeling creative, but other times I just want a plain old, non-nutritious cookie!

  11. Hey, even those are healthier than the average cookie. Rolled oats and walnuts…most oatmeal cookies rank at the top of the “healthy” cookie list, vegan or not. But I’ve gotta say, I do do some whole wheat and butter swapping, but generally when it comes to baking, I indulge. There’s no point in eating a semi-healthy treat that tastes like crap. I’d rather eat a piece of fruit or a full-fat slice of cake.

  12. These look and sound so tasty! I totally agree with you about making desserts too healthy – there’s a time and a place, but I think it’s part of the reason people have the misconception that vegan desserts aren’t as good as their non-vegan counterparts. Thanks for working to change that!

  13. Hannah – I love you. I firmly believe that true healthiness is being able to eat something completely “non-healthy” and simply enjoying it, without guilt or justification or cutting back later. Thank you.

  14. Ahh, these totally look like the oatmeal cookies of my childhood. I agree, we do tend to go too far with the healthifying of desserts much too often. I say indulge when you really want to, you’ll be much happier for it!

  15. I’ve always been the type to buy boxed cake and cookie mixes, until about a year ago. Cookies, like this one, are so simple to make and much yummier..I don’t know why I was so intimated before. Oatmeals cookies are one of my fav..I gotta make a batch sometime soon!

  16. Ha, I have definitely succumbed to the “healthifying recipes that aren’t really meant to be healthy” – especially with things like brownies and cookies.

    These look like the PERFECT oatmeal cookies. I love the simple combination of walnuts and raisins (or dried cranberries!).

    I must invest in some of this date syrup I keep reading about – is it used fairly often in vegan baking?

  17. Oh girl…these look AMAZING! my husband is an oatmeal cookie fanatic! I will have to try them out on him. And I agree.no fat free, sugar free, taste free for me!

  18. You are so right! As soon as I saw your recipe, even before reading your post I thought- hmm… honey instead of sugar, brown rice instead of regular flour bla bla bla. It’s like a tick I have! And such a cute observation that we all try and turn out cookies into breakfast! This cookie looks as divine as you!

  19. I’ll take a temporary elevation in mood or two! These look deliciously sweet and chewy. Walnuts, cinnamon, molasses *swoon*. I’m just going to have to go with chocolate chips instead of raisins because raisins and I are sworn enemies! :)

  20. You sound like my hubby! His biggest gripe is that “nobody eats dessert any more.” But these cookies would prove him wrong, I am sure–I bet they are irresistible. :D

  21. This recipe sounds wonderful and I hope to try it for my oatmeal-loving husband and children soon! With one exception. . . I never ever use margarine :( I don’t know if there is a vegan version of margarine that is healthy/natural, but regular margarine is so bad for you in so many ways I have banned it from my house. I am not vegan, so I use butter, but we do have vegan friends so I wonder–is there a fat/oil substitute that can be used other than margarine? Thanks!

  22. Oatmeal cookies, done right, are a little slice of heaven. Done wrong? They’re a gastronomical nightmare. These look delicious!

  23. “breakfast-friendly bricks of portable oatmeal” – haha, I love this!

    A few weeks back, before a 10 mile race, I did just that: made healthy oatmeal “cookies” to have as breakfast before the race. I don’t know why I bothered, considering I was about to burn all those calories! Should have just stuck with gorgeous, buttery, sugary traditional oatmeal cookies :-)

  24. Just made these and they are SOOOOO GOOOOD. I left out the brown sugar completely to make it less sweet for my German palate, and used plain old molasses. I halved the recipe and got 16 really good-sized cookies. This will be my go-to recipe from now on for oatmeal cookies. I love the fact that the oats are pulsed first. This way, I get the full, nutty oat flavor but a smoother texture. YUMMY.

    Plus: written as is, these cookies are in fact health food, kinda. All the other recipes I found for oatmeal cookies contained twice the amount of sugar and butter.

  25. These are great! I was lazy and didn’t want to do dishes from processing the oats, so I just used them reguar. The dough seemed a tad dry, but I kept with it and they turned out PERFECT :) I loved the flavor from the molasses. Everything just perfectly complemented each other. Even subbing choc chips for raisins in some of the cookies, I preferred the raisins! (I used golden raisins)

  26. Loved these! I used molasses and they turned out darker than yours but I loved the flavor. Also subbed chocolate chips for the walnuts because my son doesn’t like any nuts. I think I will try to sub coconut sugar for the brown sugar and see how they turn out. Thank you for a great recipe!

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