From student blogger Roberta Roberti with photos by student Elyse Prince . . .
CTP197W rocked the cookies in July! A tremendous amount of baking came out of Kitchens 1 and 3.
First, in the Converting Practicum, we took conventional cookie, muffin and brownie recipes and made batch after batch, substituting one ingredient each time until we had a vegan product. We worked in teams of two, each team converting one recipe. My partner (Jesa Henneberry) and I made peanut butter cookies.
Our final version had spelt and oat flour, natural peanut butter, coconut (palm) sugar, coconut oil (in place of butter), and—are you ready for this?—in place of eggs: mashed sweet potatoes. And they were awesome. Chef Elliott Prag encouraged the class to make “mo’ better cookies” —i.e., go a step beyond vegan to make something unique. And we did! We made Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies with Banana Thumbprints (see the recipe below).
Not everything we made turned out successfully but, hey, that was the purpose of the Converting Practicum—to learn. We learned what worked, what didn’t, and how to go about taking a recipe and making it our own.
On the following Saturday, each student made her and his own cookies with the goal of making “beautiful” specimens suitable to serve customers (or something like that). We had a gorgeous array of different goodies, from coconut macaroons and checkerboard cookies to tuilles, thumbprint cookies, chocolate-cherry bars, and several others, including a few vegan treats.
Cookies seem like the simplest thing in the world to make and, in some ways, they are. But there are many different kinds of cookies and each kind requires different and specific handling, techniques, and baking times. We learned that some doughs are fragile (Linzer tarts), while others are sturdy (walnut tea cookies). Some cookies are plain fun and easy to make (chocolate biscotti), while others are more temperamental (tuilles). We had beautiful cookies (fig pinwheels) and some “plain janes” (vegan chocolate chip). But one thing’s for sure: they were all delicious!
I think we could have opened up a bakery with the beauties we baked, as you can see from the photos here by my classmate Elyse Prince. Give the vegan peanut butter recipe a try—it may just change your entire world view of desserts.
Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies with Banana Thumbprints
Yield: 12 large cookies
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup natural, organic peanut butter
½ cup organic tahini
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup coconut (palm) sugar (or maple crystals)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 1/4 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 ripe banana cut 1/8” thick on bias
1. Place the sweet potato in a small pot with just enough water to cover; bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until tender. Drain; let cool and mash well. Measure out 1/4 cup.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper; set aside.
3. In a stand mixer, mix the peanut butter and tahini until smooth. Add the sweet potato and vanilla.
4. In another bowl, whisk together sugar and coconut oil until well blended, and add to the mixer. Mix until light and fluffy.
5. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt and add to the batter. Mix until well blended.
6. Using a medium-size ice cream scoop, place balls of the batter about 1 inch apart on the sheet pans. Place a slice of banana on top of each one and press down with your thumb. Bake about 15 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.