This book had a workout the past few weeks. I’m surprised the binding hasn’t given way. No kidding – I’ve made 14 different recipes from Kelly Peloza’s Vegan Cookie Connoisseur cookbook. You’d think I was opening a bake shop, right?
Honestly, I love baking and cookies are among my favorites. They’re cute, sweet, small. They can be soft or crunchy – simple or fancy. You can eat them any time of day or night. They pair with hot drinks, like tea, coffee or cocoa. Or just as well with cold soy milk. What’s not to love about cookies?
Clearly, cookbook author Kelly Peloza feels the same way. In addition to her book, which was published in 2010 and is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, she also maintains a blog by the same name, Vegan Cookie Connoisseur. You know I would have said, at first glance on her bio, that Kelly was too young to be a connoisseur. She is a spritely young woman, fresh out of college. The word brings to mind sophisticated, graying people in fancy suits swishing expensive wine around in glasses to me. But after using her book – I would agree. She really is an expert and has clearly mastered the vegan cookie category.
Below, I’ll explore the cookies. (hee hee… what a task… 🙂 )
On the plate, starting at 6 o’clock and moving clockwise around the plate…
Cutsey Fruitsy Raspberry Almond Sandwich Cookies (the tree and star shapes at 6 o’clock), page 253 – This was hands-down the most advanced cookie we selected from the book. She doesn’t rank any recipes by difficulty, however, this one took me two hours to make and I am a very experienced baker (I even used to work in a Greek bakery and can make both cheesecakes and baklava easily – with no recipes). The effort is worth it though. Have faith – the dough will roll out and patches up fine during the baking process. Don’t use any over-complex cutters – she recommends flower shapes. It’s a good call – those are easy to cut. The stars and trees worked well too. Keep at it with these – they’re five-star when you’re done.
Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies (with nuts on top, near 10 o’clock), from page 54 – This cookie is a true original. Everyone loves it. It takes the experience of a peanut butter cookie to a totally new place and it’s a very, very good place. The recipe is easy and straightforward. A novice baker could make this and impress anyone – vegan or not.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies (almost not visible, at the very top, near noon), on page 57 – A solid, sturdy, wholesome cookie. We loved the addition of oatmeal to this old-fashioned favorite. Our families especially liked this -it’s a nostalgic classic. Also simple to make.
Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread (right at 1 o’clock – it’s the corner peeking out), page 245 – If you love coffee the way DH does, this is the cookie for you. I don’t even drink coffee and I liked it. The mocha-esque blend of chocolate and coffee is a winner. It’s snappy, crisp and holds up for dunking, too. The perfect cookie to accompany your morning brew of coffee or cocoa.
Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies (at 3 o’clock on the plate), page 213 in the book. Another classic. Sweet, moist, lovely. And no one will ever, ever be able to guess this is vegan. Go ahead, fool your friends. You know you want to.
Pink Lemonade Cookies (small round yellow sandwich cookie, at 5 o’clock), page 21 in the book. Okay… drum roll for this cookie, please…. this is the BEST D%&N COOKIE EVER. We have made batch after batch. We gave it out in gift tins and almost everyone wanted the recipe. Talk about no one believing a cookie was vegan. This is sheer brilliance in a cookie. If you need one good reason to get this book, the Lemonade Cookie is IT. I cannot express the sublime blend of citrus and sweet, and the paired soft and crisp textures. Sigh… I may need to go eat one now. My only comment – Peloza calls for food coloring in the icing. We skipped it and the pretty yellow color works fine.
Crispy Pinwheels with Pink Sugar, page 234-235. Of course, I didn’t have pink sugar, so I used yellow sugar. They still taste delish and no one who hasn’t seen the recipe is any-the-wiser. The recipe states this one is challenging, but I didn’t think it was that hard. If you follow the directions exactly, it works like a charm. The vanilla and chocolate combo is really good – and the overall appearance of this cookie very uptown. Everyone will be impressed.
These are Sticky Coconut Chocolate Chip Oat Bars, page 158. Not sure where I went wrong with this cookie, but it didn’t set up until I gave it a trip to the fridge overnight. I feel like this is the perfect filling for a chocolate-coated candy. Two people even said they tasted like a Mounds bar. I may try making this one as a candy filling. However, I want to add that the flavor is rock solid. I haven’t eaten a Mounds bar in something like 20 years, so I’m not sure I remember them. But this is gooey and coconut-y and gets a thumbs-up on taste for sure!
These beauty are Garrick’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, from page 215. I added my own touch though, with the icing and sprinkles. The cookies are one of Peloza’s many variations on the classic chocolate chip in the book. It works well and makes a very fine cookie. The icing is simply 1 cup of powdered sugar with 1 Tbl. water. You mix it together and drizzle it over cooled cookies. The vegan sprinkles can be found at most candy supplies – they do have fake-y food coloring though. You can buy natural sprinkles online at the Natural Candy Store if you are into fake-y food coloring.
We also made, but didn’t shoot, the Glazed Apple Cider Cookies on page 14; the Eggnog Cookies on page 18; Giant Bakery-Style Double Chocolate Cookies on page 78; Lemon’s Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies, page 80; Coconut Cookies, page 134.Of these our favorites were the Glazed Apple Cider Cookies and Coconut Cookies. Both are terrific and the Apple Cider Cookies are another heavenly original creation by Peloza.
You should absolutely check out Vegan Cookie Connoisseur. The book has 140 cookie recipes and while the 14 I made only represent 10% of the total recipes – I’d say this book is worth adding to your collection. Oh – and be sure to look for Peloza’s blog, too – she adds new recipes and fun stories all the time.