Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Another Chocolate Cookie (with a top secret ingredient)

These cookies are bafflingly good.

Although similar in appearance and texture to Fat Mints, these cookies use neither earth balance nor egg replacer, so they're cheaper and have no strange ingredients.  Except for one.  In adapting the recipe for "Mocha Mamas" in Vegan Cookies Invade..., I had no coffee extract.  Rather than substitute ground coffee, as I recently did for the Espresso Chip Oatmeal Cookies, I used some finely ground teeccino.

Teeccino entered my life over a year ago, when I decided to clean up my act after a harrying first year of grad school.  Giving up coffee was part of this plan.  First I made my own grain coffee, but it tasted like burnt rice--probably because that's what it mostly was.  So I tried teeccino, an herbal "coffee," which is made out of totally respectable ingredients like carob, chicory (a very old coffee substitute), cocoa, almonds, etc.  It tastes pretty okay, but it doesn't taste like coffee.  I moved on to swiss water decaf, and finally just back to coffee.  One bag of rejected teeccino in my freezer eventually turned into four as Devon went through every flavor in hopes of finding one that didn't repel her (she didn't).  I got all her leftovers.

**Anyway, if anyone wants a bunch of teeccino, or has any more ideas about what to do with it, let me know.**

I used 2 TB of teeccino in this cookie, and it tasted fantastic.  That means I only have to make about 3000 more cookies to use up all the year-old teeccino in my freezer.

Cocoa seems to improve the structure and texture of everything it touches.  Frosting, cookies, sauces... here, a normal cookie recipe becomes almost melt-in-your-mouth brownie-ish in the middle, while slightly crisp on the outside (though this is probably due to the cornstarch, too).  The combined vanilla, cocoa, coconut, and "coffee" create a rich, nutty, aromatic, balanced flavor.  By all means, you can use ground coffee in this recipe, but the teeccino--long an albatross around my neck--really made the cookies special.

I used a 1:2 ratio of whole wheat to white flour in this recipe (hence the specks in the photo), but I think this is one cookie where you actually might want all white flour, what with the whole creamy truffle thing.

Finally, the original recipe has you sifting the dry ingredients into the wet one at a time, which while saving you a bowl, means that by the time you get to the baking soda and salt there's no way that stuff's going to be evenly distributed throughout what's already a glop of wet dough.  The upside to this was that there were marvelous little pockets of saltiness in the cookies.  But you might consider mixing all the dry stuff separately first.

Mocha Coconut Truffle Cookies
(adapted from "Mocha Mamas" in Vegan Cookies Invade...)

1/2 c oil
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c nondairy milk
1 TB ground flax seeds
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract
2 TB finely ground teeccino or coffee (or, 1 TB coffee extract)
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350*.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine oil through cornstarch and mix very well.  Then, add extracts.
3. Combine dry ingredients separately and then add to wet.  Mix until you have a dough--it's going to look like it's too dry, but keep mixing and you should actually get there.  As a last resort, add a little more milk if needed.
4. Roll dough into small balls, place on parchment paper, and flatten slightly.  Bake for about 12 minutes, or until cookies have cracked slightly.  Allow to sit and cool before transferring.  Makes 3 dozen small (or 2 dozen larger) cookies.

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