Monday, December 03, 2012

vegan soft and chewy molasses cookies

Do you like your cookies crunchy or soft and chewy? I'm guessing cookie fans are pretty evenly divided over this, though I suspect soft cookies are gaining ground. No need to say which I like though, is there?

Know the one thing I can't forget about my trip to New York City two years ago? I saw the Flatiron, I saw the Chrysler Building, two of my three favourite architectural masterpieces in the whole world, I had a Papaya King hot dog (ohhhhhh) and a Fat Witch brownie (middling compared to my deep dark beauties, if you ask me), bought my dream boots at Neimann Marcus, lost one of my children (for a while) at Times Square *yikes* and learned about a teaspoon of Spanish, all while encountering some of the weirdest, and some of the nicest people I've ever met.

Memorable though it all was, each time I think of New York, I fall into a Proustian reverie peopled with the dozens of soft, chewy oatmeal cookies I ate every day I was there. Truthfully, they didn't taste much like oats at all, but I still couldn't stop stuffing my face with them.

They haunt me for two reasons - no raisins to pick out before chomping down and they truly were the softest, chewiest, most wonderfully moist cookies I had ever eaten in my life. I found them at a supermarket in Washington Heights and I can't remember what brand they were but I have been disappointed ever since, with every soft and chewy cookie, oatmeal or otherwise, I have eaten. Those chewy morsels of delight sealed my cookie orientation ever after.

Part of the impetus for baking a soft cookie that wouldn't disappoint came from an adorable bottle of molasses I bought recently. The label reminded me of  engaging tales of mischief, culled from the Gullah story telling tradition, that I had read as a child; no way was I leaving that supermarket empty handed. I had never tasted molasses but a lick off the tip of my finger made me smile as it reminded me of gula melaka or palm sugar, something I've known all my life. It did have more sass though, than palm sugar which is mellower and sweeter, but, my favourite foods have always been the ones that bite back ;)

I'd read that cornflour makes cookies soft and molasses keeps them moist. I wanted a molasses cookie, I wanted it soft and chewy and I would be disappointed no more. These cookies, like my red velvet cupcakes are eggless because I don't like how eggs make baked goods smell and I thought I might as well veganise them while I was at it.  It was time to see if flax seeds really do make a good egg substitute, and, how much I would miss the butter in a vegan cookie, bereft of chocolate.

I used tapioca flour as I didn't have any cornflour and vegetable oil instead of butter. The dough is unlike any cookie dough I've worked with, resembling play-do, with a slightly greasy feel. It gelled perfectly with the flax seed paste,  rolled beautifully without sticking and cuts very cleanly so it's perfect for cookie cutters. I can't say I didn't miss the butter flavour, but the scent of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla, unhampered by eggs, was intoxicating and  I loved how soft the cookies turned out. Really, truly, wonderfully soft, almost like cake *sigh* They were surprisingly not greasy at all once baked, subtly spicy and mildly sweet. And look at that glorious, almost pumpkin orange glow! Bearing the season in mind too, I can't think of an easier way to instantly infuse your home with the scents and warmth of Christmas :)

They're everything I want in a cookie, took the edge off my sugar lust without busting my diet, and are perfect with tea or milk. Thanks for visiting today, I enjoyed your company, as I always do. Now pleases excuse me, while I shut the front door, take a plateful of these babies and a cuppa to my huge, comfy lounger and slip into a New York state of mind...

vegan soft and chewy molasses cookies

Prep 30 mins         Cook 10 mins        Makes 18 crown cookies

1 generous tbsp ground flax seeds
4 tbsp water

75 g plain or all purpose flour
75 g tapioca flour 
2/3 tsp baking soda (sieve if lumpy)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

60 g (1/2 cup) soft brown sugar
4 tbsp unsulphured dark molasses
70 ml (1/3 cup) light vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
11/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven at 180 C (350 F)). Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Combine the flax seeds and water in a small bowl, stir well and set aside until thick and gummy.

Combine and whisk together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. 

In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, molasses, oil, vanilla, salt and flax seed paste and whisk until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture with a large spoon until a smooth dough forms.

Roll out dough on a clean surface to a thickness of 5 mm (1/5 in) and cut out cookies with your favourite cutter.Use a wide, thin bladed spatula to transfer cookies to baking tray as they are soft.  Gather up trimmings, reroll and cut more cookies until dough is used up. 

Put tray of cookies into freezer for 15 minutes before baking for 10 -12 minutes or until cookies are golden and slightly puffed. Don't overbake.

Remove from oven and leave on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. When cold, store in air tight containers.


  1. I smile at your memories of New York, it brings back fond memories as well, though my heart skipped a beat at how you had a lost little one in Times Sq for a wee bit. Frightening!

    But you have outdone yourself with these cookies, your tenacity in achieving that perfect (vegan!) bite! They really do look exactly right!

  2. You have never tasted molasses until now? They are good in breads too. :) I can imagine what these cookies must taste like. BTW, the cookie cutter is adorable!

  3. I have a bottle of molasses but only tried it on one recipe and then ended up throwing it away. Very sayang but no choice cause already expired.

  4. Yesterday on the eve of the end of the world *rolls eyes* I decided to try your recipe Denise. Alamak!..molasses are not a kitchen staple here so upon advice I got hold of the Lebanese version from our local Arab cornershop. The cookies came out okay although they reminded my husband of home-made ginger biscuits but without the ginger. I thought they had a nice kind of Mrs Fields-esque texture. Agree about your adorable cookie cutter:)

    1. LOLOL I am so touched and tickled that you chose one of my recipes to make on the possible last day of existence :D I do like the texture of these cookies, but what can I say except that butter makes everything better? ;)

      I have a cookie cutter fetish and this cute crown is one of my favourites!


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