A Protein Packed Treat: Vegan Salty Oat Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies


Oatmeal Craisin Chocolate Chip Cookie

 Inspiration

After making some allergy-friendly baked macaroni and cheese with sweet peas (a favorite of my three-year old), I learned that my daughter may be sensitive to a number of legumes in addition to peanuts.  I already had stopped eating beans when she broke out in hives after I had eaten sauce poi (a Haitian dish that my mother-in-law taught me how to make).  Realizing that I was about to eliminate a major source of protein from my diet, I started looking for good soy-free, nut-free, legume-free protein sources.  When I learned that rolled oats were packed with protein and other important nutrients, I bought a large bag without a recipe in mind.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out what I was going to do with my oats.  Oatmeal raisin cookies are my husband’s favorite, but I thought it would be more exciting to make cookies with dried cranberries (which I like more than raisins anyhow).  Having Enjoy(ed) some Enjoy Life chocolate chips in my Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cupcakes (the second cupcake flavor that I took with my Strawberry Cupcakes with Raspberry-Lemon Champagne Buttercream to New York), I decided to add the yummy chips to these cookies for a little chocolate covered fruit appeal.  (Next week, I will post the Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cupcakes recipe.)

There are so many recipes out there for oatmeal cookies with dried cranberries; in fact, even the side of the Ocean Spray Craisins® bag had a recipe.  A fan of the Joy of Baking website, my favorite source for ingredient substitutions, I decided to go with their Oatmeal Cookies recipe.  However, instead of using dried cranberries or chocolate chips, I would use both.  Also, having enjoyed the coarse salt sprinkled on top of my Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cupcakes and having realized how much I like the combination of salty and sweet chocolate after participating in a brownie taste-off (before I was worried about allergies) hosted by my office’s baking legend and author of the Ipso Fatto blog, I thought it would be nice to counter the sweetness of the Enjoy Life chocolate chips with extra salt.

FREE Ingredients

Recently, food allergy author Linda Coss tweeted an interesting substitute for an egg – 1 ½ tbsp of oil, 1 ½ tbsp of water, and 1 tsp of baking powder.  I figured this would be a great recipe to try out her recommendation.

  • ¾ cup dairy-free, soy-free buttery spread (like Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp canola oil
  • 1 ½ tbsp water
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt (ground somewhat fine)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (like Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • ¾ cup dairy-free, soy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips (like Enjoy Life)

This is a quick and easy recipe (that can even be done with a baby strapped to your chest).

Method (or Mistakes)

Preheat oven to 350º and line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, using a hand or electric mixer, beat together the buttery spread and sugar until creamy and smooth (about 2-3 minutes).  In a separate, small bowl whisk together canola oil, water, and baking powder, and then add to sugar mixture.  Add extract to mixture, and then beat with mixer to combine.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, and then beat until incorporated.  Stir in the oats, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips.

Use a large cookie scoop to place the cookies on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  Shape and flatten the cookies slightly with your fingers, placing together any dough that may have separated when scooping.  Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until light golden brown around the edges but still soft and a bit wet in the centers.  Remove cookies from oven and let cool a few minutes on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

oatmeal craisin cookie

Uncooked “granola-like” cookie dough

When I placed the dough on the cookie sheet, I was a bit worried that its consistency was more like granola than the smooth cohesive cookie dough to which I was accustomed.  My guess is that this was due to the oats and elimination of the egg.  I tried forming them back together a bit with my fingers, but it didn’t matter because the cookies easily melted together when baking.

NOM YUM

All of the flavors really came out in these cookies.  It was almost like a different cookie in every bite.  One bite it was a salty oat chocolate chip cookie, the next bite it was a chocolate covered cranberry cookie.  My taste buds enjoyed the party!  The cookies also had perfectly chewy centers but buttery, crispy edges.  And the dried cranberries delightfully increased the cookies’ chewiness.  I think the key to the texture of these cookies was taking them out of the oven as early as possible and not overcooking.

I decided to take these cookies into my office, having just returned to work from maternity leave on a temporary part-time basis.  All of the reviews shared with me were positive.  My favorite reaction was how surprised everyone was that vegan and allergy-friendly could taste so YUMmy!  Like me, most commented on how enjoyable it was to have so many different flavors packed into one cookie.  People also were surprised by how soft and chewy these were despite their lack of egg.  One office buddy even came to my office shortly after I had put these out dissapointed that they were all gone because she was hoping for a second.  Luckily, I had set aside a couple that I was able to share.

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