I made this recipe for an outdoor Fall brunch some friends threw last Sunday, and they seemed to go over well. I ate one and thought they had a nice praline sort of flavor and crunch. They tasted like the fall and the south combined. The funny thing, when all was said and done, was the little brouhaha that happened on the Relish Magazine web site, simply because this recipe does not call for eggs. One incredulous person asked, “Are there no eggs in this recipe?” Others claimed their cookies did not turn out when in fact they had baked them too long instead of letting them set up on the baking sheets once out of the oven, as per the instructions. So, a word about eggs. We don’t need them people! In The Joy of Vegan Baking, Colleen Patrick Goudreau devotes seven pages explaining why we don’t need eggs for baking, and guess what? It all makes perfect sense. Most of us were taught that eggs were essential for baking, and so these habits can be hard to get over, psychologically. The marketing for eggs in baking started hundreds of years ago, so we’re getting out from under generations of women teaching us to use eggs. Billions of chickens suffer terribly every year, and the health costs to humans is extremely high too, not to mention the dire cost to our planet. Chickens beaks are cut off without anesthesia, and they go insane when their pecking order goes over about a dozen. Tens of thousands of chickens are stuffed into hot sheds with a tiny hole in one corner, and that constitutes “cage free.” 97% of eggs come from chickens in battery cages where their feet are literally growing into the bottoms of the cages, that’s how tight they are stuffed in. And they “live” in horrifying disease and chemical, viral, bacterial and parasitic conditions. Poultry itself is responsible for the majority of cases of food poisoning, according to a new finding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly 76 million people in the US are sickened by food every year. An outbreak of salmonella in eggs recently caused a nationwide recall of almost half a billion eggs, and sickened more than 13,000 people, and that’s one single event. So, when a recipe needs a binder, or extra moisture or a bit of leavening that eggs used to provide, other simple ingredients can be substituted. I’ve baked several vegan things, including cupcakes, and cookies for parties, and used several of these substitutes and have had no failures on the baking front. And many recipes, like this one, need no egg replacer at all. So far, I’ve tried ground flax seed, applesauce, banana, baking soda and vinegar, and Ener-G Egg Replacer, and they all worked well. Certain things work better in certain recipes, but even on my old recipes I’ve adapted, where I winged it, I’ve had no problems. I read that silken tofu works very well when you want rich, dense, moist cakes and brownies, but I haven’t made any of those yet. There is a whole other range of readily-available food items you can use when you want to replace eggs as a thickener for sauces; and these include kudzu, agar, arrowroot, cornstarch, and nut and seed butters. It’s amazingly simple. OK, I digress. Here’s the recipe.
Vermont Maple Pecan Cookies
“These addictive cookies are certain to be the hit of any bake sale or cookie swap. Hearty oats and shredded coconut provide a chewy texture while toasted pecans add crunch. Tightly covered, these cookies will keep one week, although they seldom last that long.”
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup real maple syrup, such as Mapletree Farm brand
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon maple or vanilla extract
2 cups chopped toasted pecans (I just pulsed mine in the food processor and was glad I did)
1. Preheat oven to 300F and position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine oats, coconut, flour, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar in a large bowl; whisk to blend.
3. Combine butter, maple syrup and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally; remove from heat.
4. In a coffee mug, combine baking soda and boiling water, stirring to dissolve. Note: baking soda and water will bubble furiously. Add to maple syrup mixture, stirring well. Add maple extract. Stir into dry ingredients. Add pecans; stir well.
5. Place 1/4-cup size balls of dough on baking sheets, 3 inches apart. Flatten slightly.
6. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and almost set. They will harden as they cool. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 full minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 40 cookies
Interpreted here from a recipe by Julie Hession, in Relish Magazine.
Per cookie: 240 calories, 13g fat, 15mg chol., 3g prot., 32g carbs.,
2g fiber, 160mg sodium.