December 03, 2011

Vegan Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies

Around Thanksgiving every year, our department kicks off the holidays with a bakeoff. The rules: bake with your own two hands from scratch. A co-worker brought in these cookies as her backup entry, but ended up going with another dessert, so she let us sample these pre-bakeoff. As an abashed butter lover, I was a little skeptical of cookies made with substitutes, but the fragrance and flavors of the spices won me over. The taste haunted me for days so I knew I had to try a batch.

I had cardamom pods and nutmeg in my cupboard, so I ground them with a microplane. I liked the stronger flavors, but B. found them overpowering. Also, the original recipe used half whole-wheat pastry flour, but since I didn't have any I went with all-purpose.

If anyone has tips on how to slice more cleanly when you have chocolate chips in a log, please share.

Vegan Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Adapted from The Anxious Patissier / "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar," by Isa Chanda Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter substitute 
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
Generous pinch each of ground coriander and ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag of chai tea leaves (approximately 1 teaspoon)
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In large bowl, cream shortening and butter substitute until smooth. Fold in powdered sugar and vanilla, then cream again until smooth and creamy.

3. In separate bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, coriander, pepper, baking soda, salt, and tea. Fold half of this mixture into creamed shortening mixture to moisten all ingredients. 

4. Fold in the remaining flour until a dense dough forms. Knead in chocolate pieces.

5. Divide dough and form two logs. Chill for 30 minutes or so to reduce crumbliness issues. 

6. With a thin, sharp knife, carefully slice logs into 1/2 inch slices. Transfer slices to making sheets, placing each slice about 2 inches apart. 

7. Bake shortbread for 12 to 14 minutes until slightly puffed yet firm and the edges are turning golder. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before using a spatula to transfer them to cooling racks. 

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