The evening included a silent auction and a buffet dinner with vegetarian/vegan options. My friend Claire McLean, fellow vegan, environmental activist and Programs Chair for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Sierra Club had alerted me to the fact that due to so many requests for the vegetarian/vegan option ...over 50% !...for this sold out event that they were looking to fill in for some vegan desserts. I was thrilled to bake up some vegan goodies for these hard-working Sierra Club volunteers ! Maybe next year the Winter Gala will offer a totally vegan buffet to reflect the Club's commitment to the environment :)
What I made were gluten-free chocolate chip cookies from a recipe I had just recently "discovered" at a dairy-free website titled Alisa Cooks. While it's not an entirely vegan website, she does have some great vegan recipes, including the Gala-bound treats I made called Marvelous Maple Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookies...but I'm not sure what to call them now because I did not use maple syrup, I used a great sweetener called Just Like Honey which is a combination of brown rice syrup, agave and maple syrup; but straight up maple or any other sweet vegan syrup would work just fine. The dough comes together in a snap and they bake up nice and chewy and soft at the same time. I LOVE these cookies and plan on playing with the recipe to try out several variations, but really, these are the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had. Seriously. It may seem a little strange grinding cashews for a flour, but hey, we use almond flour, quinoa flour, oat flour...so what's the big deal ? I used refined organic coconut oil. If you dont mind a super coconutty taste, unrefined coconut oil would be fine. I also added a teaspoon of vanilla...because vanilla just brings it all together !
Marvelous Maple Cashew Cookies or baking in general for that matter !
Here it is about to blend the softened coconut oil, Just Like Honey syrup and vanilla to a nice smooth emulsion. It's not completely necessary to use one...you could whip it up with a whisk or a stand mixer, but the immersion blender does such a great job, in such a short time, with so little effort, why not ? For me, I've found that the key is to store this tool in a handy spot, so it's always ready.
There are lots of models available, I currently have a Kitchen Aid with 9 speeds. Its motor is good and strong, but can be a bit heavy to hold for expended periods, which seems to be a drawback to most of these. Here's a bunch of reviews of various models in case you are thinking about getting one...which you should...they are super useful !