Wannabe Vegan

October 31, 2007

Many of my favorite food blogs have been posting ginger snap recipes for some weeks now. I have finally caved to self-imposed pressure and perennial yearning for everything ginger and decided that instead of binge eating baggies of crystallized ginger discuses from the co-op I would actually put them in something. I hope the title of this blog would preempt any confusion resulting from the following recipe, but to make it perfectly clear: I am not a vegan. I do, however, really really enjoy vegan goods, particularly vegan pastries. How can one who demands nimbusesque airiness from her crème brulée also go nuts for vegan cookies stout enough to be used in shot put is another of my delightful contradictions, but there it is. I think it is the very ways in which vegan pastries veer from the typical embodiment of pastry that makes me love them. Not that a vegan pastry can't be fluffy and melt as ephemerally across the tongue as the lightest Ladurée macaron*, but I like them when they're thick, a bit savory, uncomplicated and rustic. Something that might be pounded on a piece of slate and seared in a hearth dripping with tar. It doesn't make much sense but all I know is that the vegan cookies at Maxfield's haunt me enough that my two most recent visitors generously toted them in tupperware through airport security mostly to make me shut up, and that I'm long past the point of trying to affect a hoity attitude in regards to vegan recipes.

We arrive at the gingersnaps. These thick little patties hearken back to the co-op days when books like How It All Vegan were godsends for cook crews at the ends of their wits and shaking at the thought of facing a mass of diners deprived of dessert. It contains some blissfully simple and straightforward recipes, of which this is one. I have tweaked and complicated it a bit to include elements that make me happy. The dried fruit held up well and rounded out the flavor nicely.

*this is a lie

Vegan Gingersnaps
Adapted from How It All Vegan and tested on many a dirty hippie
Yields about 36 cookies

If you want this in its ultimate simplicity, eliminate the apple butter and use 1/2 cup of oil, forget the crystallized ginger, vanilla extract, and dried fruit and go for it. They'll still be good. Adding cinnamon and/or nutmeg would also be good.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cups maple syrup
1/4 cups molasses
1/4 cups vegetable oil (I used safflower)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup apple butter
5 Tbl fresh grated ginger
1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried sour cherries
turbinado (or any form of coarse sugar) if desired for topping
Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together dry ingredients until uniformly mixed, then add wet ingredients.

Toss in dried fruit at the end and mix until just mixed. The dough will be thick and unwieldy.

If you're up for it, attempt to form Tablespoon-sized balls out of the dough and roll them in turbinado crystals. I ended up sprinkling the sugar on top of the dough balls and think it worked quite well.

Arrange on baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Do not be alarmed by their failing to spread, for they are resilient and will not shift dramatically from their blobular state. They also seem miraculously burn-proof.

Pour some soy milk into a jar, read about kombucha, dumpster diving and DIY ricotta in a quarterly months behind the curve (you know I love you, Edible Brooklyn), and contemplate the Master Cleanse.

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