I am really excited about these cookies today but first: I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving with lots of good food and especially pie–possibly even a special post-Thanksgiving brunch 😉 Tell me about your Thanksgiving! I’d love to live vicariously through your eating adventures.
Onto the cookies.
Over Thanksgiving, I got lots of quality hang out time with my cousins, and I snuck in some cooking/baking time with the cleanest eater I know, who happens to be my darling nugget of a cousin, Simone. She subsists entirely on vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and beans. She lives in L.A. so I don’t get to see her very often. So one day when I arrived, it was like her tastebuds had revolted overnight. She simply just doesn’t eat any refined sugars, grains, bad fats or processed food because she doesn’t prefer them. This started when she was in middle school. I have tastebud envy. Someday.
Needless to say, she’s a great food influence. And when I saw her get excited about a baked good–COOKIES, no less, I knew something good was about to happen. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Simone, another of my cousins and I found ourselves at Whole Foods ransacking the place for dried figs when we discovered the rest of our family was already chowing down on Mexican food for dinner. At 5pm. So when we got back, we made our own vegan dinner of mac ‘n cheese (OMG delicious) followed by fig newtons straight from her favorite food blog.
A few mishaps and wrong turns occurred during the baking process, but when we took our first bites of the crunchy, seed-strewn exterior rich with coconut oil, wrapped around the luscious, tangy, jammy fig filling, our eyes went wide. We stood over the tray picking at the edges of the fig newtons for a good few minutes before slicing them up and serving them to the rest of the fam. Simone thought they were the best thing ever, pretty much, which is HIGH praise.
These thumbprint cookies drew inspiration from two things: (1) those wholesome, almost healthy, crunchy, almost short-bread-y cookies that I couldn’t stop thinking about and (2) Simone’s rave about a really good, natural jam from Trader Joe’s and my realization that I still had a giant jar of the sugary stuff left in my pantry. Clearly, the jam was destined for cookies.
These are just really great cookies, vegan or not. The bf couldn’t tell they were vegan and I don’t think anyone else would suspect it either. The chia seeds give the cookies the nice crunchy, slightly seedy texture and the coconut oil makes these cookies incredibly sandy and rich, lightly perfuming them with coconut. Coconut oil was a premeditated purchase as soon as I got back, and I plan on many more baking projects with it. These are not only delicious, but they are like, the closest definition to wholesome that I’ve come with a cookie.
As Sarah B. of My New Roots would say, I’m wild about these.
I made these cookies two ways: one with oat flour, similar to the original recipe, and one with whole wheat flour and a hint of almond meal. The oat flour yielded a more tender, sandy consistency (below, right) compared to the lumpier, grainier whole wheat cookie (below, left).
Add 4 tablespoons of coconut oil to these and bake for 18-20 minutes and you will get lovely, sandy cookies. Halve the amount of oil and bake for a slightly shorter time, and you’ll get slightly chewier cookies. I liked the first version straight out of the oven better, but once cooled, I found myself reaching for the chunky, chewy cookies. Try both!
Alterations: These are really similar to the original fig newton base, but I upped the baking powder and baking soda to make them puffier. I didn’t have maple syrup, so I used honey (okay, a misstep out of vegan-land. Use maple syrup if you’re actually vegan.) Instead of steeping the chia in tea, I used almond milk.
Tip: set out the coconut oil well in advance so that it is room temperature and scoopable by the time you need to use it. Simone’s was rock hard, and it was quite the microwaving feat to get it into liquid form, which made the dough wetter than I think it should’ve been.
Vegan Jam Thumbprint Cookies
Adapted from Vanilla-Rooibos Fig Newtons
Yield: ~16 small cookies
1 tablespoon chia seeds
3 tablespoons almond milk
1 cup rolled or instant oats, or oat flour (alternative: 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour + 2 tablespoons almond meal)
1/4 cup turbinado, coconut or date sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
3-4 tablespoons coconut oil, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Jam of your choice, for filling
Preheat oven to 350. Combine chia seeds and almond milk; set aside to set for at least five minutes.
Blend the oats in a food processor to make a rough flour. Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pulse to mix. Next, add the coconut oil, chia mixture, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Pulse to mix until the mixture forms a ball. Roll out one tablespoon-sized balls of dough and place on an ungreased cookie sheet or a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 14-20 minutes (less for a chewier cookie, more for a dryer, sandier cookie). Once you remove the cookies from the oven, take a spoon and gently press thumb-sized indentations into the center of each cookie while still warm. Once cool, fill each indentation with a dollop of jam.
These cookies will keep in an airtight container for about two days. They soften quickly, so if you plan to keep them for longer than 2 days (good luck with that!), store in the fridge.