Saturday, January 15, 2011
Fragrant Vegan Cookies from a Buddhist monastery Tassajara
"Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is a Buddhist temple located near San Francisco. Among other things, it is known for its healthy gourmet cuisine. Recently published cookbook "Tassajara Cookbook" by Carla Oliveira is about with the part of Tassajara’s kitchen which is the most popular - recipes for snacks, picnics & appetizers.
These cookies are like the usual vegan oat cookies, but in addition to not containing eggs or dairy products, they are made with many spices, pepper among others. These cookies are packed with energy, so they make excellent breakfast or dessert for packed lunch. I tried several recipes for cookies in which the eggs and butter are replaced by a banana, but this is by far my favorites. I think they differ from other healthy cookies by a large amount of spices and the addition of dark chocolate, though only ½ cup of this otherwise rather large amount of cookies. They are very simple to prepare.
These cookies are becoming my favorite routine - when the kids fall asleep and after my evening yoga session, I relax with one of the cookies and a cup of Ayurvedic tea. I convinced myself that great amount of these healthy spices will scare away all the viruses from me and so far it works for me. Maybe it can do a miracle to you too!
Let me finish this introduction with a quote from Tassajara Cookbook: "When you cook, you are not just working on food, you are working on yourself, you are working on others." Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
3 cups oats
1 cup whole meal flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (my addition)
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1 banana, pureed in food processor
Stevia sweetener, 24 servings* (or ½ cup brown sugar or other sweetener)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (olive, coconut or sunflower)
Up to 1 cup soy milk (coconut or rice milk)
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
¾ cup raisins
½ cup dark chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix all wet ingredients and half of the milk and add them to the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. If necessary, add remaining milk, but make sure you do not make it too liquid *.
Scoop tablespoon-sized portions on greased baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. The original recipe says that if you want a softer cookie, bake 8 - 10 minutes, and for more crisp cookies 16-20 minutes, but I find it perfect baked for 15 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack and store in airtight containers.
I find it impossible to give a right amount of spices that will suit everyone. I reduced the amount of pepper and cumin and add cardamom. Feel free to experiment with your favorite of spices.
* My cookies turned out too soft the first time, I suspect that the banana was very large. So I added that the milk should be added gradually, just as much as necessary for the mixture form into dough.
* I used stevia powder that comes in packaging with applicator. One serving equals 1 teaspoon of sugar. So I just came to the conclusion that since the recipe asked for 1/2 cup of sugar (120 ml) I have substituted it with 24 servings of stevia (1 teaspoon = 5 ml, 1/2 cup = 120 ml, 120 : 5 = 24). Depending on the type of stevia you use (in dry or liquid form), you'll see how it is used. If you use stevia for the first time keep in mind that it is 30 times sweeter than sugar, and in this recipe it is good to dissolve it in milk to make sure that they will be evenly distributed throughout the dough. Feel free to taste the dough and sweeten it gradually to prevent excessive sweetness.