I think the worst part of my food allergies (dairy, tree nuts, peanuts) is the HUGE damper it puts on dessert eating at dinner parties and holidays. Not only is it a total bummer to turn down homemade birthday cake, I have to deal with the apologetic host.
“I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize you could not eat insert delicious confection here. How about this? Or this? Or this?”
I watch in horror as the host opens his pantry and begins to present me with other sweets that I still can’t eat. It is a total bummer for my palate and always an embarrassment for my friend.
Not one to sit around and mope forever, I have started to dabble in vegan and nut-free baking as a way to avoid these embarrassing moments. My new response to a dinner party invite is “Sure I’ll come to dinner! And I’ll bring dessert!” And so far not one of my hosts has groaned and said, “Not another insert name of allergy/fun-free food here!”
This weekend Bird and I joined two of our very dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Cook, for a dinner and a few rousing rounds of Wii sports. Dining with the Cooks is always delightful as they both suffer from food intolerances and a particular palate. This weekend I whipped out my new cookbook Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and tested the Sweet Wine Biscuits with Sesame recipe. I chose this recipe for several reasons:
1. The allergy-free property
2. The fact that it used both port wine and sesame seeds
3. The reviews it got online
4. And because I knew the Cooks in particular would appreciate this sweet and savory alternative to cake.
My first attempt was less than successful – the recipe called for 1/2 cup of port, 1/2 cup of olive oil and only 1 2/3 cups of flour. I’m not much of a baker, but even I could tell there was an issue – this was not making a dough so much as a thick batter. I continued to follow the directions and covered the bowl with plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge, thinking maybe the batter just needed some cold timeout in order to firm up and form a proper dough. 60 minutes later it had turned from a warm bowl of sticky batter to a cold bowl of sticky batter – nothing near what it would take to roll cookies.
And so I consulted the great interwebs where I found no notes from other bakers suffering the same cookie mess. After a small amount of huffing and scratching my head I decided human error must be to blame and tried again only to have the same results. It appears there is a mistake in my book or some trick to vegan cookies that I am not aware of. This time I kept adding flour, 1/8 of a cup at a time. Unfortunately I was not counting so I’m not sure how much I added but I do know it was a pretty decent amount. Eventually I ended up with the kind of cookie dough I remember rolling into balls as a child. Satisfied, I chilled it, rolled it and baked it and lo and behold what amazing cookies it produced!
They were delicate, sweet and savory, featured a delightful golden crumb and paired fantastically with a glass of Our Daily Red organic wine. I’m ashamed to admit this, but there were no cookies left by the end of the evening! In fact, we were so pleased with these little morsels that they have been added to my “Christmas Dinner” menu! All of this despite the small fiasco several hours prior, Yes, the cookies were that awesome.
Has anyone else tried this recipe? Any other issues with the dry to liquid ratio? Is there a trick I’m not aware of? Tips would be much appreciated!