Chocolate Chip Peppermint Cookies

As promised in my last post, peppermint cookies are here! When I originally conceived this recipe—a holiday take on my classic chip cookies—I imagined it would come together with candy canes to really signify the spirit of the season. I was willing to incorporate an ingredient so heavily processed because I was including only a small amount of it…and I love candy canes. 🙂 The more I thought about it, however, I realized that there was a way I could get a purer peppermint flavor in my cookies, free of Red #40 and refined sugars.

Here you see my peppermint plant (I also grow spearmint). What better place to start with obtaining a peppermint flavor than with the plant itself?! Peppermint is truly a super food. Most notably, peppermint can relieve indigestion. The plant’s oil is even sold on its own for this and other medicinal purposes.

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I figured I would just throw the leaves right into my cookies, making these treats the ultimate post-dinner dessert: Help soothe your upset tummy after that filling holiday meal and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time. Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE:  CHIP COOKIES

Makes 24-30 small cookies

  • 1 ½ cups flour –> I’m using whole wheat.
  • ¾ cup unsweetened plant milk –> I’m using ½ cup oat.*
  • 2/3 cup sweetener –> I’m using turbinado sugar.
  • ½ cup oil or nut/seed butter –> I’m using coconut oil (room temperature, not melted).
  • 2 tbsps flax or chia seeds –> I’m using flax.
  • ½-1 tsp extract (depending on flavor intensity) –> I’m using 1 tsp homemade vanilla extract.
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 2/3 cup chips –> I’m using 1/3 cup mini-semi-sweet chocolate chips (vegan) and 1/3 cup packed peppermint leaves.

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*Because they are raw plants, the peppermint leaves themselves contain additional moisture, so I am using less milk to ensure that the dough is the right consistency.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Puree the mint leaves and milk in the blender and set aside.

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With an electric hand mixer, cream together the coconut oil, extract, and sugar. Add the dry ingredients and stir by hand to combine. Stir in the mint milk and finally, the chocolate chips.

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Grease 2-3 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.  Place heaping spoonfuls of cookie dough into your palm and form a loose ball (doesn’t need to be perfect). Space approximately a 1.5 inches apart. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until the cookie edges are slightly golden brown.

 

 

 

 

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Plant-Based Entertaining for Everyone

I have many times had friends or family over for dinner and prepared an entirely vegan meal with great success. This was only my second time, however, throwing a large party with an extensive plant-based menu that needed to please guests all of all ages and diets. In attendance, I had several vegetarians, one gluten-free eater, and a whole bunch of standard omnivores.

I tried first, to think of foods that it seems everyone likes to eat: fruit, chips, and sweets. Then I thought about how I could make all of those items vegan (and some gluten-free, too), but tasty enough that my guests would never know it…or at least never miss the animal product varieties.

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Here’s what I served:

Chocolate peanut butter truffles: A play on my power ball formula, I used extra cocoa powder and rolled them in unsweetened shredded coconut. Guests said that they were delicious and rich: exactly what I was going for with a truffle!

Mini-fruit kabobs with cinnamon coconut whipped cream: As you know, I’ve been recently delighted to make and try coconut whipped cream in conjunction with my nice cream formula. I added ground cinnamon to this batch – yum!

Mini-chocolate chip cookies: A variation of my chip cookie formula, these were tasty, but a bit crumbly. I was surprised since I’ve made them many times before. Maybe my preggo brain forgot an ingredient?! Very possible. 🙂

Tahini dip: My creamy dressing formula kept extra thick for dipping. It was a crowd favorite.

Roasted fennel hummus: My hummus formula with fennel as the star vegetable was a gamble…and I won (or, I should say, my guests won)!

Lemon raspberry cashew mousse: Remember that failed attempt at vegan cheesecake turned mousse? I served these delightful little cups at my party and several people asked me for the recipe. I’d say they worked out ok after all.

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In addition to fresh fruit, I also served raw veggies, organic blue corn tortilla chips, and two different types of pretzels for dipping. I adorned the tables with small bowls of trail mix for extra munching and had beer and white sangria flowing. Guests seemed happy and full.

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As I mentioned when I threw Nolan’s second birthday party, I’m done serving food that I no longer regularly eat. I hate the idea of potential meat and dairy-based leftovers that threaten to throw me off the wagon (I don’t waste food, ya’ll). Stick to your guns in designing the menu for a party. Remember, guests don’t have to eat your food, but they would definitely be missing out if they didn’t!

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In case you were wondering, the party was a diaper party for Baby #2. Since it isn’t customary to throw a second shower, I wanted to have a more laidback celebration for our family’s final installment. Offering food, booze, and a good time in exchange for diapers was a win-win for all involved…and baby is stocked up for the first year or more of his/her life. Just an idea if you’re looking for a fun and easy way to celebrate a second baby or beyond. 🙂

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Classic Chip Cookies

Notice that I didn’t title this post chocolate chip cookies?  That’s because the chip concept—a true Fresh Formula—lends itself to way more than just chocolate.  “Chips” can also include such yumminess as chopped nuts, seeds, dried fruit, candy, and even, shredded veggies (a la carrot cake, etc.).  Obviously, some choices are healthier than others.

Today, I’m making a classic chip cookie, inspired by a recipe from Thug Kitchen (you know I love these two vegan chefs!).  I’ve taken their chocolate chip almond butter cookie recipe and adapted it to a formula; not everyone likes chocolate, some people have nut allergies, etc.  You could even make these cookies gluten-free.

For my chips, I’m using dark chocolate covered ginger.  Travis bought me a bag of these ginger treats at the beginning of my pregnancy.  Ginger aids with nausea, just FYI.  🙂  Although tasty, they were the size of large malted milk balls; that’s just too much ginger for me to pop into my mouth at once.  I’ve been hanging on to them in hopes of thinking of some other way to use them.  So, I decided to chop them up and use them in lieu of traditional semi-sweet chocolate chips.

DSC_2083The “egg” in this formula is made possible with ground flax seeds, although chia will likely work as well.  I haven’t tried that, but let me know if you do!

I did, however, make two batches of my new formula, trying different mixing methods with the exact same ingredients.  The first time I made these cookies, I used an electric hand mixer to incorporate every single ingredient except the chips, which I stirred in by hand.  The result was a deliciously smooth batter that made for thin, crisp cookies.  The second time, I mixed the dough by hand, using the electric hand mixer only after all ingredients except the chips were mixed by hand, just to smooth it out a little.  What resulted was a slightly lumpier dough and fluffier cookie.

I also think that the density of the dough would differ if nut/seed butter were used in place of oil.  Experiment until you get the cookie texture that you prefer.  No matter what, these vegan delights promise to be delicious.  Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE:  CHIP COOKIES

Makes 24-30 small cookies

  • 1 ½ cups flour –> I’m using whole wheat.
  • ¾ cup unsweetened plant milk –> I’m using almond.
  • 2/3 cup sweetener –> I’m using turbinado sugar.*
  • ½ cup oil or nut/seed butter –> I’m using coconut oil.
  • 2 tbsps flax or chia seeds –> I’m using flax.
  • ½-1 tsp extract (depending on flavor intensity) –> I’m using 1.5 tsps homemade vanilla extract.**
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 2/3 cup chips –> I’m using chopped dark chocolate covered ginger.

*See my cake formula for an explanation of this sweetener.

**Pictured below is the vessel that I use to bottle homemade extracts (another post, another day).

DSC_2084Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients, mixing as you go.  Lastly, stir in your chips.  Grease 2-3 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.  Place heaping spoonfuls of cookie dough approximately a 1.5 inches apart.

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Bake 15-18 minutes, or until the cookie edges are slightly golden brown.

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