March 8, 2012

Oil is a butterless baker's best friend

Tonight, I had the pleasure of discovering that it is possible to bake cookies that are both chewy and delicious, even if you have nary an ounce of butter in the house.

I'll always remember an episode of Paula Deen where she confesses that she feels nervous whenever she has less than a pound of butter in the fridge. So funny. That's exactly how my sister and I feel about eggs — when the carton dwindles down to the last two or three, we get a little uneasy.

It's good to have a few go-to recipes when you're out of staples. Out of flour? You could whip up a flourless chocolate cake or some peanut butter cookies. Out of eggs? Make this eggless carrot cake. Out of butter, but craving cookies? I used to turn to these no-butter snickerdoodles, but as of now, I have another I-can't-believe-it's-not-butter favorite.

I love those snickerdoodles to death, but they're so crunchy that I always thought that it was simply impossible to achieve a truly chewy texture in cookies made with oil rather than butter.

As of one hour ago, I'm happy to report that I was wrong. Not only are these cookies chewy, but they're also delicious. I even added some fresh cracked black pepper and a dash of nutmeg to the recipe to spice things up, literally. They are just as good, if not better, than those giant ginger cookies I can't resist buying at the Union Square Greenmarket every weekend. Those babies may be huge, but they cost $3.00 apiece! Pretty steep, if you ask me. This recipe makes about 20 mid-sized cookies, and you can whip them up in about 30 minutes tops, from start to finish(ed-in-your-mouth). Not a bad use of time if you're a cookie monster like me. Recipe follows...but first, a bit of "cookie" (or if you prefer British speak, "biscuit") lit:
"Got any grub?"
Before I could answer she plunged her free hand into my pockets, first left, then right, and triumphantly retrieved the chocolate biscuits. "My favorites. Come on. Let's dump your coat and you can start in the kitchen. I hope you're not a whiner."
--The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Margot Livesey
Ooh, I'd be so mad at that girl for taking my chocolate biscuits. What kind of person does that?

Chewy No-Butter Ginger Cookies
2/3 c. canola oil (a little less is better)
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 c. molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 dash nutmeg
a few turns of black pepper
1/3 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Mix all ingredients until well combined, and roll into 1.5 inch balls. Roll each ball in the sugar and place on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Flatten each cookie slightly with the palm of your hand. This recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies. Bake for 9 or 10 minutes, if you want them to be chewy. Remember, it's better to underbake than overbake.


amanda said...

Yum! These were delicious!

You won't believe this Alaska Fishing Lodge said...

I love Jane Eyre so I love this re-telling of it. The author has captured the spirit of Jane in the spirit of Gemma.