Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The time for holiday cookies and candy and extravagant breakfasts that are actually dessert. The time for family and friends and hot chocolate and caroling. But also, time for taking extra care of those for whom this holiday season might not be so wonderful.

The Sweetest Season GraphicThis year I am participating in The Sweetest Season, benefitting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. As you may know, cancer is the #1 cause of death-by-disease for children in the U.S. In spite of this startling statistic and the 40,000 children currently battling cancer nationwide, less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s $4.6 billion federal budget goes to pediatric cancer research.

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that encourages people to raise funds for pediatric cancer research in the most delicious of ways: by making cookies and sharing them with friends and family. The goal is to raise funds to find a cure, one cookie at a time. Many supporters (called “Good Cookies”) choose to have bake sales or cookie swaps, but this year I’m teaming up with many fellow bloggers to post new cookie recipes and donate directly. If you’d like to learn more and/or make a charitable donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, click here.

I made my donation on Giving Tuesday, so now it’s time to talk about cookies–Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies, to be exact 😍😍😍

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Y’all, I’m just crazy about these ginger cookies. They’ve got all the flavor, chewy texture, and sparkly sugared edges you love, but without the gluten, eggs and dairy, so your gluten-free vegan friends can eat them without consequence. I love an inclusive recipe!

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}The base of these cookies is a jar of cashew butter. It gives the simple dough plenty of structure and a buttery, nutty undertone. Dark brown sugar and a couple of tablespoons of molasses keep the finished cookies soft and chewy, while ground ginger and cinnamon amp up that classic holiday cookie flavor!

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}As far as egg replacement goes, I am all about aquafaba these days. If you haven’t heard of this miracle of modern vegan baking, well, you’re in for a surprise and a treat.

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Aquafaba (literally translated “bean water”) is the liquid from cooking and/or canning chickpeas. As the beans cook, they release lots of proteins into the water, creating a nearly-flavorless, almost-gel-like liquid. This is the aquafaba.

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}As aquafaba can be whipped to stiff peaks, many bakers like to use it to make vegan meringue cookies, mousses, and macarons. I haven’t used aquafaba for any of those things (yet!), but I have used it in my Chipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus and Cornmeal Pancakes. <–try those!

If aquafaba isn’t your thing, you could use the “flax egg” mixture I use in my Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles, but know that there will be a difference in flavor from the flaxseed. If you’re not vegan, feel free to swap in one large egg. No matter which option you choose, your cookies will be delicious.

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}But enough about egg replacers! The dough for these Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies comes together quickly. After a short chill and a roll in granulated sugar, they’re ready to go in the oven. The cookies bake up in less than ten minutes, just until they’re soft in the centers and crisp and sparkly at the edges.

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}These little cookies are going to steal the show at your parties and cookie swaps, y’all. They look and taste just like the soft ginger cookies we all know and love–I bet that if I hadn’t just told you that these cookies are made from cashew butter and aquafaba, you wouldn’t even notice. And even if you do, the richness of the cashew butter, hits of molasses and spice, and chewy centers are nearly guaranteed to keep you coming back for more.Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free} 
makes about 3 dozen small cookies

1 16 ounce jar cashew butter
3 tablespoons aquafaba* (chickpea canning liquid)
2 tablespoons molasses (not blackstrap)
1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon baking powder

Coating:
1/3 cup granulated sugar

In a large mixing bowl, combine cashew butter, aquafaba, molasses, dark brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Use an electric mixer (or a silicone spatula and some elbow grease) to beat ingredients together until smooth. Add cornstarch and mix again. Cover dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Pour granulated sugar into a small bowl.

Remove dough from the refrigerator. Scoop dough in one tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Coat in granulated sugar and place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes, until puffed and golden at the edges. Let cool on the baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with any remaining dough.

Leftover cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

If you are not vegan, you may use one large egg (at room temperature) in place of the aquafaba. Proceed with the recipe as written.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry Compote

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteIt took me seven tries to get these pancakes right.

About a month before we left for Maine, I declared to my travel buddies, VJ and Adam, that I was going to make a a pancake recipe that we could all enjoy. They sort of smiled and nodded because I had clearly lost my mind–VJ is a gluten-free vegan and Adam is a bit of a picky eater, so this basically seemed impossible.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteNever one to let logic stop me, I set to work. I looked at my pancake recipes and a couple more from around the internet, and then I had six consecutive fails. Every problem pancakes could have, these had: too dry, too bland, too thin, too many ingredients, too stuck to the pan–you name it. I had one batch that was somewhere in the realm of “okay” and as vacation drew near I figured it could work in a pinch, but I was less than enthused about it. I’d crack the code one day, but it wasn’t going to be in time for this trip.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteBut then, there was cornbread. On the second night of vacation, we decided to grill out. Grilling is not my forte, so Adam took the lead there and I worked on side dishes. I threw out a few ideas to VJ; sautéed spinach was a definite winner, but she sort of lost her mind when I mentioned veganizing my already-gluten-free Southern-Style Cornbread. I had never attempted a vegan version of that recipe, but I figured it would be easy enough. I could swap almond milk soured with vinegar for buttermilk, use a few tablespoons of vegan margarine in place of butter, and I could crack open a can of chickpeas and use the aquafaba in place of the egg. It’s that last change that made that cornbread so good, and when VJ asked for my overhyped Cornmeal Pancakes last Wednesday morning, it’s that change that made a solidly “okay” recipe into one I’ll make again and again.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteHave you heard of aquafaba? It’s having a bit of a moment right now–it made The New York Times. If you’re in the dark about this miracle of modern baking, I’m sure you’re not alone. Literally translated, aquafaba means “bean water.” And that’s exactly what it is–the liquid from cooking (and canning) chickpeas. If you have a can of chickpeas (or any bean, actually) in your pantry, you have aquafaba in your house right now. Who knew?!

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteBefore you go clicking away from this blog forever, hear me out. I know using the cooking liquid from chickpeas in baking sounds absolutely bizarre, but it actually makes a lot of sense, scientifically speaking. Like eggs, aquafaba is super high in protein and very viscous; when whipped, it can even hold stiff peaks! You don’t need to break out your mixer for this recipe though–just three tablespoons of liquid aquafaba help these Cornmeal Pancakes to stay fluffy and keep them from being too crumbly. And since aquafaba doesn’t have a distinctive flavor like other vegan egg replacers (I’m looking at you, flaxseed), it doesn’t distract from the slightly sweet corn flavor 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻

These Cornmeal Pancakes, y’all. They’re light and fluffy with crispy edges and a rich corn flavor. Oh, and they’re beautiful too.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteYou could certainly serve them with butter (or vegan margarine) and maple syrup…

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry Compote…but I am all about this Blackberry Compote.
Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteIt only has four ingredients and takes less than ten minutes to prepare, and it’s basically like topping your pancakes with pie filling (but with much less sugar).

However you choose to serve these Cornmeal Pancakes, I hope they make your friends and family as happy as they made mine.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry Compote
Photo courtesy of Valancy Jane.
Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry Compote

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes about 12 pancakes

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk 
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup cornstarch 
1/4 cup granulated sugar 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons aquafaba (chickpea canning liquid)
1/3 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola), plus more for cooking
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Serving:
butter (vegan or regular)
pure maple syrup 
Blackberry Compote (recipe below)

In a liquid measuring cup, combine unsweetened almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit 5 minutes or until curdled.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add almond milk mixture, aquafaba, oil, and vanilla, and whisk until combined.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add batter to the pan in 1/4 cup increments, leaving space between pancakes. Let cook until the edges no longer look raw, about 2-3 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove to a plate. Repeat process with all remaining batter, adding oil to the pan as necessary.

Divide pancakes among serving plates. Top with butter, maple syrup, and/or Blackberry Compote. Serve immediately.

Blackberry Compote
makes about 2 cups

12 ounces fresh blackberries 
3 tablespoons granulated sugar 
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lime

In a small saucepan, combine blackberries, sugar, and cinnamon. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until a sauce forms (about 5 minutes). Use a potato masher to mash blackberries until the desired texture is reached. Bring to a boil for 1 minute before removing from heat. Stir in lime juice. Let cool completely.

Compote will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Cornmeal Pancakes with Blackberry Compote {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Chipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus & Homemade Pita Chips

Chipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus & Homemade Pita ChipsHello out there!

Sorry for the radio silence these last two weeks–I had a lot going on the last week of my vacation in Texas, and then caught a cold immediately after returning to NYC. Oy. I’m far from 100%, but I just *had* to get a new recipe on here before this week ended. And so, here we are.

I had more than my fill of heavy holiday food this year, so I’m taking a bit of a break from all the sugar this month. Don’t fret–I have about six new sweets lined up and ready to go for February 😊 Until then though, I’m planning to stay on the savory side.

Chipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus & Homemade Pita ChipsToday, I’m bringing you one of my favorite healthy snacks: Chipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus with Homemade Pita Chips. Oh, is this stuff good. The hummus is made with the usual suspects: chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste), garlic, lemon, and salt, in addition to sweet potato and chipotle chile powder. Its rich, lightly sweet, and smoky flavor is absolute heaven on crispy pita chips!

You can feel good about eating this hummus, too–in addition to being rich in vitamins and full of protein and fiber, it’s made without an excess of olive oil. Don’t get me wrong, I love olive oil, but I’ve found that I prefer it to be drizzled over the top rather than whirled into my hummus.

Chipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus & Homemade Pita ChipsChipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus & Homemade Pita ChipsChipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus & Homemade Pita ChipsFor years, I made hummus with oil. It was delicious, but any refrigerated leftovers became hard and crumbly. I don’t know about you, but I think hummus should be soft and luxurious. After seeing the method used on The Amateur Gourmet, I swapped olive oil for chickpea canning liquid (aka aquafaba), and the rest is history. Using the canning liquid instead of the usual olive oil means there is no hardened fat in my refrigerated leftover hummus, leaving it soft and smooth for days. And since olive oil is drizzled over the top before serving, there’s definitely no lack of flavor!

Chipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus & Homemade Pita ChipsChipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus & Homemade Pita ChipsChipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus is a great spread for sandwiches and dip for raw vegetables, but I love it on pita chips. You could, of course, use any of the excellent brands out there, but why not make your own? My homemade pita chips come together in a flash and require only three ingredients. Simply brush wedges of pita with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt, and bake for 12-15 minutes, until crisp. That’s it! Once they’re cool enough to handle, pair them with some hummus and enjoy 😊Chipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus & Homemade Pita Chips

Chipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus
makes about 2 cups

2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
1 15-ounce can low-sodium chickpeas (beans and liquid)
1 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400F. Stab sweet potatoes several times with a fork. Wrap sweet potatoes individually in foil. Bake directly on the rack for 45-60 minutes, until tender. Let cool until you can handle them. Slice sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the skins.

Open the can of chickpeas. Drain canning liquid into a small bowl, and reserve. Rinse chickpeas with water.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine sweet potato, chickpeas, minced garlic, tahini, lemon juice, chipotle powder, and salt. Add 6 tablespoons of the chickpea canning liquid. Process ingredients until smooth. Add more chickpea liquid by the tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached.

Remove hummus to a serving bowl. Serve at room temperature or cold with a drizzle of olive oil.

Chipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Homemade Pita Chips
makes 32 chips, about 3-4 servings

4 whole pitas (I used whole wheat)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Slice pitas into eighths. Arrange wedges in an even layer on prepared pan. Brush each wedge with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake 12-15 minutes, until crisp.

Let pita chips cool until they can be handled, 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Pita chips will keep in an airtight container at room temperature.