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Food is one of those rare and unique artforms which also serves a purpose. It draws people together, warms them up, and keeps them satisfied. Sharing a great meal can be a magical, transporting experience.

chewy-chocolate-chip-cookies

That said, I haven’t been one to make or share magical, transporting meals lately. Between 18 units of classes, an internship, my dog and a fledgling social life, cooking is one thing which falls by the wayside. The fact that I live in an “efficiency studio” (i.e., share a kitchen with everyone else in my building) doesn’t exactly encourage culinary artistry either.

In the few months that I’ve lived here, however, I have learned a thing or two about working with what you have, and creating something delicious out of nearly nothing, in almost no time – all with the help of the microwave. It may not be the artisanal, home-made goat cheese and peasant bread which Amy and I made last year, but it’s a heck of a lot better than ramen:

Single-serving cookie in a jar:

Ingredients:

1 T butter/butter substitute
2 T brown sugar
Vanilla
Salt
Cinnamon
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup flour
Chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a cup, bowl or jar from which you will eat, and mix in the brown sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Personally, I like my sweets a little saltier, so I am rather generous with the salt. Mix in the egg yolk and flour, a pinch (and I mean a tiny pinch!) of baking soda if you want some volume, and the chocolate chips. The original recipe I saw called for a mere 2 T of chocolate chips, but I am quite generous with them.

Once all ingredients are combined, pop back in the microwave and heat for another 30-60 seconds. Mine is usually perfect at around 50 seconds since I like the chocolate chips to be gooey. Remove from the microwave, and enjoy!

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Last week, I saw a recipe for a vegan chocolate milkshake that I’m still dying to try! I was inspired, and decided to try a slightly different version that included some ingredients I had on hand – an avocado, rather than banana!

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Ingredients:

– 1 avocado

– 2 cups chocolate almond milk

– agave nectar to taste

-cocoa powder

– ice

Blend all ingredients. The shake should become thick and frothy, and makes enough for two.

IMG_0352Unlike a traditional milkshake, this one has a distinctly “avocado” aftertaste, which I think could be eliminated by adding more cocoa powder, or perhaps another fruit. Regardless, it is a delicious, satisfying, and quite healthy snack and dessert

If your local mall is anything like mine, it probably features one of those permanent chocolate chip cookie stalls that makes these delectable cookies in all shapes and sizes, and will write anything on them in frosting. I have lovely memories of these cookies – they usually meant Valentines’ Day, or Prom, or Tuesday, or something else equally exciting and celebrate-able. However, since becoming lactose intolerant, store-bought cookies have far fewer exciting connotations, since all the butter and frosting has roughly the same amount of lactose as a brick of cheese; now, they just smell like immediate bloat and pain.

I have foraged on in my search of delightful baked goods, however, and have come up with the next best thing to the mall-made cookie cake: a homemade, vegan cookie cake! It’s absolutely amazing, and incredibly easy to make. I pulled the recipe from the Daily Garnish, and adapted it for size and bake time.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp  salt
  • 1 cup Earth Balance
  • 1 cup  sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 medium ripe bananas (if not ripe enough, pop it into the microwave, skin-on; when it starts to form brown patches, it’s done!)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp non-dairy milk
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

This recipe is doubled; although I’m glad I doubled it, there was a significant amount of leftover dough. I also adapted it (mainly, because I like a generous amount of chocolate chips and didn’t have any whole wheat flour on hand), and it’s always turned out deliciously. While I find that most vegan treats have a distinctly earthy taste, these cookies retain their gooey-ness; you would hardly know that they don’t have any butter or eggs in them.

Rather than baking it immediately, I let the batter sit overnight. This was mostly for convenience and laziness – I had to scoot off to work and decided it would be better if I focused on it the next day. Rather than baking at 375 for 10-15 minutes, I spread the cookie on a pizza pan and cooked it at 300 for about 32 minutes. The result was a flawless – since the dough was so chilled, it did not spread or flatten, and baked to a nice thickness.

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We waited until it was cool and frosted it with a vegan frosting (2 cups confectioners sugar, 1 cup Nature’s Balance, a splash of soymilk and vanilla), creating a perfectly doughy cookie cake! Bonus of this recipe: since there are no eggs, it can be as soft and doughy as you’d like!

Enjoy with a scoop of Trader Joe’s Soy Cream, or a glass of Vanilla Soy Milk!