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 ┬ásalt
  • 1 cup Earth Balance
  • 1 cup ┬ásugar
  • 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!

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Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, so it will come as no surprise that I often eat it for all three meals, as well as the ones in between. My go-to is easy and delicious sunny side up eggs, but my boyfriend has reignited my love for pancakes (for lunch) and waffles for dinner- preferably with a glass of red!

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  My hometown, the City of Trees and Ph. Ds, Claremont, CA. Blowing bubbles in the park (my dog loves chasing them), vegan goodies from my favorite bakery in front of City Hall, hiking in the foothills, a glass of wine at one of my favorite restaurants. Some have been instagramed… Can you tell which??

Home. More than a place – a feeling, an experience, a comfort.

In case you’re curious about this pictures:

Backyard – roses and Christmas lights year round
French Press coffee and eggs over easy
Colorful kitchen
Heart-shaped coffee cubes
California hillside
Reading with the pups
Nothing says home like Harry Potter, a cello, and your friends passed out in your living room
The golden hillsides of Los Olivos
My dresser, featuring my cheesegrater earring tree and flowers from my yard
Nico and Indy like to take over my bed
Nothing says home quite like a glass of wine and sweet potato fries in the backyard

This is the first spring in three years that I am not planning an exciting summer adventure. My adult brain is stepping in and reminding me that I actually don’t have the funds to spend another summer galavanting working in Europe, as much as I would love to. So, although I know this is the logical step to take, and as much as I know there are fun and incredible things I can do in California this summer, I’m already overcome with nostalgia for my Swiss mountain home, and for the freedom of traveling.

38661_10150240076045724_7492892_nThere is a unique type of nostalgia for traveling. Somehow, it’s a different flavor from College Nostalgia, High School Nostalgia, and even Childhood Nostalgia. While traveling, the identity you find, craft, and receive is so different from all others. It’s the ultimate freedom- all you have is yourself and your suitcase, and all that truly matters is your passport. I can’t help but liken the experience of travel to nighttime skinny dipping- you get to experience all the joy and freedom without ever worrying that your companions will notice or care that you’re not actually wearing a bathing suit.

The relationships you form are short-lived, so, in a way, you get to be yourself more completely than other moments. You can live to greater extremes, because you’re not so concerned with impressing others, with forming positive impressions for the “future,” because all that exists is the present.

I look back on friendships forged overseas, and they almost seem more genuine than those I have at “home” because they are so simple, and based so lightly upon the mutual fact of existence. Every day, every conversation, every bite you take, is a moment you can never have again, so every second counts. You can’t help but fall in love with every city you find, because, despite its imperfections, you may never be there again, and seeing the flaws brings you nothing.

394390_3969868718538_275028618_nI suppose that what I’m nostalgic for is this extreme living, loving, learning. As much fun as it is to be a tourist in your own town, there’s no way to surround yourself with the same community of travelers and diversity that one has overseas, there’s no way to step straight into a world and a reality vastly different from your own. You can’t help but feel that someone has turned the lights on during your nightswim. Yes, the philosophies can be carried forward, the random encounters and new experiences, but LA smog is somehow far less bearable than the pollution of Beirut, and the rolling brown hills of California will never quite compare to the extreme craggy green of the Alps. I miss the close hot humidity and musically unending cacophony of Beirut, the soft green fog of Swiss mornings, the still, stifling heat of Rome, the low-hanging grey of London, and all the promise that foreign mornings hold.