Homemade cookies or biscuits as we call them here in New Zealand (not to be confused with American biscuits which we call scones) are a welcome sight in our baking “tins”. I say “tins” as baking containers doesn’t conjure up the same image but, although I have three or four actual tins, I store baking in airtight plastic (yes, BPA-free) containers. I prefer clear transparent containers so the kids don’t lift a corner of each to see what is inside. Invariably they don’t reseal the container leaving the contents to soften unless I come along behind them pushing down the corners and clasps. I think that is my life long task along with closing kitchen drawers (and The Anster’s is to turn off the lights in all the empty rooms).
So back to the biscuits – many biscuit (cookie) recipes begin with cream the butter & sugar which is absolutely fine if you don’t have an aversion to dairy products. I like baking with butter but I don’t like the reaction I get from Miss M and she doesn’t like to reaction she gets from consuming butter. I could substitute the butter with margarine but margarine is a swear word in our house. I do buy dairy-free spread made with olive oil for Miss M so she can enjoy toast with “butter” and jam but I try not to use that too much in baking unless I absolutely cannot get around it.
The next best thing is to find recipes that require the butter to be melted so I can swap out the butter for oil & non-dairy milk. I have found I get the best results when I use 75% neutral-tasting oil (I use rice bran oil) and 25% non-dairy milk (which is what ever milk is in the fridge at the time: almond, coconut, rice, oat or soy).
When deciding to bake biscuits the first thing I look at is, if there is butter, what method is required: creaming (discard that recipe) or melting (worth a second look). I have been experimenting with using my 75/25 butter substitute in recipes traditionally requiring the creaming method but that is another post for another day.
On one of my second-hand/charity shop scouring trips I came across Cookie Magic: Cholesterol Free & High Fibre Recipes by Diana Linfoot for the huge price of $1.00. A quick look through the book and I found a number of recipes requiring the sugar and margarine (the author says never use butter and margarine gives a better result than oil but I am ignoring that little piece of advice as this book was produced 26 years ago and butter had an undeserved bad reputation way back then). I have never used margarine in baking and always substitute it with butter – such a rebel! But back to the blending of sugar and fats – this method will work perfectly well with sugar and my 75/25 butter substitute mix which opens up a whole lot of interesting recipes to play around with. Just over half the recipes are either blend or melt or completely dairy-free however some of the recipes have five or six variations so that leaves plenty of scope for some delicious cookie creations/adaptations. The only one I have discarded completely is the Savoury Cheese Nibbles. They do sound and look very good but cheese is kind of tricky to substitute. Maybe I’ll make them anyway and put my sunglasses on to shield me from the black looks Miss M sends my way.
Here is the first cookie recipe I converted to dairy-free and is a resounding success with all four of the bottomless-pits commonly known as teenagers that reside in our house. My changes were to swap out the margarine for oil & non-dairy milk, substitute the dates for chocolate chips, substitute self-raising flour for standard flour & baking powder (I have nothing against self-raising flour but I already have large containers of high-grade, standard and wholemeal flour as well as numerous smaller jars of coconut, oat, sorghum, quinoa, and rice flours etc etc and my-bursting-at-the-seems-pantry has the draw the line somewhere) and I used Weetbix crumbs as I have a large jar that I top up each time a box of Weetbix is consumed (which sometimes seems like every second day). None of the BLP (bottom-less pits) like Weetbix crumbs (dust) for breakfast but are quite happy to eat it when incorporated into cookies & cake which is great for the zero waste movement. On that note how do they measure how much food each household throws away each year? Do they dig through our rubbish? And what about the food I discard from our fridge to donate to our chickens – is that considered “thrown away”?