Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cape Breton Molasses Cookies (vegan)

Rich with molasses & cinnamon, these vegan Cape Breton Cookies are crispy on the outside, dense and chewy in the middle. A great addition to your Christmas platter.

Each year when Christmas approaches, I tend to get out all of my little sentimental kind of cookbooks. You know the ones? Collections of recipes put together by church groups and other organizations of women who use their husbands' names, like "Mrs. Gerald Regan." The directions for these recipes are sometimes incomplete. Often two or more recipes are basically the same, with ingredients listed in a different order. But I just love the idea that these women got together to publish their favourite family recipes for some cause near and dear to them.

This week I took out my copy of Cape Breton Squares and Cookies by the Des Barres Chapter of the Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire (I.O.D.E.), Sydney, Nova Scotia. This precious cookbook consists of 21 pages of typed recipes, stapled together with a soft, mustard-colour cover. The recipes are presented alphabetically.

Looking for a simple cookie recipe to veganize, I stopped at the recipe simply titled, Cape Breton Cookies. Cape Breton Island is pretty much my favourite place on earth. Both of my parents were born and raised there and we have been back to visit many times over the years. When I was a kid, we drove there from Ontario pulling a pop-up camper behind our station wagon.

If you aren't familiar with it, Cape Breton is the island at the top of the province of Nova Scotia here in Canada. Visit once and you won't forget it. Cross the Canso Causeway from the mainland and head up the Cabot Trail to the west. You'll pass Port Hood, where we like to rent a cottage some summers, and travel along the breathtaking coastline to the northern point of the island, where you can watch whales from a rugged mountain perch.

Cape Breton is where my parents were married among friends and family, Mom wearing a mauve mini-dress. She wrote on the cover of Cape Breton Squares and Cookies, "Bought in Sydney, Jan./1970 on our honeymoon." Always thinking about food, that one. Just like her daughter.

The original Cape Breton Cookies recipe calls for an egg and shortening. I've used a ground flax "egg" as a substitute and replaced the shortening with vegan margarine. I also reduced the amount of oats. Of course, when making substitutions you never know if your recipe is going to turn out. Thankfully, my vegan Cape Breton Cookies came out beautifully.

These cookies get their flavour and colour from the addition of blackstrap molasses and cinnamon. They are crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. I wasn't sure if my kids would like them, because they hint at "healthy" with their obvious oats, raisins and their rich molasses colouring.

I was happily surprised to find that they loved them...and then a bit dismayed when my daughter went for her fourth cookie in a row (only because I wanted to save them for myself!).

These Cape Breton Cookies are simple to make. The ingredients are easy to find and there aren't that many ingredients. I think these would be lovely to add to a Christmas sweets platter. They provide a nice contrast to lighter cookies, such as sugar cookies and shortbread. I'm looking forward to veganizing more recipes from Cape Breton Squares and Cookies. Cheery Cherry Bars perhaps?

Do you have any sentimental cookbooks? Have you been to Cape Breton?

I can't believe they actually have this book on Amazon:

Cape Breton Cookies (vegan)

by Joann MacDonald
Cook Time: 12 to 15 minutes
Keywords: dessert vegan
Ingredients (20 cookies)
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • ¼ cup melted vegan margarine
  • ¼ cup organic sugar
  • 2 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1 cup light spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup quick rolled oats
  • ¼ cup raisins

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together ground flax and water. Let the mixture set for 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, add melted margarine, sugar, molasses and flax mixture. With an electric mixer, beat for about a minute until combined.
In a medium bowl, add flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir until mixed.
Add dry mixture to wet and stir together.
Stir in oats and raisins. The mixture will be stiff. Help it along with your hands to save time.
Drop by tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets about an inch apart. Press down lightly.
Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, until slightly browned.

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  1. Well, you know what I'm going to say! I love those cookbooks and have several - from Judique, Port Hood and Inverness. I think Cape Breton is the best place on earth and I'm obsessed with those molasses cookies. I don't even eat sweets but I eat those cookies the whole time I'm there and then bring some home. Happy Holidays to you and your family! xoMary

    1. I certainly know you've been to Cape Breton, haha! A lot more recently than I have too. :) And I'm not surprised you've collected these kind of cookbooks. Aren't they darling? So weird you don't eat sweets. ;) I don't remember buying molasses cookies in NS. I was always about the date squares and tea biscuits. Yum. Happy holidays to you and yours too, Mary. xo Jo

  2. Hi Joann,

    These look really yummy! What do you use for vegan margarine? Just curious.

    1. Thanks Gabriela! I like Earth Balance but if I'm budgeting I'll use Becel vegan. ;)

  3. I would love these with some almond milk :)

    I wish you a very merry Christmas :)

    1. That sounds like a good plan Keith!

      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too! I seem to recall this might be your favourite time of year! ;)