I first went vegan in college. I had a lot of friends who were also vegan, so I learned a lot about cooking by observing them. Making dinner was easy. Most of the time I just wanted salad, soup, or a stir-fry anyways. But I didn't really know much about baking. I remember browsing lots of "easy, vegan recipe" type pamphlets and learning about substituting eggs with apple sauce or mashed bananas. I didn't really think about it too much past that. Until there was a boy coming over. One that I wanted to impress. So I decided to make a batch of the infamous Neiman Marcus cookies, but vegan. These were the cookies I grew up. One of the only recipes that I remember my mother making from scratch frequently. I knew they were good enough to woo a boy.
What I didn't know then was that eggs serve a lot of purposes in baking. And that mashed bananas and applesauce don't generally work very well for cookies, where eggs generally bind things instead of just adding moisture (Side note: I did study biochemistry, I should have realized that it applied to my food the same way it did in my textbooks). I remember making the dough and thinking that it tasted delicious out of the bowl. I scooped them and put the trays in the oven. I ran upstairs to check my outfit for the fifteenth time. I came back down when the timer went off to find a soft mess. The cookies didn't really bake for the most part. The edges were a little firm, but you couldn't pick them up off the tray without them falling into pieces. Inedible, but at least the house smelled like fresh baked cookies instead of Cher's dilemma a la Clueless.
After my attempt went so badly, Neiman Marcus cookies sort of slipped out of my mind. I have made many cookies since then. Chocolate chip, sugar, thumbprint, pignoli… I didn't think those oatmeal chocolate chip cookies again until I saw this recipe for Vegan Marcus Cookies on Namely Marly. I needed to redeem my self of that terrible cookie failure right then and there. I couldn't wait until I had gone to the grocery store to buy the rest of the ingredients I needed, so I switched things out & halved the recipe to boot . They turned out so well. I am so happy she reminded me of that silly night and how much I have learned since then. You should make her recipe. I will let you know what tweaks I made, since my cookies look a little different than hers. Since I had run out, I replaced the corn starch with potato starch. I omitted the nuts (I just can't get behind pieces of nuts inside my cookies) and pared down the chocolate a little to make them a tad less sweet. I also used more grated chocolate than chocolate chips, since I had a small block of fancy chocolate in the cabinet for far too long.
Is there a recipe that has defeated you before that you have recently revisited or are planning to whip into shape soon? I'm always curious what confounds people. I had a friend recently tell me that her first cheesecake somehow exploded and potentially caught fire in the oven. But I know she is going to remedy that soon. I'm always stumped by the simple things, like perfect pudding & not-to-sweet vanilla buttercream. Here's to mastering it all, one recipe at a time.