Chocolate Chip Cookies + Poker Game= Yummy

So... poker. My fiance loves it to bits, and I enjoy the game too. We try to have weekly or bi-weekly games at our apartment, which is always fun, since living in city makes time with friends limited, and these games always give us all a chance to reconnect. What I love about these gatherings the most is the different people who come to each one- newcomers who I'm meeting for the first time, good friends from college or life in the city, and friends I haven't seen in a while.

A new tradition I've slowly begun since the summer is using these poker gatherings to test out some new dessert recipes (no matter whether I feel good about the result, people always seem to think it's yummy, so why not?). So far, I've tried Berry Crisp, Vanilla Cake, and Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Pudding. But last night presented an unexpected winner amongst these poker players: a good old childhood classic, Chocolate Chip Cookies. Who knew?

I had found the recipe out of an awesome cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz called Vegan with a Vengeance. Isa is very funny, down to earth, and has super, easy to follow recipes. I also love her stories- she will randomly interject recipes with anecdotes about childhood and her upbringing in the city.

The recipe called for molasses, which as it turns out, gives the cookie a deep, thick, earthy flavor. The molasses also caused some happy responses like "I'm glad they're not too sweet" and "Those were vegan?", which in turn made this little amateur baker very happy indeed.

My favorite moments of the night were when I was in my kitchen messily preparing the recipe. People would come in during poker breaks, we'd have a quick chat about the yummy cookie scent in the room, and then it would get a bit deeper. A few new friends talked to me about my beginning a vegan diet- What's it like? Why did I decide to try it? Some even told me about certain times in their life when they practiced veganism or vegetarianism. I always love a good open chat about vegan eating, and I especially love it when two people with opposing eating styles can walk away learning something new about food.

It's taken me a long time to learn how to be open, welcoming, and honest about eating vegan, and it's always a comfort meeting people who are accepting of it and open themselves, no matter where they stand on the issue.

Oh yeah. The recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
(from her cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance)
Makes 3 Dozen Cookies
"There's nothing healthy about these. I feel like I have to get that out of the way because sometimes people think vegan translates into healthy and although I usually try to make my cookies a little bit more healthy than your average cookie, I didn't even bother here. This cookie was made for the sole purpose of proving to someone I work with that my vegan cookies were just as good as his unvegan ones, and it worked!"
(p. 193, Vegan with a Vengeance)

1 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose (unbleached) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet vegan chocolate chips (she loves Tropical Source ones)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together the margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add the molasses and vanilla. Add the flour and baking soda, and salt, and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls spaced a little over 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until ever so slightly browned. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to the cooling rack.


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