Cooking Notes: Baking with Dairy-Free/Vegan Margarine

We had quite a bit of snow this year, so I’ve been pretty much homebound with little choice but to be domestic (i.e., doing a lot of cooking and cleaning) while trying to keep the peace. The Princess has been clamoring for cookies, so I made some Belgian chocolate cut-out cookies one day and chocolate chip cookies the next. I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Because of the Princess’s food allergies, I’ve often had to use different kinds of dairy-free/vegan margarine instead of butter for baking. I had been making cookies for a while with Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread because texture-wise it was closest to butter (at least when you cut away chunks from the tub). When I used it for the Belgian chocolate cut-out cookies, they turned out crispy and light.

But since I had run out of Earth Balance, I tried Smart Balance Light, a margarine that is significantly lighter in texture and has a higher water content. I was pleasantly surprised with the results when using it in the Cherrybrook Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cooking mix. I got light, soft cookies with a slight crunch around the edges—perfection! My only misstep was putting it in a plastic storage container afterwards, which made the cookies lose their crunch altogether. But the Princess liked them all the same and kept saying she needed an extra cookie “to share with Daddy,” for which she would just give him a bite and eat the rest.

This made me wonder about what might be responsible for making one cookie light and crisp, while the other soft, moist, and with a slight crunch. Could it the higher water content in the Smart Balance Light? Or perhaps the different sugar to flour ratio? Or perhaps the different fats? A friend of mine once told me that the best chocolate chip cookies were made with a combination of Crisco and butter and not just butter alone.

I guess this just means I need to do a bit more baking/researching…

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One thought on “Cooking Notes: Baking with Dairy-Free/Vegan Margarine

  1. Thank you for this post! I’ve run out of my frozen Willow Run (sadly, no longer available). All I have is Smart Balance, not Light. I’m also making Cherry Brook’s cake mix. Got my fingers crossed! 17th birthday cake is Important. I’ll follow you on Twitter – waitdonteatthat.

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