[Recipe] Spicy chocolate cookies, experimenting with vegan substitutes

I’m proud to say that I am participating in a book club! Many people stop reading for fun after they reach adulthood, and I’m also guilty of that. I’ve tried to stick to my reading goals for each year, but only read a measly 5 books last year. (I read 15 books the year before, and 18 the year before that!) So I am excited to get back on track while also enjoying the company of others.

A group of women at the office do a monthly book club, and this month’s book was The Professor and the Madman. Now, in order to celebrate the Britishness and insanity of the book, the theme for our book club meeting (and food festivities) was Crazy Tea Party!

The professor of the book’s title was Professor James Murray, and the madman was William C. Minor, an American army surgeon who shot a man and was sent to an insane asylum in England. The professor was the editor for the Oxford English Dictionary, which you will learn took about 70 years and lots of hard work going through books and slips of paper!

I thought hard about what kind of crazy item I could bring to the meeting, and remembered how shocking it was to eat a friend’s spicy chocolate chip cookies several years ago. It isn’t something I’ve really seen around much, but they were pretty delicious. It reminded me of how shocked I was at one point during the book. You will have to read it to find out! Or just look up William C. Minor. But at that part of the book, the events hit me mentally in a way that is similar to a spicy heat at the back of my throat that you should and might have been expecting but still took you by surprise.

One of the girls is vegan, so I decided to veganize the recipe because I didn’t want to leave her out of the chocolatey, spicy goodness!

The recipe

I mostly followed the recipe from the lovely blog Local Milk. These were the substitutions and changes that I made:

  • instead of butter: coconut oil, but slightly less than 3/4 cup
  • instead of 2 eggs: 4 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons finely ground flax seed
  • instead of brown sugar: coconut palm sugar
  • instead of 3/4 cup normal sugar, used just 1/2 cup
  • vegan dark chocolate chips (lots of chocolate are vegan, but some are not so I had to check)
Coconut oil, used this to instead of butter. It's great for stir fries too!

Coconut oil, used this instead of butter. It’s great for stir fries too!

And the result?

Vegan cookies! This was my first attempt at baking anything vegan!

Spicy double chocolate chip cookies, veganized!

Spicy double chocolate chip cookies, veganized!

They are a little weird looking, but they are good! Maybe a little spicy, but that was the point. Plus, the spiciness discourages eating too many cookies. If you are unconvinced, check out the photos at the original recipe.

The verdict

These cookies came out a little denser than they probably normally would be with non-vegan ingredients, but they are probably close in terms of taste. They are tasty if you like that little kick of heat! I’m not sure I sold the girls on spicy cookies, but maybe there were a few new fans after that night.

Try them out yourself!


My favorite bakery in New York is Body & Soul, which has a stand at the green market in Union Square. They are also part to blame for my motivation to try making something both delicious and vegan. If you are in the neighborhood on a farmer’s market day, you should check them out! Their savory turnovers are great for lunch.

Body & Soul Bakery at Union Square Green Market

Body & Soul Bakery at Union Square Green Market