Monday, October 1, 2012

Eating Vegan at a Non-Vegan Wedding (VEGAN MOFO: DAY 1)

Happy first day of Vegan Mofo!

A month ago, I wrote about how I was baking cookies for my friend Rosalie's Harvest Moon-themed wedding.  The wedding was this past Saturday!

The bride and myself.  We're hot to trot, are we not? Sorry, that was lame. Is it too late to take that back?
So, did I, indeed, make 250 cookies?  Why, yes, I did.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

Now, I don't know if you're aware of this, or if others have had similar wedding experiences to my own in this regard or if I'm alone here, but often, when you're a bridesmaid, there is a time before the wedding starts and everyone in the wedding party is getting prepared where you starve.  You're so hungry you want to kill everyone.  Finally, after complaining, some small amount of food is procured, often in an elaborate way that involves making the staff of the place the wedding is being held wish you all were dead, as they're busy making food for the actual wedding.  Rosie, anticipating this problem, wrote us all an email about two weeks before the wedding saying she'd have cheese and crackers for us to eat during that hellish time.  I didn't get down about it, though, because it just gave me the opportunity to try something else out from Artisan Vegan Cheese!

This is one of the brie recipes from the book.  Because this version is made by mixing the cashew cheese base with coconut oil, and coconut oil can become completely liquid on a warm day, this one cannot be baked.  However, there is a second brie recipe in the book made for baking, although this time I used the far simpler, coconut oil-based one.  This recipe made two cheese rolls like the one pictured, and the other one had gotten completely eaten by the bridal party and myself by the time I took this picture.  I also made, from Practically Raw, both the Nut and Seed Flatbread and the Mediterranean Herbed Crackers.  They were OK, but I should have cooked at least the crackers longer to get them crispy.  My friend Asa, upon eating a bit of the Nut and Seed Flatbread, which I'd warned him was sort of plain and better with a topping, said, "This bread is like eating sustenance.  I feel like I could just eat this for life and survive.  All these seeds take a lot of chewing.  I feel like it's offensive to seeds to leave them unchewed. I have to chew them all."  This crazy ramble is actually not a bad assessment, though.
 The flatbread with the brie, which was nice and spreadable having sit out for a while.
All of the non-vegans loved this brie!  That includes the 11 year-old maid of honor.  However, I think I was the only one really eating the bread and "crackers" (again, I needed to crisp them up better).  Everyone else was perfectly happy to dig into it with Wheat Thins.  Fine by me!  I was just happy to have contributed one thing I was so proud of.

Is baking 250 cookies one of the most stressful, disaster-prone things to do ever?  Thank you for asking, the answer is "Yes."  I thought I could get these done in, like, three hours on Friday morning, then get into my car and drive the 4-5 hours from Pittsburgh to my father's house outside of Philadelphia where the rehearsal dinner was taking place.  Ha!  I was so incredibly naive. It took about five hours.

Maybe because this is a recipe that's more-or-less my own, maybe it was from quadrupling it and messing up the math, maybe it was just crazy bad luck, but every batch was turning out differently and messed up and I kept having to fix things and there were just issues galore to start with.  But eventually, you know, I really got the hang of it. 

This wedding didn't stuff us up to an extreme degree the way that some weddings do.  Especially not for me, the lone vegan.  There were cheese and cracker appetizers, as well as some tuna (!!!!!!!??!?!?!?! Don't eat tuna, it's going extinct!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) thingies and shrimp (!!!!!!!!!!!!!frownyface!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) weird things I cannot explain.  I did get to enjoy some appetizers, though--the delightful pickled vegetables and a whole bunch of olives.  I love me some olives.  For dinner, there were salad greens and a carrot salad, some sort of lentil stew, and chicken.  I ate the stew and salads all mixed together with a little bit of bread.  Then, for dessert, there were three different kinds of pie and vanilla ice cream, none vegan.  But then, after dinner, during the dancing and drinking and revelry, the cookies I made were put out.  Since people didn't have an over-the-top large dinner, the cookies went over really, really well.

There were bowls like this placed strategically all over the wedding.  Everyone loved these almond-maple cookies!  I was thrilled.  You know who else loved them?  The groom's dog, Dexter, who was a part of the wedding and spent the whole night as an honored guest begging for scraps. 

I don't usually post recipes, but I'll post this one because it's mostly my own.  Based off Terry's Favorite Almond Cookie from Veganomicon, I think my changes are significant enough to not be a total plagiarizer by posting it.  Plus, I give credit where credit is due: Terry Romero, I could not have done this without you.

Almond-Maple Cookies

2 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peanut (or canola) oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup, preferably grade B
1/4 cup and 1/2 tablespoon of non-dairy milk, preferable almond
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 teaspoon maple extract (I used this kind, which I bought online)
1 teaspoon pumpkin seed oil or toasted sesame oil
25 whole almonds

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare 2 baking sheets either by lining with silicon mats, lining with parchment papers, or greasing.  

In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients except sugar: almond meal, baking soda, and salt.  In a large bowl, mix all the wet ingredients and sugar really well: oil, maple syrup, non-dairy milk, sugar, extracts, pumpkin or sesame oil.  Add the dry to the wet and mix well.

Does it seem overly-oily to you?  Please feel free to add more flour if the oil seems over-the-top.

Roll the dough into 2-tablespoon balls.  Press down only very slightly, as these will spread and touch each other if they are too flat.  Place one whole almond artfully onto each one.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.  Mine needed to be cooked for 15.  You want the edges  browned just a bit.

Let 'em cool for like 5 minutes, then remove them from the cookie sheet and place them onto a cooling rack or directly into your mouth.  Don't hurt yourself or anything.


  1. I had a similar experience baking 150 cupcakes for my best friend's wedding. My mom and I spent the ENTIRE day before the wedding baking and making frosting. And I was juggling that in between bridesmaids lunches and rehearsal dinners. Ugh. I'm glad that's over! I need to try that brie! I've made the gruyere and mozzarella so far!

    1. Yeah, it was kinda head-explody!! I was thinking that professional bakers clearly have something I don't have. Like, perhaps, a larger stove and better math skills and good luck? I don't know, but I guess this wasn't bad for my first time trying to do large-scale baking.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Thanks for the recipe. Those cookies are definitely happening when I get back to my own stove... Oh, and thanks for the info on the vegan meetup! I'm still in Pitt, but heading to Cincy for a a few days, then back to Pittsburgh on Sunday before flying home to LA on Tuesday. Crazy week. Still trying to squeeze in a meal at Eden (based on your review) before I jet town.

  3. I am also loving the Vegan Artisan Cheese book. So good, but I haven't tried any of the brie recipes yet. I sorta got hooked on the fresh mozz and some of the air dried cheeses and can't get away from them. Also, holy shit, but cashews are expensive right now.

    Good job on being a vegan cookie pump.

    P.S. If you ditch the spam captcha during MoFo you'll get more comments.

    1. Will do, thanks for the advice!

      I bought my cashews from Amazon, slightly less expensive.

  4. I once made a similar number of cupcakes, and it was something I've never repeated. Much harder than it sounds and makes you wonder how caterers and bakers remain sane.

  5. Oh my good gravy does that cheese look good. I want it in my mouth. Now you're making me buy yet another cookbook because of your delicious photos!!!

  6. The cheese looks great. And, wow, 250 ... that's serious cookie baking!

  7. I love your friend Asa's ramble about the nut and seed bread, ha ha. :) I'm so excited to actually hold that cheese book - I ordered it a couple weeks back and it shouldn't be long now! Glad the cookies came out well, it's a super stressful job and you totally pulled it off!


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