Don’t get hung up on their lousy name; cowboy cookies are actually really delicious. I brought three dozen of these giant cookies on a flight to Iowa once, and my two brothers devoured every last one in six hours flat. Another time I brought them on a three hour road trip to Portland, Maine, and they were gone before the six of us climbed out of the van. They routinely get gobbled up so quickly that I haven’t ever actually managed to snap a picture of the finished product and was forced to bake another batch this weekend to photograph for you all. How I suffer for my art!
Though it seems these everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cookies might be commonplace in the South, I had never even heard of them until I moved to Philly, when I reached into the refrigerator of my food co-op around picked up a heavy cookie the size of my hand. “Cowboy Cookie,” I read. Huh.
That particular cookie came from Vegan Treats, an awesome vegan bakery that has long been supplying scrumptious goodies — s’mores cheesecake, brownies piled high with peanut butter frosting, and cookies ‘n’ cream-filled donuts — to grocery stores and restaurants in the Philaldelphia area. So it was no surprise that my heart fluttered the moment I sank my teeth into their rendition of the cowboy cookie. Butter and cinnamon imparted a warm aroma, and oats and coconut made them soft and chewy. And then there were the nuts and chocolate chips!
I now live regrettably far from anywhere Vegan Treats’ goods are stocked, but cowboy cookies have long since become a permanent addition to my cookie repertoire. And the particular recipe I adapted has a pretty hilarious backstory. You know how the presidential nominees’ wives have a bake-off before every election to name the better baker? (Okay, so maybe you don’t, but trust me on this one; I read it on the Internet. Aren’t gender roles quaint?) Way back in 2000, Laura Bush submitted her recipe for “Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies” — the very one I have altered to share with you! — to that very bake-off. She won, and the rest, as they say, is history.
- 2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1½ c vegan butter
- 1½ c granulated sugar
- 1½ c light brown sugar
- ½ c applesauce
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- 3 c flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp baking soda
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 c chocolate chips
- 3 c rolled oats
- 2 c chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Measure coconut into a small bowl and stir in 1 tbsp warm water and 2 tbsp sugar; set aside.
- In a large bowl, whip the butter.
- Add sugars and cream.
- Add applesauce and vanilla and beat.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, powder, soda, and spices.
- Add to wet ingredients and beat until well mixed.
- Fold in the coconut, nuts, oats and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
- Use an ice-cream scoop to scoop balls of dough for jumbo cookies, and flatten slightly.
- Bake on greased sheets for 10-12 minutes, or until golden.