We have reached 90+ degree weather here in Washington! This past weekend, I experimented with a vegan, healthy, non-fried version of maple bars. Let’s just say there is a legitimate reason maple bars are usually made with white flour and are deep fried instead of baked. They tasted fine, but had no where near the same texture as a doughnut.
While I was baking the maple bars, my house got really, really hot! I live with a roommate and her black-furred dog, plus my fluffy dog, Arthur. Out of consideration for every living thing in our house, I decided to bake and cook and lot less this summer! Thus, a challenge to attempt a few recipes without using a stove or oven was born! Going along with a personal challenge to be more eco-friendly, I decided to use the power of the sun to do my baking. I did some research online, and it looks like the most successful and easy solar-cooked food were cookies. So, after taking a few minutes to make some vegan cookie dough, line a few boxes with foil, and lay everything out in my car, I was ready to go! The hardest part was having to wait almost all day at work while they cooked, but they were a hit!
Here is the recipe for the cookies. Obviously, you can bake them in an oven instead of on your dashboard. Instructions for car baking are included under the cookie recipe.
Recipe: Nut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The Simple Kitchen
Makes 18-20 cookies
- 1 tablespoon flax seeds or chia seeds, + 3 tablespoons of water (for making vegan egg substitute)
- 1 1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup nut butter (I used almond butter)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup applesauce
- 3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used carob chips)
- In a small bowl, combine flax seeds and water to make “egg”. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to gel.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Then, add in nut butter, vanilla, applesauce, and flax egg, mixing dough well between the addition of each ingredient. Stir in chocolate chips.
- Scoop balls of dough and lay on an oiled cookie sheet or baking pan and flatten slightly with a spoon or fork. If baking in an oven, bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. For dashboard baking, see below.
Eco-friendly Dashboard Baking!
- Check weather forecast for a hot day (at least 90 degrees F for at least three hours)
- The night before your chosen date, prepare cookie dough and place on oiled cookie sheets. Refrigerate overnight.
- The next morning, park your car in a sunny spot, facing east (the sun rises in the east). Place cookie sheets on your dashboard.
- Make sure all your windows are rolled up, your doors are shut tight, and wait until cookies have been sitting out for at least three hours in 90 degree weather (I left mine out at 8am in the morning and took them out at 4pm. It was around 92 degrees between 1 and 4pm.) DO NOT open your car doors or windows while the cookies are baking, as it will release all the trapped heat.
- It’ll be difficult to tell whether or not the cookies are done, but they will spread out slightly after baking. If unsure, leave cookies out for an additional half hour to an hour, as they are difficult to burn.
Notes: For added heat, make a solar oven box to place your cookie dough in. Simply place a sheet of tin foil to the bottom of the lid of a box (pictured below) to act as a reflector, then place your cookie sheet inside the box or line the inside of the box with foil before placing the cookie dough inside.
I tried baking cookies with the reflectors, as well a just in a pan by itself. They both tasted amazing, but the ones baked with the reflectors seemed slightly warmer and crispier. It might also help decrease the cooking time or raise the temperature in the pan if the weather is still below 90 degrees.