For the past three and a half years since we moved to Canberra, people back home have constantly commented on how great it must be to be so close to the snow. And for the past three and a half years, we’ve nodded and changed the subject- because in the past three and a half years, we hadn’t ventured down there once.
This weekend is a long weekend (with the Queen’s birthday being perhaps the only redeeming aspect of Australia’s failure to become a republic yet), so we decided to finally head to the Snowy Mountains. Snow season officially opened last week, but alas, to the sight of no snow yet. Regardless, it’s still a pretty place and a nice way to spend some time.
Knowing that our food options would be limited, we decided to pack a picnic lunch to take down with us. After a leisurely two hour drive down to Jindabyne and a wander around town and the tourism centre (where we were able to peruse some of the town’s best literary offerings), we settled down by the shores of Lake Jindabyne to eat.
As I’ve mentioned before, Chadwiko is a huge sandwich fan, so sandwiches are always a must for picnics. I handed him his favourite cookbook to pore over last night, and he opted for the Boston-style north end grinder sandwich. With turkey-style seitan, savoury porcini mushroom and tomato seitan, salad and a zesty herb dressing, this was the perfect picnic choice!
… while I found the meal-sized sandwich a bit more challenging to confront.
Dessert really wasn’t necessary after that sizeable lunch, but I’ve never let common sense stop me before. In addition to fresh strawberries, we bought along two types of cookies- peanut butter coconut and chocolate chip cookies from The Little Foxes’ recipe, and my own chocolate walnut brownie cookies.
It’s well established that I’m a sucker for peanut butter anything, and those cookies were no exception. A generous quantity of peanut butter along with wholewheat flour gives these a real homestyle quality that I love in cookies. These are a new favourite for sure!
The chocolate walnut cookies are adapted from a non-vegan recipe I used to make, from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. My brother used to be the baker of the family (until he ignored my insistence that he bake professionally, and became a paramedic instead- like saving lives is as important as baking), and he would make endless delicious things from this book. When I moved out of home, my mum bought me my own copy- but it’s sat on a shelf since I went vegan. Until last weekend, when I had an insatiable hankering for black bottom cupcakes, and could only find a recipe in this book. Flicking through it, these cookies jumped off the page and I knew I needed to try to veganise them. I feel like this attempt was pretty successful, but be warned- these cookies are super rich, fudgy and brownie-like, and if you try the recipe (below) you may want a glass of almond milk close by!
After all that eating and exploring, we’d worked up a thirst. So it was off to the local pub and microbrewery for a quick beverage before the drive home.
Unseasonably warm weather and total absence of snow aside, this was a great way to spend part of our long weekend- we’ll definitely be back once the snow season has truly arrived!
Chocolate walnut brownie cookies
(Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook)
While brownie baking has never been my strong point, cookies don’t often let me down. These rich treats have everything you’d look for in the perfect brownie- fudgy consistency, crackly tops and a total chocolate overload! I used 70% dark chocolate, but feel free to use something with a lower cocoa content for a less intense cookie.
- 1/4 cup vegan margarine
- 1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate (or vegan 'milk' chocolate for a less rich cookie)
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed
- 1/3 cup water
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or other nuts)
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Cook time: 12 minutes
- Servings: 12 cookies
- Difficulty: easy
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.
- Combine the ground flax and water and set aside.
- In a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, combine the margarine and 1 1/4 cups of chopped chocolate. Let stand until melted and smooth.
- Combine the flax mixture, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl and beat with a hand- or stand-mixer until well mixed. Pour in the melted chocolate, continuing to mix on a slow speed until well combined.
- Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a small bowl, and add to the chocolate mixture in three batches. Mix each addition in well, by hand. Fold in the remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate and the walnuts until evenly dispersed.
- Drop heaped tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking trays, leaving at least 5cm between cookies to allow for spreading (the more space, the better!).
- Bake for 12 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool on trays for at least five minutes before carefully transferring to a cooling rack. As tempting as it is to dig in, these cookies are best eaten when completely cooled.