As some of you may already be aware, November is National Novel Writing Month - aka, NANOWRIMO. That means that all across the nation, and in fact the world, people of all ilks and ages are attempting to write 50,000 words in thirty days. This is the 12th year since the whole idea started, and while some writers are just beginning the journey for the first time, others are taking on the adventure for a second, fourth, sixth or more time. For multiple years, I wasn't gutsy enough even to try (I know, I know - if you don't even try, you have no chance of succeeding). Last year, however, I was lucky enough to have the encouragement of a friend... and not only a friend, but the local Municipal Liaison for Nano, and multiple-year nano winner.
Though I completed the task last year, entering my final word count just hours before the end of the final day, I don't find myself with the luxury of time this year to attempt it again (though I don't rule out the possibility of a short story or two). I am, however, a strong supporter of all those involved. It can be a challenge to write fast and write hard, leaving the editing for later, but it's a fantastic lesson for any budding author. Whether you reach the overall goal of 50,000 words, or a smaller (or larger) personal goal, the support and encouragement from the nano community to write every day can be priceless.
Thinking back to the many hours spent in the far corner of my local Panera's, coffee sipping and fingers flying until they kicked me out at closing, I remember how all-consuming it could be.
Realizing how hard it seemed then, and knowing how much harder it must be for those with less free time than I, I decided to share a sweet bit of sustenance in support of the cause.
I owe the invention of these cookies to The Boyfriend, who, upon trying my holiday-spiced oatmeal cranberry cookies, shrugged and said "Eh - I'd take out the spices and add peanut butter instead". Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! As soon as he said it, I knew it would be genius.
After making a few adjustments, and of course deciding to add chocolate, I came up with a recipe I promise you won't regret making. And, to make them even more of a crowd pleaser, they're one hundred percent vegan without sacrificing a single bit of flavor or texture.
So, if you know someone who's frantically penning their hearts out, or stumped in a bout of writer's block, I urge you to bake them some encouragement, and cheer them to push on!
(Vegan) Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
It's a mouthful to say, but when you actually have a mouthful, who needs words
(makes 35-40 cookies)
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth
1 cup flour
1/2 cup soy milk (or almond, or rice...)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4-1/2 tsp. salt (depending on the saltiness of your peanut butter)
1 TBSP. Liquid Barley Malt (can be replaced with maple syrup or molasses)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup cranberries (or raisins or other dried fruit, if you prefer)
1/2 - 1 cup chocolate, chopped or in chip form
In a large bowl, cream together margarine, peanut butter, and sugars until smooth. Mix in the vanilla, soy milk, and barley malt.
Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring just until moistened, then stir in the oats, fruit, and chocolate.
I suggest refrigerating the dough for at least an hour before baking - it will make it easier to work with, and keep the cookies from spreading too thin in the oven. Or, the batter can be stored this way and made a few days in advance.
After chilling, preheat oven to 350f.
Using a couple of spoons, a cookie scoop, or your hands, roll dough into one - two TBSP sized balls, and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes.
The centers will still be very soft when done, but that's what you want. They'll finish up as they cool.
Let cool on the sheet for 4-5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Don't try to move them before they've had a chance to set up on the pan, though, or else they'll fall apart.
Once mostly cooled, steal one for yourself and then give to the nearest struggling writer.
... or just eat them all yourself.