Makes 18-20 2-inch cookies

If you’re from Baltimore (Bawlmer, hon), you know about the lore (and lure) of Otterbein Cookies, those thin crispy discs of baking perfection that are right up there with Old Bay seasoning in the Charm City foodie pantheon. These Otterbein wanna-be’s are seriously flat with a hint of butterscotch chewiness in the center and a golden crispy edge, the perfect crunchy wafer to accompany a bracing cup of hot tea.

My entire adult baking life (which is admittedly limited as I have always considered myself a cook first and foremost, not a baker), I have been on a quest for the ultimate vegan version of this cookie, and now that I have finally cracked the code it turns out it wasn’t really that hard—the clues were there all along, on the back of the Tollhouse Chocolate Chips package.

If you’re wondering, then, what makes this the least bit original, here’s what I’ve done for you: First of all, I halved it—because who really wants to bake more than one batch at a time? No! You want to eat those suckers!

I’ve also reduced the amount of chocolate chips, because for me, it’s all about the cookie (and for the Tollhouse people, it’s all about selling more chocolate chips)—and I suggest giving the chips a whack to reduce them a bit further if you want a more sugar cookie-forward flavor profile with chocolate morsels, vs. a traditional chocolate chip cookie. It turns out I’m really a cookie monster, not a chocolate fiend. Finally, I’ve given in to the flax egg.

That’s right, even though I generally resist the idea of calling for ingredients that are not easily recognizable or readily available in the ordinary pantry, unless—and this is a big “unless”—they become deeply embedded in my culinary lexicon, I concede (unlike some people, who can’t concede anything) that it is time to admit ground flax seed to the pantry ranks, along with standard items like tamari sauce and dark toasted sesame oil—as something worth stocking even if it means an initial learning curve to step out of my comfort zone. In other words, I am finally willing to give flax a chance.

Dry Ingredients:

1 C. + 2 T. all purpose flour

½ tsp. baking soda

Scant ½ tsp. salt

1/3 C. chocolate chips, roughly chopped if desired

Wet Ingredients:

1/3 C. packed brown sugar

1/3 C. white sugar

1 4-oz. stick (8 T.) non-hydrogenated soy margarine

1 flax egg (1 T. ground flax seed + 3 T. water)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees; soften margarine at room temperature; lightly grease two cookie sheets (or bake in batches)

  1. Mix flax seed with water and set aside.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and stir in chopped chocolate chips.
  3. Cream margarine and sugars together with a wooden spoon in a separate medium bowl. Add egg and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  4. Mix dry ingredients into wet to form a soft dough.
  5. Place heaping spoonfuls of cookie dough on greased cookie sheet, leaving very generous space between each cookie to allow for them to spread.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, switching racks halfway through, until golden brown and crisp around the edges.
  7. Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes. When firm enough to handle, remove with a thin metal spatula to a wire rack to finish cooling. When completely cool, store in an airtight container at room temperature.