‚Tis the season for the cookies

Hooray, the time of year when it’s acceptable by tradition to stuff one’s face full of cookies is upon us! To celebrate this joyous occasion, we are posting the recipe for one of our Habacookies as requested by a guest. It’s the coconut-quince-ginger cookies featured on our Indian-themed evening in the Breitschträff.This particular recipe is a bit of a challenge to reproduce, as I tossed stuff together without writing anything down, and have since forgotten exact quantities. But I pondered a while, and came up with something that I think should be pretty close. I am mostly not sure about the amount of sugar (may be reduced, to your taste) and coconut milk (may be reduced by 50-60 ml if the batter is too wet to form cookies). In general I find cookies have good texture when the dough is fairly moist (may stick to your fingers if you handle it) but still holds together so that it can be spooned into cookie shapes. For most recipes including this one, the cookies spread a bit while baking, so no need to fuss to get them into a nice shape on the baking sheet.

A note on measurement: for better or worse, most recipes that I learned to cook by are American, thus given in sometimes less-than-convenient cups/spoons measurements. I have adapted a hybrid approach: I still use standardized cup and spoon measurements for flour, sugar and smaller quantity stuff like baking powder and soda, and weigh things which are annoying to put in a cup, such as vegan butter, jam, etc.

Coconut-quince-ginger cookies

220g (1.75 cups) barley flour (available in bio stores)
65g (0.5 cups) coconut flour (available in bio stores)
0.75 teaspoons baking soda
0.5 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons ground flax seed mixed with 6 tablespoons water
160g quince jam
100g (0.5 cups) brown sugar (I use muscavado, available at bio stores. Raw sugar from a regular supermarket also works but the flavour is less strong.)
120g vegan butter (I find the Provamel brand available in bio stores works best)
240ml (1 cup) coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla powder or 1 sachet vanilla sugar
80g shredded coconut (I prefer some slightly bigger, moister flakes than the tiny shredded coconut available in a regular supermarket. I usually get it in and Indian store or bio store)
30g crystallized ginger, chopped (can use more if you’re a ginger fiend like me)
120g shredded coconut for coating

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius, and put baking paper/silicon baking mats on two baking sheets.
  • Sift the first 5 ingredients into a bowl.
  • In another bowl, add the quince jam, sugar, flax-water mixture, coconut milk, vegan butter and vanilla and whip with a mixer until well combined.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. Fold in the shredded coconut and the chopped crystallized ginger (try not to overmix).
  • Put the 120g of shredded coconut in a shallow dish. Scoop out balls of dough about 1 big tablespoon in size and dip in the coconut mixture.
  • Lift out gently and place on the baking sheet, leaving about 4-5cm between each cookie.
  • Put the baking sheets in the lower and upper third of the oven. Bake for about 16-18 minutes, rotating the sheets half way through, until the coconut crust is lightly toasted and the bottom of the cookies are light brown.



I like baking with different whole grain flours because they can really change the flavour, texture and nutrition profile of the final product. Here I used barley flour (barley is Gerste in German) which I bought in a bio store in Lausanne. If you can’t get a hold of it, I’m guessing regular white flour would also work, but may change the flavour and texture. I encourage you to experiment with different flours when baking, it opens up a new dimension to play with. It’s good to start by mixing some whole grain flour with regular white wheat flour, and adjust the ratios as necessary. Spelt (Dinkel in German) is a good start, and easily available in a regular supermarket. Note that gluten-free flours such as buckwheat (Buchweizen) are trickier to work with (without gluten, things tend to fall apart) and if you would like to bake entirely gluten-free goods, I would recommend looking into some binding-helpers such as xanthan gum or guar gum.

Egg substitutes in baking

Flax seed are Leinsamen in German. When ground to a flour and mixed with water, they are a good substitute for eggs in recipes that require a binding agent (cookies, cakes, etc).

1 tablespoon flax seed flour and 3 tablespoons water substitutes for one egg. I buy whole seeds and grind them in my coffee grinder as I need them. The flour goes rancid easily, so I don’t recommend grinding too much at a time. If you don’t like the taste of flax, chia seeds also work the same way, are tasteless, and they don’t need to be ground first. Leave 1 tablespoon of chia seeds in 3 tablespoons of water for about 5-10 minutes until a gel forms. Cornstarch is sometimes also used as an egg replacer for binding, while silken tofu, non-dairy yoghurt and apple (or other fruit) sauce are often employed when the egg is present in the recipe primarily for moisture.

An excellent resource on vegan substitutions in general is The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman. I think I even saw it in German once. Celine Steen seems like a pretty cool person with a funky sense of humour and she’s Swiss (from Lausanne, I met her mother when I was there!) but now lives in the U.S. She has a vegan blog with a great name, which, incidentally, has several cookie recipes to get your Christmas cookie campaign started. Happy baking!

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