Fudgy brownie cookies – made with Korean vegan margarine

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January 31, 2013 by ka101010

Fudgy brownie cookies - made with Korean Q1 Margarine

Brownie cookies: check out that texture! Glistening, incredibly moist and fudgy, and vegan if you so choose!

I recently tried making chocolate chip cookies with Korean margarine after spotting it in Itaewon. Aside from being attracted to the novelty and transfat fattiness, I was curious to see how it behaved in normal cookie recipes. Mipa of Aliensdayout had a cute post about how it worked well in scones, so I decided to try it out.

I took home a brick of Q1 Seoul Margarine free (큐원 서울 마아가린) and tasted it. Being used to butter and soft American margarine, this stuff is waxy, tasteless, and doesn’t really melt in your mouth. My tastebuds kept looking for the flavors of real butterfat. When I tried softening it at room temp, nothing happened. In the microwave, it took almost 2 minutes to melt it down completely. (If you consume processed food, your system is quite familiar with this fat.  Oreos, anyone?) Dish cleanup afterward was a strange experience. I don’t think I will ever drink cold glasses of liquid after eating pastries laden with Korean margarine. I don’t want to scare you, but you’ll see for yourself when you try to wash your measuring cups and mixing bowls.  Let me reiterate that part of the mission of this space is to discuss local Korean ingredients, and Q1 margarine is one of them.  Onward with the Korean margarine baking experience…

Q1 Seoul Margarine Free

Q1 Seoul Margarine Free – wrapped in vellum.

Q1 Seoul Margarine Free

Here’s a shot of the margarine outside the packaging to give you an idea of the texture.

My chocolate chip cookies with Q1 Seoul Free Margarine (I used the “Baked” recipe, a bake shop based in Brooklyn), did NOT turn out right. I have made cookies with American stick margarine with decent results. To my non-vegan palette, chocolate chip cookies are extremely dependent on the flavor of butter, so these were missing an essential flavor component and the texture was soggy and just…off.  Hubby thought they were ok, but I do not think any  modification could have saved the batch in terms of meeting my flavor/texture preferences. I do not recommend this margarine for recipes that require both a chewy and crispy texture, or cookies that depend on butter as a dominant flavor profile. It seems more suited to recipes that produce a dense, rich, heavy crumb. I can see how Q1 margarine would work in Mipa’s scones because that type pastry requires tiny solid bits of fat suspended throughout the dough. If you have any tips on how to modify recipes when using Q1 margarine, please share with us!

I had so much extra margarine after the choc chip cookie disappointment, so I wasn’t giving up. I examined my repertoire and remembered Bethenny Frankel’s brownie cookie recipe, which is vegan-friendly. You could take this recipe a step further and make it gluten-free by subbing gluten-free flour(s). Bethenny’s recipes are simple, versatile, and her books offer very sensible tips on healthy eating. The relative “healthiness” of this  recipe is completely upended by the addition of a transfatty substance, but please feel free to sub a healthier butter alternative in place of the margarine!

In this recipe, I melted 1/2 cup of margarine and subbed it for the non-dairy butter. For a binder (these cookies are egg-less), the recipe calls for mashed overripe banana, but instead I subbed some homemade applesauce (lovingly delivered to me from a North Fork Long Island kitchen by friends passing through Seoul). Other mashed things (sweet potato baby food, pureed pumpkin, etc) should also work as a binder. This Q1 margarine produces a dry dough, so I had to add additional liquid (you may add regular, soy or almond milk) to moisten it and complete the mixing process.  If you use a flour that is slightly higher in protein, you may need to add more liquid to finish the mixing process.  I made this recipe using all imperial measures, but I’ve added some very approximate metric conversions below, feel free to adjust as needed.

Rule of thumb:  As long you get a relatively stiff, fudgy dough and all ingredients are incorporated, consider the dough complete.

The resulting cookie is pretty much a flatter, but incredibly moist and fudgy, brownie. They are perfect for when you want a teeny bite that packs an explosive chocolate punch. I believe the margarine lends a really decadent texture. You can also try baking this in a small sheet or loaf pan as a regular brownie and adjust baking times as needed. This recipe should also work well in a toaster oven.

I personally would not choose to bake with Q1 margarine if given a choice. I will always prefer butter. But there is something to be said about baking with an ingredient that is several steps removed from nature and a miracle of modern science (and a danger to cardiac health, but whatever). Not the best fat to bake with…but in this case, Q1 margarine produces an addictive, moist, fudgy result.

Brownie cookies (loosely adapted from Bethenny Frankel’s “Skinnygirl Dish“)

2 cups (240 gr) All-Purpose flour Beksul [백설] brand All-purpose flour with the cookies on the front works fine

2/3 cups + 2 tablespoons (approx 90 gr) cocoa powder –the darker/higher quality, the better. Seek out Dutch process cocoa

1 1/2 cups (300 gr) light brown granulated sugar  Beksul brand light brown sugar is appropriate

3/4 teaspoon (4 gr) baking powder

1/4 teaspoon (1 gr) salt

1/2 cup (120ml) melted Q1 Seoul Free margarine – or any healthier non-dairy butter, softened

1 tablespoon (15 ml) real vanilla extract

1/4 cup (60 ml) applesauce

1/4 cup (60 ml) milk or non-dairy milk alternative


Preheat oven to 350F/175C.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the applesauce, margarine, vanilla and sugar. Mix in the dry ingredients. Slowly add the milk/non-dairy milk alternative until a dark, thick, fudgy, doughy mass is formed and ingredients are well incorporated (if you find tiny clumps of sugar/margarine still floating around, you may leave some in as these should go away during the baking process).


Here is what the margarine/sugar/vanilla mixture looks like when mixed.


Final dough. Notice that some flecks of sugar/margarine. These should go away during the baking process.

Form balls of about 3-4cm diameter and place on a cookie sheet (prepared with parchment paper to minimize cleanup). Allow about 6cm space around balls to allow for spreading during baking. Feel free to add chopped nuts, toffee, chocolate chips, etc during shaping (due to the stiffness of the dough).

Bake in oven for approximately 8-10 min. Cookies will appear slightly domed, soft and will deflate a bit once they hit room temperature. Do not overbake (reminder: there are no eggs in this recipe). This dough stores well in the fridge (wrapped in plastic wrap) for 1-2 days.

Allow to cool. Enjoy the blast of chocolate fudginess!

Brownie cookies


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