Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Raspberry Hand Pies

Dyl has a certain favorite mini raspberry pie at a local coffee shop. It's no secret between me and Dyl that I get a little jealous whenever he eats another baker's creations. Ever since his obsession with mini raspberry pies developed I've been meaning to make an even better mini raspberry pie, but I never got around to it. Last night, I did! Except that I don't have mini pie pans, so I made hand pies instead. They were just as good, if not better, than actual raspberry mini pies. I love their portability. And they are DEFINITELY better than that local coffee shop's.

Tip: If you have extra dough and filling at the end, form more hand pies! For fancy moon-shaped hand pies, roll dough into a circle, fill and fold in half. This is my favorite part of the process because I can make different sizes.

Raspberry Hand Pies:

For the crust:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
16 tablespoons (1 cup) cold nondairy butter, cut into 16 pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water

For the raspberry filling:

8-10 oz. frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon red wine or balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Prepare the dough: In the workbowl of a standing mixer fit with a paddle (or by hand), combine flour, salt and sugar. Add cold butter and mix on medium speed for 3-5 minutes or so, watching carefully until the butter is worked into the butter and the mixture appears pebbly. If you are working by hand, use a pastry cutter or two knives to work the butter into the flour (you could also use your fingertips). Add ice water and mix just until you can form dough into a ball. If mixture becomes too wet, add a bit more flour. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Store in the freezer until ready to form hand pies.

Preheat oven to 400 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly oil.

Once the dough is chilled, generously flour a clean work surface. Divide dough in half. Roll into a rectangle roughly 14 x 7 inches. Trim edges with a paring knife to form an even rectangle. Slice rectangle in half to form two squares. Slice each square in half to form four rectangles.

Form the handpies: Remove filling from the freezer. Have a cup of water nearby. Using your fingertips or a pastry brush, wet the edges of one of the rectangles. Scoop a scant 1/4 cup of filling onto one half of the rectangle. Fold the other half over the filling and quickly pinch the edges with your fingers to seal. Press the edges with a fork to create a pattern and help seal the edges. Transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with other rectangles and other log.

When all hand pies are filled, brush tops with water and sprinkle extra sugar on top. Use a paring knife to cut three slits in the dough on the top of the pies. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until edges lightly brown. Let cool 5 minutes on baking sheets. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely, and try not to eat them all at once!

Yield: 8 hand pies

Friday, December 14, 2012

Eight Desserts of Hanukkah: Peanut Butter Cups

Hey, guys! This is my second dessert recipe of the day, since I skipped yesterday. These peanut butter cups don't require an introduction. I'll just say that Dyl said they were better than the Incredible, which is a famous peanut butter bar we make at my work.

Peanut Butter Cups:

For the chocolate:

2 cups chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegan butter

For the peanut butter filling:

3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cereal crumbs (I used bran flakes)
1/4 cup vegan butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt (omit if using salted peanut butter)

Line a 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.

In a small saucepan (or a double boiler), melt the chocolate chips, butter and peanut butter, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Place 2 teaspoons of melted chocolate in each liner, spreading to cover the bottom. Set muffin tin in the fridge to let the chocolate firm up, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the peanut butter filling. Combine peanut butter, powdered sugar, cereal crumbs, melted butter and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Place a tablespoonful of filling on top of chocolate, pressing gently to mostly cover the chocolate bottom. Top with 2 more teaspoons of melted chocolate, spreading to cover the peanut butter. Let chill in fridge for at least an hour before serving. Store in an air-tight container.

Yield: 12 cups

Eight Desserts of Hanukkah: Russian Tea Cakes

You win if you can spy Chopi in this photo.

I forgot to do a recipe yesterday (i.e. I fell asleep), so I'm posting two dessert recipes today! We'll start with Russian Tea Cakes, requested by my friend, Veronica. You can also call these Mexican Wedding Cookies, Snowballs, and, I imagine, many other names. This was not only my first time making these, but also my first time eating them! I enjoyed them, but I think I'd like them even more without the pecans (which I think is the point?). Update: I like the pecans, after all! I also think these taste best the next day, for some reason.

I adapted this recipe slightly from The Joy of Vegan Baking.

Russian Tea Cakes:

1 cup vegan butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups pecans, finely chopped
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 300. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, or lightly oil.

With an electric mixer or by hand, cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt. Add the flour and mix until well-combined. Add the pecans and mix again.

Scoop tablespoonfuls of dough and roll them into balls. Place on cookie sheets 1 inch apart. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden.

While still warm, roll cookies in powdered sugar, then let cool on cookie sheets. Sift more powdered sugar on top of each cookie before serving.

Yield: 2 dozen

Coconut-y Israeli Couscous

I'm taking a quick break from Eight Desserts of Hanukkah to post a rich Israeli couscous dish. When cooked in coconut milk, Israeli couscous becomes a decadent treat fancy enough for dinner parties yet quick enough for casual weeknight dinners.

Coconut-y Israeli Couscous:

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Israeli couscous
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup water
Lemon zest from 1 lemon (optional -- it adds a very strong lemon flavor.)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons mint or parsley, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and garlic, and saute for 1 minute. Add Israeli couscous and toast for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add coconut milk, water, lemon zest (if using), cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, cover and reduce temperature to low and let cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, most of the liquid should be absorbed. Stir in lemon juice, mint or parsley (if using), dried cranberries and almonds and cover again for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the liquid should be fully absorbed. Fluff with a fork and serve warm with roasted root vegetables.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Eight Desserts of Hanukkah: My Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Fifth Night of Hanukkah! Tonight is a special night because I'm posting my favorite cookie: chocolate chip! Not just any chocolate chip, but the recipe my mom and I made while I was growing up.

You guessed it. Nestle Tollhouse! The Nestle Tollhouse recipe was veganized by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau in her wonderful cookbook, The Joy of Vegan Baking, replacing the two large eggs with three Ener-G Egg Replacer "eggs," but feel free to use your preferred egg replacer instead.

I'm always searching for that favorite chocolate chip cookie. It's a close tie between these and Dreena Burton's famous Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies. If you're going for that classic chocolate chip cookie from your childhood, I'd try these. Dreena's are a new type of chocolate chip cookie, rich and buttery with hints of maple syrup. The first time I tried Dreena's recipe while baking with my college roommates, we were all in awe (and made the recipe again the next night).

When my mom bakes this recipe for me, she always uses Ener-G and vegan butter, which is exactly what I do, but somehow hers are always better than mine. She has that magic touch!

My Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Adapted slightly from the Chocolate Chip Cookies in The Joy of Vegan Baking

4 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
6 tablespoons water
1 cup vegan butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips
A sprinkling of sea salt

Preheat oven to 375. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, or lightly oil.

In a food processor, blender or spice grinder, whip egg replacer and water together. Set aside.

Cream butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla together. Add egg replacer mixture and combine. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually incorporate dry into wet. When dough is almost thoroughly combined, stir in chocolate chips. Scoop heaping tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet, sprinkle each cookie lightly with sea salt, and bake 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Alternative baking method: form dough into a log and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator anywhere for (up to) 36 hours, then bake.

Yield: A few dozen, depending on how large you make each cookie

Do you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Eight Desserts of Hanukkah: Decadent Dark Chocolate Truffles

Here's an intensely rich, raw dessert recipe for you. Just one of these are enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you're not concerned with making the recipe purely raw, feel free to substitute regular cocoa powder and almond butter.

Decadent Dark Chocolate Truffles:

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons pitted dates, soaked in 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons hot water
3/4 cup raw cocao powder, plus extra for rolling
3/4 cup raw almond butter
A pinch of salt
A drop of vanilla extract

Blend soaked dates with their soaking water in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl.

Add cocoa powder and stir well. Add almond butter, salt and vanilla extract and mix again until fully-incorporated. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes to an hour (or overnight -- if so, cover tightly with plastic wrap).

Form batter into golf ball-sized balls and roll in cocoa powder. Enjoy at room temperature or cold from the fridge or freezer. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Yield: 25 truffles

Monday, December 10, 2012

Eight Desserts of Hanukkah: Chocolate Babka Fail

Ahhhhhh! I spent my whole day off working on this thing, and right after its last rise and Dyl and I admired it for a few seconds, I proudly picked it up to put it in the oven, it slipped out of my grasp and splattered all over the floor. Not only was my day's work wasted and my pan shattered, I don't get any babka.

I'll be back tomorrow with a recipe. Don't expect the babka.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Eight Desserts of Hanukkah: Chai Chocolate Crinkles

This recipe was adapted from the Chocolatey Crinkle Cookies in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and is perfect for the holidays. The addition of cardamom takes these brownie-like cookies to a whole new level, but you can leave it out, if you prefer, and the cookies will still taste fantastic. I think these taste best completely cooled.

You might have extra powdered sugar at the end. I just poured mine back into the powdered sugar bag.

Chai Chocolate Crinkles:

For rolling cookies:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom, optional

For the dough:

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup nondairy milk
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted
1 1/4 plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or lightly oil).

Sift powdered sugar onto a large plate. Pour sugar and cardamom, if using, into a small bowl and mix with your fingers. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil, corn syrup, vanilla, nondairy milk, flax seeds and melted chocolate until smooth. Sift in flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and mix until uniform. Let dough chill in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

Scoop a generous tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball. Roll each ball in sugar, then generously roll in powdered sugar several times until heavily coated (the more powdered sugar you use, the prettier the cookie).

Place each ball at least 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 14 minutes until cookies puff up and cracks have formed. Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack. Store in an air-tight container.

Yield: 2 dozen

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Eight Desserts of Hanukkah: Crumbcake

Hanukkah begins tonight. I like dessert. Introducing Rebecca's Eight Desserts of Hanukkah.

Tonight, we begin with crumbcake. This was my first time making crumbcake and Dyl literally stared at my plate (which held the last piece) until I gave it to him. (I did, by the way.)

This recipe is definitely a crowd-pleaser and it's easy to put together. You'll need an hour to let the cake cool before serving, so plan accordingly. Enjoy it for breakfast or dessert with a cup of coffee or tea.

You can find the recipe online here. I left out the jam. It'll be delicious either way.

Tomorrow night's recipe is a surprise. Happy Hanukkah, everyone!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

3-Ingredient Cardamom Hot Chocolate

I got this idea at work today while making chai macaroons -- just regular macaroons dipped in chocolate with a hint of cardamom. I needed to taste the chocolate in order to see if I'd added enough cardamom and, oh my, was it delicious! I then started to taste (and taste and taste) the chocolate. To make sure it was just right, of course.

Cardamom might just be my favorite spice, but I'd never realized how good it was with chocolate. So I made this right after work. It's easy to make with a fancy coffee shop result.

This recipe makes enough for one person. Feel free to double (or triple) the recipe for more people or if you just want a bigger serving all for yourself (I admit, I would've done this if I'd had more milk in the house).

3-Ingredient Cardamom Hot Chocolate:

1 cup soy milk
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. cardamom (or to taste)

Heat soy milk over medium heat. Add chocolate chips and whisk until melted. Add cardamom and continue whisking until smooth and nice and hot. Serve immediately.

Yield: 1 serving

I don't have a photo of the hot chocolate, because it was gone so fast, but I do have one of our resident beagle. In this particular photo he is sniffing the petits fours I was trying to get a photo of on the porch. Hence the desperation in his eyes.

I am looking into setting up a "photography studio" in the cat room (where the kitties get some peace and quiet from the dogs). Since we live in a basement apartment that gets little sunlight, I might need to use artificial lighting. Or the windowsills. We'll see.

Before I forget: Pumpkin Churros. You want to make these.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Petits Fours

To sum petits fours up in a sentence: A lot of work, a lot of yum. OK, that's not a sentence. Add a "they're" and a "but" in there.

I've been wanting to make petits fours forever. I'm the classic little sister who's constantly trying to fill her beautiful, independent, successful sister's shoes. And my older sister loves petits fours. For as long as I can remember, my mom always got a dozen or two petits fours from St. Louis' beloved Jewish bakery, Pratzel's, for her birthday. When Pratzel's closed right in time for my sister's 30th birthday, I jumped at the opportunity to wow her with my baking skills, remembering that Lauren Ulm had posted a recipe -- a very complicated one, might I add -- on her blog, Vegan Yum Yum. Into the kitchen I went...

Two trials later, here they are! (Well, up there they are.) These babies are complicated and just as difficult as they seem. Lauren does a great job of documenting the process on her post, but I'm going to add some tips below. Just some things I learned along the way, twice.

  • I don't recommend adapting the recipe at all. (Believe me. I tried and it sucked.) The only thing I will allow you to change is the flavor of jam. But raspberry tastes pretty darn good with the drizzle of chocolate on top.
  • I'd find a ruler and actually measure your jelly roll pan, if you're not entirely sure of the size. Don't guess, because it will affect the thickness of your cake, which you are going to have to cut in half horizontally. You don't want it too thin.
  • Just like Lauren says in her post, you want to be very, very careful when cutting the cake rectangles in half horizontally. Go as slow as you need to and make sure to keep your knife level so you are cutting even pieces. And don't cut yourself. (Honestly, I had Dyl do all of the cutting. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but he was an art and photography major and is very meticulous.)
  • I know I said above not to adapt the recipe at all, but I left out the marzipan. I didn't have it and didn't feel like going to the store again. I would use it next time, but if you really hate marzipan or something, you can leave it out. (I think the marzipan helps to maintain a nice, even top, though, so your end result might suffer.)
  • Even if you've just taken your candy thermometer out of its package (like I did), make sure to calibrate it first. Make sure the thermometer reads 100C or 212F in boiling water. If it's a few degrees off, record that so you know when your thermometer has reached 238 exactly when boiling the fondant. I didn't do this the first time around and my fondant turned into the consistency of maple candy. Hard as a rock. When I calibrated it, I realize it was 4F degrees off.
  • When you've calibrated your thermometer and are ready to cook the fondant, I turned the heat to medium to begin with and went no higher. It's very important that you don't overheat the fondant or it will harden to the consistency of candy. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down a little and let the temp. reach 238, then immediately remove from heat and pour into the food processor.
  • Also regarding the fondant: I highly recommend using the fondant immediately after you let it cool to 140 and blend it in the food processor for 2-3 minutes. Make sure to have your cake squares cut and ready to go by the time you start processing the fondant. Then pour it into a bowl and immediately start dipping. Then you don't have to worry about heating it up again and burning yourself, bla bla bla. It's just easier this way.
  • Dipping the cake squares is the hardest part. At this point, you've done a lot of work and you don't want all of that work to go to waste. Use the photos on Lauren's petits fours post and this video on Sprinkle Bakes (aren't Heather's petits fours so pretty?) for guidance. I gripped the squares using my forefinger and thumb, quickly dunked each side in the fondant, placed it on the cooling rack and spooned more fondant on the top. Keep a clean wet, cloth and a dry cloth nearby to clean and dry your hands off in between squares, because the cake is sticky and might stick to your hands.
  • Make sure to spoon the fondant on each square right after it's been dunked. The fondant sets quickly and if you wait to spoon all of the squares after dunking all of the squares, the fondant will have set already and you won't have a smooth top.
  • After you've dipped and spooned the fondant on your cake squares and let the fondant dry on the cooling rack, make sure to use a knife to remove the cakes from the cooling rack. The fondant will have stuck to the rack and you'll break the cakes if you don't use a knife.
  • Even though there's jam in the cake, I don't recommend storing these in the fridge. (Just make sure to eat them within a few days. That shouldn't be hard.) I stored some in the fridge overnight and the fondant got really moist and the jam layers started seeping out, so you could see the jam through the fondant. They also don't taste as good with the fondant wet like that. The ones that I stored at room temperature overnight taste great and the fondant is a perfect consistency. I'll report back how the ones that were stored in the fridge taste when they've come back to room temperature.
I think that's it? If I think of anything else, I'll add it. Happy Petits Fours-ing!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The King

Here's the updated photo. I took the poorly lit one down to save your eyes the sight!

I realize this photo is pretty bad, but it's 6:15 pm in the middle of November in Michigan and I'm too lazy to bust out the lamps. So, there! I will save the good-looking cupcakes for tomorrow so I can take a few photos on the porch in the sunlight and I'll add the best one up there. This recipe came from Bake and Destroy and is called Vegan Elvis Comeback Special Cupcake. How awesome is that? And it tastes good too! Dyl claims it's the best cupcake I've made yet. My peanut butter buttercream was really thick and heavy (again, possibly due to my homemade powdered sugar -- buy powdered sugar at the store already, woman!), so I could only manage to pipe little stars on top of the cupcake. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to get all of that peanut butter buttercream out of my reusable pastry bag, but, by golly, I'll try.

Here's a YouTube video of one of my personal favorite songs from the Comeback Concert. And here's my and Dyl's almost wedding song. (Leave it up to us to pick the most depressing wedding song in the world.) We ended up going to the courthouse, but I think it stills counts. And here's my favorite song written about Elvis. I could do this forever!

Oh, P.S. My Lana is getting surgery tomorrow (gettin' spayed). Please send good wishes to her and her worried mama.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Election Day!


Did you vote? I did. So far today I've worked a 7 hour shift, voted, eaten 1 1/2 cupcakes, pumpkin hummus and tortilla chips and captured that photo you see above. Apparently you can get a lot done when you wake up at 4:30 a.m. I also had a really awesome dream. It involved $3 lap dances. That's all I'm going to say.

For a long time I've been interested in starting my own bakery. I'm clearly at the cupcakes part of the recipe testing, so get ready for cupcakes and cupcakes and cupcakes. The cupcake you see above is an Apple Spice Cupcake with Caramel Penuche Frosting. Apparently "penuche" is pronounced "pu-noo-chee," which I find kind of funny. You can find the recipe over here.

And for your Election Day enjoyment, I hand-picked some American-themed songs. Go ahead and have an impromptu dance party.

American Girl
Born in the U.S.A.
Young Americans
American Pie

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Friday Taco Night

I had to work at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning so there was no going out on Friday night, but I did make things more special than a regular weeknight by making tacos! I even made homemade tortillas (really easy) and cashew queso. And the best part is that the leftovers lasted the whole weekend. I only just finished off the tortillas and lentil taco filling for breakfast this morning (I'm weird and eat savory things for breakfast). Here are all of the recipes I used, in case you want to have a taco-filled weekend too!

Ancho Lentil Taco Filling
Cashew Queso
Homemade Tortillas
Plus some store-bought salsa and tortilla chips to complete the meal

Don't forget to make nachos with the tortilla chips and cashew queso. You won't be sorry.

There was also some of this going on:

And this:

They're not sad. They just want tacos.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Very First Pastry Bag

The first pic up there was taken on my porch this morning (thank you, landlord, for the brand new turquoise paint!), the second last night in my apartment with the same crummy camera phone. What a difference good lighting makes!

I went to Hobby Lobby tonight and bought my very first pastry bag and decorating tip (1M, if you were wondering). I was going for a rose design, but the buttercream I made was really gritty and un-buttercream-like, more sugar cube-like due to my failed attempt at homemade powdered sugar and I think that made for a sup-par buttercream to make fancy patterns with. Better luck (and buttercream, hopefully) next time. I can't wait to buy more tips! I opted for a reusable bag so I won't have to keep buying (and wasting) more. I'm on the lookout for a great vegan buttercream frosting that holds shape well. If you have the recipe, let me know. Oh, and I used the chocolate cake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and the vanilla buttercream recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking (which I'm sure is a great recipe when using real powdered sugar).

P.S. Check out how awesome this Neopolitan Rose Cake from i am baker is (and there's also a tutorial on making roses over there too).

Now I am off to cuddle with the kitties because all that sugar is making me sick.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Baked Macaroni and Daiya Cheese

This was my first homemade Daiya-based macaroni and cheese, AND IT WAS THE BOMB! The closest I've gotten to "real" macaroni and cheese. It's very similar to the vegan mac 'n' cheese you find in restaurants like Chicago Diner and such. So cozy in this new cold weather. You can find the recipe on To Live and Eat in L.A. here (and I used the full 2 1/2 cups of milk).

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Apple Spice Scones

Ever since I tried an apple spice scone with caramel glaze from SweetArt Bakeshop & Art Studio in St. Louis (the best bakery EVER), I've been wanting to recreate it. Flaky and perfectly spiced (Reine, head baker and co-owner at SweetArt, has spicing down to an art -- just try their signature Sweet Burger). My first attempt I tried a few weeks ago didn't impress me much. After a lot of Vegan MoFo-ing this morning (i.e. looking at vegan blogs), I got the idea to use cashew cream to replace the heavy cream in cream scones. I'd been wanting to try coconut milk, but I have cashews in the house so they won. The results were delicious! I think I'll nearly double the sugar and bake them a tad bit more next time, but overall I was very happy.

I adapted this recipe from smitten kitchen.

Apple Spice Scones:

For the scones:
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar (add 2-3 tablespoons more, if you prefer a sweeter scone)
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoon coconut oil or vegan butter, chilled in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to an hour
1 cup cashew cream (recipe below)

For the spiced apples:
1 apple, skin removed, chopped finely
1 tablespoon vegan butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the cashew cream: (Note: this makes twice the amount you'll need for this recipe. Cut the recipe in half if you only want to make enough for the scones.)
1 cup cashews, soaked overnight (or soaked in just-boiled water for 30 minutes, in a time crunch)
1.5 cups cold water

Prepare the apples: Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples and cook for 5 minutes. Add cinnamon, stir and remove from heat. Transfer to a bowl and store in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Make the cashew cream: Blend soaked cashews and cold water in a high-speed blender until completely smooth. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

At this point, preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Make the scones: Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Use a box grater to grate the frozen butter or coconut oil. If you don't have a box grater, cut into small, pea-sized pieces. Add to dry ingredients and use a whisk to evenly distribute butter into the dry. Add apples and whisk again. Make a well in the center and add cold cashew cream. Use a rubber spatula to form a wet dough. Don't overmix. Flour an 8- or 9-inch pie pan and press dough into pan. Remove from pan onto a floured work surface. Cut into 8 triangles and place onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until light brown and scones bounce back when lightly touched. Cool for 10 minutes before eating, if you can wait that long!

Yield: 8 scones

Sunday, October 7, 2012

s'mores pie

you know those weeks when you're too broke to go grocery shopping and can only make meals from what's in the house? that's going on right now, and I've actually ended up making more creative meals than I probably ever have. such as:
  • s'mores pie (yep, i have vegan marshmallows in the house but not onions or garlic.)
  • gluten-free almond cupcakes with vanilla buttercream
  • lentil-rice burgers (loosely based on this recipe) made from a leftover lentils and rice dish topped with dreena burton's almonnaise
  • gluten-free banana pancakes (these actually bombed, but the dogs had a special sunday morning breakfast!)
  • split pea skordalia (surprisingly really good!)
  • papa john's pizza (ok, not creative and not even made in my kitchen. the cooler weather has made me nostalgic for my college days and i had papa john's on speed dial back then.)
i almost caved and bought nutritional yeast and pasta in order to make the vegan cheese sauce i found on your vegan mom (after spending my whole vegan mofo morning looking through her recipes, currently on october '08), but this has now become a challenge i'm enjoying (as is dyl, currently on his second piece of s'mores pie). he just pointed out that we've been eating a lot of new dishes since this challenge started. i think i'll continue even after the paychecks come waddling in.

sorry for the photo-quality. dyl was very impatient to eat his pie and refused to let me take a photo of the perfectly triangular slice on his plate.

s'mores pie:
recipe adapted from old-fashioned chocolate pudding pie from vegan pie in the sky

for the crust:*
1 3/4 cups finely ground graham crackers
3 tablespoons liquid sweetener (maple syrup or agave nectar)
4 tablespoons canola oil

for the filling:
1.5 cups almond milk
1/4 cup tapioca starch (may sub. with cornstarch)
1/3 cup hot cocoa mix (store-bought -- mine is from kalamazoo coffee comapany -- or you could make your own and use the leftovers for, um, hot cocoa.)
1 tbsp. liquid sweetener (maple syrup or agave nectar)
big pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the topping:
vegan marshmallows (i used dandies and they rock.)

assemble the crust: preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan. combine ground graham crackers, liquid sweetener of choice and canola oil in a bowl. combine with a spoon (or simply your hands). press into greased pie pan. bake for 10 minutes. let cool.

prepare the filling: combine almond milk and tapioca starch in a small saucepan. whisk well until tapioca starch is completely dissolved. add the remaining ingredients (except for vanilla extract) and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. once mixture boils, reduce heat and simmer, while whisking, for about 7 minutes or until thickened. once thickened, turn off heat and add vanilla extract. pour into prepared pie crust. cool in the refrigerator for three hours.

toast the marshmallows: once the pie has cooled, arrange marshmallows in a circle around the edge of the pan with two layers (see picture above) or however you'd like to arrange them. place pie under broiler (you'll want to move the rack to the highest rung) and toast the marshmallows until lightly brown. watch closely, this will happen fast (and you don't want the filling to melt). serve immediately. store leftovers (if you have any) in the refrigerator.

*which ended up being my favorite part of the pie! i never knew how much i loved graham crackers.

Friday, October 5, 2012

gluten-free almond cupcakes (without xanthum gum)

gluten-free almond cupcakes without xanthum gum! i'm kind of scared of the stuff. what's your take? i used flaxseed, instead, for binding, and they held together nicely. you'll need several different flours, including almond meal, for the cupcakes. almond meal is easy to make at home. just grind raw, whole almonds in a coffee grinder into a powder. be careful not to process for too long or it will turn into almond butter. i made a simple vanilla buttercream to top the cupcakes, but it was a little too sweet for my taste (which is why I prefer cookies over cupcakes). I'm thinking I'll try a dark chocolate ganache next time.

gluten-free almond cupcakes:

this recipe is from jae steele's get it ripe (one of my favorite cookbooks). i adapted it only slightly and i will note my changes. this is one of those recipes i've been meaning to try since i bought the book years ago but somehow never get around to it. tonight, finally, was the night!

1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup soy flour (the original recipe calls for 1/4 c. quinoa or millet flour here)
1/4 cup tapioca flour
2 tablespoons flax seeds, ground
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
2/3 cup nondairy milk
1/3 cup canola oil (the recipe calls for 1/3 c. softened coconut oil or sunflower oil here)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (the recipe calls for 1 tsp. each of vanilla and almond extracts)
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

preheat oven to 350. line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. combine dry ingredients in a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer). add wet ingredients (except apple cider vinegar) and mix until just combined. add apple cider vinegar and stir just until incorporated. batter will be thin. evenly distribute batter into muffin cups 3/4 cup full. bake for 22-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. let cool completely, then carefully remove from pan and top with your favorite icing.

yield: about 12 cupcakes

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Kale Almond Pesto

I seem to always have a bunch of kale in my refrigerator, so kale pesto is found more frequently in my house than basil (the vision of my indoor herb garden has yet to be realized). I've made my share of kale pestos and this is by far my favorite. It's quite addictive with a beautiful bright green color. Try it on pasta or spread on good-quality toasted bread with local tomatoes.

Kale Almond Pesto:

4 cups kale, stems removed
2/3 cup toasted almonds
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

In a food processor, chop kale. Add almonds and garlic and process until close to uniform. Add nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt and black pepper and pulse a few times. While machine is running, slowly add olive oil. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

easy peasy strawberry jam

in michigan, strawberries are still in season! crazy, huh? they're good, too. small and full of flavor. i bought some and made jam. here's an easy, fast recipe. perfect for bread, butter + jam or pouring over vegan ice cream. you could even try stirring it into your favorite nondairy milk. or just eat it straight out of the jar.

strawberry jam:

adapted from whole berry sauce in vegan brunch

4 cups strawberries, fresh or frozen (preferably local, in season)
1/3 cup local maple syrup or sugar
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water

combine all ingredients in a saucepan until arrowroot is dissolved. heat on medium for 15 minutes, stirring often, until thickened and the berries are broken down a bit. if using frozen berries, the cooking time will take longer. let sit for at least ten minutes before serving. this is best served at room temperature or straight from the fridge. store in the fridge in an airtight jar.

yield: 1 14 fl. oz. jar's worth

Monday, September 17, 2012

celine steen's caramel chocolate squares

If you only make one dessert this year (by year I'm referring to the Jewish calendar, this being the first day), let it be these bars. I made them yesterday, haven't shared with a soul and they will be nonexistent by my bedtime (which is in about an hour, sad to say*). They are so darn good. They remind me of toffee, caramel (obviously) and maple candy all in one bite. And they are pretty resilient to changes. I made a bunch of changes (based on what I had available in the cupboard) and had no problem. You can find the original recipe on Have Cake, Will Travel. I'm going to re-post the recipe below with my changes (just in case your cupboard is pretty bare bones these days like mine). I wish I would've taken a picture of the bars, but mine didn't turn out quite as pretty as Celine's (and my camera sucks and did I mention I have to be back up at 1 a.m.?). But you can find a perfect, mouthwatering photo of them over at HCWT.

Caramel Chocolate Squares:

Adapted from Celine Steen's Caramel Nut Barley Squares**

For the crust:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (or olive oil or canola oil, if it's all you've got) + more if needed (add a tablespoon at a time until the crust holds together nicely when pressed)
1/4 cup liquid sweetener (maple syrup, agave nectar or brown rice syrup -- take your pick)

For the filling:
2 tablespoons water (you can also use nondairy milk, but I was out and it worked fine with water)
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice (or sucanat)
1/4 cup liquid sweetener (brown rice syrup works best here)
Generous pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips

Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350. Spray 8-inch square pan lightly with oil. Add flour, sea salt and liquid sweetener to the bowl of a food processor. Add oil 1 tablespoon at a time until it holds together when pressed (I needed slightly more than 1/4 cup for this). Press dough down very firmly into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

Make the filling: Place the water, evaporated cane juice, liquid sweetener in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add the sea salt and vanilla. Stir well.

Assemble: Pour the caramel mixture over the pre-baked crust and use a spatula to spread it evenly over the crust. Bake for another 15 minutes. Turn the oven off. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and place pan back in the oven just until the chocolate chips melt. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate chips over the caramel layer. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour and then cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days (or freeze for longer). These are best eaten at room temperature.

Yield: 16 squares

*I'm the midnight baker for a coffee shop, so I've gotta be back up at 1 a.m.!
**I left the nuts out cuz I wasn't in a very nutty mood. I think I'll try the nuts next time!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

basil walnut + roasted tomato pesto

The color of this pesto, due to the roasted tomatoes, is not the most appetizing (therefore I took the photo down I previously had up). But it tastes amazing. There are two steps involved in the process, as you will need to roast the tomatoes first and then blend them into the pesto. The fastest, most effiicient way to prepare this is to start roasting the tomatoes, prepare the rest of the pesto ingredients and get it all blended and then blend the tomatoes in when they are done roasting. Try this on pizza, pasta (with a pat of non-dairy butter or a touch of olive oil) or served on crostini or grilled tofu.

Basil Walnut + Roasted Tomato Pesto:

2 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
5 cups (20g) loosely-packed basil leaves
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1 lb. oven-roasted grape tomatoes (see directions.)

Begin roasting the tomatoes.

Blend remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add additional olive oil or water, if needed, to thin pesto as desired. Add roasted tomatoes. Serve as desired.

Yield: About 1 cup

Friday, August 3, 2012

raspberry chocolate chip muffins

I know I said these muffins were pretty peachy, but these are even better. It doesn't get any better than the classic combination of raspberries and chocolate. Maybe white chocolate, but that's a post for another day.

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unrefined sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup nondairy milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup raspberries (frozen or fresh)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (see note below)

Note: I prefer the chocolate chips ground up into smaller pieces by pulsing in a food processor or spice grinder, but that's your call.

Preheat oven to 375. Line a muffin tin with baking cups and spray lightly with oil.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk wet ingredients in a separate smaller bowl. Add raspberries and chocolate chips to dry ingredients and fold them in using your hands. Add wet to dry, stirring gently until just-combined, being careful not to overmix.

Spoon batter into cups, filling to the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Yield: 12 muffins

Friday, July 27, 2012

blueberry muffins

After a long heat streak, today was finally cooler and we got a little preview of fall, my favorite time of year. These blueberry muffins made an already beautiful day even finer.

Blueberry Muffins:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unrefined sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup nondairy milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)

Preheat oven to 375. Line a muffin tin with baking cups and spray lightly with oil.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk wet ingredients in a separate smaller bowl. Add blueberries to dry ingredients and fold them in using your hands. Add wet to dry, stirring gently until just-combined, being careful not to overmix.

Spoon batter into cups, filling to the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Yield: 12 muffins

I hope you and your furry friends have been enjoying cooler weather too!