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!