Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tea-Infused Truffles

I've been on a truffle kick lately. And also a tea kick ever since my love for Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea was rekindled when I fell off the caffeine-free wagon recently (or did I get back on the caffeine wagon?). The cinnamon and sweet cloves lend a warm, spicy kick to these rich, melt-in-your-mouth truffles. Any tea would do in this recipe, though. Earl Grey would be divine, as would Chai. And how about Jasmine? The possibilities are endless!

Tea-Infused Truffles:

8 oz. dark chocolate, divided and chopped finely
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 oz. loose tea of your choice (or five tea bags, bags removed)
3 tablespoons vegan butter, room temperature
1/2 c. cocoa powder, for dusting (optional)

Heat coconut milk and tea over medium-low heat in a small saucepan, until hot but not boiling. Quickly strain out tea and pour hot coconut milk over 4 oz. chocolate in a small bowl. Stir quickly with a rubber spatula until chocolate melts completely. Add butter and stir until completely melted. Let mixture cool in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Remove from refrigerator and scoop tablespoonfuls of mixture and roll into balls. Let chill in refrigerator while you melt the remaining chocolate.

Melt 4 oz. chocolate over low heat in a small saucepan. When melted, use two spoons to dip each ball in melted chocolate, rolling around to completely coat. Transfer to plate and continue with remaining balls. Dust with cocoa powder, if desired.

Yield: 12 truffles

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Homemade Toffee and Chocolate Chunk Scones

We have a scone like this at the bakery I work at, except these ones are vegan! The creamy coconut milk results in a tender, flaky crumb and the toffee and chocolate go together perfectly. Definitely save this one for the weekend.

Homemade Toffee and Chocolate Chunk Scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons vegan butter, cold and cut into pea-sized pieces
1 cup full-fat coconut milk, cold
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup toffee bits (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oil. (If you have a seasoned cast-iron pan, you don't need to use parchment paper or oil.)

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a medium-sized bowl (use the bowl of an electric stand mixer, if available). Cut butter into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, two knives or your fingertips (if using an electric stand mixer, mix with a paddle). Add dark chocolate and toffee bits and stir to combine. Add coconut milk and vanilla extract and mix until just-combined.

Liberally flour a clean surface and flour hands. Form dough into a 9-inch circle. Cut into 8 pieces. Carefully transfer pieces to prepared baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until scone springs back to the touch. Let cool for several minutes on baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Yield: 8 scones

Homemade Toffee:

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup nondairy milk
3 tablespoons vegan butter

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for three minutes. Lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, whisking occasionally. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let dry. When dry, chop into small pieces. Alternatively, let dry in saucepan and chop into small pieces when still warm with a metal spatula.

Yield: 1 cup toffee bits

Monday, February 11, 2013

Israeli Couscous with Dried Cranberries, Almonds and Orange Zest

I love the combination of sweet and savory. This dish strikes a perfect balance of the two. While it only takes a few minutes to put together, you can fool your guests by its decadent results!

Also, um, that yellow in the background is an old t-shirt. I really need to shop around for some fabric!

Israeli Couscous with Dried Cranberries, Almonds and Orange Zest:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Israeli couscous
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup water
Zest from 1 orange
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Juice from 1 orange
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and onion, and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add Israeli couscous and toast for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add coconut milk, water, orange zest, orange juice, cumin, cardamom, 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 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.

Yield: 4 servings