Archive for May, 2009

Sugar Cookie Bottoms

My dear friend Zoe inspired a second birthday-worthy dessert! I got the idea from a picture uploaded to Flickr by Stacie of Cupcakes Take The Cake, and so for Zoe’s dessert party, I made these oh-so-classy decorated sugar cookies. It was a pretty simple operation; make sugar cookies cut into heart-shapes with the points cut off, turn upside down, add some royal icing, and voilà! You have cute little scantilly-clad ladies’ bottoms! Halfway through cutting out the hearts, I felt a little exploitative and decided I should make some men, so I pulled out a sharp knife and designed some boxer/brief cookies too, and felt a bit better about the project. Here is an assortment of the cookies:

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I used the sugar cookie recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking, and it had the perfect rolling-out consistency!

Here is my recipe for Royal Icing:
*Each batch is enough to coat 24 small cookies.
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
6-8 teaspoons of almond milk
4 teaspoons of light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
assorted food coloring

In medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and almond milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add water, only a few drops at a time.
Separate into small bowls, and add food coloring to desired intensity. Spread on cookies with a knife and use toothpicks for detailing, and allow to dry overnight.

It was pretty amusing to play around with different combinations of cookies, so I’ve left some here for you to see:

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

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This is a week of birthdays (for me, this means that it is a week of non-stop baking!). So, in the next few days, you can look forward to many new recipes and photographs as I get around to posting them. We started celebrating early, and ate incredibly decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake on Monday to celebrate three of our birthdays together. My dear friend Zoe put in the flavor request, and she certainly got what she ordered! A three-layer fluffy dark chocolate cake, with creamy peanut butter cream cheese frosting and filling, and sinfully dark peanut butter-chocolate ganache poured over the top. While it is all of my favorites (peanut butter, chocolate, and cream cheese frosting) rolled into one, I still thought the cream cheese-peanut butter combination would be a little weird…But then I thought about it, and realized how silly that was. Obviously it was good. The sweet and salty tastes combined were out of this world! We sat around eating the frosting by itself for awhile, before realizing that we should save some to eat on top of chocolate cake, where it would also taste great.

This recipe is heavenly and heavy and definitely my favorite cake that I’ve ever made! It was really hard to stop eating it. I got the recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, and am so grateful to her for posting such an amazing dessert! I adapted her recipe for the frosting and the ganache to make them vegan, but substituted the basic Chocolate Cake recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking in for the cake layers, so that it would be a bit lighter than the sour cream chocolate cake that Deb used. It was still moist and definitely over-the-top rich!

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Agave-Sweetened Almond Quinoa Muffins

I had a ton of left-over quinoa this weekend, and while I’ve been very happy to add it to my oatmeal and salads, I wanted to find something else creative to do with it. I made quinoa muffins awhile ago (a year ago! Wow, how time flies…), and they were delicious. The recipe I used both times is from Veganomicon, and the only adaptation I made to the original recipe is to add half a teaspoon of baking powder (to make the muffins rise a bit more) and substitute chopped dried cherries instead of apricots or currants because that’s what I had on hand.

When I first tasted the muffins, a few minutes out of the oven, they were very moist and dense but still delicious. The next day when they were completely cooled and had sat out overnight, they felt a bit fluffier and lighter, which was interesting. You can’t taste the almond at all, and I’m a big almond fan, so next time I might add chopped almonds or even a bit of almond extract to the batter, but the muffins certainly don’t need that unless you’re really looking for the almond flavor. The cardamom and cinnamon spices are not overpowering, and are just plain yummy!

I love the bumpy texture that the quinoa gives the tops of the muffins, and the healthy/protein-jump-start to the day that these muffins give you. I also really like that these muffins are delicately sweet, and sweetened only with agave (so really, it would be quite healthy to eat 2 for breakfast everyday, right?). Mmm. As a big nut-butter fan, I found that they were delicious with hazelnut butter spread thickly on top!

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Ingredients:
1 cup plain non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 Tblsp. ground flax seeds
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (you can use whole wheat pastry flour, your muffin will just be a bit heavier)
1/4 cup almond meal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 1/4 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
1/2 cup finely chopped dried cherries (or whatever dried fruit & nuts you want to use)

Preheat the oven to 350° F, and line or grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
Whisk the almond milk and flax seeds in a small bowl.
Sift the dry ingredients (except the quinoa, which isn’t really dry, but just in case) together into a big bowl.
To the almond milk mixture, add the oil, agave, and vanilla.
Pour the wet stuff into the dry stuff and mix with a wooden spoon just until it’s combined.
Add the quinoa and cherries and fold in gently to combine.
Spoon the batter in the muffin tin, and bake for 20 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

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Piña Colada Ice Cream Cupcake

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I made these cupcakes a few weeks ago, but somehow haven’t gotten around to posting them till now…They were AMAZING. My friend Julie gave me the idea to make pineapple upside down cupcakes (way cuter than the traditional larger cake size! Each cupcake had it’s own round pineapple slice topper, and when flipped over, the cone shape of the cupcake is unusual and very appealing).

I sliced each cupcake in half horizontally and put a thick layer of Toasted Coconut ice cream in the middle, like a sandwich. I used a coconut milk-based vegan ice cream that came from Maggie Mudd, which has been my favorite vegan ice cream brand that I’ve found so far (and it’s local!); I also like it because there’s no soy (or dairy, of course) involved and it is still rich and creamy and delicious.

To make it really taste like a Piña Colada, this cupcake definitely needed some rum! So I whipped up a rum-caramel glaze and poured it over the cupcakes. The warm glaze was delicious and complimented the cold ice cream, although it started melting the ice cream right away and so my picture is a bit melty-looking. The combination was great though, and the whole cupcake had a distinctly tropical flavor. To give it more of a cocktail look, we stuck an umbrella-toothpick in the top and a maraschino cherry for good measure.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups flour (I used 1 cup white and 1/4 whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. brown sugar + extra for sprinkling on pineapple
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 bottle of maraschino cherries
1 20 oz. can pineapple slices in unsweetened pineapple juice
1 cup pineapple juice reserved from can of slices
1/4 cup rum
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 Tblsp. apple cider vinegar
non-stick spray
*You will also need coconut flavored ice cream, brand of your choice!

Rum Caramel Sauce:
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tblsp. rum (or to taste)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray cupcake pan with non-stick spray, making sure to cover the sides.
Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and set aside.
In separate bowl, mix pineapple juice, rum, applesauce, and vinegar.
Lay pineapple rounds on the bottom of the pan, one in each cupcake spot (you may have to cut the rounds and place cut edges back together to make smaller circles, to make them fit. At this point, you could also choose to take cherries and stick one in each of the pineapple holes, but we chose to add the cherries after baking. Sprinkle pineapple and cherries evenly with a little bit of brown sugar.
Quickly mix the wet ingredients with the dry. Batter will foam up nicely.
Pour into pan immediately and bake for about 18-22 minutes, or till center is firm and tops spring back when touched lightly. Leave cakes in the pan for 5 minutes to firm up, and then remove before the bottoms caramelize and stick too much to the pan.

When cupcakes have cooled completely, cut them in half horizontally and spread ice cream in between the layers (it helps to have softened the ice cream out of the freezer just a bit before spreading).

To make the sauce, cook all ingredients in a small saucepan till boiling. Cook for only 1-2 minutes after boiling, and then remove from heat. Let it cool slightly, but not too much or it will become too thick (you can always heat it up again quickly and it will thin out). Drizzle over the top of the cupcakes, and place an additional cherry on top. Eat immediately!

icecreamcupcakes2009I’m entering these cupcakes in the Ice Cream Cupcakes contest hosted by Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious! Make sure to check back there in the first week of June for a roundup of ice cream cupcakes. And when it’s time to vote on the best cupcakes, please vote for me! I’ll put up a reminder post here, so you can make sure to go vote when the times comes! Thanks!

Corn Cherry Scones

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I’m really on a scone kick! I want to make them all the time. Here’s my second attempt, and it is another adapted and veganized scone recipe from The Cheeseboard Cookbook. To celebrate the beautiful weather we’ve been having lately, my friend Rachel had a grilling party tonight, and the corn-cherry combination struck me as tasting very summery. The cornmeal added good crunchy texture, and made the scones savory enough to go alongside the grilled vegetables, and the cherries were tart and added a nice bite to the gently sweet scone. The cherries were also a beautiful deep red and looked stunning in the light yellow cornmeal batter! Because they didn’t have the butter and buttermilk that the original recipe called for, these scones were lighter than the classic Cheeseboard/Arizmendi creation so they were perfect for dessert (or snack).

P1000945Ingredients:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tblsp. baking powder
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup medium-grind cornmeal
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup millet (measure whole millet, then grind to a meal-consistency before adding to dry ingredients)
1 cup cold Earth Balance, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup dried cherries
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.

Combine the almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a measuring cup and stir together quickly. Let stand for a few minutes till good and curdled. While you are waiting, sift the flour, soda, and baking powder together into a large bowl. Add the 2/3 cup sugar, cornmeal, almond meal, and ground millet together, and stir with a wooden spoon till combined. Add the Earth Balance and cut it in with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until it is the size of small peas.

P1000918#3 Using the spoon, mix in the cherries. Make a well in the center and add the almond milk-apple cider vinegar mixture. Mix briefly, just until the ingredients come together; some loose flour should remain at the bottom of the bowl. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes so some of the liquid soaks into the cornmeal and millet.

P1000926Gently shape the dough into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter (they should have a rough, rocky exterior) and place them on the prepared pan about 2 inches apart.
Sprinkle the 1/4 cup sugar on top of the scones and place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and immediately turn the temperature down to 375 degrees. Bake for 17-20 minutes, until the scones are golden. Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool.

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Almond Cupcakes

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I made these cupcakes for a fundraiser for the youth group I was in during high school (JYCA) and wanted to make something that would appeal to everyone. I decided on an almond flavor cake, and was going to go with an almond frosting but thought that the sweet almond flavor would be too cloying in such a large amount. I settled with making a basic buttercream frosting. I colored the frosting purple and orange to match JYCA’s colors! I made mini cupcakes for the event, but also made a few regular-sized cupcakes for close friends and family. Here is a picture of the cupcakes before I frosted them, so you can see the beautiful brown almond flecks:

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Here they are after frosting:

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This recipe is adapted from the Golden Vanilla Cupcake and Fluffy Buttercream Frosting recipes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. Added warning: This recipe is doubled, and will make about 80 mini cupcakes.

Ingredients:
2 cups almond milk
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond meal
4 Tblsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 tsp. almond extract

Frosting:
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup almond milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line mini-muffin pans with cupcake liners.
Whisk the almond milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside a few minutes to get good and curdled.
Beat together the almond milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix until no large lumps remain.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full, and bake for 15-17 minutes till done (you can stick a toothpick in the center and it should come out clean). Leave in muffin tins for 3-5 minutes after taking out of the oven, so the cakes can set, and then take out of the tins and place on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting, cream together the shortening and margarine until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for abut 3 more minutes. Add the vanilla and almond milk, beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy.

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Lemon Apricot Scones

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Sari, Julie, and I made these scones for a potluck yesterday. They were light and delicately lemony on their own, but the lemon-vanilla glaze drizzled over the top gave them a bit of a sweet-and-sour bite. These scones would be perfect for breakfast, paired with tea or coffee, and were delicious as a dessert as well!

Here is the recipe we adapted (and veganized) from a lemon scone recipe from The Cheeseboard Cookbook.

Scone Ingredients:
3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped small
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
3/4 cup white sugar
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tblsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cold Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Glaze Ingredients:
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tsp. lemon zest, for sprinkling over scones at the end

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.
Combine apricots, lemon zest, and sugar in a small bowl.

P1000734Mix 3/4 cup of soy milk with the apple cider vinegar in a measuring cup. Set aside for a few minutes till it curdles. While you wait, sift the flour, baking soda, and baking powder together into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. Add the salt and lemon sugar to the bowl and mix on a low speed until combined. Add the margarine and cut it in on low speed for about 4 minutes, or until it is the size of small peas.

P1000738Make a well in the center and add the soy milk and apple cider vinegar/soy milk mixture. Mix briefly, just until the ingredients come together; some loose flour should remain at the bottom of the bowl.

P1000746Gently shape the dough into balls about 2 1/4 inches in diameter (they should have a rough, rocky exterior) and place them on the prepared pan about 2 inches apart. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool.

P1000757To make the glaze, 5 minutes before the scones come out of the oven, pour the lemon juice and vanilla into a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the confectioners’ sugar to make a smooth mixture. Line a work surface with newspaper and place a wire rack on top. Transfer the scones to the rack. Let cool for 5 minutes, then use your whisk to drizzle the glaze over the top of each scone. We sprinkled a bit of extra lemon zest over the scones for a finishing touch. Let the glaze set before serving.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

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To quote my friend Claryn, these are the “Best Damn Chocolate Chip Cookies in the Universe” – I have to whole-heartedly agree. These cookies were fantastic! Chewy, delicious, definitely home-style, and very easy to whip up quickly! Claryn made these same cookies on her blog, and sent me the recipe. We used different egg replacers, so the density of the cookies turned out a little differently (mine stayed in a similar shape as to how I put them on the pan, while her’s spread out some), but I’m sure the taste was nearly the same. We both like our cookies under-baked so the the texture was perfectly soft and gooey for both of us. The recipe is adapted from Vegan Planet, and then I folded a small amount of chopped walnuts and pecans into the batter for some added crunch.

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Funfetti Mini Cupcakes

A dear friend of mine, we’ll call her X, turned 7 recently, and my birthday present to her was to have a fancy tea party for ourselves and our American Girl dolls. I dug my doll out of it’s storage box deep in the closet, and pulled out all the doll-sized accessories I could find from my childhood. I had a great time setting up both for the real-person tea party and the doll party. We both dressed up in our best dresses, and dressed our dolls up…X and her doll even had matching fancy dresses!

When I was little, one of my favorite kinds of celebratory cake was the Funfetti cake mix cake – you know, the white vanilla cake with multi-colored sprinkles inside so that it looked like little confetti dots when you cut into it? With cream cheese frosting and more confetti sprinkles on top, of course! So for X’s birthday, we made a vegan version of this treat from scratch. And we made it in mini cupcake form; a perfect tea party size.

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We squeezed a star-shaped dollop of frosting onto the top of each cupcake, and decorated each with a different kind (or mix of) sprinkles. That was perhaps the most fun part, seeing how many combinations of sprinkles we could come up with!

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This is a recipe that I have been using for a long time to bake fluffy white cakes that take me back to my childhood, so it was perfect with some sprinkles thrown into the batter at the end. This recipe made about 48 mini cupcakes.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Earth Balance, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tblsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer, blended till foamy with 4 Tblsp. warm water
3/4 cup almond milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tblsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup multi-colored confetti sprinkles

Ingredients for Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese (I like Tofutti brand)
1/4 cup Earth Balance, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Pre-heat your oven to 350, and line a mini-muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together Earth Balance and sugar. Add in the vanilla and blended Egg Replacer. Mix in the almond milk, alternating with the flour mixture until you’ve added everything. Stir in your sprinkles, just before spooning batter into the muffin tin. Fill tins nearly to the top so that you get a nice rounded top to your cupcakes. Bake for 13-16 minutes.

Cream together the frosting ingredients, and either spread on top of your cupcakes with a palette knife or squeeze on with a frosting tube decorator in whatever shape you want! Add additional sprinkles on top.

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Russian Poppy Seed Roulette

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Last weekend, Sasha and I made this delicious Russian poppy seed-filled bread. We have been planning to do this for months, since Purim, when we each made Hamantaschen and had tons of poppy seed filling left over. Luckily, that sickly-sweet paste lasts forever so it was fine to save in the refrigerator and use again. This is a treat that Sasha remembers from her childhood, and it was really really good! The bread is just a tad bit sweet, and the poppy seed filling is spiked with cinnamon, cloves, and lemon, which lends a sophisticated flavor to the sticky sweet poppy seed filling.

Ingredients for Dough:
3/4 cup rice milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tblsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup Earth Balance
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (approx.)
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp salt
2 flax-eggs (combine 1 Tblsp. of ground flax seed with 3 Tblsp. warm water for each “egg”–mix well until you have a gummy consistency)

Ingredients for Poppy Seed Filling:
1 cup store-bought poppy seed filling
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tblsp. chopped lemon rind
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup chopped pecan pieces

Topping:
1/4 cup rice milk

Step one: In small microwaveable bowl or saucepan, warm milk. In separate bowl, dissolve 1 tsp (5 mL) of the sugar in 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the warm milk. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand for a few minutes until frothy.

Meanwhile, stir Earth Balance and remaining sugar into remaining milk; heat until Earth Balance is melted. Let cool to lukewarm.

In large bowl, whisk 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) of the flour, lemon zest and salt. Make a well in in the center, and add flax-eggs, milk mixture and yeast mixture. With wooden spoon, stir to form soft, slightly sticky dough that comes away from side of bowl.

Step two: Turn out onto floured surface; knead for 2 minutes or until smooth, adding enough of the remaining flour as necessary. Place in a greased ceramic bowl, turning to grease dough all over. Cover and let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Step 3: While your dough is rising, combine your poppy seed filling with the cinnamon, cloves, lemon juice, chopped lemon rind, and chopped pecans to taste.

Step 4: When your dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Turn out onto floured surface. Roll out into a 14- x 12-inch rectangle.

img_81882Step 5: Leaving 1/2-inch border uncovered around all edges, spread flattened dough with filling. Starting at long side, roll up, pinching seam to seal.

Place roll diagonally and seam side down on greased baking sheet. Cut slits in the top using scissors to make a pretty design. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place for 1 hour.

Topping: Brush rice milk over dough. Bake in center of 350°F oven until golden and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 30 minutes.

Step 6: Transfer baking sheet to rack; drape dry towel over loaf (for softer crust) and let cool for 20 minutes. Uncover and remove sheet; let loaf cool on rack completely before slicing.

img_81922We decided that this bread could be eaten for dessert, breakfast, with tea, or just as a snack. The recipe is versatile, and could also be made with a chocolate filling, or even with a cinnamon-butter filling and it would be a cinnamon roll!

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