Archive for June, 2009

Pineapple Coconut Sorbet


Mmm! Tara made another kind of ice cream! This time it was a super refreshing, definitely summer-celebratory, creamy, and delicious sorbet. The idea was inspired by two different events. Last week, we went to a wonderful cafe in The Hague that had great smoothies and sandwiches. We went after yoga, so clearly a hydrating and fruity smoothie was needed! I ordered a pineapple coconut smoothie, and it was amazing! Super rich from the coconut milk, with a super sweet yet tangy bite from the pineapple. I was in heaven! So that was the first event…When we got home, we realized that we had a few pineapples left over from our trip to the market the previous week (have I mentioned how amazing and bountiful the market that Jesse and Tara go to is? It is really insane with tons of people all over the place in this outdoor produce/clothing/everything market, and you can get pounds and pounds of vegetables and fruits for very cheap! One of our trips resulted in 35 pounds of produce for only 15 euro! Amazing). So we needed something to do with our left-over pineapple, and making a sorbet using my smoothie ingredients sounded perfect for the hot weather we were having. Tara used her stand-by recipe, but used pureed fresh pineapple instead of the fresh orange juice. This is a very simple recipe, using few ingredients, and so you can taste both the fresh pineapple and the coconut very clearly. We topped ours with chopped roasted cashews. Yum!

1 cup of coconut cream
1 cup fresh pureed pineapple
3/4 cup superfine sugar

Blend all ingredients together. It should have the consistency of a thick smoothie. Then you simply place this mixture in an ice cream maker, and follow your ice cream maker’s manufacturer’s instructions. Remember that there is no setting agent, so this ice cream does melt quickly! Don’t worry though, this recipe makes only about 4 servings, and you won’t be able to stop eating it so there won’t be much to save…


Cocovado Ice Cream


I’m cheating a little because I had no part of the making of this ice cream, except for the original idea and the tasting of the sweet cream before it was frozen. My brother Jesse made it, combining the rich avocado and coconut cream together with what I thought was the perfect amount of orange juice tying it all together. He thought he would add less orange juice next time in order to taste the avocado better, but I think the citrus adds a lot in complexity to the otherwise simple recipe.

Tara’s review is that the ice cream was incredibly creamy, and would have been perfect sandwiched between two dark chocolate cookies.

A few weeks ago, Tara sent me their basic vegan ice cream recipe, and I was shocked by how delightfully easy it was. They had tried many other recipes with agar agar and arrowroot and cooking the coconut milk, etc., etc., and they liked this the best, because it tasted freshest. She’s right, it is a simple recipe, but I think that’s what makes it taste so good. The taste of every ingredient really stands out. It’s very nice for summertime.

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Pumpkin Seed Oil Cake

IMG_9463#2Tara’s mom lives in Vienna, and a popular item there is Pumpkin Seed Oil! They eat it on salads as a dressing, and there is a pound cake that is made with it as well. Pumpkin Seed Oil has an intense and exquisite nutty taste, and is rich in essential fatty acids, so it’s very good for you, as well as producing a great green color to anything it touches!

Tara was so excited about the oil that her mom very generously gave us some, and today we baked the cake! We had to pretty radically adjust the recipe to make it vegan, because it used a lot of butter and eggs. But we came up with something good and it worked very well. Our cake was a deep green and a good heavy consistency. As it wasn’t too sweet, it would be great as a brunch item (with green eggs and ham?), but we got a little creative and added a few different sauces and icings to sweeten it up. You can see from the photo above, that we made a cashew icing that I’ve used before, from Hannah Kaminsky’s blog. This time I wanted it thicker, so I simply doubled the amount of cashews. As usual, it was delightfully creamy and rich. It was perfect paired with the cake!

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Olive Oil Flax Seed Vegan Challah Bread


It seemed almost silly to try to make vegan Challah bread. The whole point of the bread is that it’s egg bread, right? I’m always craving it though, that fluffy pull-apart braided deliciousness that I grew up eating and loving. I made it once before, substituting bananas for the eggs, and it had the perfect texture down pat. However, while you couldn’t actually taste the bananas very clearly, their sweetness carried over through baking and made the bread much sweeter than traditional Challah. It would have been perfect Challah to make into French Toast.

This time, I wanted a more savory Challah flavor, so I found a new recipe that used Flax Seeds instead of eggs, and I subbed olive oil in place of the usual canola oil; This way, it was much less of a dessert bread! The ground flax left beautiful brown flecks all over, and the olive oil made lovely little golden specks throughout the bread. This recipe was very simple, with few ingredients and the only trick was that I needed to have the time at home to do it. You can find the original recipe here on the “Holy Cow!” blog.

The fresh-baked aroma was enticing, and we gobbled this loaf up in mere minutes, as soon as I took the bread out of the oven! My brother claims he ate over half of it by himself in 3 minutes, but as a witness and participant, I know that he definitely had some help. It was good with melted vegan butter spread on it, and would have been great with some avocado slices (but we ate the bread too fast to remember that we had avocado in the house…).

I’m planning on making this recipe again and again, and I’m really into variations; For instance, I could have added a bit of crushed roasted garlic into the dough and it would definitely have tasted great! Next time, I’m looking forward to making this recipe with canola oil instead of olive, and rolling the dough out, sprinkling cinnamon and sugar over it, and then rolling it up and baking it in a loaf pan, to get fluffy cinnamon bread (like the kind that Semifreddi’s makes). Doesn’t that sound delicious?

2 1/4 tsp. or 1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water

Mix the yeast and the warm water in a mixing bowl and leave alone for five minutes to ensure the yeast is alive. If it froths and bubbles, it is!

Add to the bowl:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 Tblsp. ground flax seed meal + 6 Tblsp. water, whisked together to form a jelly
3 Tblsp. olive oil
3 Tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. sea salt

Mix on medium-low speed until blended. Add:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Knead on medium low speed in a stand mixer for about 5 minutes or about 10 minutes by hand. The dough should be elastic and smooth.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, turn it once to coat the top with oil, then cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 2 1/2 hours in a warm place (I used a slightly preheated oven, which then I turned off and just let the bowl with dough sit in there).
Punch down the dough, knead a bit, and then place back into your bowl in a warm place, covered with your plastic wrap, until the dough has doubled (mine took about 30 minutes).

IMG_9344 Divide the dough into three balls. Roll each ball into a rope about 12 inches in length. Dust with flour.
Braid the strands, and pinch together the ends and tuck them under the bread.

IMG_9353 Transfer the loaf to a baking sheet.
Brush the top of the loaf with some olive oil which will give it a lovely glaze after baking.
Cover the loaf with oiled plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise. In about an hour, it would have nearly doubled in size.
Brush the loaf again with olive oil, sprinkle some sesame seeds over it, then place it in a preheated 375-degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Cool the loaf on a rack before cutting in…Or just dig in and tear madly, and then stuff your face, like we did.

It even had that perfect, stretchy, pull-apart consistency:


Speculaas Cupcakes


Speculaas is this amazing Dutch dessert…It’s actually 3 different products, or perhaps more, I don’t really know the extent of it’s amazingness. What I was introduced to though is first, the Speculaas cookie. It’s sort of like a graham cracker, in that it is not too sweet and it’s cinnamony. It is a bit more buttery (although you can find vegan ones in supermarkets easily!), is harder (like a thin, crunchy, shortbread cookie biscuit), and is stamped with ornate molds on the tops, so they are very pretty and always different depending where you get them.

They sell them prepackaged in stores or also you can get them at bakeries, in different small or very large sizes. Dutch people (and also Belgian, because I saw them in Brussels…Although in Belgium you call them Speculoos, not Speculaas) eat them with tea for breakfast. Yum. Apparently you can also get them in the States but they are called Dutch Windmill Cookies (and, I’m not sure that those are vegan).


Speculaas have a very specific spice mix that adds to the flavor. It is a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, coriander, and sometimes white pepper. And the secret ingredient is orange rind! Yummy. They taste like Fall to me. You can buy this spice mix in the spice section of the grocery store here, if you wanted to bake your own Speculaas cookies…Or make cupcakes with it, as we did! I think I’ll have to create my own spice mix back in the States because it is really delicious and then I can eat Speculaas all the time!

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Les Gateaux Chocolat (aka Cake Balls)

Tara and I made Cake Balls again, which are officially going to be called Les Gateaux Chocolat from now on, since that sounds much fancier…And, we recently went to Brussels and spent tons of time in fancy chocolate shops and this new name sounds much more European, and let’s be honest, that’s just more appealing.


Because Les Gateaux Chocolat is best made from left-over cake and frosting, we used orange-chocolate cupcakes and chocolate peanut butter frosting that Tara had made before I arrived here, and then of course we dipped them in a heavy layer of dark chocolate. Even though we knew that chocolate peanut butter is delicious, and orange chocolate too, we were unsure what the final combination of flavors would be like; in the end, it turned out great and the flavors worked really well together!

White Chocolate Chunk, Double Chocolate Cookies

Tara and I have been baking up a storm, and to show you the first delectable treat we made, here are chewy gooey double chocolate cookies! They were thick and almost brownie-like in texture. We used the basic recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen (I’ve used it many times before and it always comes out great!), and we threw in some white chocolate chunks to satisfy Jesse’s sweet tooth. Mmm.

Here’s a picture of the cookie dough balls, waiting to be baked:

IMG_9196And here they are, cooling:


Cuptarts from Tara


I am visiting my brother Jesse and his partner Tara, who live in The Hague, in the Netherlands. I arrived here on Sunday, and Jesse picked me up from the airport in Amsterdam. When we arrived back at their apartment, I was greeted by amazing Tara and beautiful pastries that she had made! They are small pies, or tarts, which are more cupcake sized than pie sized, so we decided they should be called “Cuptarts”. They were absolutely gorgeous, and incredibly tasty too!


They had a thick (but light and flaky) gluten-free pistachio crust and were filled with Chocolate Avocado Mousse, and then topped with a variety of fresh fruits. Some even had sugared lavender arranged on the top! They were delightful in presentation and flavor, and they were even portable, so we took them on a little boating trip/picnic the next day.


Pistachio, Cherry, and Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Plus M&M Cookies!)


I made these lovely pistachio, cherry, and chocolate chunk cookies with the same cookie dough recipe that I have used many times before, and before…I love the combination of chewy and crispy textures that this dough gets when baked. I like throwing in different nuts or dried fruits and chocolates and it seems like all mixes work and are delicious. The pistachios and cherries made a great color palate, and a nice sweet, tart, and salty flavor combination.

It was the last day of the school year today, and one of the 7 year old boys that I work with melted me to pieces with his big puppy eyes and suckered me into making M&M Cookies (which aren’t vegan because M&Ms aren’t vegan…The first non-vegan dessert I’ve made in a long time!) so I just threw some of the M&Ms into the vegan dough I was making and they worked great, and were a big hit with the kids at school. They were very colorful and fun. The teachers liked them too, although they certainly enjoyed their “adult” cookies with the chocolate, nuts, and cherries as well!


Black Sesame Seed Peanut Butter Cookies, round 2


This was the second time I’ve made these cookies, and again, they were cute and delicious. This time I made them a little larger, but kept the recipe the same. Even with the increase in size, they still had those lovely crinkles on top after baking, which is maybe my favorite part (but really, there’s so much to love in this one little round cookie!). As a super-peanut butter-fan, I couldn’t stop eating the dough, and then the baked cookies. I also heard that some non-peanut butter-fans couldn’t stop eating them either. So that just proves that they are GOOD, and besides that they are easy and gluten-free and pretty looking, and all of that makes them extremely hard to resist. Yum.

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June 2009

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