Archive for September, 2009

Peter Berley’s Brownies

IMG_1731

Divinely moist and rich, these brownies are fantastic! They are from Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, which a friend recommended to me months ago and I hadn’t even cracked open until now. What was I waiting for?! After baking these bars of chocolate heaven, I will definitely be utilizing Berley’s cookbook more! If you want dark, gooey, intense brownies, make these. With their crispy top and dense middle, they will satisfy any chocolate lover’s sweet tooth. If you’re looking for a gluten-free version, my absolute favorite brownie recipe is Hannah Kaminsky’s – but these ones come in at a close second.

Advertisements

Happy Birthday With a Kick!

This birthday treat was going to be a surprise for my little brother (who, I have to admit, is not so little anymore), but I decided to let the cat out of the bag early by way of this post. My parents are visiting him this weekend, so I’m entrusting them to deliver the goodies…Jesse, if you read this, I’m sorry I didn’t get to spend your birthday with you, but I hope these cookies make up for it, till I see you next. And, I know they’re reaching you nearly a week after your birthday, but they come in good hands! I hope you enjoy them.

IMG_1675

I got this Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodle recipe from Isa and Terri at The Post Punk Kitchen. It’s a preview recipe from their upcoming cookie cookbook which I am eagerly looking forward to seeing/baking from/tasting when it comes out in November. I didn’t have any canola oil in the house (oops!) so I substituted softened Earth Balance margarine instead. I also used only half the amount of cayenne, because I was opening a new package of it and wasn’t sure how intensely spicy it would be – I think next time I can use the full amount, the spicy kick is great. These cookies are deliciously chocolaty, thanks to the chocolate extract, and have a great crunchy exterior and melt-in-your-mouth chewy middle. The added spiciness will hopefully help dissuade my parents from eating them all on the airplane ride before the cookies reach my brother.

Zoe’s Fruit Tea Cake

IMG_1627

At the farmer’s market last weekend, my mom was lucky enough to be gifted with 16 nectarines, of various sizes and stages of ripeness. Some had to be eaten right away, their juicy sweetness oozing with every bite. I easily took care of that “problem”. I still had many left over, and I remembered that my friend Zoe makes the most lovely cake that she brings to nearly every brunch that she goes to. No one ever gets sick of it, and I request it even! With this abundance of nectarines, waiting to be consumed, I couldn’t resist borrowing Zoe’s recipe and making her delightful tea cake! You can make it with whatever kind of hard fruit appeals to you…I’ve had it with pears, peaches, nectarines, or plums, and it’s always delicious.

It is simple to make, using simple ingredients and a very quick recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar + a little for dusting the top of the cake
1/2 cup minus 2 Tblsp. Earth Balance margarine
1/2 cup plain unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 Tblsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup flour
2 nectarines, sliced (or other hard fruit)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, for dusting the top of the cake

Sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda together into a small bowl. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar, and when it is fluffy, add the applesauce, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients and thoroughly combine. You should have a very stiff batter.
Spread batter evenly into an 8 or 9-inch springform pan, and use a rubber spatula to smooth the top.
Place slices of fruit on the top in a petal formation, skin side up, on top of the batter.
Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice on top, evenly. Dust heavily with cinnamon and sugar.
Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 325 and bake for another 40 minutes. Check your cake by sticking a toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean, then it’s done! You want the cake to brown, but not get too crispy.

IMG_1575

Rice Crispy Bars

IMG_0413combo

Rice Crispy Treats hold specific childhood sensory memories for me, and probably for a lot of adults as well. This sticky, sweet, crunchy, crispy, gooey, on-the-go, lick-your-fingers-afterwards, all at the same time experience is what childhood was all about. I got this recipe for a similar treat from my friend Marjorie awhile ago, and hadn’t had quite the right reason to make it till now. Brown rice syrup is much easier for your body to process than the cane sugar and additives that are in most baked goods. Since these rice crispies are stuck together and sweetened with the sweet syrup, they are a much healthier version than the traditional marshmallow dessert. However, these bars definitely don’t taste exactly like the marshmallow version; they aren’t as sickeningly sweet and they have the added tart flavors of dried fruit and the crunch of seeds, as well as the salty nutty taste of tahini. They are not kid-friendly in this sense, unless you have a particularly adventurous child.

This was lucky for me, as Marjorie used to make these and her kids wouldn’t want to eat them, so there were always some left for me to snack on! I would want to devour the whole container while I was at her house, but I’d hold myself back and enjoy these simple flavors and textures slowly. It’s very simple and nutritious – it’s one of those treats that is actually pretty healthy, although you do have to remember it’s a treat still, so you shouldn’t eat too much at a time…It was a perfect treat to take on a hike; it was a bit like an energy bar because it had all the necessary proteins and carbs to give us strength and energy to keep going, it was light and easy to pack and carry, and it satisfied all our sweet and salty cravings. And it was quite filling too!

IMG_0136 copy

You can make it with whatever dried fruits you like best (I think that currants, apricots, raisins, or dried apples would taste delicious) and whatever seeds or chopped nuts you want to add would work too. While I just used crispy brown rice cereal as my base, you could throw in a combination of puffed rice, puffed millet, and puffed rice as well, as long as it equaled the same total amount. It’s a very adaptable recipe.

IMG_0426

This recipe makes 2 dozen squares.

Ingredients:
2 tsp. cold-pressed sesame oil
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
2 Tblsp. sesame tahini (or other nut butter of choice)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 cups plain unsweetened crispy brown rice cereal
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped

In a large pot, heat oil, rice syrup, and tahini; stir until bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Add remaining ingredients, mixing well with a wooden spoon.
Spoon mixture into a 13×9 inch pan and press flat. Allow to sit at room temperature until set.
Then, cut into squares and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Agave-Sweetened Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

It’s birthday party season around here! I made a Hazelnut birthday cake last week for Becca, and this past Friday I baked a Peanut Butter Cake for Talia’s birthday, and Julie’s birthday is coming up (her cake is planned and not going to be nut-themed, don’t worry, I do consume things without nuts these days!). I’ve been planning these cakes for awhile now; all three fabulous women gave me requests for flavors and specific ingredients, and then I got to play around with how to incorporate them and how to design the cakes to fit each person. I love coming up with ideas that match up, and then make the recipient so happy! Watching people eat my baked goods and enjoy them is really my favorite part of baking.

So for Talia’s birthday, she requested a dessert that had peanut butter in it. She also wanted it to not be sweetened with sugar, or to contain chocolate. Tall orders, right? And I’m vegan of course so I only bake that way, which never feels limiting – I just have to be more creative! So here’s what I had to go on: No sugar, no dairy products or eggs, no chocolate, yes peanut butter!

Hm. What to do? I knew exactly which agave-sweetened cake I was going to make, but I was a little stumped on the frosting. I’ve made frosting without sugar before, but it was a dark chocolate ganache-like frosting, or something more like a cashew glaze that I tried (and loved, but didn’t think was the most appropriate birthday cake topping). But since I couldn’t use chocolate, and I wanted a thick spreadable frosting to slather around the birthday cake, I went to my current cake-bible, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. Of course they had just what I was looking for! The Super Natural Agave Icing with some added peanut butter would be perfect! I also used their Simple Vanilla and Agave Nectar Cupcake recipe to make my cake base. For both of these recipes, I simply doubled the recipe in the book (and added peanut butter to the icing recipe; I’ve reprinted my adaptations below). I put an extra peanut butter filling in between the three layers of the cake, for added nut-taste-explosion. This filling kept the cake incredibly moist, and the whole thing pretty nearly melted in your mouth!

IMG_1443

For her birthday, Talia invented a game for us to play…It was quite a stroke of brilliance! I’m not really a game person, but this one I could seriously get into! I can’t give away all the details about how to play, because I’m hoping Talia will copyright it and will strike it rich, and can support me and my baking for the rest of my life 🙂 Wouldn’t that be nice?

You may recognize the formatting here a little bit…Some of us are just a little obsessed with Craigslist! We were each given a few random silly phrases that we had to incorporate. This was one result of the game, which was written about me, and was so creative and on-the-fly that I have to share it with you! (Thank you Rachel!):

Ode to what just happened in my mouth – w4w – (living room)

with your crunchy hippie peanut butter
dotted like leopard print
i tried not to give my gasp away
not even a little hint
the flavors swirling ’round my mouth
agave-sweetened yum
i wanted to tell you how heavenly
the cake went into my tum
as cool as i am, didn’t know what to say
so i gave you a little wink
like a catchy bedazzled license plate
i got water from the sink
so maybe i’ll pretend it’s my birthday too
tomorrow and the day after that
you might accidentally make me a cake or 6
and i’ll give you a thank-you hat.

IMG_1503

Cake Recipe: I used the Simple Vanilla and Agave Nectar Cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. I made no changes, just double the recipe so I could make three 9-inch cake layers.

Peanut Butter Creme Filling Ingredients:
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup smooth natural Peanut Butter
1/2 cup light agave nectar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tblsp. unsweetened almond milk
2 Tblsp. soy milk powder

Put Earth Balance and peanut butter into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat for a minute or two, until smooth and well combined. Add the agave and vanilla, and continue mixing. Add the almond milk and soy milk powder and incorporate fully. You can add a little more soy milk powder or almond milk depending on how thin or thick you want the consistency to be. Spread in between layers of cakes!

Peanut Butter Agave Icing Ingredients (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World):
2/3 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
2 Tblsp. arrowroot powder
2/3 cup light agave nectar
1/3 cup refined, nonhydrogenated coconut oil
1 cup smooth natural Peanut Butter
1 Tblsp. vanilla extract
1 cup plus 4 Tblsp. plain soy milk powder

In a small saucepan, whisk together almond milk and arrowroot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, till mixture thickens into a puddinglike consistency, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and scrape mixture into a medium-size bowl with a heatproof spatula.

Add agave nectar and whisk till combined, then add coconut oil and vanilla extract and whisk again. Add Peanut Butter and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute until incorporated. Add soy milk powder, and beat for another 4-5 minutes, until creamy and smooth. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 40 minutes until mixture is firm, or for best results, allow to chill overnight.

Rugelach

IMG_1416#2

My grandmother used to make the best Rugelach; growing up, I remember visiting her once or twice a year, and the sweet cinnamon smell of the cookies would fill my senses. My dad remembers her baking them all the time when he was growing up as well. She would make them in different shapes, sometimes in the horn shape (of which Rugelach gets it’s name from), or sometimes she would roll the dough into one long log and then slice it into bite-sized pieces, like mini-cinnamon rolls. My dad also remembers her baking it in the log shape and then eating it that way, in one long cookie roll! That must have been the ultimate treat for a kid! Whatever shape you want to make them in is fine, although if you make the long roll you will have to adjust the baking time. I chose to make mine into the horn shape, which is the most labor-intensive but I find it to be the most aesthetically appealing.

The more traditionally filling is cinnamon-sugar with raisins and walnuts mixed in, so I made half of my cookies that way. But because I’m a chocolate-fiend, I filled the other half of the dough with chocolate! If you want to make a batch that is all chocolate, or all cinnamon-sugar, simply double the amount of filling ingredients listed and forget about the other type of filling ingredients.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup Earth Balance margarine, cold
8 oz. (1 package) Tofutti vegan cream cheese
1/3 cup vegan sour cream

For Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tblsp. cinnamon
1/8 cup Earth Balance margarine, melted

For Chocolate Topping:
1 cup finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1/8 cup Earth Balance margarine, melted

Combine and mix the flour, sugar, and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl or in a food processor. Add the sour cream to the flour. Cut the Earth Balance and cream cheese into small pieces and cut them into the flour using a pastry cutter, or pulse with the food processor. Your dough will be creamy and a little gooey. Divide the dough into 4 equal balls, and gently flatten each into a disk shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate the disks for 2 hours.

While the dough is chilling, you can prepare the fillings. In one small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, and golden raisins. Set aside until your dough is chilled. You can set aside your finely chopped chocolate as well.

Once the dough is ready, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees, and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Pull out the disks of dough one at a time as you’re ready to roll it (in order to keep the dough cold and easier to work with). The dough is a little sticky, so be sure to lightly flour your work surface as well as your rolling pin. My dough was particularly soft and creamy and therefore sticky, so I placed my disk of dough in between two pieces of parchment paper and rolled over it that way. Roll each disk into a 9-inch circle.

Brush a thin layer of the melted Earth Balance on top of each disk. Evenly divide and spread the cinnamon-sugar mixture on two of the four disks, and sprinkle the chocolate pieces over the other two. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut each disk into 12 evenly sized triangular wedges. Gently pull out individual wedges and roll the dough from the widest edge towards the pointed end, so that the pointed end is on the outside. Place cookies on the prepared pans, with the triangle points stuck gently under the cookie, so that they don’t unroll during baking. Brush a bit of extra melted Earth Balance on the tops of each cookie roll. Put pans in the center racks of your oven.

Bake the rugelach for 22-23 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

Vegan Nutella Cake and Hazelnut Shortbread Sandwich Cookies

IMG_1276#2

For Becca’s birthday I made her something that I knew she would love. I’ve been planning it for awhile, knowing that her birthday coincided with her first day of classes (she’s starting school to become an American Sign Language interpreter!). She wanted me to make her something that she could take with her, to celebrate her birthday with her new classmates. Since she has to commute, she needed something easy to pack and carry, so it was easy to decide to make sandwich cookies. But, you can’t have a birthday without a birthday cake, and I made her a cake to match her cookies. I know that Becca loves nuts, especially hazelnuts, so that had to be included in the recipes. The cake I made had three layers of Vanilla Sponge Cake, with a rich Hazelnut Creme in between each layer. Mmm. And then the whole cake was smothered in vegan Nutella Buttercream Frosting.

I sandwiched together the Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies with a dark vegan Nutella cream in the middle. Because she’s studying ASL, I made them in the shape of hands! Aren’t they cute? I put some of them around the outside of her cake for extra decoration, and to unify the two birthday desserts.

IMG_1347#2

I’ve had a request for the Nutella Cake recipe, so I’m going to do my best to post it here. Unfortunately, the vegan nutella itself was not homemade, so I can’t share a brilliant recipe for that with you. In Holland, they have vegan nutella (not the brand name variety) stocked in all grocery stores. When I went there this summer, I couldn’t resist bringing back a few jars with me. I’ve already nearly run out – I wish I could just go back and get some more but the fact that I just started graduate school means that I just don’t have the time (or the money, let’s be honest). If you don’t have the luck to have been in Holland recently, you can find a recipe for vegan nutella here, it looks delicious!

The cake itself was a vanilla Sponge Cake from Hannah Kaminsky‘s cookbook My Sweet Vegan.* She uses it as a base for her Green Tea Tiramisu. I just doubled the recipe for cake batter and baked it in three 9-inch round pans. It is a delicious recipe; a dense (but not heavy) golden cake that certainly holds it’s own –  it’s sweet and bright flavor makes it easy to adapt since it pretty much supports any flavor you want it to. I’d say it actually brings out more complex flavors in whatever you combine it with. It would be great with a light fruit sauce or jam spread on it, but since this was going to be a birthday cake, I had to make it rich! I made a Hazelnut Creme to go in between the layers, and then made a more traditional vegan Buttercream that I then added the vegan nutella to. The recipes for the spreads are below. If you can’t find hazelnut butter in your grocery store, you can buy regular hazelnuts or filburts and roast them in your oven till they are lightly toasted. Grind them in a food processor until they reach a smooth peanut butter consistency.

*If you don’t have Hannah’s cookbook, you could use your favorite golden vanilla cake recipe and it would be just fine. And I stress just fine. Your cake will still be delicious and hazelnutty and totally satisfying! But, if you want a drop-dead-perfect birthday-celebratory cake, go out and buy Hannah’s cookbook because this cake is GREAT and so is the whole book! You’ll be finding excuses to bake her desserts all the time!

Hazelnut Creme Ingredients:
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine
1 cup hazelnut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 Tblsp. plain unsweetened almond milk (or a little more)

Cream Earth Balance with electric beaters in a medium sized bowl. Add the hazelnut butter and combine thoroughly. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar, beating in between additions until fluffy. Add the almond milk very slowly while continuing to beat with electric beaters, until creme has reached a spreadable consistency.

Vegan Nutella Buttercream Frosting:
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine
1/4 cup vegan shortening (I use Earth Balance brand)
3/4-1 cup vegan nutella/chocolate-hazelnut spread (to taste)
1 3/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 Tblsp. plain unsweetened almond milk

Cream Earth Balance and shortening with electric beaters in a medium sized bowl. Add the nutella and continue beating. Add the confectioner’s sugar and flour, and beat until fluffy. Add the almond milk and combine thoroughly. Spread on top of cooled stacked cakes.

Hazelnut Shortbread on FoodistaHazelnut Shortbread


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 71 other followers

My Flickr Photos

September 2009
M T W T F S S
« Aug   Oct »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

Creative Commons License

MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Photos, Original Recipes & Text ©cookiesandcandids 2008-2010 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. If you repost any material from this blog, please give credit by including a link back to me. Thank you!