Archive for January, 2010

Something Fruity, Cakey, Alternatively Sweetened

Those were the only requests made by my friend Rachel for her birthday cake. Actually, she suggested a loaf-type-dessert, but I thought that since it was her birthday after all, she should have something that more closely resembled a cake! I’ve always loved this recipe, which originated from The Candle Cafe Cookbook, and is for their Lemon-Poppyseed Muffins. However, as I made it this time with my baking buddy Julie, I took out the cane sugar (substituting date sugar instead), added extra lemon zest, and doubled the whole recipe to fit into a large bundt cake pan. I’ve never baked with date sugar before, and I wasn’t sure exactly how it would react in a cake – the results were fabulous. I barely noticed a difference from how the original recipe tastes, except for a slightly “darker” flavor, a little bit like I had added a touch of molasses. It’s nice to know that you can substitute a totally natural sweetener for the highly processed white cane sugar that is in so many baked goods, making them a little more nutritious as well as ethically healthy (i.e.: animal-friendly).

Personally, I loved this cake as it was (and I love it so dearly in muffin form too!), with tons of crunchy poppy seeds in every single bite, but I was told that it would be extra delicious with a lemon glaze drizzled over. I would do this right after taking the cake out of the oven, and as the cake cools it will create a crispy crunchy sweet top. …And after writing this post and looking at my pictures again, I’m wishing I had an extra slice leftover to nosh on right now!

Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins Ingredients:
Makes 12 muffins (double this recipe if you’d like to make a bundt cake)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or a combination of 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour)
1/4 cup date sugar (you can easily substitute 1/4 cup of cane sugar, if you want, and you will be back at the original recipe!)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt (fine grained)
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine, slightly melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup poppy seeds
3 tsp. grated lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin, line tins with cupcake papers, or grease and flour a bundt pan.

Sift the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together the margarine, maple syrup, almond milk, and lemon juice until foamy. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix until the batter is smooth. Fold in the poppy seeds and lemon zest.

Pour the batter into the muffin tins or bundt pan, dividing evenly and spreading flat across the top. Bake on a center rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes for muffins, or 55 minutes for a cake – make sure to do a toothpick test by sticking a toothpick into the center, and if it comes out clean you can take the pan out of the oven. The muffins are best served while warm, but if you choose to make the cake then leave it to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before extracting it. Take your cake out of the pan and let cool completely before eating.


Double-The-Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes

Inspired by a recent post of mine, my mom made these intense dark chocolate mocha cupcakes, and topped them with a chocolate buttercream frosting. The recipe for the cake was exactly the same as what I posted before, and the frosting is the same as what’s on that post but with cocoa powder added to it (the cake is super chocolatey and dense, so it’s up to you to add however much cocoa you want to the frosting depending on your flavor preferences). I piped the frosting on the top for her in an elegant, but simple, design. If this cake doesn’t make your mouth start watering just from the pictures, description, and recipe, then you should probably make it anyway because it’s just that good. Yum.


I had a meeting yesterday that was just asking for cookies – so I whipped these Snickerdoodles up. Maple Snickerdoodles (or Maple Doodles, or even Mapoodles) are an old favorite of mine, and I had a recipe that I’ve been using exclusively for the past 7 years, and it never fails to please everyone’s tastebuds! However, when I went to find it yesterday morning, I couldn’t locate it anywhere! I racked my brain for where I could have put it, where it might have been written out or typed up, and I just couldn’t think of where. And for the life of me, I couldn’t think of where the recipe had come from originally. So, I got creative and I made this one up, adding in cream of tartar and corn starch and making maple sugar by hand when I didn’t have any in the cupboard. And you know what? These cookies were just as good as I remembered them being – perhaps even better. Soft and gooey in the center, with a crisp crunchy outside, and perfectly crackling tops…And a subtle maple flavor bursting out from behind the more common cinnamon had me reaching for more and more tastes.

I’ve made more traditional Snickerdoodles and Snickerdoodles with even more radical flavor adaptations, but I think this is my absolute favorite. Everyone at my meeting liked them (I was told “These can’t be vegan!” and that I should share my recipes with Paula Deen). My two-year old step-first-cousin-once-removed (how’s that for a complicated relationship?) was with me while I was baking, and ended up being my first taste-tester. He doesn’t usually like sweets, but he loved them and was reaching for a second cookie before he even finished his first! Isn’t he adorable? Pretty much as sweet as the cookie he’s eating, don’t you think?

Maple Snickerdoodle Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 Tblsp. corn starch
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
3 Tblsp. real maple syrup
3 Tblsp. warm water
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For rolling your cookies:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup maple sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. real maple syrup
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, cream of tartar, and corn starch. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup of white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the maple syrup, water, and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients until just mixed. In a small dish, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup white sugar, maple sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Alternatively, if you don’t have maple sugar on hand, you can make your own version by mixing 1 cup white sugar with about 1 teaspoon of maple syrup (stir together quickly by hand or in a food processor, till texture of sugar is dry but fully covered by the syrup – you want to still be able to roll cookie dough in it, so it should be crumbly enough). Mix this with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon in a small bowl.
Roll your cookie dough into 1-inch balls, and roll the balls in the sugar mixture.
Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven. I like mine a little underbaked, so that the centers are perfectly gooey but have a crunchy outer shell. Cookies will be crackly on top and look wet in the middle.
Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Midnight Mocha Cake

Sunday was my friend Julie’s mom, Joan’s, birthday. She is a really special Mama, so we wanted to make her something she would truly enjoy. She loves deep dark rich chocolate and she loves coffee, so a combination of the two was in order. At about midnight on Saturday night, we decided to make a delicious, simple, and quick chocolate cake that usually uses 2 cups of water (but we added 2 cups of cold coffee instead). The cake is dense and fudgey, and tastes like a perfectly brewed chocolatey mocha with an espresso kick. We were too tired to finish the cake that night, but we woke up early Sunday morning to frost the cakes, in our pajamas (as you can see in the following pictures).

We decided to emphasize the cake’s coffee flavor by spreading a thick Coffee-Chocolate Ganache in between the two layers. The ganache was also very simple, and was made with melted semi-sweet dark chocolate mixed with heated soymilk that was dripped through coffee grounds. The ganache ended up soaking into the bottom layer of the cake and making a super fudge brownie-like cake consistency and still stayed gooey in the center between the cake layers.

Julie and I whipped up a light Vanilla Buttercream (similar to the frosting recipe here, although in this case you would omit the almond extract) to spread on the top and sides of the tall cake. We sifted cocoa powder thickly on top, and then piped some extra Ganache into a swirling pattern on top. We dusted the whole thing with a light sprinkling of edible gold powder.

Mocha Cake Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
7 Tblsp. cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients:
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tblsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups cold coffee
2/3 cup plain applesauce

1/2 cup semi-sweet dark chocolate chips, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the sides and bottoms of two 8-inch springform pans.
Mix the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
Mix the wet ingredients in a large bowl, stirring to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.
Sift your dry mix into the wet, and stir with a large wooden spoon until fairly smooth (it’s okay if there are a few lumps. You don’t want to over-mix or the gluten in the flour will develop and make your cake’s structure tougher than it should be).
Gently stir in the melted chocolate.
Divide the batter into the two pans evenly, and put in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes, then check to see how the cakes are doing. Stick a clean toothpick into the center of the cake, and pull out to see if it comes out clean. A few crumbs stuck to the toothpick are alright.

Pecan Wedding Cookies

My mom made mixed up a double recipe of the batter for these cookies, and baked only a few of them to take to an event she was attending. She left the rest of the batter in the fridge, waiting to be baked the next day. Completely oblivious to any of this, I arrived home and found the bowl of batter while looking for a snack. I didn’t know what kind of dough it was, and took a tiny taste. Then another tiny taste. I thought to myself, “Mmmm, This is delicious! I probably should stop”, but then again, the dough was so creamy, rich, sweet, delicate at the same time, I couldn’t resist having another bite. I literally had to put the cookie dough back in the fridge, go brush my teeth so I couldn’t taste or be tempted by the deliciousness any more, and close myself off in another room so I didn’t finish off the whole bowl of dough in that one sitting!

We know now that the dough for these cookies is addicting and should definitely not be left alone for too long (translation: I should not be left alone with the dough for too long…). Instead, you should bake the cookies, and you are guaranteed to make a lot of new friends, because the baked cookies taste just as good! I didn’t think they would, but they really do. They have a crumbly, powdered texture that is unique and gives them a melt-in-your-mouth effect. They are simple and quick to make (and use only a few ingredients that you may already have lying around in your cupboards). If you want, you can substitute a different type of nut for the pecans. I suggest almonds or walnuts, or a combination. Enjoy!

Pecan Wedding Cookie Ingredients:

1 cup Earth Balance, room temperature
1/2 cup very fine granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the Earth Balance with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Beat until combined. Beat in the vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Stir in the pecans.
Shape slightly rounded teaspoons of dough into balls the size of large grapes Place balls 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the bottoms just begin to brown.
While the cookies are still slightly warm, roll them in powdered sugar. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, and cool completely.
This recipe makes about 72 cookies.

Veggie Garden Cupcakes

I was making these cupcakes for the Vegan Bakesale happening this afternoon, and since it is a benefit for the Laurel Elementary School gardening program, I decided a garden theme would be appropriate. The cupcake base is a Carrot-Zucchini Muffin (from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking), and is certainly moderately healthy (it has veggies in it!!). I threw together the frosting (sorry I don’t have a recipe to share, I didn’t measure this time!) with Earth Balance and Tofutti Cream Cheese as the creamy base, with vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder whipped in. I sifted regular cocoa powder on top of each cupcake, along with a sprinkling of Black Cocoa Powder to make the top look like rich dark soil. We then plunked our Marzipan veggies on top and called it a day. Hopefully they’ll be a big hit at the bakesale!

The vegetables are made from Marzipan! They are fully edible, although perhaps too cute to really eat. It took a loooooong time, but Julie, Sari, and I made 20 tiny vegetables (and an apple…) out of Marzipan that we dyed with food coloring. It was like making little sculptures out of modeling clay, except you get to eat them afterwords. It was really fun to make them, and we got quite carried away making different shapes. We made peas in a pod, carrots, string beans, tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, purple cabbage, eggplants, apples, and my favorite which was the stalk of brussels sprouts!

Vegan Bakesale in Oakland!

Edit: I’m going to be baking something delicious and generally fabulous for this bakesale! Any ideas for flavor combinations or wish-list items I could make?

I don’t usually post about anything except baking and pictures of my baking…But this event is just too “up my alley” to not let you know about! I just heard about this awesome Vegan Bakesale happening in Oakland this weekend! It supports a local school garden (at Laurel Elementary), and Bad Rap Pit Bull Rescue. I’m a huuuuge supporter of education and public schools (duh, I’m in a teaching credential/masters in education program!), and I happen to know some great things about the Laurel School – and I know that the students there are made up of a very diverse, involved community that can certainly benefit from whatever resources it can get! I have a friend who was a Farm & Garden Teacher in a public school, so I have first-hand experience and knowledge about elementary school gardens and know how beneficial they can be to students’ everyday learning and personal growth. And, because I am so supportive of this Vegan Bakesale, I want to put out there in the Blog World that I have a Pit Bull rescue dog that I absolutely adore. As both a dog-friend and general animal-positive-person, I feel that it is important for nice people to adopt nice doggies (and not just puppies, and it’s great if you can take care of a kind of dog that usually gets controversial reviews and give it a nice friendly safe environment…and that way, we can give Pits a better name!).

If you’re in the Bay Area, please come out and eat vegan treats and support environmental and healthy food education as well as all the animals!

Kids and Dogs! Vegan Treats! What could be better?

Saturday, January 9th, 2009
@ Issues (20 Glen Avenue, off of Piedmont Avenue, in Oakland)

I’m going to see you there, right?

Gingerbread Flax Muffins

I’m in New York on vacation right now, visiting friends (who are basically like family; it is amazing to be able to drop in on a whim, and be welcomed so warmly! And every time I visit, I feel like I never left…). It is cold here. Very cold. My bones were cold today…And I know, I’m from California, I might be a weather-wimp, but really, all the East Coasters were cold too! One thing that makes me warmer is cooking, and keeping the oven on. We baked apple muffins this morning, and after braving the biting wind to get into the city to the Whitney Museum and back, we came home and made a hearty “kitchen sink” vegetable soup.

You must be wondering, the title of this post has nothing to do with apples or soups, so will I get to the point yet? Truthfully, this post is about the muffins I made last week. I had a close family friend and her son over for brunch (it was actually on Christmas Eve morning, has it really been that long?), and I wanted to surprise them with a tasty treat to follow our bagels. It needed to be both adult- and kid-friendly, and have a seasonal twist so that it would feel appropriate for the holiday. I was inspired by Isa’s Gingerbread Flax Muffins on The Post Punk Kitchen Blog, and whipped them up that morning. They were easy and scrumptious. The only changes I made to Isa’s recipe were to add about a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger and a sprinkling of some diced candied ginger on top. I also put a pinch of coarse sugar on top of each muffin to give it a crunchy outside. Soft and moist in the middle, with a healthy dose of gingerbread spices, this muffin pleased everyone’s palettes and even had 3 year old Dylan coming back for seconds, thirds, and tastes of a fourth!

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January 2010

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Photos, Original Recipes & Text ┬ęcookiesandcandids 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!