Archive for March, 2010

You Know It’s Been A Successful “Love and Justice”-Filled Passover When…

  • You’ve had Dayenu stuck in your head all day
  • You spent the whole day cooking…or thinking and talking about cooking…
  • You’ve discussed so many different ideas for how to go through the Haggadah, cutting and pasting from here and there, including what’s important for each family member and each guest, and trying to incorporate as many radical ideas as possible. And after the seder, you realize that what’s most important was the people there being all together around the table, celebrating liberation, freedom, justice, resistance, and thinking about oppression – mostly through consumption of various foods
  • You have matzo coming out of your ears
  • You’ve discussed the social implications of including Ladino and Judeo-Arabic text in your readings
  • You have 4 half-empty bottles of Manischewitz wine on your counter – each a different flavor (did you know they made Cherry? And Blackberry?)
  • You made it through the whole night without breaking any wine glasses! (Even with KROK here, so it’s pretty much a Passover miracle).
  • You waited impatiently for hours during the Maggid (the telling of the Passover Story), asking yourself questions such as: Why is there an orange on the seder plate? Why are there olives? Why is there a baked sweet potato on it too? (Okay, clearly this was not the most traditional of seders…). Is it totally violating my vegan-ethics and morals to eat a matzo ball? As Jews, what is our commitment to social justice? How can I embody these anti-racist, politically progressive, humor- and reflection-filled values in my everyday life? Do I use the feminine or masculine form of this prayer? How does the feminine version go – and what does it mean that I don’t know it off the top of my head, like I know the masculine version? How many more cups of wine do I get to drink? Where did my mom hide that afikomen? She hasn’t even stood up from the table yet but it’s nowhere in sight!
  • You’ve stuffed yourself full (and perhaps eaten double your entire body’s weight) of:

Matzo Brittle! This is the batch from this year. Here’s the batch from last year, and here is lovely Hannah’s recipe for this delicious and addicting Kosher-for-Passover treat.

*Also, if you’re looking for a fabulous progressive, inspiring, interesting, “choose your own adventure”-type Haggadah, you can download the Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah here for free. It is a great resource, moving, and very important and very inclusive.


White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Coffee Cupcakes

I haven’t updated my blog in over a week! I’m sorry loyal readers! All I can say is that I’ve been extremely busy with school, teaching, excessive amounts of homework, job-searching, and of course playing in and out of the summer sun with friends (yes, I said summer…I know it’s not, but here in the Bay Area, it feels like it!). I hope these cupcakes allow you to forgive my absence. They are delightful. The light coffee flavor of the cupcake is a perfect pick-me-up in the middle of the day, and the White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Frosting is out of control delicious. I’m going to have to make it again for some special friends who may want it on their wedding cake (gasp!). Until we continue the recipe testing and tasting for that, I leave you with these cupcakes…

Vanilla Coffee Cupcake Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tblsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup canola oil (or any lightly flavored vegetable oil)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350┬░ F, and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the almond milk and espresso powder together until the powder is completely dissolved. Whisk in the vinegar, and set aside a few minutes to get good and curdled.

Beat together the almond milk mixture, oil, sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix only until no large lumps remain.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full, and bake for 20-24 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. While you are waiting for them to cool, you can prepare your White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Frosting (recipe below). When cupcakes are completely cool, pipe or spread the frosting on.

White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance), room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
4 Tblsp. unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 whole vanilla bean
1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips, melted
1/8 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut (optional)

Melt your white chocolate chips in a double boiler.

While the chocolate is melting, cream the Earth Balance with the confectioner’s sugar (adding sugar in gradually). Add the almond milk slowly, as needed to thoroughly combine Earth Balance and sugar and keep a smooth consistency. Add the vanilla extract.

Slice your vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Carefully scrape out the seeds, using a knife or the edge of a spoon. Add all the seeds to your frosting and mix in.

Add the melted white chocolate last, and beat until fluffy. Pipe or spread onto your cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with a pinch of unsweetened dried shredded coconut, if desired. Enjoy!

Banana Bread – Two Variations

Spring is here! It makes me simultaneously incredibly joyful and a little bit sad. It makes it really difficult to study, teach, and sit in class while it is warm and sunny outside…So I plan on making this post quite short in my effort to stay on the computer and inside as little as possible when I don’t have to.

Last week, we had gorgeous weather, and this week it’s looking and feeling beautiful again. However, last Friday was colder, grayer, and rainier, and of course this was the morning that I had off to play. My friend Zoe had fortuitously given me some ripe bananas the evening before, and so, instead of playing, I baked this spicy, moist, fragrant, and ultimately overall delicious Banana Bread. I made two variations; one with chocolate chips, and one without. Both loaves had pecans mixed in. Feel free to throw in whatever other add-ins you prefer. You can also use all agave or all maple syrup instead of the combination I used; just think about what flavors you want to bring out. I brought half a loaf of each variation to my afternoon class, with the intention of slicing and freezing the rest to keep for a future treat. Instead, I (and friends) ate it all within two days! Since there is no refined sugar (except in the chocolate chips) and no oil, it was a delightfully healthy study-break snack. I wish I could keep enjoying it, but alas, it is all gone. Anyone have bruised bananas that they want to gift to me so I can bake more?

Banana Bread Ingredients (recipe for one loaf):

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup agave
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 cup chopped pecans + some for topping
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to preheated 350┬░F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

In a medium sized bowl, mash bananas with Agave nectar, maple syrup, applesauce and vanilla until combined and creamy.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Add the wet to dry. Sprinkle in nuts and/or chocolate chips, and stir batter until just mixed.

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for one hour.

Rachel’s Gorgeous Birthday Cake

Happy Belated Birthday, Rachel!

My friend Rachel adapted one of my recipes to make herself a birthday cake – and look how gorgeous it is! She loves bright colors and she really knew how to create an all-naturally colored neon dessert. I’m so glad I could provide inspiration for the recipe and so glad she sent me a picture! She used my recipe for Orange Chocolate Avocado Cake but instead of using the orange juice that I put in she used water (like the original recipe calls for), and she didn’t put any cocoa powder in, so that she could still see the bright green hue of the avocado (if you click the link above, there is a photograph of what the batter looked like before I added the cocoa – what a lovely green color!). Rachel told me that she simply substituted extra flour for the cocoa powder (same proportion) and that it worked pretty well but was a little spongy and chartreus-yellow. I think if you wanted to recreate this, and have it be a bit more fluffy, you could add a tiny bit of extra baking powder and a little cornstarch and the consistency may improve. I’m not an expert though, and recipe tweaking always takes a little experimentation.

Rachel also used my recipe for Dark Chocolate Ganache, and she said together it tasted insanely delicious. She creatively decorated her cake with lemons and pistachios, what a great idea!

Here’s Rachel’s cake for inspiration:

Orange Blossom Clouds

My mouth has been watering basically since the exact moment on May 24, 2008, when Dayna posted this recipe on her blog. The page has been bookmarked on my toolbar for as long as I can remember. Why haven’t I made these Whoopie Pie confections until now? I have no idea. They are incredible. The spicy ginger and molasses flavors in the cakey cookies are perfectly paired with the sweet orange blossom aroma of the fluffy icing sandwiched in between. This last week was very busy at school; besides all the normal teaching and homework to do, we had to complete a high-stakes standardized state assessment teaching unit deployed by the State of California for all teaching credential students. In the middle of this crazy week was a dearly beloved and inspiring professor’s birthday, and since I wanted to bring her a treat and wanted to give everyone going through such a draining experience, I added baking cookies to my ever expanding To Do List. This happened to be the one thing that I actually wanted to do. So, of course baking took priority over reading and writing and processing, and I jumped at the opportunity to bake this recipe I’d been waiting to try forever. This was truly what I was looking for: something fruity and different, off the radar of traditional birthday baking surprises and a definite pick-me-up for the rest of us.

Notes from baking: My cookies are not as lightly colored as Dayna’s (I think because I used blackstrap molasses), and I added a little extra orange blossom water to pump up the intensity of the flavors. The cookie batter is more like a cake batter than I would have expected, and you definitely have to scoop the batter with a spoon and dollop it onto your pan. After baking, the cookies have a soft pliable consistency, more like a muffin or cupcake-top than I would have expected – but I’ve also never had a real Whoopie Pie and I think this is what it’s supposed to be like. I personally enjoyed the overall fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth experience of eating them!

If you want to pack the cookies and take them anywhere with you: don’t layer the cookies! Or, if you must, put sheets of wax or parchment paper in between the layers, because these cookies get sticky and smushy and while they still taste delicious, their cute sandwich and easy eatability disappears quickly as they turn into one giant cakey-frostingy-decadent mush. That you might have to eat with a fork, instead of your fingers. That certainly didn’t stop us from devouring the cookies quickly, but word to the wise: bring napkins!

“Tropical Vacation” Muffins

I could write something cheesy about how these orange blueberry pineapple coconut muffins will send you on a little breakfast tropical vacation, in which you will dream about going somewhere warm, sunny, with ocean breezes and a very able-bodied person answering your every whim. But honestly, I don’t want to exoticize these muffins, and all of that sounds vaguely colonialistic, so I’ll spare you the sit-next-to-a-pristine-pool-with-a-pina-colada-in-hand-fantasy and just give you the recipe for these scrumptious muffins. You’ll want to eat them forever. You might even make a second batch next week. And maybe you’ll even double that, so you can freeze some and continue enjoying them as the days pass…You might even want to eat them for breakfast every day on the way to work so that you can pretend you’re going on vacation instead of to teach and video-tape yourself looking like a fool (and using so many hand-gestures while talking to your students…). Maybe that’s just me. But I think you’ll want to bake these muffins at least once and enjoy every single fruity bite of their goodness. This is kind of a random post, but hey, it’s been a long week and it’s not over yet!

And, let’s just notice that these muffins are purely agave- and fruit-sweetened, so they’re 110% healthy, right? I can eat them all day long?

Tropical Muffin Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. egg replacer
3/4 cup orange juice
1 cup water (carbonated water will make your muffins rise a bit more than regular tap water)
1/4 cup agave
1 1/2 Tblsp. finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup diced pure pineapple
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin or use cupcake papers to line the tin.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk.

In a separate bowl, dissolve the egg replacer into the orange juice, then add the water, agave, orange zest, and oil, and mix until smooth. Combine the wet ingredients with the flour mixture. Fold in the coconut, pineapple, and blueberries.

Pour the batter into the muffin tin almost to the top and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

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March 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!