Archive for the 'Almond' Category



Cherry Chocolate Amaretto Crunch Ice Cream

It’s been hot here in Bay Area these past few weeks. Let’s be honest, I’ve experienced some terribly hot temperatures on the East Coast and in the Southern United States, and I’ve certainly heard about the hot temperatures that grace many other countries. But I’m a born and raised Bay Area Native, and my blood is definitely accustomed to our coastal cool foggy mornings and blue-sky-but-still-need-a-light-sweatshirt afternoons. Don’t get me wrong; I love to wear my summer dresses and I’m much happier with flip-flops on my feet than a pair of close-toed shoes. But I don’t happen to live in a year-round hot climate, like many non-Californians often think we do (once, when I was in high school and was traveling, I was asked if I “surf to school”…I chose to ignore that, because aside from any logistical nightmares about carrying your homework on your surfboard through white-capped waves, and how to change clothes from your wetsuit to something cute and fashionable to impress all your high school cliques, I’ve never been on a surfboard in my life).

Warmish temperatures is what my summer is made up of. But, we also get a few weeks of hot sun in August, and there is usually a few weeks of intense heat in September just after school starts, taunting students out of the classroom and onto the playground, or older youth to cut class and go sit in the nearby park or drive out to the beach. However, while this is what I’m used to, I’m reveling in our rare summer heat right now, and making as much ice cream as possible while the heat lasts. Because that is the most sane way to cope with it, and it’s a little painful to think about turning the oven on during the afternoon or evening.

My friend Sasha told me that one of her favorite ice cream flavors is chocolate cherry, and I was having dinner at her house, so I decided to make that for her and her housemates! I used the basic chocolate ice cream recipe from The Vegan Scoop as my base, but I added chopped fresh cherries at the end. This was the second ice cream I’ve made with a purely soymilk base, and I was disappointed with the cream’s thinness before freezing. I probably will not be making any more soy ice creams, but in the future I’ll be adapting recipes from this book to use other non-dairy alternatives. I added a few ingredients to thicken it up (extra dark chocolate melted in!) and Amaretto Liqueur and almond extract to give more body and a flavor kick. I also threw in some chocolate chips at the end with the cherries so there was a nice crunch in every bite. I forgot that adding alcohol would make the ice cream freeze a lot slower, and didn’t account for that time difference when prepping the ice cream; We ended up eating slightly melty ice cream, but it tasted delicious even if the texture wasn’t perfect. I re-froze the left overs and when I checked the next morning, the ice cream had a much harder texture…So if you choose to use this recipe, I would make sure to leave it in the freezer overnight before eating.

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Ice Cream Base Ingredients:
1 cup soymilk, divided
2 Tblsp. arrowroot powder
2 cups soy creamer
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup semisweet dark chocolate chips
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix Ins:
1 1/2 cups fresh pitted and chopped cherries
1 cup vegan chocolate chips or chunks
2 Tblsp. Amaretto Liqueur
1/2 tsp. almond extract

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In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup soymilk with arrowroot powder and set aside.
Mix soy creamer, remaining 3/4 cup soymilk, sugar, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips in a saucepan. Stirring frequently over low heat, melt chocolate chips, then bring to a boil. Once mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and immediately add arrowroot cream. This will cause the liquid to thicken noticeably.
Add vanilla extract.
Refrigerate mixture until chilled, approximately 2 to 3 hours (or stick in the freezer for 30 minutes to speed up the process…You want it cold, not frozen, so make sure to monitor your mixture if you choose to do this). When thoroughly chilled, mix in your Amaretto and almond extract. Then, freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
In the last few minutes of churning in your ice cream maker, add your chopped cherries and remaining cup of chocolate chips. Freeze overnight, or until hardened, in an airtight container.

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Rich Chocolate Almond Cupcakes

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I meant to post this recipe a few days ago, right after my visit with VegNews. Unfortunately, I got a 24-hour flu-type illness and was wiped out for a few days, and I couldn’t look at my computer screen for very long or even think about food (can you believe it? I couldn’t think about baking? Clearly, something was very wrong with me!). But never fear, I’m back on the health-track, and able to post this amazing dark chocolate recipe for you now. Sorry for the delay!

So, to get on with it, on Thursday, I had lunch with the VegNews staff, and I made them White Chocolate Champagne Cupcakes and these Rich Chocolate Almond Cupcakes. I know bringing two kinds of decadent and fancy flavored desserts was a little excessive, but I get so much pleasure from the process of baking and creating art through food, and I enjoy watching others get pleasure out of eating my creations, that really it was quite self-serving to bring them both sets of cupcakes. And I ate quite a lot of them myself throughout the process. On Friday I was jittery the whole day from so much sugar, and of course I decided to make ice cream to take to a friend’s house for dinner, so with all that added sweetness I was downright hyper and even shaky – and I realized that I’m going to have to figure out a way to limit my own dessert consumption from now on (or maybe my body decided for me, by getting sick on Saturday night??). But, I sure do love baking. And imagining beautiful cupcakes!

This one was quite a feat for the taste buds. It has a moist and fluffy Chocolate Almond Cake base, flecked with almond meal that gives the airy cake just a little bit of extra texture, then covered with a thin layer of Almond Marzipan, and finally topped with a heavy swirl of Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. And, I couldn’t resist plopping a Dark Chocolate Decoration into the top of each swirl, for extra flair. So simply put, I present to you perhaps the most rich and decadent cupcake I have made yet. I hope you find a real chocolate lover, and that they enjoy this recipe to the max!

Note: This makes a double recipe (24 regular sized cupcakes)

Ingredients:
2 cups almond milk
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
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
16 oz. Almond Marzipan, rolled evenly 1//8 inch thick, and cut into 24 circles the size of a cupcake-top (I used the rim of a wine glass)

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Rich Chocolate Almond Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2-3/4 cup cocoa powder, to taste
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup almond milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line 2 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, almond meal, cocoa, 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. If you are planning to top the cupcakes with Marzipan, you would place the marzipan layer on top of each cupcake just after you take the cake out of the baking pan – you want to do it while the cakes are still slightly warm so that the marzipan can melt slightly onto it and stick.marzipan before&afterFor the frosting, cream together the shortening and margarine until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and cocoa powder, alternating with almond milk, and beat for about 3 more minutes. Add the extracts and beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy. This is a very thick and heavy frosting; If you want it to be a bit lighter, try adding a bit more almond milk, in 1/2 teaspoon increments. Pipe or spread on top of the marzipan layer (or plain cupcakes). Top with a Dark Chocolate Decoration (recipe below).Dark Chocolate DecorationsTo make the Dark Chocolate Decorations, finely chop a bar of your favorite chocolate. Place these pieces into the top section of a double boiler, and heat on the stove over a high flame. When the water is boiling, turn the burner off. Stir chocolate gently until it is completely melted and smooth. Have a piece of parchment or waxed paper prepared, sitting on top of a flat cookie sheet. Using a spoon, drizzle your melted chocolate over the paper in different directions, making sure to criss-cross your lines so that the chocolate will stick together*. It is okay to have different sized lines or globs even, and drips are fine too. This is not time to be a perfectionist! When you’ve exhausted your chocolate supply, stick your pan into the fridge for a few hours until chocolate is completely hardened. Take it out, peel away from the paper, and break into smaller pieces that you can decorate cupcakes or cakes with. These can be stored in your refrigerator in a tightly covered container for a few weeks, or re-melted down to create other shapes or serve other baking needs.

*If you are really brave, and up for a challenge, you can spoon your melted chocolate into a plastic ziploc bag and cut a tiny hole out of one of the bottom corners. Use this to pipe designs or patterns onto your paper so you end up with the exact shapes you want. This can be very elegant.

Blueberry Almond Scones

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Still on Sara’s farm, we planned a day at the river. We bought lots of sandwich-making ingredients, snack foods, filled our coolers, planned to pack our swimsuits, towels, and lots of sunscreen, and prepared for the drive and hike down to utopia the next day. But we were missing one thing! Something sweet to snack on. We had lots of blueberries from our picking adventure, and what is better than fresh berry scones? Clearly, we needed these for our river trip. So we got to baking, and made these scrumptious treats. Of course, we couldn’t resist the tempting smells wafting out of the oven while the scones baked, and we ate many of them that night while they were warm, and the next morning for breakfast before going to the river, but we still had some left over to enjoy while lounging on the beach after our boulder-climb through the cool blue waters of the Van Buren River (or the Mad River? I can’t remember. But whatever it was called, it was beautiful).

The scones were moist, soft, and crumbly, and intensely rich. The original recipe calls for pure butter, whole milk, and buttermilk, and when I’ve had them in the past, while they were undeniably delicious, it was difficult to eat a whole scone in one sitting because they are so heavy. The vegan version doesn’t lose any of it’s “perfect scone texture”, but it becomes lighter, flaky, and even a little fluffy, but steers clear of any sort of muffin-like consistency.

Continue reading ‘Blueberry Almond Scones’

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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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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Raw Banana Pie

Also Kosher for Passover, this raw banana pie was delicious! It was nice to have a lighter dessert pared with the rich dark chocolate desserts also served, which were quite heavy without any levening! This pie was pretty easy to throw together, although I will have to remember next time to take it out of the freezer quite a bit before serving time to let it thaw out. Unfortunately, I did not measure my ingredients exactly, so here is an approximate ingredient list:

1 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup dates, soaked tap water for at least 20 minutes
4 bananas, peeled and frozen
1/2 cup strawberries
1 slice lemon, or other fruit for garnish

Step 1: Grind raw almonds in a food processor until it reaches almost a “meal” consistency. Add pitted and soaked dates, and puree together until it is a good thick paste. Press evenly into your pie pan to form the bottom crust.

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Step 2: Blend frozen bananas in your food processor or blender, till smooth and thick like frozen yogurt. Pour into your crust and flatten the top with a knife or the back of a large spoon.

Step 3: Slice strawberries and layer in a circle shape, with a slice or two of lemon in the center for garnish.

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Step 4: Put pie in freezer to harden. Remember to take it out about 30 minutes before you want to serve it, and let it sit at room temperature to soften a bit. You want it to still be firm, so the banana filling holds together when you slice it.

Chocolate Raspberry Torte

This chocolate torte was very rich and fudgy and I’m trying to convince myself it was healthy too! Since it had to be Kosher for Passover (which means no flour, leavening, etc.), it was made with almond meal – and it had a lot of raspberries, and so clearly it has a lot of protein, vitamins, and nutrients, right? And dark chocolate is certainly good for you…In any case, it was delicious, especially with the tart raspberry-lemon sauce that I whipped up at the last minute and poured liberally on top.

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