Quick Brownie Bites

quick brownie bites

quick brownie bites

I wanted chocolate and I wanted it now. That meant something fast and decadent, so I decided on brownie bites. This recipe gave me a quick fix.

The original recipe I had was gluten-free so I could play with it for my gluten-free friends. The problem was I didn’t feel like hassling with my baking that much. So, the first change was to un-gluten-free it. I know, sounds backwards. Ah, well. I then added flour and a little milk for high altitude, as well as reducing the baking powder. There you have it – a quick chocolate fix.

Quick Brownie Bites adapted from a recipe by Erin McKenna
vegan shortening
1/2 cup + 3 TBS all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp non-dairy milk
1/2 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 24 mini muffin pan with shortening. In a bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk applesauce, oil, vanilla, and milk. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into muffin pans, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 15-16 minutes, or until set. Let brownies cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Until next time, happy baking!

Food Allergy Awareness Week

food allergy week

food allergy week

May is Allergy Awareness Month, with this past week being devoted to Food Allergies. It seemed like a good time to examine the humble beginnings of Vegan Baking Up High. I began the blog to work out the kinks of baking dairy-free at high altitude. This reflected my long-standing allergy to dairy. Then, when my husband went vegan a few years later, the blog became vegan. Nowadays I am approached by people with a variety of food allergies and they ask if I have recipes for their dietary needs. For them, I am trying to expand my baking horizons.

I realized I was allergic to dairy in 1995 when food allergies weren’t widely accepted or understood. Back then it was almost impossible to find a baked good that came close to resembling anything I would ever want to eat. I am seeing that same pattern of inadequate baked items offered for people with other allergies, such as those to nuts or gluten. I don’t think that anyone should accept sub-par treats just because they have an allergy, so I have widened my experimental baking realm.

You will note that I am extending my recipes to include other allergies, such as gluten-free, nut-free and soy-free, in an effort to offer tasty treats for a wide range of allergies. The easiest fix is to use the non-dairy milk alternative you prefer in place of the non-dairy milk listed in a recipe. There will be changes in taste and texture but the recipes should still work. Now I am tackling the task of removing gluten and nuts. It is slow going because of the inherent high altitude challenge, but I and my taste buds will persevere.

Matcha Mini Muffins for Mom

matcha mini muffins

matcha mini muffins

Mother’s Day is a good excuse to have brunch. Creating a baked treat that is fast and simple makes brunch easy. These muffins have only a few ingredients and don’t require anything fancy except, perhaps, the mini muffin pan. But mini muffins are great because they cook faster and makes lots to share. And I like saying Matcha Mini Muffins for Mom.

My high altitude adaptations were few – more flour and less baking powder. But I replaced some of the white flour with whole wheat for a healthier treat. If you omit the icing the recipe has no added sugar, but I made the icing with lemon for a good taste pairing with the matcha flavor. Mom is sure to love these muffins because they are not too sweet, even with a little icing. And the subtle green hue and taste from the matcha is fun if you are preparing tea. Here’s to Mom!

Matcha Mini Muffins for Mom adapted from Matcha Latte Mini Muffins
muffins
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup + 1 TBS all purpose flour
2 tsp matcha powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup vanilla dairy-free creamer (use coconut, soy or almond milk coffee creamer)
3 TBS grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
icing
1/4 cup + 1 TBS powdered sugar
1/2 TBS non-dairy milk
1/4 tsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400ºF and use cupcake liners in 24 mini muffin wells. In a bowl, whisk together flours, matcha, baking powder and salt until well combined. In another bowl, whisk together creamer, oil, and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Divide batter between muffin wells; they should be ¾ full.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Prepare icing by whisking together the icing ingredients in a bowl. Dip tops of cooled muffins into prepared icing, turn upright, and place back on rack while icing sets.

Until next time, happy baking!

Protein is a Vegan Baker’s Friend

protein powder

Image courtesy of las – initially at flickr.com

While baking at high altitude, I discovered that added protein helps maintain texture that could be lost by the lower air pressure. The hard part with vegan baking is that many ideas for egg substitutes are carbohydrates and not proteins. Experimenting with higher protein flours adds the protein but can make a baked good dense. Tofu and yogurt can also create a more dense texture so they are best saved for fudgy items. So, what to do when you want something light and airy?

The answer may be in Terry Hope Romero’s latest cookbook, Protein Ninja. When faced with the age-old question of where a vegan gets protein, her idea was Protein Powder. No, she doesn’t want people replacing all meals with a protein shake. Instead, she adds the powder to, among other things, baked goods. When I read that the hamster in my head nearly gave himself a heart attack running on his wheel so fast.

Hmmm. Protein powder. Muffins. Cakes. Pancakes. Cookies. Brownies. But, is it a simple flour replacement? She warns that taste, texture and sometimes color will be altered, but suggests that protein powders can be lighter than high protein flours. Her book does explain that “protein powders seem to suck up more liquid than most flours (but) adding a small portion of dense, moist ingredients … provides some must needed moisture.”

My mind is racing with ideas. I must go buy protein powder. Then on to the kitchen to experiment. Stay tuned and I may just surprise you with a healthy and decadent protein-laden baked treat.

Earth Day Cupcakes

earth day cupcake

Earth Day cupcake

I wanted to celebrate Earth Day in style, so a special cupcake had to be created. I’d seen cupcakes baked in terra cotta pots but that seemed too complicated. So I got a few small decorative pots at a craft store and decorated away.

To start I needed a firm cupcake to hold up to the decorations. I found a dense cupcake recipe and used the Neat egg as a sturdy egg replacer. (It also gave me a chance to try the Neat egg.) Then I added water and flour for high altitude. Next, I reduced baking soda for altitude and reduced sugar knowing the toppings would be extra sweet. The last step was to get creative with the decorations. I hope you like my homage to Mother Earth.

Earth Day Cupcakes adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking
cupcakes
1/2 cup Navitas unsweetened cacao powder
1 cup + 1/2 TBS boiling water
Neat egg substitute for 1 egg
1 cup + 7 TBS all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened
1 cup + 3 TBS organic sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
frosting
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
3 TBS chocolate almond milk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
decorations
crushed chocolate cookies
basil sprigs
gummy worms
For Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-cupcake pan with paper liners. In a small bowl combine cocoa and boiling water. Stir well and set aside to cool. In another small bowl prepare the Neat egg replacer according to package instructions. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer beat together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the Neat egg and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes. With the mixer set on low, add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. After the last flour is mixed in, beat for 1 minute until smooth.
Divide the batter evenly among the 12 liners. Bake 22-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.
For Frosting: Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and beat for 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar, alternating with milk, and beat until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.For Decorations: Place a flat layer of chocolate frosting on a cupcake. Put the crushed chocolate cookies on a plate and dip the cupcake in until frosting is covered. Insert a basil sprig and a gummy worm into the cupcake and put in terra cotta pot.

Until next time, happy baking!

Vanilla Extracts – Are they all the same?

vanilla

Image courtesy of Kim at flickr.com

When I was gathering baking ingredients in the kitchen, my husband remarked on the vanilla extract. He noted the fancy bottle I had and told me that once, when he was young, his mother sent him to the store to get vanilla extract. He bought the largest bottle he could with the money he was given, and that suited his mother. I wanted to gag, but didn’t want to be seen as a vanilla snob. Well, maybe I am. You will find no cheap imitation varieties on my shelves. But, in the name of baking science, I thought I should explore vanilla extract further.

To start, there are many varieties of vanilla beans that are steeped in alcohol to yield the distinct vanilla extract flavor. Frontier, sold in many grocery stores, carries four varieties of the extract, each with subtle differences. There is Tahitian Vanilla with a “fruitier and more floral aroma.” There is also Indonesian Vanilla from “Indonesian vanilla beans (that) are processed in such a way that their intense flavor holds up to cooking well.” Then they offer Papua New Guinea Vanilla which “is extremely sweet, floral and delicately nuanced.” Another type is a versatile Uganda Vanilla that is sweet, rounded and full.” Okay, I did say the differences were subtle. To choose a variety may be a matter of taste and use.

The difference between Imitation vanilla and Pure vanilla is less subtle. Upon smelling Imitation vanilla I can immediately confirm I don’t want something tasting like that in my baked goods. Am I alone in this concept? Apparently not. The kitchn took to the task of asking baking experts if it was worth it to pay the price for pure vanilla. The conclusion was that you “get what you pay for — pure vanilla has much more depth of flavor.” One expert summed it up by responding to the question of when they insist on using pure vanilla extract: “Always! I’d rather use nothing, as the taste of artificial vanilla varies from insipid to nasty. Pure vanilla not only has a delicious taste of its own; it also enhances other flavors.”

I do suppose I am not a complete vanilla extract snob; I do not insist on making my own. (It might be laziness). If you decide to venture into the realm of making your own, check out Frontier Co-op’s recipe here. And please let me know how you did. I bow to your extra efforts taken in the name of baking your best.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie

Have you ever wanted to make cookies but didn’t want to deal with pulling cookie sheets in and out of the oven? I was craving cookies but was too lazy to babysit cookie sheets, so I made a pan cookie. It’s basically a cookie in a baking pan that makes one big cookie with less work than baking up a few dozen. It’s instant cookie gratification.

There was a recipe that made a version of a pan cookie, but I made a few changes. I didn’t have the pan size called for so I reduced the ingredients to fit in the pan I had. (It’s times like this that make me glad I am a math person.) Then I changed the egg substitute to my new favorite – aquafaba. I also found the amount of salt to be what I deemed a typo – the first try made extraordinarily salty cookies – so I changed it accordingly. I also added flour and reduced baking soda to account for high altitude.

After the cookie was done and cooled, I used a star cookie cutter to make pretty cookies. Then I could pretend that I slaved over rolling and cutting dough to make cookies. It’ll be our little secret.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie adapted from Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Cake
1 1/2 cups + 2 TBS whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened, plus extra to grease pan
3/4 cup sucanat sugar
3 TBS aquafaba
1 TBS almond milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup peanut butter, unsalted
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease an 8 x 8” pan with vegan margarine. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together vegan margarine and sugar on low-medium speed until light and fluffy. Add aquafaba, milk, vanilla and peanut butter to sugar mixture and beat well. Slowly add dry flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate chips until combined. Add batter to prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake until cookie is lightly browned on the outside, but still slightly under-cooked in the center, for 15-16 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Until next time, happy baking!