Walnut and Cinnamon Peach Crisp

The perfect bite of peach crisp

Walnut and Cinnamon Peach Crisp

Walnuts and cinnamon and peaches … oh, my! Looking at half a flat of local peaches, I was devising ways to use up a good portion of them when a crisp came to mind. The dessert turned out so velvety, luscious, and decadent that I wanted to eat the entire dish in one sitting, for dinner. A few bites were saved for breakfast, but it’s best to reheat it to bring out the full peachy flavor.

The recipe I liked had few ingredients and good preparation techniques but made a large baking dish of crisp, so I scaled it down. Then I added walnuts because I love a crunchy topping. To veganize it I used vegan buttery sticks. Fortunately, nothing needed to be changed for altitude. My final fix was to prefer mixing with my hands instead of using a stick blender. It made for easier kitchen cleanup, and it allowed me to create larger clumps of topping goodness.

Walnut and Cinnamon Peach Crisp adapted from Cinnamon-Oat Peach Crisp

3 pounds peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4” slices
1/2 cup organic granulated sugar
2 TBS + 3/4 cup all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup packed organic brown sugar
1/2 cup rough chopped walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan margarine, softened

Toss peaches, granulated sugar, and 2 TBS flour in a bowl to combine. Let sit, tossing occasionally, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk oats, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup flour in a large bowl to combine. Add margarine and mix it in with your fingers, removing any lumps.

Place a rack in the center of the oven; preheat oven to 350F. Scrape peaches and any juices into a 2-qt baking dish. Evenly scatter oat topping over peaches and bake until peaches are soft, fruit juices are bubbling, and topping is a deep golden brown, 40–45 minutes. Transfer baking dish to a wire rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Until next time, happy baking!

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Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

large zucchini next to zucchini muffins

chocolate chocolate chip zucchini muffins

The giant zucchini from my local farm showed up right when my favorite food tester requested a snack he could grab for breakfast. Add to that the fact that everything is better with chocolate, and I needed treats for a neighborhood Labor Day party, and the Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffin was born.

I started with a bread recipe that I scaled for muffins. To make the recipe vegan I omitted the eggs, as they aren’t necessary for muffins, and I made buttermilk from non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar. For high altitude, I used a bit more liquid and I reduced the baking powder. Combine all that with a huge zucchini, or several smaller ones, and you have a delicious dessert for a crowd.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins inspired by Craftsy’s Easy Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 cup + 2 TBS non-dairy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (not dutch process)
1 cup organic sugar
1/3 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Place 15 liners in two muffin tins. Put non-dairy milk in a small bowl and whisk in apple cider vinegar. Set aside to curdle.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add oil and vanilla to the curdled milk and whisk together until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until only a few streaks of dry ingredients remain. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips, and stir until batter is uniform.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed. Let tins cool on a wire rack. Makes 18 muffins.

Until next time, happy baking!

DIY Confectioners’ Sugar

Confectioners' Sugar

Cookie with Confectioners’ Sugar

Recently I made a treat that used confectioners’ sugar in the frosting. Confectioners’ sugar, also called powdered sugar or icing sugar, is granulated sugar that has been ground into a fine powder. It can be sprinkled over a baked good, but it also readily dissolves in liquid making it easy to stir into icings and frostings. Just be sure not to confuse it with superfine sugar or bakers’ sugar; they are ground finer than granulated sugar but not as fine as confectioners’ sugar.

So, I have taught you exactly what confectioners’ sugar is. Now I am here to offer you a method for making your own, in case you are preparing frosting while a cake cools and find that you have run out of powdered sugar. (No, of course, this has never happened to me. Or, at least, not this week.)

The Spruce Eats gives us their advice: “All you will need is a blender, measuring cup, a clean dish towel, (and) sugar. … For each cup of confectioner’s (sic) sugar needed use one cup of regular granulated sugar. … Put the granulated sugar into the blender and secure the lid. Place the dishtowel over the top of the blender to catch any powder “smoke.” Blend using the pulse method until the sugar turns to powder. This method works best in small quantities, 1 to 2 cups at a time.

If you are making even a smaller amount, alternatively you can use a coffee grinder, spice grinder, or mini-food processor. Just be mindful that the sugar crystals can scratch plastic, so consider carefully before making the powdered sugar in a plastic blender or processor.” I have a dry cup for my Vitamix which works beautifully for making powdered sugar.

Store bought confectioners’ sugar will have additives, such as cornstarch. You can opt to make your own confectioners’ sugar just in emergency situations, or you can prepare it yourself to ensure that your sugar has no additives.

Cardamom Peach Morning Muffins

cardamom peach morning muffins

cardamom peach morning muffins

It’s peach season, and I got so excited I got twenty pounds of peaches. Now I am (desperately) trying to find a zillion ways to use them up. After grilled peaches, bellinis, and eaten raw, peach muffins came to mind. I thought that the peach flavor would be the star in a muffin that was not too sweet, so I looked up my Hearty Raspberry Muffins. Also, I consulted a peach recipe in my archives to help get a good balance. A tweak here, an addition there, and I had a tasty muffin. If you like a sweeter treat, then drizzle them with a simple sugar glaze made of one part non-dairy milk to three parts organic powdered sugar. Add a pinch or two of cinnamon and cardamom powders to your glaze to spice things up.

To make the recipe vegan, I merely removed the eggs. Muffins can generally get by with enough baking powder. To help combat the dryness at altitude, I added more liquid to my batter. To bump up the peach flavor, some of that liquid was the juice that ran off when I diced my peaches. If you don’t get enough peach juice, then add more milk. The last adjustment was to use up my cardamom simple syrup I had made for another recipe. You can substitute another liquid sweetener, but be sure to add cardamom to your batter.

Cardamom Peach Morning Muffins adapted loosely from Spiced Peach Muffins

1.75 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole bran
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1.25 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup cardamom simple syrup, or other liquid sweetener
2.5 TBS canola oil
1/4 cup peach juice
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup peaches, diced but not peeled

Preheat oven to 375F and grease 10 sections of a muffin tin. Whisk together the flour, bran, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the simple syrup, oil, peach juice, and milk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently fold in the peaches.

Heap the batter into the muffin tin; the cups will be 3/4 full. Bake the muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden and risen high. Cool muffins on a wire rack. Store, well-wrapped, on the counter for 3 days; or freeze for up to 3 months.

Until next time, happy baking!

Spiced Zucchini Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

spiced zucchini layer cake

spiced zucchini layer cake

When zucchini is in abundance, you make cake. Armed with several zucchini, I scoured recipes for breads, muffins, and cakes to make use of my squash. After discovering this spice cake recipe, I decided I needed to go bigger because I had quite a few of the vegetable. This then prodded me to make a layer cake, although I had not made one in a while. Of course, I could have been easier on myself and made two simple cake pan cakes slathered in frosting, but I do like a challenge. My apologies for the messy cake as my layering skills are rusty.

I found a vegan recipe, so the next step was to do the math to make it fit two 8” round pans. Thankfully, I discovered a chart of pan volumes at Joy Of Baking. After that I made some high altitude adjustments, such as reducing baking soda and adding more liquid. I also made a few changes to the instructions by thoroughly squeezing the zucchini (to avoid a soggy cake), sifting the dry ingredients separately (to blend the spices in), and modifying the frosting (for a less sweet vanilla-infused boost). It ended up being a serious baking production, but the resulting cake had a wonderful texture and even better flavor. I’m glad I wasn’t feeling lazy.

Spiced Zucchini Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from the pretty bee and Handle the Heat

for the cake
1.5 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup canola oil
4.5 TBS unsweetened applesauce
1.25 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup + 2 TBS unsweetened non-dairy milk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
pinch ground nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar

for the frosting
8 ounces vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick vegan margarine, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla paste
3 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted

The cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two 8” round pans by greasing the pans, then lining the pans with parchment circles, and then greasing the parchment circles. Flour both greased pans. (The effort is worth it — see picture below.)

Lay zucchini on paper towels to absorb some of the moisture, then wring it out in a clean tea towel. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine oil, applesauce, vinegar, milk, and vanilla. Stir well and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Add both sugars and stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Fold in zucchini.

gorgeous spiced zucchini cake layer

gorgeous spiced zucchini cake layer

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cake cool completely, then level the layers. Set aside.

The frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, margarine, and vanilla on medium-high speed until creamy, and smooth. On low speed, gradually add in sugar and beat until fluffy. Apply between cake layers and around the outside. Leftover cake can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Cookies and Cream Vegan Ice Cream

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

Cookies and Cream Vegan Ice Cream

Many of the recipes attempted for this week’s inspiration came out disastrous. My goal was to prepare an ice cream base for a myriad of creations during the hot summertime. The flavor needed to be tasty enough on its own, with a texture that mimicked a quality dairy ice cream. I wanted creamy, not too sweet, and not icy, and I was willing to do anything to achieve vegan perfection. Some frozen treats that I made started out in a dairy version that I then tweaked, while some were complicated vegan recipes. None of them turned out great. That was until I watched a video on ice cream making and adapted the techniques I learned to enhance my vegan recipe.

The base I chose consisted of nuts, so I didn’t need to make it vegan. The changes I made were influenced by a mashup of many ice cream recipes that I looked at for reference. I used cashew milk for the liquid to add creaminess. To further encourage a smooth texture, I stuck with a liquid sweetener instead of a granulated one. The final tweak was to add sandwich cookies to the base to create the specific flavor profile.

Cookies and Cream Vegan Ice Cream

1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1.5 cups cashew milk (or use coconut milk)
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave syrup
pinch of sea salt
12 vegan chocolate sandwich cream cookies, crushed

Put the cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Soak at least 4 hours, or overnight in the fridge. Drain the soaked cashews. Put drained cashews, cashew milk, vanilla, agave, and salt in a blender. Blend ingredients until mixture is smooth and thick. Prepare in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Add the cookies in at the end, according to your machine. Makes 1.5 pints.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

New Vegan Dairy Products

New Plant Based Dairy Products

The world of vegan dairy options is rapidly expanding. When I first went dairy-free there were only a few companies with milk and cheese offerings, and you could forget about alternatives for butter and yogurt. Nowadays, shopping for vegan dairy products is exciting, with some products out-doing their non-vegan counterparts. Many of my recipes have “non-dairy dairy” ingredients, and here are a few of the newest that were spotted at Natural Products Expo West 2019 by Jenna Blumenfeld of New Hope Network.

Culina Botanical Yogurt Alternative

One of the best nondairy yogurts we’ve ever tasted, Culina won us over with its ultra-creamy cultured coconut base, floral botanical add-ins (the Strawberry Rose flavor was beautiful) and lack of plastic packaging. Instead, each yogurt is packaged in a terra cotta flower pot lined with a food-safe, biodegradeable glaze.

Mooala Organic Oatmilk Unsweetened Coconut

Oatmilk was a trending plant-based dairy option at Expo West, and Mooala earns points for launching an unsweetened, USDA Organic blend. This version is blended with organic coconut cream for improved consistency.

Malk Sprouted Organic Oat Malk Original

This brand’s dedication to simple formulations and conscious sourcing shine through with this USDA Organic, sprouted oatmilk. Bonus: Malk also pursued The Detox Project’s Glyphosate Residue Free Certification to quell worries about glyphosate-contaminated oats, which is printed on the back of the product packaging.

Milkadamia Macadamia Buttery Spread

Milkadamia Macadamia Buttery Spread

This beloved nondairy milk brand launched a plant-based buttery spread at Expo West that employs silky, rich macadamia oil to add body and flavor. We also like how no palm oil is used in this formulation.

Cultured Cashew Brie Alternative Beet Blush

The fermentation experts at Wildbrine bring their expert knowledge of microbes into the plant-based dairy category with this excellent cashew brie. Tinted with a hint of beets, this USDA Organic plant brie will steal the limelight at cheese parties.”

This post (or portions of this post) was provided by New Hope Network. I am a member of the New Hope Influencer Co-op, a network of health and wellness bloggers committed to spreading more health to more people. Images courtesy of New Hope Network. #NewHopeInfluencer

Fruit Pocket Pies

Fruit Pocket Pies

Fruit Pocket Pies

Summer is all about the fruit as far as I’m concerned. And the best way to combine fresh fruit and baking is to make pies. If you are a regular reader, you know that I’m not fond of pies. So, the creation I found isn’t exactly a pie but a fruit pocket pie, a.k.a. a hand pie. It requires fewer steps and less perfection than a standard pie therefore it is a treat I will happily bake.

The recipe I used was already vegan and didn’t need high altitude tweaks, so I didn’t change much. However, I didn’t blend all of the berries together as the original recipe stated. Instead I made each pie its own fruit at my hubby’s request. Also, you may notice that my rolling pin looks like it has big rubber bands on it in the picture below. Those bands are an item that ensures the thickness of your dough without measuring or having to eyeball it. This dough-rolling novice thought they made the work much easier, and easier work in the kitchen is a good thing.

Fruit Pocket Pies based on Berry Hand Pies

For the pastry:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS mild-flavored vegetable oil
3 to 5 TBS water, as needed to bring dough together
3 TBS maple syrup

For the filling:
1/3 cup vegan sugar
1 TBS all purpose flour
1 TBS lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/3 cup strawberries, destemmed and cut up
1/3 cup blueberries
1/3 cup red raspberries
1/3 cup cherries, pitted and cut in half
1/8 tsp ground ginger

For the topping:
1 tsp vegan sugar

For the pastry: to a large bowl, add both flours, cinnamon, and salt, and whisk to combine. Drizzle oil over the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, work the oil in so the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water and maple syrup and stir until the mixture comes together to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

For the filling: in a small bowl, place sugar, flour, lemon juice, and cardamom, and toss gently to combine. Add strawberries to the sugar mixture and roll around to coat. Remove the fruit and place in its own bowl. Repeat with the blueberries and then with the raspberries. For the cherries, add the ginger to the remaining sugar mixture and stir in. Then add the cherries and roll to coat. Set the four bowls of fruit aside.

berries, dough, and rolling pin

berries, dough, and rolling pin

Transfer the chilled dough to a floured work surface. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough out to 1/8” thickness, then cut it into 5” circles. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the circles to the prepared cookie sheet. Add trimmings to the remaining pastry dough and repeat the procedure to yield 7 or 8 circles. Add a fruit filling to the center of each circle. Carefully fold over one side of pastry dough, press down around edges of the dough to seal, then crimp edges with a fork. Sprinkle the pies with the remaining one teaspoon of sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Until next time, happy baking!

Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits

Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits

Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits

This post started out with me making dark chocolate. It was from a recipe that took homemade chocolate and crumbled it into fruity granola for a trail mix. Well, that disaster turned into something resembling chocolate leather. Also, upon analyzing the recipe further, I decided I didn’t like the ratios of the ingredients. So after another recipe search, I decided I might as well make my own granola. That had to be much easier than making chocolate. With more hunting I found a promising recipe for white chocolate. Those two put together made this creation – Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits.

Both of the recipes were vegan and did not require high altitude adjustments, so that simplified things. The granola was part of a smoothie bowl, but I made just the granola. Then I modified it by reducing the amount of pumpkin seeds so I could add some hemp seeds. You can use any seeds here, and even any dried fruit. Pick your favorite fruit or seed – the possibilities are endless. The white chocolate was originally the base of a rice crispy bar, but I made the chocolate by itself and put it in smaller molds.

Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits adapted from recipes on Go Dairy Free

for the White Chocolate
1 ounce (scant 1/4 cup) raw, unsalted cashews
1/4 cup + 1/2 TBS powdered sugar
Pinch fine sea salt
2 ounces Navitas Organics cacao butter
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp vanilla bean paste

for the Granola
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 TBS hemp seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 cup dried tart cherries, roughly chopped

To make the white chocolate, place cashews, sugar, and salt in a mini food processor and process into a fine powder (about 30 seconds). Place cacao butter in a double boiler and whisk until just melted. Whisk vanilla bean paste into the melted cacao butter. Remove from heat and whisk in the cashew-sugar mixture until smooth.

Place a mold on a small tray and pour the mixture into it. Place mold in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours to set up. When solid, remove the white chocolate from the mold and break or cut into small bits. Set aside.

To make the granola, preheat the oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, salt, and cinnamon. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir to evenly coat.

Spread granola onto prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes. Watch carefully in last 15 minutes as it may burn. Let granola cool completely. Stir in dried cherries and bits of white chocolate. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Until next time, happy baking!

How to Stop Your Cookies From Spreading

Spread Cookies image courtesy of crypto on flickr.com

Spread Cookies image courtesy of crypto on flickr.com

Here in the Decadent Vegan Baker’s kitchen I have whipped up my fair share of cookies. I always want them to look good for pictures, and for bragging rights, so I did some research on how to avoid the dreaded cookie spread. You know — when the cookies turn into unsightly blobs or, worse yet, fuse into each other. Here is what I found out …

A tip I got many years ago was to be sure to cool baking sheets down before placing the next batch of raw dough on them. That’s easy enough to do in the winter as I just prop them on the wall near an outside door. In the summer I have to wait patiently while the sheets cool off, but that time can be well spent engaged in the next piece of advice.

My second item of advice is to place the dough in the fridge prior to baking the cookies. “Chilling the dough solidifies the fat in the dough, meaning that it will melt more slowly under the heat of the oven and result in taller, thicker cookies,” say the chefs at Food52. Dough that is too warm can make cookies that look like flat blobs.

On the King Arthur Flour website they recommend two things for attaining the perfect cookie: lowering the baking temperature while also extending the baking time. For a recipe that called for cookies baked at 350°F for 14 minutes, they “dropped the temperature to 300°F, and extended the baking time: 22 minutes for chewy, 30 minutes for crisp.” They explained that “the fat in cookies is a big part of their structure, prior to baking…Once those cookies hit the oven, though, the fat starts to soften and melt. And the hotter the oven, the more quickly it melts. If the oven’s hot enough, the fat melts before the cookies set. And since their flour/liquid matrix hasn’t yet had a chance to harden, the cookies spread.”

A final trick offered by Food52 is that “when a recipe calls for room temperature butter, you should be able to make a small indentation easily with your finger without the area sinking under its weight. If the butter is too cold, you’ll have to do more mixing to get it to properly incorporate.” Unincorporated butter leads to airy dough that leads to cookies that fall in the oven, and that leads to the ugly blob.

If you find that you have tried all of my recommendations and still produce unsightly cookies, do not worry. Send the cookies to my house and my husband will dispose of them properly … for dessert.