Today is the day that American income taxes are due. For those of us who have been struggling with numbers all weekend, I decided that a very indulgent treat was in order. Enter: In-The-Black Bottom Cupcakes.
The recipe I found was already vegan, thanks to master baker Fran Costigan. The changes I made were for high altitude. I reduced baking soda for altitude and added non-dairy milk for dryness. Then I reduced the oil because high altitude baked goods can get oily and the filling could make it heavy enough. These decadent cupcakes are just what my brain and tummy needed.
In-The-Black Bottom Cupcakes adapted from Black Bottom Cupcakes Filling
1 1/2 tsp ground chia seeds
1 1/2 TBS water
8 oz nondairy cream cheese spread, straight from the refrigerator
9 TBS organic confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 oz chocolate chips or chopped chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup organic granulated sugar
1/4 cup organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered
1/4 cup + 1 TBS cocoa powder, non-alkalized
scant 1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup + 1 TBS almond milk
5 TBS canola oil
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix chia and water and set aside for a couple of minutes. Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined. Repeat twice, 5 minutes apart. In a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add chia gel and mix on medium for another 30 seconds until incorporated. Stir chocolate chips into the filling. Refrigerate in a covered container while you make the cupcakes. Position a rack on rung just above the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Lightly oil the top only of a 12-cup cupcake tin and line with paper liners.
Put a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add all-purpose flour, pastry flour, granulated sugar, cane sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt to the strainer. Stir with a whisk to sift ingredients into the bowl and whisk to aerate. (If very small bits remain in the strainer, add them to mixture in bowl.) In a small bowl, mix almond milk, oil, vinegar, and vanilla until thoroughly mixed. Immediately pour into dry ingredients. Whisk hard until batter is smooth.
Fill cups just over half full with batter. Scoop 2 tablespoons of filling into center of each cupcake. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, or until edges are firm when lightly tapped and filling is set. Set tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes. The filling will collapse into cakes while they cool. Remove cupcakes from tin, and cool completely on a wire rack before serving. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.
Have you ever thought about making your own protein bars? My athletic husband, having tried and complained about many pre-packaged bars, inspired me to look into how to make them. After doing research I realized that I don’t have to experiment, thanks to Creation Nation’s Protein Bar Mixes. I discovered them at Natural Products Expo West and thought that the DIY homemade bar idea was brilliant.
The mix is vegan and requires no baking, so it made my job easy. But, being a decadent dessert maker, I had to take it up a notch. I made a peanut butter frosting for the PB & Jelly Get In My Belly bars that took them from tasty to mmmmm tasty. I melted some creamy peanut butter on the stove to make it stirrable. After I removed it from the heat, I stirred in a little vegan powdered sugar and almond milk. The frosting was then drizzled onto the refrigerated bars. I was winging it so I didn’t measure any ingredients, so feel free to add as much or as little to get your desired taste.
The bars themselves are customizable, too, depending on how sweet you want to make them. It also offers add-in choices so you can use what you have on hand. I added almond milk and agave sweetener to the packaged mix. I made them a bit less sweet so my peanut butter frosting didn’t take them over the top. It was nice to use a mix and have a fun treat (or simple breakfast) ready in a flash.
Recently a local tea shop offered a matcha green tea tasting. Being a lover of all things tea, I attended and brought along hubby so we could experiment together. We learned that he is not a big fan of matcha, being a coffee aficionado. But I left with the inspiration to bake with the green tea powder. The challenge was to make it palatable for hubby, so I found a matcha cookie recipe and used a matcha / cocoa blend to appeal to his taste for chocolate. The result was a light, not too sweet cookie that we both enjoyed.
To veganize the recipe I replaced the butter with vegan margarine. My high altitude adjustment was to introduce a little non-dairy milk to counteract the dryness. You may think that adding tea to a recipe would make the cookie gritty, but matcha is powdered, not ground. If you find that your matcha is a little chunky, then sift it before measuring out the amount. These cookies are an eye catching green, but I couldn’t resist getting artistic and drizzling them with chocolate.
Cocoa Matcha Shortbread based on Matcha Green Tea Shortbread Cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1 TBS matcha with cocoa powder blend
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 cup vegan margarine, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup organic powdered sugar
2 tsp non-dairy milk
chocolate chips, for garnish
Sift flour, matcha, and salt into a bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat margarine and powdered sugar until fluffy. Add non-dairy milk and beat again. Add flour mixture to mixer bowl and mix slowly until dough just comes together. Form dough into a log that is 2” in diameter. Wrap dough log in parchment paper and place in freezer for 30 minutes or until dough has firmed to the touch.
Preheat oven to 325F. Slice dough into 1/4” rounds and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, 1” apart. Alternatively, take dough from freezer, pinch off round balls, place on cookie sheet, and flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes (or until cookies are just starting to turn golden around the edges), turning pan halfway through baking time. Remove cookies immediately from cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler on the stove. Decorate cookies with melted chocolate. Store in an airtight container.
Truth be told, there almost wasn’t any of this cake left to photograph. I had gluten free advocates around to do a taste test of my first gluten free, vegan, high altitude cake – and we nearly inhaled the entire cake within minutes of it coming out of the oven. The texture was perfectly moist, it didn’t crumble when cut, and (drumroll, please) it tasted great! We were very satisfied with this cake, eating it plain and accompanied by cashew ice cream. For all of you who have been asking me if I also bake gluten free, I can now answer with a resounding “yes!”
The recipe was adapted from one I did in a previous blog post. The only changes I made were for gluten free baking. I swapped the all-purpose flour with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour. I also added baking powder to give the cake some lift, as gluten free cakes often turn out overly dense. So, for those who eat gluten free and want an easy cake recipe to try, I offer you my now gluten free cake pan cake.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake-Pan Cake adapted from my Easy Chocolate Cake-Pan Cake
1 1/2 cups + 2 TBS gluten free flour
1 cup – 1 TBS vegan sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup mini vegan chocolate chips
1/2 tsp salt
scant 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup + 1 TBS cold non-dairy milk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Measure all dry ingredients into an 8″ x 8” x 2” cake pan. Blend the ingredients together thoroughly with a whisk and scoop out three holes. Pour the vanilla into the first hole, the vinegar into the second, and the vegetable oil into the third. Take the milk and pour it directly over everything in the pan. Stir all ingredients together with your whisk until they are well blended. Don’t forget to stir the sides, bottom and into the corners. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the sides of the cake start to pull away from the pan. Serve right from the pan.
For Valentine’s Day I wanted to give you a box of chocolates. The recipe here includes ginger and cinnamon for spiciness and rose petals for romance. When you add in the chocolate you have an additional superfood to inspire passion and stamina.
The recipe I found was already vegan, but I switched out some of the flavorings to accent heat and passion. It isn’t a baked treat, but instead it is made with chocolate molds so you can choose your favorite meaningful shapes. I found an adorable love birds mold and also added extra rose petals to a floral mold. With love …
Valentine’s Day Chocolates adapted from The Herbal Academy
6 ounces vegan dark chocolate, broken up
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 TBS crushed dried rose petals
1 TBS chopped candied ginger
Melt chocolate in a double boiler ensuring that no water gets into the pot with the chocolate. Once chocolate has melted, fold in cardamom, cinnamon, rose petals, and candied ginger. Stir well and remove bowl with chocolate. Pour chocolate mixture into molds, adding extra crushed rose petals to mold first, if desired. Smooth out with a spatula. Keep in fridge until hardened. Once chocolate has set, remove from molds.
Have you ever looked at your baking supplies and wondered what to do with 1/2 cup of this flour, or a little of that flour? I was confronting that dilemma when I found a recipe for oatmeal bars. With all of the rolled oats and other textures, no one would notice that I had a flour mixture added in. I also decided that they would be tasty for breakfast, snack, or dessert, so they were winners.
To adapt to high altitude and dryness, I reduced the baking soda and added non-dairy milk to the recipe. To make them vegan, the easy swap was using oil in place of butter. The original recipe had packaged caramels as an ingredient which are generally not vegan, so I left them out and used jam instead. My final change was to make more of a crust layer underneath, thus creating a sturdier and less sweet bar.
Oatmeal Jammies adapted from Oatmeal Carmelitas
3 cups flour, mixed (I used a mixture of all purpose, whole wheat, and pastry flour)
3 cups quick cooking rolled oats
2-1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 heaping tsp baking soda
scant 1/2 tsp salt
1-1/8 cups canola oil
1-1/2 tsp non-dairy milk
1 cup seedless blackberry jam, gently melted
1 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 13″ x 9″ pan. In a bowl, add flours, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine. Add oil and milk and stir until crumbly. Reserve half of the crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Spoon jam to the edges of the crust in the pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over the jam. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture evenly to coat.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown and bubbling around the edges. Cool for 1 to 2 hours on a wire rack or until completely cooled. Cut into bars, then store covered with foil at room temperature.
Upon looking over at the apples in my fruit bowl, I realized they weren’t getting eaten fast enough. I needed to bake them into something quick so I decided to make Apple Cinnamon Brunch Muffins. That, and I had just bought Alisa Fleming’s book “Eat Dairy Free” and wanted to make a treat from it.
The recipe was already already vegan and had high altitude suggestions, so I didn’t need to come up with substitutions for that. But, when I pulled out the ingredients from my pantry I realized that I didn’t have enough light brown sugar. To remedy that I used a combination of light brown sugar, dark brown sugar (which had too strong a taste to use on it’s own), and organic granulated sugar. The mix worked out great, and made muffins that were delicious with vegan sausage and tea.
Apple Cinnamon Brunch Muffins adapted from Wholesome Apple Cinnamon Muffins
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, warmed to room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup organic granulated sugar
2.25 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1.25 tsp ground cinnamon, plus additional for topping
.75 tsp baking powder
.75 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1.25 cups small-diced apple (cored and peeled)
1 TBS light brown sugar
Preheat oven to 400F and line 12 regular-size muffin cups with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine non-dairy milk, applesauce, oil, and apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes and then whisk together. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugars, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add diced apple and stir to coat. Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.
Divide batter among muffin cups. In a small bowl, mix together 1 TBS light brown sugar and a generous pinch or two of cinnamon. Sprinkle spiced sugar over muffin batter. The cups will be full. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the tins before removing the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Until next time, happy baking!
waiting (patiently) for apple cinnamon muffins to cool