On Monday, December 4, it will be National Cookie Day. In honor of that glorious day I had to bake cookies. It’s a busy time of year, so to make things simple I found a cookie that bakes in a pan. This eliminates the need to spoon out dough and keep shoving trays into the oven. So hurrah for Cookie Day and easy cookies.
To make the recipe vegan I used vegan sugar and vegan chocolate chips. To adapt for the dryness at altitude I added some milk. The last change I made was to make the cookies a bit healthier by using half all purpose and half whole wheat flour. The trouble was they were so healthy my husband and I finished off most of the pan in one sitting. Maybe not so healthy after all, but oh so good.
Chocolate Chip Shortbread adapted from Earth Balance’s website
1/2 cup Earth Balance® Original Buttery Spread
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp non-dairy milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup mini vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. In a stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer beat together the buttery spread and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and milk. Add in flours and salt. Stir in mini chocolate chips. Press dough into ungreased 9×9” baking pan. Bake for 15-17 minutes until edges are golden brown. Let pan cool. Slide a spatula around the edges and turn cookie out onto a cutting board. Cut cookie into bars or triangles.
I am a big fan of Chef Elizabeth Falkner. From my couch, I cheer on her creativity whenever she is in a cooking battle on TV. Coincidentally, I have tried many versions of Energy Balls. So when I saw a video of Chef Falkner demonstrating a recipe for an energy ball, I knew I had to make them, too. The thing that was most appealing is that many energy balls are overly sweet, but her version has a savory side that makes it a tasty snack and not just dessert.
To make it vegan I swapped out honey and used agave syrup instead, which I also think rounded out the savory flavors. Orange Flower Water is hard to come by, and a bit sweet itself, so I used orange juice in its place. I then mixed it up when rolling out the balls. I decided to roll some in sesame to add to the Moroccan theme, and also chose to roll others in cacao powder because, well, chocolate.
Savory Energy Bites adapted from Moroccan-Date Bonbons
1/2 cup + 2 TBS sliced almonds (2 1/2 oz)
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (2 oz)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (3 oz)
1 pound moist dates, pitted and chopped
4 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 TBS finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 TBS agave syrup
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp fresh orange juice
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Spread sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 4 minutes, until golden. Let almonds cool completely. In a food processor, grind pistachios to a coarse powder. Transfer pistachio powder to a plate. Add toasted almonds to processor and grind to a coarse powder. Add walnuts, dates, olives, ginger, agave, orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom, orange juice and salt and process to a paste. Scoop up scant tablespoons of mixture and roll into balls. Roll balls in pistachio powder to coat them completely. Makes about 25 balls.
Quick breads are so nice to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Whether you are having brunch or just want the house to smell delicious, they are a comforting baked treat. The other great thing about them is that you mix one up and pour it into a pan with no fuss, no decorations or frosting to make, and they easily feed a crowd.
The recipe I found required a few changes. I used some all-purpose flour in place of whole wheat to lighten it up, and I swapped wheat bran for the wheat germ because that is what I had in the cupboard. Then, for high altitude adjustments, I added a bit more flour and used less baking powder. To veganize the recipe I used non-dairy yogurt and then switched out the eggs with aquafaba. That was easy. The hard part was waiting what seemed far too long for it to cool so I could eat it.
Blueberry Oat Bread adapted from Stonyfield
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
1 cup oats (old fashioned or quick cooking)
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup wheat bran
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.25 cups vanilla non-dairy yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 TBS aquafaba (chickpea brine)
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with shortening. In a bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: both flours, oats, sugar, wheat bran, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Using a stand mixer, beat together yogurt, applesauce, oil, aquafaba, and vanilla, and beat at medium speed. Slowly add dry ingredients until just combined then let batter rest for 10 minutes to allow bran to hydrate. Carefully fold in blueberries then pour batter into bread pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.
Every once in a while I don’t really feel like baking. I want a decadent dessert that has my personal touch without my actually taking the effort to bake. So, what do I do? Semi-homemade to the rescue!
I don’t normally endorse any particular brands, but Amy’s Kitchen makes a frozen Chocolate Cake that is vegan (and gluten free). With a few ingredients that I usually have on hand, I can transform the cake into a Decadent Vegan Baker original without any high altitude fuss. I have brought this creation to parties and fooled everyone into thinking that I slaved all day in the kitchen.
Raspberry Chocolate Amy’s Cake
1 Amy’s Organic Chocolate Cake, defrosted
2 TBS seedless raspberry jam
3 oz dark chocolate
8-10 fresh raspberries
Take the defrosted cake out of the packaging and slice in half horizontally. Spread jam over the bottom half of the cake and top with the top half, like a jelly sandwich. Melt chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler. Pour the melted chocolate over the cake sandwich. Top with fresh raspberries.
During any given day I collect a handful of recipes. They cover baking, main dishes, salads, beverages, and the like. Besides the 100 or so cookbooks I have, I must have thousands of recipes on my computer. I may have an addiction. But, when I am looking for ideas for a new creation I can always find something. Take today’s recipe – it’s an unusual cookie recipe as it contains no flour or leaveners. But for a quick breakfast cookie or snack, it works great.
I changed the original recipe to account for dryness at altitude by adding milk. Then I decided that it needed a little more depth of flavor. I included a bit of brown sugar, and also used peanut butter with the jam. So, with a few ingredients I usually have on hand, I created an easy homage to a thumbprint cookie that’s gluten-free, too. A winning combination.
PB & J Breakfast Cookies based on a Truth Bars recipe
2 ripe bananas
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tsp non-dairy milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar
2 cups rolled oats
Preheat oven to 350F. Mash bananas in a bowl. Mix in applesauce, vanilla, milk, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Stir in oats and let sit for 5 minutes so oats can soften.
Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop dough onto sheet and flatten cookies into rounds, making about 18 cookies. Use the back of a spoon to create an indent and fill with a small amount of peanut butter with jam on top. Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven. Cool before storing in airtight container for 1 week.
Halloween and Frankenstein go hand in hand for a good scare, so I found a scary Halloween Frankenstein treat. I know Halloween is tomorrow, but this recipe is fun and easy so there is still time. It’s based on a classic childhood delight making it even more of a holiday inspiration.
In a web search I discovered the design of a Frankenstein looking rice krispie treat. Then I grabbed the basic recipe from a bag of Dandies vegan marshmallows. So, without further ado, I bring you …
Halloween Rice Krispie Monster adapted from Fork & Beans
For the treats:
2 TBS vegan margarine
2 TBS coconut oil
10 oz. bag vegan marshmallows
5 cups brown rice cereal
5 drops green food coloring
For the decorations:
1/2 cup vegan chocolate, melted together with 1 TBS coconut oil
Line an 8×8” pan with wax paper. In a saucepan, melt margarine and coconut oil on medium/low heat. Add marshmallows and melt, stirring often. Once melted, remove from heat and add food coloring until well combined. Quickly stir in cereal. Place in pan and pat down gently. Cool down for 10 minutes. Remove from pan using excess wax paper as handles. Gently remove wax paper. Cut into 6 rectangles. Place a lollipop stick into each treat.
Coat tops of treats with melted chocolate and add chocolate sprinkles. Make eyes out of cut marshmallows with blobs of melted chocolate. Cut marshmallows for bolts. Secure eyes and bolts by gently pressing them into the head. Draw mouths with melted chocolate. Allow to set. Makes 6, unless you eat the scraps like I did and then it makes 5.
The Day of the Dead is a time to honor your loved ones who have passed on, and to have delicious sweets. The sugar skull is an iconic symbol of this holiday, but I’m not an artist so I decorated cupcakes with pictures of sugar skulls. To add to the theme I chose the flavors of Mexican Hot Chocolate for a nod to the holiday’s roots in Mexico.
My standby favorite chocolate cupcake recipe was used here, but I modified the flavors. The frosting was adjusted to add sweet cinnamon. Also, I added chipotle powder for the spiciness. How much you add is up to you – this could be a treat or a trick!
Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes cupcakes
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
generous 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 – 3/4 tsp chipotle powder frosting
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
3 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond milk
For Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-cupcake pan with paper liners. Whisk together the milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla to the milk mixture and beat until foamy.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and chipotle powder. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat just until no large lumps remain. Pour evenly into the liners, filling three-quarters of the way. Bake 18-19 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 powdered sugar and beat for 3 more minutes. Add the cinnamon, vanilla and milk and beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy.