Filled Pumpkin Spice Muffins

pumpkin spice muffinsNothing says fall like pumpkin spice, and what better way to feature it than in a warm muffin. The muffin recipe I found is extra special – it has a filling and a topping. The recipe is also part of the #Bakealong Challenge by King Arthur Flour. With it’s creamy cream cheese filling and it’s crunchy streusel topping, I was sold. Besides, I love a challenge.

To adapt the recipe to high altitude I had to modify a few things. I added some flour and reduced the baking powder. I also cut the topping in half – you don’t want to weigh down a muffin at altitude. Next I reduced the temperature and baked them a few minutes longer. For the vegan changes I used yogurt instead of eggs, chose vegan versions of butter and cream cheese, and made the milk a non-dairy version. I wanted to make the muffins on the healthier side (healthy-ish?) so I used a combination of all-purpose flour and whole wheat. Now, on to the muffins …

Filled Pumpkin Spice Muffins adapted from King Arthur Flour
STREUSEL TOPPING
1/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/8 cup organic brown sugar, packed
1/8 cup old-fashioned rolled oats or quick oats (not instant)
dash salt
2 TBS vegan margarine, at room temperature
FILLING
1 (8-oz) tub vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup organic sugar
MUFFINS
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/2 cup vanilla non-dairy yogurt
1/2 cup organic brown sugar, packed
3 TBS vegetable oil
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/3 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice; or 1 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ground cloves + 1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup + 1TBS Whole Wheat Flour
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin papers. To make the streusel: Whisk together flour, sugar, oats, and salt. Work in margarine, mixing until coarse crumbs form. To make the filling: Place cream cheese in a bowl and stir in sugar. To make the batter: Whisk together pumpkin, yogurt, brown sugar, oil, agave, and milk. Then whisk in salt, spices, baking powder, and baking soda. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Add flour and mix until well combined.
Drop a scant 2 TBS of batter into each muffin cup, spreading it to cover the bottom. Dollop on a heaping TBS of filling (I had some leftover), then cover with another 2 TBS of batter. Sprinkle each muffin with streusel topping. Bake for 25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted towards the edge comes out crumb-free. Remove muffins from oven. When they’re cool enough to handle, transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Enjoy within 2 to 3 hours; refrigerate up to 3 days for longer storage. Freeze, well-wrapped, up to 3 weeks.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

chocolate filled chocolate cupcakesToday is all about chocolate with my chocolate-filled chocolate cupcakes. I saw a recipe for chocolate lava cupcakes and figured that who could go wrong with chocolate and more chocolate. Let’s just say my chocoholic hubby was very excited.

The changes I made to the recipe I adapted were extensive because I felt the recipe would make too much batter. I down-sized the measurements and then reduced the baking powder more to account for high altitude. Then I added more liquids for the dryness at altitude. The last big alteration was to omit the frosting because they seemed a bit sugar-laden for my tastes. I saved some filling and used the extra ganache for a nice topping. Yep, hubby was glad to be a taster.

Chocolate-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes adapted from Vegan in the Freezer
For the Cupcake Filling
6 oz semi­sweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
2 TBS powdered sugar
For the Cupcake Batter
1 cup + 1.25 tsp non-dairy milk
1.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and then cooled
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1.25 cups + 1 TBS all ­purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1.25 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners. Melt chocolate for filling. Whisk in milk and powdered sugar. Set aside. In a bowl, start batter by adding milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 15 minutes to curdle, then add sugar, oil and vanilla. Whisk until well mixed. In another bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until mixed.
Fill cupcake liners 1/3 full with batter. Place a dollop of filling in center of each cupcake, with extra filling reserved for garnish. Do not let filling touch sides of liners. Use remaining batter to fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full. Bake for 22-24 minutes. Let cool completely. Drizzle remaining filling over tops of cupcakes to garnish.

Until next time, happy baking!

A Love of Baking and Science

baking loveThe other day I was talking to a friend about my favorite past-time – baking. She had heard that baking was very relaxing, almost meditative. She apparently hasn’t watched me bake. I have heard that activities like kneading bread can be very zen-like, but baking vegan at high altitude is very rational and involves lots of math. My friend said she wouldn’t enjoy it, but I reassured her that I do all the hard work and all a reader has to do is follow recipes. She liked that.

This conversation reinforced why I have my blog. I am fascinated with the science of baking and, trust me, baking with multiple substitutions is scientific. But, others are not as intrigued as I am and just want to bake something that looks and tastes good. I get that, but half of the fun for me is the challenge. I. Will. Make. This. Recipe. Work.

There is also the sense of accomplishment when I peek through the oven window and see a baked creation that I fussed over come to life. Sometimes that fussing takes multiple tries, so it is even more rewarding when I finally succeed. And it’s always good to know I haven’t wasted a pile of expensive baking ingredients. (Have you seen the cost of coconut sugar?)

And then there is the look on my husband’s face when he asks for more, especially when it is a recipe that I am not sure will tantalize his taste buds. Like last week’s zucchini bread, for instance. My husband’s idea of dessert is half a tray of brownies. Zucchini bread seemed far too healthy, even though I added chocolate chips for a chocolate fix. Much to my surprise, he was disappointed when I ate the last piece and there was none left for him. So, happily, I go back into the kitchen to make more … all in the name of science and love.

Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips

zucchini bread with chocolate chips and gingerI became a victim of an overabundance of zucchini. I also became a victim (or hero) of my baking science geekiness and picked up “Naturally Sweet” by America’s Test Kitchen. The cookbook analyzed familiar recipes and devised ways to make them with less sugar. One recipe in the book required baking with zucchini so I jumped at a chance to try it.

For high altitude I added more flour and less baking powder. I opted for applesauce as my vegan egg substitute because it would add in some moisture needed at high altitude. For a flavor boost I swapped the spices with ginger and the nuts with chocolate chips. The bread is loaded with zucchini but also low in sugar, so it’s good for you. Right?

Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips adapted from Naturally Sweet
1 1/2 lbs zucchini, shredded
3/4 cups coconut sugar, plus 1 TBS for sprinkling
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350F. Grease a four-cavity mini loaf pan. Place zucchini in center of a dish towel. Gather ends together and twist tightly to drain as much liquid as possible. Discard liquid. In a medium bowl, whisk 3/4 cups sugar, oil, applesauce, and vanilla together. Stir in zucchini until combined.
In a large bowl, whisk both flours, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Using rubber spatula, stir in zucchini mixture until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Scrape batter evenly into cavities of prepared pan, smooth tops, and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of a loaf comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 28-32 minutes. Let loaves cool in pan for 30 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool 30 minutes more.

Until next time, happy baking!

Spicy Raspberry Chocolate Cups

raspberry spice chocolatesMy husband said, “bring on the chocolate,” so I did. I decided to make chocolates, which sounds scarier than it actually is. If you have the right equipment, making chocolate candies is as easy as melt-and-pour. The hard part is picking a flavor combination.

This is a no-bake vegan recipe, great for a hot summer’s day. It’s simple to do if you have the proper equipment: a silicon mold so you need not fuss with chocolate tempering, a silicon brush for the cleanest way to coat a mold, and a double boiler (or a small pot and a metal bowl that is large enough so its bottom doesn’t touch the water when it sits on top of the pot).

For this decadent and elegant dessert I chose chocolate cups filled with raspberry and a hint of chipotle. Raspberry is fantastic paired with the notes of dark chocolate, and adding the chili gives the taste buds a slight zing.

Spicy Raspberry Chocolate Cups inspired by Lazy Cat Kitchen
5 oz. dark chocolate
1 oz. seedless raspberry jam
chipotle powder, to taste
Boil a pot of water on the stove, then lower the heat to medium. Place the chocolate in the top of the double boiler and put it over the water. When the chocolate is melted, pull it off the heat making sure you get no water in the chocolate. Dip a silicon brush in the melted chocolate and fill in the mold cavities halfway, including up the sides. Put mold in the freezer for 20 minutes to set.
Remove mold from the freezer and place a teaspoon of jam into each cavity. Heat a pot of water to boiling, again. Re-melt the chocolate in the top of the double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in chipotle powder. Let the chocolate cool but not completely – you want it to be pourable. Pour the chocolate over the raspberry jam to fill each mold. Do not over- or under-fill the molds or it will be difficult to remove the candies. Put the mold in the freezer for 20 minutes more. Remove from freezer and carefully pop candy out of molds. Makes 6 chocolates.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Spiced Tahini Cookies

spiced tahini cookiesRose is my all-time favorite scent. Walking in to a rose garden puts a relaxed smile on my face that lasts for hours. When I saw a cookie recipe that included (gasp!) rosewater, I knew I had to try it. The recipe also included cardamom, another fave of mine, so it had to be good.

The cookies were already vegan and didn’t need adaptation for high altitude, so I had that covered. I did add ginger to give them some zing, and decorated them with sesame seeds for looks and texture. They have a low-glycemic sugar, healthy fats, and lots of calcium making them good for you. So go ahead, have another.

Spiced Tahini Cookies adapted from Cardamom Rose Tahini Cookies
1/4 cup + 2 TBS coconut sugar
1/4 cup + 2 TBS almond flour
1.25 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/4 cup + 2 TBS tahini
1 TBS + 1/2 tsp rosewater
1 TBS sesame seeds, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place coconut sugar, almond flour, cardamom powder, and ginger powder in a bowl and whisk. Add tahini and rosewater and mix well. Form batter into walnut-sized balls. Place cookie balls on prepared baking sheet. Gently press down until they form thick discs. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 10-11 minutes, or until slightly brown. Wait until cooled to remove from the baking sheet. Makes 16-18 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Caramel Fudge Truffles

chocolate caramel fudge trufflesWandering through the market I came across Silk’s new Caramel Almond Creamer. Drooling, I brought it to the checkout, all the while wondering what I would do with it. Until recently, caramel has been an unavailable flavor for vegan cooks unless it involved coconut milk. Seeing that I am not a fan of coconut, I have been deprived of that luscious caramel flavor. Until now.

Because I was looking for a no-bake idea, I thought that truffles would be a wonderful base for caramel. The recipe that I found had a completely different taste profile but would adapt well to the creamer. It didn’t have added sugar which wasn’t necessary with the already sweetened Caramel Creamer. The truffles still turned out quite sweet, so I tamed them a bit by rolling them in raw cacao powder instead of the author’s ideas of melted chocolate and raspberry.

This recipe requires a high speed blender to work the ingredients together. The blenders are very useful but can be a pain to clean when making something sticky like truffles. But I’ve got you covered. When you’ve scraped up all of the truffle bits that you can from the blender, add milk to the dregs and re-blend. It cleans up the mess while making a decadent chocolate milk.

Chocolate Caramel Fudge Truffles adapted from Raspberry Dusted Chocolate Fudge Brownie Truffles
2 cups raw cashews
pinch sea salt
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup Silk caramel almond creamer
1 TBS coconut oil, melted
1 cup Navitas Naturals cacao powder, plus extra for rolling the truffles in
Line a baking pan with wax paper. In a high speed blender, blend cashews to a fine crumble. Add salt, dates, creamer, coconut oil and cacao powder, blending to combine. Using your hands, roll the mixture into balls and place on lined baking pan. Alternately, spread fudge mixture into the pan and cut into squares when it has hardened. Transfer pan to fridge to set truffles, at least 30 minutes. Place some cacao powder in a shallow bowl. Roll truffles in cacao powder to cover, or sprinkle on squares. Store in refrigerator.

Until next time, happy non-baking!