Halloween Rice Krispie Monster

frank n krispie treat

Halloween rice krispie treat

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
chocolate sprinkles
extra marshmallows
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.

Until next time, happy un-baking!

Dead Man’s Party or Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes

dead mans party

Mexican Chocolate Cupcake

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.

Until next time, happy baking!

Ginger Lollipops

ginger lollipopsIt’s almost Halloween and that means … candy! I know it’s not baking but I had never successfully made candy before and I like a challenge. I found a recipe using simple, natural ingredients (read – no corn syrup) so I gave it a whirl.

A few tips about candy making: 1) Set aside some time to make this and be patient. The process of heating the sugar mixture seems slow but it will happen. 2) Do not leave the pot unattended. I attempted candy making once years ago, but each time I did I got distracted and ruined it. My recent attempt at Halloween candy met with the phone ringing and then the door ringing seconds later. I was mere degrees from the correct temperature so I wisely ignored both. Shortly thereafter the honey smell became very strong and then instantly I hit the right temp. A few seconds later and it would have burned. 3) Wash the pot and utensils immediately after pouring the mixture into the molds. I washed the pot and thermometer quickly after pouring but I forgot the spoon for a few minutes. Getting the now-hard candy off of the spoon was more difficult than you would imagine. 4) This recipe makes 20 round lollipops, but molds vary. I had a tray with parchment paper at the ready for pouring out the overage. Do not use the extra to overfill the molds. Overly full molds are a pain to unmold.

In case you’re still wondering about cooking candy and not baking, I can let you know that my chocoholic taster was very enthused with the finished product in spite of the lack of chocolate.

Ginger Lollipops adapted from achs.edu
vegetable oil, to grease molds
candied ginger, chopped very fine
2 cups organic sugar
2/3 cups agave nectar
3/4 cup water
10 drops organic ginger (Zingiber officinale) essential oil
Use oil to grease lollipop molds. Drop a few pieces of candied ginger into each mold. Insert lollipop sticks and set aside. In a heavy-duty saucepan, combine sugar, agave and water. Insert candy thermometer, making sure not to touch bottom of pan. Cook at medium heat, stirring until ingredients are dissolved. Check pan occasionally to make sure mixture is not bubbling over.
Once thermometer reaches 300F, remove from stove. Once bubbling subsides, add ginger essential oil. Stir well. Pour mixture carefully into molds, making sure sticks remain secure. Let cool before removing from molds. (If lollipops are difficult to remove, briefly run hot water over back of mold tray.) Place in plastic bags or plastic wrap.

Until next time, happy un-baking!

Berry Protein Muffins

berry protein muffinA while back I mentioned that one day I would bake with protein powder to see what kind of effect it would have on a final product. That day has come. I was alerted that taste, texture and color would change when adding protein powder to a baked good, but the only downside to my experiment was an oddly greenish colored muffin. But that seemed appropriate for a pre-Halloween treat.

I discovered a recipe that already included protein powder. The problem was that some of the ingredients seemed in odd proportion. So, I jumped right in and made many changes to the original. Most importantly I ensured that it had slightly higher than usual amounts of flour and liquids compared to the other ingredients. I also cut the baking powder in half; the amount listed would have made the muffins explode at high altitude. The vegetable oil was reduced because too much oil in high altitude baking can equate to greasiness. After a multitude of adjustments, I give you:

Berry Protein Muffins adapted from mindbodygreen.com
1 cup + 1 TBS almond milk
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup organic sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unflavored hemp protein powder
3 TBS vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup frozen or fresh berries
Preheat oven to 350F and put liners in a 12-cup muffin pan. Combine milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside to curdle. In a bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and form a well in the center. To curdled milk, add hemp protein powder, oil, and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
Pour milk mixture in the well of dry mixture, and stir only enough to moisten. Fold in berries and scoop dough into muffin pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean; a few moist crumbs are okay. Remove from oven, cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Cool for 20 minutes.

Until next time, happy baking!

Is chocolate vegan?

Chocolate Bar

Image courtesy of Lisa Salamida at flickr.com

You’re at the grocery store to purchase goodies for a vegan baking spree. You look at your list and think, “Vegan Chocolate … that’s easy, I’ll get dark chocolate. It’s vegan.” Although that sounds like a no-brainer, unfortunately it is not always the case. It would be nice if it were true, but since it’s not here are some pointers to lead you to the vegan stuff.

You will want to stay away from milk chocolate, as you realized with your initial instinct to buy a dark variety. To find a viable dark version, PETA recommends to “always look for a high percentage of cacao, between 55 and 85 percent—the higher the percentage, the purer the bar. Also, be sure to check the ingredients, as some brands’ dark-chocolate bars still contain dairy products. Avoid chocolate that has a long list of ingredients, because chances are that some of them are fillers.”

While you are looking at the ingredient label, also keep in mind that quality chocolate will have “pure ingredients and no additives. The ingredients will be simple: cocoa, cocoa butter, lecithin, sugar and sometimes vanilla. And that’s it.”

By now you have read the ingredients, checked for the short-list, and deemed your chocolate worthy. But there is one last step – look for food crossover warnings. These might say “Manufactured on the same equipment that also makes products containing milk” or “May contain milk.” If you don’t see these sentences proclaimed in tiny print, you should be safe.

By now you are thinking that chocolate comes from a plant (Theobroma cacao to be precise), so why isn’t it vegan? Good question. It was simpler in the past, but in recent years manufacturers have been adding butterfat for a creamy “mouth feel.” So now some varieties of dark chocolate are no longer non-dairy.

This is making my head spin. Maybe I should just stop baking with chocolate. Hmm, not likely.