Chocolate Cookie Sandwich with Flavored Fillings

chocolate cookies with flavored fillings

chocolate cookies with flavored fillings

Periodically I go through my baking supplies to find expired items. It also helps reacquaint me with lesser used ingredients. A recent search uncovered black cocoa powder from my Cream-Filled Mini Cakes. This cocoa is a Dutch process cocoa powder which is “washed with a potassium carbonate solution that neutralizes cocoa’s acidity to a pH of 7.” The black version is bittersweet and is alkalized to a pH of 8. It is also the signature taste of Oreo Cookies, so I went into the kitchen to make a version of that iconic treat.

I found a chocolate cookie recipe that I veganized by substituting with non-dairy equivalents. I was concerned about using my special cocoa powder because Dutched cocoas, especially the heavily Dutched black cocoa, are used a little differently. “Since Dutch process cocoa isn’t acidic, it doesn’t react with alkaline leaveners like baking soda to produce carbon dioxide. That’s why recipes that use Dutch process cocoa are usually leavened by baking powder, which has a neutral pH.” When I realized that you want an Oreo-type cookie flatter to make cookie sandwiches, I stuck with baking soda as my leavener and it worked beautifully.

To finish my cookie sandwich, I dug up a recipe for flavored cookie fillings. I took the standard vanilla type and added coffee extract which added deeper flavor and a slight hue. I also thought that mint sounded tasty and was the perfect backdrop for my Color Garden plant-based food colors. Their food coloring isn’t as intense as artificial ones so I used more. If using another brand, use a drop at a time to get your shade. I liked my filling pale green.

Chocolate Cookie Sandwich with Flavored Fillings adapted from The Cooking Channel and Sugar Hero
1/2 cup vegan stick margarine, softened
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar, well packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup black cocoa powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 1.5 tsp non-dairy milk
In a stand mixer, cream together margarine, sugars, and vanilla until light, about 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powders, soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to margarine mixture and mix just to combine. Add milk, in a few segments, and mix just to combine. Form dough into two 1 1/2-inch-thick logs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours.
To bake: preheat oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice each log of dough into 1/8-inch-thick coins. Arrange on baking sheets with 1 1/2 inches between cookies. Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating trays in the middle of baking time. Bake for another 2 minutes or until they are dry looking and firm. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes, then slide cookies onto racks to finish cooling. Makes 4 dozen cookies, or use the filling below to make cookie sandwiches.
Flavored Fillings
1 cup vegan stick margarine, at room temperature
4 cups organic powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
For Coffee Latte flavor: 1 tsp vanilla bean paste + 1 tsp coffee extract
For Mint Flavor: 1 tsp mint extract + 18 drops Color Garden green food color
Combine margarine, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until powdered sugar is moistened, then turn to medium speed and mix for 1-2 minutes, until it has a lighter color and fluffy texture. Don’t over-mix. It needs to be somewhat firm. Divide into two portions to make two different flavors. For Coffee Latte: add vanilla bean paste and coffee extract. For Mint: add mint extract and green food coloring.

Color Garden food colors

Color Garden food colors

Until next time, happy baking!

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In-The-Black Bottom Cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcake

Black Bottom Cupcake

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.

Until next time, happy baking!

DIY Protein Bar

Protein Bar

DIY Protein Bar

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.

Protein Bar Ingredients

Protein Bar Ingredients

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread Cookies

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread

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.

Until next time, happy baking!