Granola Squares

Granola Squares

Granola Squares

So, yeah, that are lots of granola bar recipes out there on the internet. And, yes, most of them are probably vegan. But, I chose to make these granola squares because of the variety of textures and flavors they offered. I changed up the fruit and seeds recommended in the original recipe to use what I had in my cupboard, which is another bonus. Also, to satisfy my decadent tastebuds, I added mini chocolate chips. That was a no-brainer.

The recipe was already vegan, but you do have to be aware that many granola recipes contain honey which makes them non-vegan. I made a minor high altitude adjustment by adding almond butter to keep them moist. Most of my changes were purely a matter of taste, something I consider important nonetheless.

Granola Squares based on Chewy Granola Bars with Walnuts and Cranberries

1.5 cups walnuts
2.5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried mixed berries
1 cup packed organic brown sugar, light or dark
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus extra to coat the foil sling
2 TBS almond butter
3 TBS water
1.5 cups puffed brown rice cereal
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350F. Make a foil sling for a 13 x 9” pan by folding 2 long sheets of foil; the first sheet should be 13” wide and second sheet should be 9” wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over the edges of the pan. Push foil into corners and up the sides of the pan, smoothing the foil flush to pan. Lightly coat the foil with vegetable oil.

Pulse walnuts in a food processor until finely chopped, for 8 to 10 pulses. Spread walnuts, oats, and pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through toasting. When done, set aside to cool and reduce oven temperature to 300F.

While oat mixture is toasting, process dried berries, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor for 10 seconds. Run processor again, adding oil, almond butter, and water. Continue to process until a homogeneous paste forms, about 1 minute longer.

Transfer paste to a large bowl. Add oat mixture to bowl and stir with a rubber spatula until well coated. Add cereal and chocolate chips and stir gently until ingredients are evenly mixed. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Press and smooth with the bottom of a measuring cup, especially at the edges, until granola is level and compact.

foil sling with granola

foil sling with granola

Bake granola until just beginning to brown around edges, about 25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour. Using foil sling, lift granola out of pan. Place on wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Discard foil and transfer granola to a cutting board to cut it into squares. Granola squares can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

Until next time, happy baking!

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Espresso Chocolate Cookies

Espresso Chocolate Cookies

Espresso Chocolate Cookies

Who doesn’t love the combination of chocolate and coffee flavors? And, who wouldn’t enjoy those tastes combined in an easy cookie recipe? Not to mention that the cookie is not too sweet to allow for the espresso to shine, but also has added chocolate chips for decadence. Yes, this cookie is a winner.

The recipe I found was vegan, but I added non-dairy milk to account for the dryness at altitude. I also added the mini chocolate chips to make them more luxurious. To create with less effort, I made the dense dough in a stand mixer but the original recipe called for a bowl. The choice is yours.

Espresso Chocolate Cookies adapted from “Vegan: 100 Everyday Recipes” edited by Love Food

1 TBS espresso powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 TBS unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 TBS non-dairy milk
1/4 cup vegan mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Dissolve espresso powder in 1 TBS of boiling water and set aside to cool slightly.

espresso liquid - the secret ingredient

espresso liquid – the secret ingredient

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Add brown sugar and combine well.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, thoroughly mix margarine and oats. Mix in dry ingredients. Add non-dairy milk and espresso liquid and combine to form a soft but thick dough. Stir in chocolate chips.

Form the dough into 16-18 small balls, place on the baking sheet, and flatten slightly. Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until crisp. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. These may be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Strawberry Covered Chocolates and Sweetheart Peanut Butter Cups

Strawberry Covered Chocolates and Peanut Butter Cups

Strawberry Covered Chocolates and Peanut Butter Cups

Valentine’s Day is coming up so I thought I’d have some fun making chocolates. For simplicity I went with a rolled variety, where the forming tool is your hands, and a version made in silicon molds, where chocolate tempering is not required.

The first recipe, that I like to call Strawberry Covered Chocolates, is a riff on a truffle from Dr. Gregor’s cookbook. I had coconut sugar in my cupboard, so I used that, but know that this healthy treat originally called for date sugar. To enhance the truffles’ Valentine’s Day status, I rolled the candies in strawberry powder. If you can’t find that in your market, see if you can find freeze dried strawberries. You can run them through a coffee grinder and – presto – strawberry powder.

My other chocolate candy choice is an old favorite that I make. I can’t remember how the recipe evolved but I use as few ingredients as possible to get the boldest flavor. You will find that they are true to the peanut butter and chocolate tastes without any unnecessary fillers.

Today I offer you two recipes, in the name of love and chocolate. Show love to yourself and others with these decadent vegan candies.

Strawberry Covered Chocolates based on Almond-Chocolate Truffles from “The How Not To Die Cookbook” by Michael Greger, M.D. and Gene Stone

1/3 cup chopped and pitted soft dates *
1/3 cup raw cashews soaked in hot water for 3 hours and then drained
3 tablespoons almond butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Strawberry powder, for coating

Combine dates and cashews in a food processor and process to a paste. Add almond butter and process to combine. Add cocoa powder, coconut sugar, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon of water. Pulse until well combined.

Pinch a piece of the mixture between your fingers to see whether it holds together. If it’s too dry, add a little more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture can be shaped into balls. (The amount of water added can depend on the amount of moisture in your dates.) If the mixture is too soft, refrigerate it for 20 minutes or longer to firm up. If it’s still too soft, add a little more cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon at a time. The mixture should be slightly glossy.

Use your hands to shape and roll a small amount of the mixture into a ball and transfer to a plate. Repeat until all of the mixture has been formed into about 24 balls. Put the plate in the fridge for 10 minutes for the balls to dry out a bit.

rolling and dipping chocolates

rolling and dipping chocolates

Place the strawberry powder in a shallow bowl. Roll the chocolates in the powder until they’re coated, patting off the excess powder. Transfer the candies to a plate and refrigerate until firm.

* If your dates are not soft, soak them in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain and pat dry before using.

 

Sweetheart Peanut Butter Cups

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 TBS coconut palm syrup (you can use agave syrup instead)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 65% cocoa), chopped

In a bowl, mix peanut butter with coconut palm syrup and vanilla until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill.

Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat. With a pastry brush, apply a generous layer of chocolate inside each cup of a silicon mold. The chocolate cups should be sturdy enough to hold the filling, so coat the bottom and sides but don’t fill them to the top. Place the mold in the fridge for 30 minutes so the chocolate hardens.

coating silicon mold with chocolate

coating silicon mold with chocolate

Reheat remaining chocolate until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 TBS peanut butter filling into each chocolate cup. With a clean spoon, quickly spoon remaining melted chocolate over the filling to cover. Refrigerate until chocolate hardens, for 20 minutes. Unmold hardened chocolates.

Happy non-baking!

Ginger Apple Crisp

Ginger Apple Crisp

Ginger Apple Crisp

I know that I haven’t posted in some time. The world got crazy, but I had committed to getting back to baking and blogging at the start of the year. And then I cut my hand. (I was cleaning the food processor, but that’s a long story). It wasn’t severe, but it make food prep a little more complicated and it turned typing into a frustrating game. But the Decadent Vegan Baker is back and ready for action. So, without any further ado, I bring you this week’s vegan, high-altitude baking experiment.

Okay, this one wasn’t very difficult. I decided to ease into things with an apple crisp. Generally apple crisps pop up in autumn, but where I live the weather is warm, then cold, then warm again, so it felt appropriate. The tweaks I made were to follow my personal desires, which I inspire any baker to do. Crisps are a good backdrop for making changes because they don’t involve the scientific perfection of something like a cake.

I added ginger to give the crisp a spicy zip. I also chose coconut sugar as the sweetener to change the flavor profile a bit, and because my brown sugar had become a doorstop. You can use gluten free flour instead of the all purpose flour if you prefer. If baking gluten free, then look for gluten free oats.

Ginger Apple Crisp adapted from Gluten Free and Vegan Apple Crisp

Filling:
6 apples, peeled and sliced
1/4” crystallized ginger, chopped fine
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS all purpose flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
Topping:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup coconut sugar
3/4 cup oats, run through a coffee grinder until course
6 TBS vegan margarine, cut into small pieces (I used Spectrum vegetable spread)
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, mix apples, ginger, vegan sugar, lemon juice, 2 TBS flour, and 3/4 tsp cinnamon. Place in a 9 x 13” glass baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine 3/4 cup flour, oats, cinnamon and brown sugar and stir. Add margarine and cut in with two forks until combined. Don’t worry; it will still be lumpy.

Spread topping over filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes, uncovered, until topping turns golden brown. Let cool and then serve. I topped mine with vegan vanilla ice cream.

Note: You can halve the recipe and bake it in an 8 x 8” baking pan for the same amount of time as listed in the recipe.

Until next time, happy baking!