Decadent Baked S’mores

decadent s'mores

decadent s’mores

Don’t you just want to reach through the picture and grab one of these? Yes, they are that good. But I digress. Last week’s American holiday barbecues had me dreaming of S’mores. During the summer I do become infatuated with that wonderful combination of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers. But I needed to find a way to make them less messy and more decadent. Enter – baked s’mores.

The recipe I found was already vegan so no changes were necessary on that front. The bars didn’t need high altitude tweaking either. What I altered was to make them more decadent by adding a layer of raspberry jam. This did make them sweeter so only one square is necessary for melty marshmallowy chocolatey bliss.

Decadent Baked S’mores based on S’mores Bars
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup vegan margarine
3/8 cup vegan sugar
3 TBS seedless raspberry jam
3/4 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
6 large vegan marshmallows, cut in half
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8” pan with parchment paper. Combine graham cracker crumbs, flour, margarine, and sugar in a food processor and pulse until a dough forms. Press crust into pan and bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove pan from oven and change heat to broil. Spread jam over crust, sprinkle on chocolate chips, and then add marshmallows. Broil for a few minutes, until chocolate is melted and marshmallows are golden brown. Let cool a little before slicing.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Haystack Bark

chocolate haystack barkLately I’ve been seeing recipes for chocolate bark everywhere. It’s no surprise because it’s tasty and makes a great gift. But I have also come to realize that bark should use tempered chocolate to have the right snap and be done properly. Not wanting to spend the time required to temper, I looked to haystacks which are treats with melted chocolate gluing them together. In today’s recipe I morphed those two delights to come up with my own version.

Because no baking was involved, these require no altitude changes. And as long as you use dark chocolate with minimum additives, then they are already vegan. The alterations that I made were in the basic recipe. Feel free to do the same by picking and choosing what you coat the chocolate with, such as seeds, dried fruit, dried coconut pieces, and the like. I did find that the small amount of salt on the pretzels rounded out the flavor nicely.

Chocolate Haystack Bark
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole unsalted almonds, roasted
1/2 cup lightly salted gluten-free pretzels, broken into large pieces
1/2 cup brown rice cereal
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, heat chopped chocolate, stirring occasionally, until it is just melted. Put almonds, pretzels and cereal into a large bowl. Pour melted chocolate over mixture and stir to combine. Let cool a minute and then pour onto baking sheet. Place sheet in fridge for 30 minutes until bark hardens. Invert bark onto a work surface and break into pieces.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

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!

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!

Chocolate Strawberry Snack Bars

chocolate strawberry snack barI was craving a snack, and I had oat flour to use up, so these bars were born. They’re a yummy combination of chocolate and strawberry with the healthiness of oats. It’s a fairly simple recipe to make, after you get a few things chopped. Plus, you can eat them for a breakfast treat.

The recipe I found had blueberries but I envisioned a chocolate covered strawberry. I also swapped out some all purpose flour for the oat flour I mentioned. Baking powder and milk were included to give lift to the gluten-free oat flour and add moisture needed at high altitude.

Chocolate Strawberry Snack Bars based on Blueberry Crumble Bars
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1.5 cups rolled oats
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 TBS almond milk
7 TBS vegan margarine, cubed
2.5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1 TBS arrowroot powder
1 lb strawberries, chopped and drained
Line a 9×9” pan with foil, leaving overhanging flaps, and grease with shortening. In a food processor pulse together flours, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt until combined. Add in milk and margarine and pulse until combined. Divide mixture in half and press half into bottom of prepared pan to form a crust. Spread chopped chocolate over crust.
In a bowl, whisk together vegan sugar and arrowroot. Add in strawberries and coat in sugar mixture. Spread berries on top of crust. Spread remaining crust mixture on top of berries and press lightly. Refrigerate pan for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 35-40 minutes until fruit starts to bubble. Store in fridge for 3 days in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Celebration Blueberry Oat Bar

blueberry oat bar

celebration blueberry oat bar

Today is the celebration of Independence Day in America. Befitting the red, white and blue color scheme that accompanies the holiday, I chose to bake a blueberry bar and top it with whipped cream and strawberries. Because I was sharing the bar with friends that have selective eating habits, I opted for dairy free, egg free, soy free, refined sugar free, gluten free, and nut free. Or, as my husband calls it, the BFF Bar – Blueberry Free From Bar.

To bump up the health factor on the bar recipe I found, I used whole oats to add fiber and texture. I also chose maple syrup and dark brown sugar for their added health benefits. After I realized I didn’t have enough fresh blueberries, I discovered that frozen works as well as long as they are fully drained. For a garnish I used vegan whipped cream and sliced strawberries even though the blueberries turned dark when baked. It became red, white and black, but I like it anyways.

Celebration Blueberry Oat Bar adapted from the GoDairyFree website
1 1/2 cups gluten-free whole oats
1/2 cup gluten-free flour
1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
6 TBS soy-free Earth Balance margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, rinsed and drained
3 TBS maple syrup
2 tsp arrowroot
1 tsp lemon juice
vegan whipped cream from a tub or can, for garnish
sliced strawberries, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease an 8×8” baking pan. In a bowl, whisk together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Add melted margarine and stir with a fork until evenly combined. Save ½ cup crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes to set crust.

While that is baking, combine blueberries, maple syrup, arrowroot and lemon juice in a small saucepan, whisking until arrowroot dissolves. Heat over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until juices are no longer cloudy, about 2 minutes. Spoon filling over baked crust and evenly spread reserved crumb mixture over top. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Cut into squares and garnish with whipped cream and strawberries before serving.

Until next time, happy baking!

Quick Brownie Bites

quick brownie bites

quick brownie bites

I wanted chocolate and I wanted it now. That meant something fast and decadent, so I decided on brownie bites. This recipe gave me a quick fix.

The original recipe I had was gluten-free so I could play with it for my gluten-free friends. The problem was I didn’t feel like hassling with my baking that much. So, the first change was to un-gluten-free it. I know, sounds backwards. Ah, well. I then added flour and a little milk for high altitude, as well as reducing the baking powder. There you have it – a quick chocolate fix.

Quick Brownie Bites adapted from a recipe by Erin McKenna
vegan shortening
1/2 cup + 3 TBS all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp non-dairy milk
1/2 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 24 mini muffin pan with shortening. In a bowl, whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk applesauce, oil, vanilla, and milk. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into muffin pans, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 15-16 minutes, or until set. Let brownies cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Until next time, happy baking!