Caramel Brownies

Caramel Brownies

Caramel Brownies

Since I moved to high altitude, I have had a love-hate relationship with brownies. I love to eat them, but I hate to bake them because vegan brownies up higher are difficult to get right. I decided to take a different approach to succeeding at this task. Generally, I had been looking at non-vegan, low altitude recipes and then making a few guesses at how to adjust them. This time I looked at a non-traditional vegan blondie recipe, and when I made my changes it worked. No soggy center and lack of any evidence that they had risen! Now I can go back to loving brownies.

First off, to get them from a blondie to a brownie I added cacao powder. I also added chocolate chips because you can never get too much chocolate. I deleted the almonds to help the chocolate and caramel tastes come to the forefront. Then, for altitude, I added liquids. I also added baking powder which is unusual at altitude, but it helped the wetter brownies to rise.

Caramel Brownies inspired by Caramel-Almond Blondies

3.5 TBS warm water
1/2 tsp Navitas Organics chia seeds
6 TBS almond butter
1/4 cup organic light brown sugar, lightly packed
1.5 TBS agave nectar
1.5 tsp almond milk
2.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup Navitas Organics cacao powder
2 tsp Navitas Organics maca powder
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1-2 TBS vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8 x 4 x 2” loaf pan with two pieces of parchment paper, overlapping the pieces to create a sling that hangs over the sides of the pan slightly. Put 1.5 TBS water in a small bowl with the chia seeds and stir to combine. Set aside for 15 minutes to thicken.

Add the remaining 2 TBS water to a large bowl along with the almond butter, brown sugar, agave nectar, milk, and vanilla extract. Add in the chia gel. Stir until the mixture is well combined. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cacao powder, maca powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.

Navitas Organics maca, chia, cacao

Navitas Organics maca, chia, cacao

Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and push it out to the edges. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the top feels dry. Take the pan out of the oven and scatter the chocolate chips over the hot brownies. When slightly melted, run a fork through the chocolate to spread it over the top. Let them cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then use the paper sling to remove to a wire rack to cool. Cut into 6 pieces when fully cooled.

Until next time, happy baking!

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Chocolate Chip Bread with Coffee Glaze

chocolate chip bread with coffee glaze

chocolate chip bread with coffee glaze

This week I was inspired by my hubby’s favorite Sunday breakfast — maple syrup dotted chocolate chip pancakes accompanied by an espresso drink. So for his tastebuds, and for yours, I sought out a chocolate chip quick bread to easily recreate the experience. The recipe I found was sweetened with maple syrup that echoes his syrupy pancakes. Then I decided that a coffee drizzle would really elevate the bread by combining chocolate and coffee. Hubby’s favorite flavor after chocolate is coffee, so the bread was a success.

To account for high altitude I made several changes. For better structure boosted by the extra protein in all purpose flour, I chose that type of flour instead of the pastry flour called for in the recipe. I also added a bit more flour for altitude. Next I reduced the baking powder and increased the baking soda for a bread that never fell, despite the high altitude. The original recipe was for a fruit bread so I easily exchanged chocolate chips for the fruit. I also added vanilla extract to enhance the chocolate chip taste and add moisture. This tea bread turned out beautiful and delicious.

Chocolate Chip Bread with Coffee Glaze inspired by Sweet and Natural by Meredith McCarty

for the bread
1.5 cups + 1 TBS all purpose flour
1.25 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life dark chocolate morsels)
for the coffee glaze
1/2 cup organic powdered sugar
1 TBS non-dairy milk
1/4 tsp coffee extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the inside of two of the four sections of a mini loaf pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, 1/2 cup milk, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Transfer the batter to the two mini loaf sections. Bake for 32-35 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool the loaves on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then allow them to fully cool. Once cool remove the bread by running a knife around the sides of the bread and inverting the pan onto a wire rack. Next flip the bread right-side up onto a plate.

For the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and coffee extract in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the bread once the bread is completely cooled.

Enjoy Life morsels with chocolate chip bread

Enjoy Life morsels with chocolate chip bread

Until next time, happy baking!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Fudge

Peanut Butter and Jelly Fudge

Peanut Butter and Jelly Fudge

A few years ago I attended a workshop on chocolate making. It was interesting to learn how to create chocolate from scratch and the technique for making it snap when breaking it up into pieces. As much fun as the class was, that process is a bit time consuming and you have to be diligent while your creation is on the stove. More recently I have discovered healthier fudge recipes that are less demanding and produce treats that have less impact on blood sugar balance.

Because the recipe I modified was vegan and did not need baking, it required no adjustments for those. Instead, I decided to change up the recipe and create a classic peanut butter and jelly combo. You can use any nut butter and jelly you prefer, but the texture may change. I added extra (yummy smelling) Navitas Organic cacao butter to help thicken up my fudge,

Peanut Butter and Jelly Fudge adapted from Double Chocolate Salted Freezer Fudge

3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves
1/2 cup + 1 TBS Navitas Organics cacao butter
1/4 cup Navitas Organics cacao powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp sea salt

Prepare a mini muffin tin with small paper liners. In a medium pan over medium-low heat, combine all ingredients. Stir until ingredients are well mixed and smooth, working to incorporate any lumps. Spoon into the lined muffin tin and place tin in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Let candies sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

fudge ingredients with Navitas Organics

fudge ingredients with Navitas Organics

Note: When making chocolate, choose a food-grade cocoa butter such as Navitas Organics cacao butter. Some products are used for making toiletries and may not be pure cocoa butter.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Coffee Shop Muffins

Coffee Shop Muffins

Coffee Shop Muffins

On some Sundays I just want to sit around and enjoy a cup of tea and a delicious muffin, or two, or three. (But, who’s counting.) For this Sunday, I decided to find a recipe for a muffin that went well with coffee. With a little espresso powder and cinnamon, these muffins would complement a cup of coffee, or even tea or non-dairy milk. And if you eat half a batch, it will just be our secret.

For high altitude, I reduced the baking powder but found I lost some lift. To fix this problem I included some baking soda with the baking powder. I also added a little more milk to counteract dryness. For a little health boost, and so I wouldn’t feel guilty about eating a few extra muffins, I used whole wheat flour along with the all purpose variety.

Coffee Shop Muffins adapted from “Vegan: 100 Everyday Recipes” edited by Love Food

1.25 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1.75 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 TBS espresso powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup vegan sugar
1 cup + 1.5 tsp almond milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 TBS vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with liners. In a large bowl, sift together both flours, baking powder, baking soda, espresso powder, and cinnamon. Whisk in sugar.

In a small bowl, whisk together milk, oil, and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients. Stir in walnuts. Mix until just combined.

Divide batter among the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pan.

Until next time, happy baking!

Spicy Gluten-free Pumpkin Cookies

Spicy Pumpkin Cookies

Spicy Gluten-free Pumpkin Cookies

You may be thinking that pumpkin season is long gone. And you would be right. This batch of cookies was made several months ago and then frozen. I wanted a back-up cookie that would do well from the freezer. They performed marvelously, or I probably wouldn’t have shared them with you. But now you know that you can make these and stash them away in the freezer for future decadent snacking.

The original vegan recipe had tips for using coconut sugar instead of light brown sugar. I opted for coconut sugar, because I was out of light brown sugar, so I heeded the advice and measured it out and then ground it up. Also, I would have used less vegan margarine for the dryness at altitude, but I used more due to the recommendation with the sugar swap. To further combat dryness, I added extra pumpkin puree. So enjoy these immediately, or freeze them for when you get an attack of the munchies any time of year.

Spicy Gluten-free Pumpkin Cookies based on Chewy Pumpkin Spice Molasses Cookies


2 cups gluten free flour blend
1 3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp powdered nutmeg
pinch of powdered cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup vegan cane sugar
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/8 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup + 1 tsp pumpkin puree
sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Measure out coconut sugar, then grind it in a coffee grinder that is not used for coffee. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, place vegan margarine and both sugars and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses, vanilla, and pumpkin puree and mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients to stand mixer a little at a time while mixing on low speed. Mix until just combined.

Pour a few tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl. Form 1” balls of dough and roll in sugar. Place balls on lined cookie sheets and flatten them slightly with the heel of your hand. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 24 cookies.

frozen pumpkin cookies

frozen pumpkin cookies

To freeze, scoop sugared dough balls onto a cookie sheet and freeze for one hour. Place dough balls in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Until next time, happy baking (and freezing)!

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!

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!