Berry Chocolate Bundles

Berry Chocolate Bundles

Berry Chocolate Bundles

When I get together to see friends I always bring a tasty treat. A gluten free pal and I were going to the movies but it was too hot to whip something up using the oven. We both love dark chocolate, so I found a recipe that was no bake and gluten free and loaded with chocolate. If you take this with you when going out I do have a recommendation – have wet naps nearby. Movie theaters hate when you leave sticky chocolate handprints on their seats.

This recipe was already vegan and didn’t require high altitude baking, so it was a snap to prepare. The only change I made was to add more berries and a variety of them. They are delicious superfoods so I figured it was a good idea. As a matter of fact, all of the ingredients below are superfoods. So, indulge away.

Berry Chocolate Bundles adapted from Cherry Chocolate Almond Clusters
8 oz dark chocolate, broken or chopped into small pieces
1 TBS creamy unsalted almond butter 
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/3 cup raw unsalted almonds, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries and blueberries, chopped
To a heat-proof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, add chocolate and almond butter. Stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes, until chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and stir in oats, almonds and dried berries. Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in refrigerator until set, 20-25 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Chocolate Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Once in a while I get lucky. I find a recipe that’s already vegan that doesn’t need much changing for altitude, and it works when I bake it! This recipe was one of those. My gluten free friends deserved a treat so I went searching and found this cookie recipe that didn’t need much finesse from me.

The adaptations I made were mostly due to the fact that it was a “pre-make the dry ingredients and dump” recipe. I altered the directions to make a smoother batter when the ingredients were added individually. The one nod I made to high altitude was to add more water to account for dryness, and the fact that I swapped the coconut for more oatmeal and it loves to soak up moisture.

Chocolate Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies based on Double Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup gluten free flour blend
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup vegan buttery spread
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 1 TBS water
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1.25 cups gluten free old fashioned oats
3/4 cup dairy free chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream applesauce, buttery spread, vanilla, and water. Add in both sugars and beat until creamy. Add in cocoa powder mixture and beat again. Stir in oats and chocolate chips by hand.
Let dough rest for 10 minutes so it will absorb the liquids. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 17-19 minutes. Makes about 24 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Lavender Granola

Lavender Granola

Lavender Granola

My usual breakfast of oatmeal with nut butter and fruit was getting old. It needed a facelift, and I remembered that I used to love granola when I was in college. The brand I ate had dried blueberries and oats and it got me through many a sleepy morning. I gathered up bits and pieces of many granola recipes I found, but especially liked one that included lavender. That would add something different to breakfast and make granola more decadent.

Granola is inherently vegan, unless it has honey, so no changes were made for that. It also doesn’t have high altitude issues. The only changes made to the ingredients are by you when you bake it. Pick any nuts and seeds, leave out the lavender, choose your favorite dried fruit. It all works. For baking the granola, I discovered a variety of cooking styles: higher temp, lower temp, stir, don’t stir. I went with the directions given by Alton Brown because he’s a food scientist so I imagine he’s worked his recipe to perfection. All I know is that it smelled heavenly while it baked and I couldn’t wait for morning.

Lavender Granola
2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free, if desired)
3/4 cup nuts (I used almonds, cashews and walnuts)
1/2 cup seeds (I used hemp and pumpkin)
2 TBS amaranth
2 TBS flax seeds, ground
3 TBS lavender flowers, food-grade
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup vegan margarine or coconut oil, melted
3/4 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used blueberries)
Preheat oven to 250F. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, seeds, amaranth, flax seeds, lavender, cinnamon and cardamom. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, margarine, vanilla and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add dried fruit and mix until evenly distributed. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Spring Chocolates

Flower Truffles

Spring Chocolates

It’s spring and flowers have sprung up. The burst of floral beauty begged to be put into a sweet treat. Chocolate and flowers make a good combination when blended, so I thought I would make some tasty truffles. They would be lovely on a holiday table or in an Easter basket.

The recipe I used was already vegan, so I played around with it. It called for coconut milk, but I also made some with soy creamer. The texture of the soy creamer won me over. I chose to mix and match flowers and spices and decided that the original lavender flowers were fantastic but better when I toned down the spices. The mashup of hibiscus and ancho that I threw together was also a winning flavor. The addition of fruit powders in the coating added an interesting layer. So here’s to chocolate, spring flowers, and happy holidays.

Spring Chocolates adapted from Lavender-Infused Cocoa-Dusted Truffles
1/2 cup plain soy creamer
2 TBS culinary-grade dried lavender flowers or dried hibiscus flowers
1” piece of dried ancho pepper, if using hibiscus flowers
1 TBS agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 – 1 tsp maca powder
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/4 cups vegan chocolate chips
2 TBS Navitas cacao powder
2 TBS dried berry powder (blueberry if using lavender and Navitas goji berry if using hibiscus)
Place creamer in a small pan over very low heat. Add lavender flowers (or hibiscus flowers and dried ancho) and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain out flowers and discard. Put creamer in a bowl. Add agave nectar, vanilla, maca powder, cinnamon, and cardamom and stir well.
Melt chocolate chips over a double boiler on medium heat until consistency is smooth and creamy, stirring once or twice. When chocolate is melted, add bowl of infused creamer and stir well. Place in refrigerator until firm enough to scoop, about 5 minutes. Place cocoa powder and berry powder on a small plate and mix. Using a small scoop, form small balls. Roll around on plate with cocoa/berry powder to cover each ball with a light dusting. Place on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until cool. Makes 20 chocolates.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Cookies for Breakfast

cookies for breakfast

cookies for breakfast

Do you ever have a few bananas on your counter that need to get eaten ASAP? That happens too often for me, and I don’t always want to turn them into bread. I was searching for a recipe to use up my browning produce when I came across these breakfast cookies. To polish off the bananas and have cookies for breakfast was a winning situation in my book.

For the dryness at altitude, I not only added milk to the recipe but also used less protein powder. To fend off the oiliness that can happen at altitude, I used less oil. I made a few other minor tweaks, the most notable being the use of einkorn flour instead of gluten-free flour. Einkorn is an ancient wheat that is often tolerated by those avoiding gluten and can sometimes be used instead of a gluten-free blend. And, if you don’t consume gluten, you’ll be happy to know that although buckwheat sounds as if it contains gluten, it is actually gluten-free.

Cookies for Breakfast adapted from Banana Buckwheat Breakfast Cookies in Protein Ninja
2/3 cup well-mashed ripe bananas
2 TBS ground flaxseeds
1/4 cup – 1/4 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 TBS almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup einkorn flour
1/4 cup + 1 TBS hemp protein powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup mixed nuts and seeds, slightly crushed
1/4 cup small dried fruit, such as cranberries or raisins
Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine mashed banana and flaxseeds and let sit a few minutes. Then add oil, sugar, almond milk and vanilla and mix well. In another bowl, whisk together the flours, protein powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into wet. Before dough is completely moistened, add nuts and dried fruit. Stir just enough to moisten everything.
Scoop up dough and drop onto cookie sheets. Bake 11-13 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in a loosely covered container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Peppermint Fudge Cookie Bites

peppermint fudge cookie bite

peppermint fudge cookie bite

What do you get when you combine peppermint fudge and chocolate cookies? These delicious bites. They are a rich fudge spread over a cookie crumb shell to make them a decadent and elegant treat. And there is no baking involved. Decadent and easy – no need to say more.

The recipe I adapted these from was already non-dairy so I didn’t need to make those types of changes. No baking meant it didn’t need high altitude adjustments. The changes I made were to help them stick together for easier eating and presentation. I added coconut oil to the cookie shell for stability, and I added more milk to the fudge for pourability. Also, I made them in paper cups and in a muffin tin. They both worked out, but I find the paper cup is more festive and easier to hold if you are sharing them with others. If you’re not sharing, then you can just mash them up and eat them. I don’t judge.

Peppermint Fudge Cookie Bites based on Chocolate Mint Fudge Tartlets
1 TBS + ½ cup vegan chocolate chips, divided
4.5 ounces gluten-free crunchy chocolate cookies, processed into fine crumbs
1 TBS coconut oil, melted
¼ cup + ½ tsp almond milk
¼ tsp peppermint extract
Melt 1 TBS chocolate chips over a double boiler. Put cookies crumbs in a bowl with melted coconut oil, then add the melted chocolate. Stir until thoroughly combined and mixture resembles wet sand. Divide cookie crumb mixture between 12 lined mini muffin cups. Drop a spoonful of crumb mixture into each cup and press into bottoms and lightly up the sides.
Melt remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Turn heat off but leave the bowl of melted chocolate over the hot water. Whisk milk and peppermint extract into the bowl. Pour chocolate-mint filling into cookie crusts. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes. May be stored in a covered container in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Almond Cookies with Chocolate Chips

almond cookies with chocolate chips

almond cookies with chocolate chips

These cookies started out as a desire to make gluten-free thumbprint cookies. After looking around I found that almond flour was a popular choice for thumbprint cookies, usually with a jam center. But after checking out a few examples I realized they would probably flatten out at altitude and not look very thumbprint-y. So I morphed a few recipes together, added chocolate chips (of course) and came up with these.

The original recipe that I started with had too much sugar for my liking, and excess sugar is bad at altitude. So, I removed some sugar. I also used less baking powder for high altitude, and added milk to counteract the dryness. The next change was to substitute vegan margarine for the shortening because I prefer the taste. Then I decorated the cookies with chocolate chips because all the best cookies have chocolate in them somewhere.

Almond Cookies with Chocolate Chips loosely adapted from SarahBakesGFFree
1 3/4 cups almond flour
1/4 cup vegan sugar
1/4 cup tapioca starch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup vegan margarine
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 TBS almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
chocolate chips for decoration
Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together almond flour, sugar, tapioca starch, baking powder and salt. Mix vegan margarine, maple syrup, almond milk and vanilla in a stand mixer. Add in flour mixture and mix until combined. Place tablespoon-sized balls of cookie dough onto cookie sheet. Flatten with palm of hand. Top with a few chocolate chips and gently press into cookie dough.
Bake cookies 15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet sitting on a cooling rack. Remove cookies from pan and place on cooling rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container. Makes 24 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!