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!

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!

Savory Energy Bites

savory energy bitesI am a big fan of Chef Elizabeth Falkner. From my couch, I cheer on her creativity whenever she is in a cooking battle on TV. Coincidentally, I have tried many versions of Energy Balls. So when I saw a video of Chef Falkner demonstrating a recipe for an energy ball, I knew I had to make them, too. The thing that was most appealing is that many energy balls are overly sweet, but her version has a savory side that makes it a tasty snack and not just dessert.

To make it vegan I swapped out honey and used agave syrup instead, which I also think rounded out the savory flavors. Orange Flower Water is hard to come by, and a bit sweet itself, so I used orange juice in its place. I then mixed it up when rolling out the balls. I decided to roll some in sesame to add to the Moroccan theme, and also chose to roll others in cacao powder because, well, chocolate.

Savory Energy Bites adapted from Moroccan-Date Bonbons
1/2 cup + 2 TBS sliced almonds (2 1/2 oz)
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (2 oz)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (3 oz)
1 pound moist dates, pitted and chopped
4 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 TBS finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 TBS agave syrup
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp fresh orange juice
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Spread sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 4 minutes, until golden. Let almonds cool completely. In a food processor, grind pistachios to a coarse powder. Transfer pistachio powder to a plate. Add toasted almonds to processor and grind to a coarse powder. Add walnuts, dates, olives, ginger, agave, orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom, orange juice and salt and process to a paste. Scoop up scant tablespoons of mixture and roll into balls. Roll balls in pistachio powder to coat them completely. Makes about 25 balls.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Raspberry Chocolate Amy’s Cake

raspberry chocolate cake amysEvery once in a while I don’t really feel like baking. I want a decadent dessert that has my personal touch without my actually taking the effort to bake. So, what do I do? Semi-homemade to the rescue!

I don’t normally endorse any particular brands, but Amy’s Kitchen makes a frozen Chocolate Cake that is vegan (and gluten free). With a few ingredients that I usually have on hand, I can transform the cake into a Decadent Vegan Baker original without any high altitude fuss. I have brought this creation to parties and fooled everyone into thinking that I slaved all day in the kitchen.

Raspberry Chocolate Amy’s Cake
1 Amy’s Organic Chocolate Cake, defrosted
2 TBS seedless raspberry jam
3 oz dark chocolate
8-10 fresh raspberries
Take the defrosted cake out of the packaging and slice in half horizontally. Spread jam over the bottom half of the cake and top with the top half, like a jelly sandwich. Melt chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler. Pour the melted chocolate over the cake sandwich. Top with fresh raspberries.

Until next time, happy non-baking!