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!

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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!

Cinnamon Apple Cake

Cinnamon Apple Cake

Cinnamon Apple Cake

Occasionally I decide to jump into the deep end and bake gluten-free. Gluten-free baked treats are difficult enough to make well, but when they are also made vegan at high altitude then they can spell disaster. But, a friend said she missed cinnamon rolls so I was on a mission.

The recipe I found was for a vegan cinnamon bread so I tried it but with high altitude alterations. The problem was that I didn’t like the gummy texture so often found in gluten-free baked goods. I also had a new bundt pan I needed to break in, so I scaled the measurements up to fit the larger pan. The cake version was not gummy, helped by the fact that I split the apples up and put one in the batter and one in the topping. The cake turned out very elegant. Oh, and it was tasty … very tasty.

Cinnamon Apple Cake adapted from Apple Cinnamon Swirl Bread
2 1/4 cups gluten free flour
1/4 cup + 1 TBS organic sugar
1/4 cup + 1 TBS organic brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
generous 1/2 tsp baking soda
generous 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
generous 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup + 2 1/2 tsp nondairy milk
1/4 cup + 2 TBS + 1 tsp canola oil
1/4 cup + 1 TBS unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup + 1 TBS maple syrup
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 red apples, one grated on large holes of a grater and one diced small
cinnamon topping
5 TBS organic sugar
2 tsp cinnamon powder
Preheat oven to 350F. Thoroughly grease and flour a bundt pan. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, oil, applesauce, maple syrup, vinegar, and vanilla. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and whisk gently until batter is just combined. Mix in one grated apple.
In a small bowl, combine remaining sugar and cinnamon for topping. Scoop batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle one diced apple then cinnamon topping over batter. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely in pan. Invert onto a serving plate.

Until next time, happy baking!

DIY Protein Bar

Protein Bar

DIY Protein Bar

Have you ever thought about making your own protein bars? My athletic husband, having tried and complained about many pre-packaged bars, inspired me to look into how to make them. After doing research I realized that I don’t have to experiment, thanks to Creation Nation’s Protein Bar Mixes. I discovered them at Natural Products Expo West and thought that the DIY homemade bar idea was brilliant.

The mix is vegan and requires no baking, so it made my job easy. But, being a decadent dessert maker, I had to take it up a notch. I made a peanut butter frosting for the PB & Jelly Get In My Belly bars that took them from tasty to mmmmm tasty. I melted some creamy peanut butter on the stove to make it stirrable. After I removed it from the heat, I stirred in a little vegan powdered sugar and almond milk. The frosting was then drizzled onto the refrigerated bars. I was winging it so I didn’t measure any ingredients, so feel free to add as much or as little to get your desired taste.

The bars themselves are customizable, too, depending on how sweet you want to make them. It also offers add-in choices so you can use what you have on hand. I added almond milk and agave sweetener to the packaged mix. I made them a bit less sweet so my peanut butter frosting didn’t take them over the top. It was nice to use a mix and have a fun treat (or simple breakfast) ready in a flash.

Protein Bar Ingredients

Protein Bar Ingredients

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake-Pan Cake

gluten free chocolate cake

gluten free chocolate cake pan cake

Truth be told, there almost wasn’t any of this cake left to photograph. I had gluten free advocates around to do a taste test of my first gluten free, vegan, high altitude cake – and we nearly inhaled the entire cake within minutes of it coming out of the oven. The texture was perfectly moist, it didn’t crumble when cut, and (drumroll, please) it tasted great! We were very satisfied with this cake, eating it plain and accompanied by cashew ice cream. For all of you who have been asking me if I also bake gluten free, I can now answer with a resounding “yes!”

The recipe was adapted from one I did in a previous blog post. The only changes I made were for gluten free baking. I swapped the all-purpose flour with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour. I also added baking powder to give the cake some lift, as gluten free cakes often turn out overly dense. So, for those who eat gluten free and want an easy cake recipe to try, I offer you my now gluten free cake pan cake.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake-Pan Cake adapted from my Easy Chocolate Cake-Pan Cake
1 1/2 cups + 2 TBS gluten free flour
1 cup – 1 TBS vegan sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup mini vegan chocolate chips
1/2 tsp salt
scant 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup + 1 TBS cold non-dairy milk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Measure all dry ingredients into an 8″ x 8” x 2” cake pan. Blend the ingredients together thoroughly with a whisk and scoop out three holes. Pour the vanilla into the first hole, the vinegar into the second, and the vegetable oil into the third. Take the milk and pour it directly over everything in the pan. Stir all ingredients together with your whisk until they are well blended. Don’t forget to stir the sides, bottom and into the corners. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the sides of the cake start to pull away from the pan. Serve right from the pan.

Until next time, happy gluten free baking!

Valentine’s Day Chocolates

Valentine's Day Chocolate

Valentine Day Chocolate

For Valentine’s Day I wanted to give you a box of chocolates. The recipe here includes ginger and cinnamon for spiciness and rose petals for romance. When you add in the chocolate you have an additional superfood to inspire passion and stamina.

The recipe I found was already vegan, but I switched out some of the flavorings to accent heat and passion. It isn’t a baked treat, but instead it is made with chocolate molds so you can choose your favorite meaningful shapes. I found an adorable love birds mold and also added extra rose petals to a floral mold. With love …

Valentine’s Day Chocolates adapted from The Herbal Academy
6 ounces vegan dark chocolate, broken up
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 TBS crushed dried rose petals
1 TBS chopped candied ginger
Melt chocolate in a double boiler ensuring that no water gets into the pot with the chocolate. Once chocolate has melted, fold in cardamom, cinnamon, rose petals, and candied ginger. Stir well and remove bowl with chocolate. Pour chocolate mixture into molds, adding extra crushed rose petals to mold first, if desired. Smooth out with a spatula. Keep in fridge until hardened. Once chocolate has set, remove from molds.

Until next time, happy un-baking!

Superfood Chocolates

superfood chocolate

superfood chocolate

It seems I have been slaving over cookie cutters far too much lately, so I went easy on myself with this week’s recipe. Making chocolates is not very difficult and can be quite fulfilling. You can grab whatever is in your pantry to make them savory, healthy, and any taste you choose (I added cinnamon). I also discovered a new recipe twist I had to try – it added probiotics to the mixture for a health-giving extra. Now you can have your sweets and supplements at the same time.

This recipe has no tips for high altitude baking, but I can offer a few insights. In the past I had used Cocoa Butter for making body products. It was from a crafts website and I thought it smelled pretty good because it had cocoa undertones. And then I opened a package of Navitas Naturals Organic Cacao Butter. It was heaven. I wanted to eat the nuggets straight from the bag. They are luscious, but be aware that when the melted butter cools it gets almost as hard and messy as candle wax. Another Navitas Naturals product I tried was Maca Powder. It is dubbed an “Incan Superfood” and it has a caramel-like taste. I chose to roll my bonbons in a mixture of Cacao Powder and Maca Powder for extra nutrients and the caramel overtones. Note: I’m not paid to like Navitas’ products, I just do.

Superfood Chocolates adapted from Sea Salt Probiotic Chocolates in Tasty. Naughty. Healthy. Nice.
1/4 cup melted Navitas Naturals Organic Cacao Butter
1/2 cup raw agave syrup
1/3 cup Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup + 2 TBS almond butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
a few grinds of sea salt
2 TBS hot water
1 TBS probiotic powder (I got mine from 16 capsules of Ora Organic vegan probiotic & prebiotic)
1.5 TBS Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder + 1.5 TBS Navitas Naturals Maca Powder, for rolling into
To get 1/4 cup of melted cacao butter, put slightly more than 1/4 cup of unmelted cocoa butter in a double boiler with simmering water beneath. Remove from heat and let cacao butter naturally melt over hot water for 5 minutes. In a food processor, blend agave, 1/3 cup cacao powder, cinnamon, almond butter, vanilla, salt, and hot water. Add probiotic powder and blend again, scraping down sides as necessary. With motor running, slowly add melted cacao butter in a steady stream.
Refrigerate in same bowl, with blade intact, for 1 to 3 hours. If mixture seems too hard, blend it again to loosen it up. Put cacao/maca powder mix in a shallow plate. Roll mixture into bonbons between your palms, then drop into powders. Store in refrigerator. Can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Until next time, happy non-baking!