Cardamom Peach Morning Muffins

cardamom peach morning muffins

cardamom peach morning muffins

It’s peach season, and I got so excited I got twenty pounds of peaches. Now I am (desperately) trying to find a zillion ways to use them up. After grilled peaches, bellinis, and eaten raw, peach muffins came to mind. I thought that the peach flavor would be the star in a muffin that was not too sweet, so I looked up my Hearty Raspberry Muffins. Also, I consulted a peach recipe in my archives to help get a good balance. A tweak here, an addition there, and I had a tasty muffin. If you like a sweeter treat, then drizzle them with a simple sugar glaze made of one part non-dairy milk to three parts organic powdered sugar. Add a pinch or two of cinnamon and cardamom powders to your glaze to spice things up.

To make the recipe vegan, I merely removed the eggs. Muffins can generally get by with enough baking powder. To help combat the dryness at altitude, I added more liquid to my batter. To bump up the peach flavor, some of that liquid was the juice that ran off when I diced my peaches. If you don’t get enough peach juice, then add more milk. The last adjustment was to use up my cardamom simple syrup I had made for another recipe. You can substitute another liquid sweetener, but be sure to add cardamom to your batter.

Cardamom Peach Morning Muffins adapted loosely from Spiced Peach Muffins

1.75 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole bran
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1.25 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup cardamom simple syrup, or other liquid sweetener
2.5 TBS canola oil
1/4 cup peach juice
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup peaches, diced but not peeled

Preheat oven to 375F and grease 10 sections of a muffin tin. Whisk together the flour, bran, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the simple syrup, oil, peach juice, and milk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently fold in the peaches.

Heap the batter into the muffin tin; the cups will be 3/4 full. Bake the muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden and risen high. Cool muffins on a wire rack. Store, well-wrapped, on the counter for 3 days; or freeze for up to 3 months.

Until next time, happy baking!

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Spiced Zucchini Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

spiced zucchini layer cake

spiced zucchini layer cake

When zucchini is in abundance, you make cake. Armed with several zucchini, I scoured recipes for breads, muffins, and cakes to make use of my squash. After discovering this spice cake recipe, I decided I needed to go bigger because I had quite a few of the vegetable. This then prodded me to make a layer cake, although I had not made one in a while. Of course, I could have been easier on myself and made two simple cake pan cakes slathered in frosting, but I do like a challenge. My apologies for the messy cake as my layering skills are rusty.

I found a vegan recipe, so the next step was to do the math to make it fit two 8” round pans. Thankfully, I discovered a chart of pan volumes at Joy Of Baking. After that I made some high altitude adjustments, such as reducing baking soda and adding more liquid. I also made a few changes to the instructions by thoroughly squeezing the zucchini (to avoid a soggy cake), sifting the dry ingredients separately (to blend the spices in), and modifying the frosting (for a less sweet vanilla-infused boost). It ended up being a serious baking production, but the resulting cake had a wonderful texture and even better flavor. I’m glad I wasn’t feeling lazy.

Spiced Zucchini Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from the pretty bee and Handle the Heat

for the cake
1.5 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup canola oil
4.5 TBS unsweetened applesauce
1.25 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup + 2 TBS unsweetened non-dairy milk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
pinch ground nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar

for the frosting
8 ounces vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick vegan margarine, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla paste
3 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted

The cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two 8” round pans by greasing the pans, then lining the pans with parchment circles, and then greasing the parchment circles. Flour both greased pans. (The effort is worth it — see picture below.)

Lay zucchini on paper towels to absorb some of the moisture, then wring it out in a clean tea towel. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine oil, applesauce, vinegar, milk, and vanilla. Stir well and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Add both sugars and stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Fold in zucchini.

gorgeous spiced zucchini cake layer

gorgeous spiced zucchini cake layer

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cake cool completely, then level the layers. Set aside.

The frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, margarine, and vanilla on medium-high speed until creamy, and smooth. On low speed, gradually add in sugar and beat until fluffy. Apply between cake layers and around the outside. Leftover cake can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Cookies and Cream Vegan Ice Cream

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

Cookies and Cream Vegan Ice Cream

Many of the recipes attempted for this week’s inspiration came out disastrous. My goal was to prepare an ice cream base for a myriad of creations during the hot summertime. The flavor needed to be tasty enough on its own, with a texture that mimicked a quality dairy ice cream. I wanted creamy, not too sweet, and not icy, and I was willing to do anything to achieve vegan perfection. Some frozen treats that I made started out in a dairy version that I then tweaked, while some were complicated vegan recipes. None of them turned out great. That was until I watched a video on ice cream making and adapted the techniques I learned to enhance my vegan recipe.

The base I chose consisted of nuts, so I didn’t need to make it vegan. The changes I made were influenced by a mashup of many ice cream recipes that I looked at for reference. I used cashew milk for the liquid to add creaminess. To further encourage a smooth texture, I stuck with a liquid sweetener instead of a granulated one. The final tweak was to add sandwich cookies to the base to create the specific flavor profile.

Cookies and Cream Vegan Ice Cream

1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1.5 cups cashew milk (or use coconut milk)
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave syrup
pinch of sea salt
12 vegan chocolate sandwich cream cookies, crushed

Put the cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Soak at least 4 hours, or overnight in the fridge. Drain the soaked cashews. Put drained cashews, cashew milk, vanilla, agave, and salt in a blender. Blend ingredients until mixture is smooth and thick. Prepare in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Add the cookies in at the end, according to your machine. Makes 1.5 pints.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Fruit Pocket Pies

Fruit Pocket Pies

Fruit Pocket Pies

Summer is all about the fruit as far as I’m concerned. And the best way to combine fresh fruit and baking is to make pies. If you are a regular reader, you know that I’m not fond of pies. So, the creation I found isn’t exactly a pie but a fruit pocket pie, a.k.a. a hand pie. It requires fewer steps and less perfection than a standard pie therefore it is a treat I will happily bake.

The recipe I used was already vegan and didn’t need high altitude tweaks, so I didn’t change much. However, I didn’t blend all of the berries together as the original recipe stated. Instead I made each pie its own fruit at my hubby’s request. Also, you may notice that my rolling pin looks like it has big rubber bands on it in the picture below. Those bands are an item that ensures the thickness of your dough without measuring or having to eyeball it. This dough-rolling novice thought they made the work much easier, and easier work in the kitchen is a good thing.

Fruit Pocket Pies based on Berry Hand Pies

For the pastry:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS mild-flavored vegetable oil
3 to 5 TBS water, as needed to bring dough together
3 TBS maple syrup

For the filling:
1/3 cup vegan sugar
1 TBS all purpose flour
1 TBS lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/3 cup strawberries, destemmed and cut up
1/3 cup blueberries
1/3 cup red raspberries
1/3 cup cherries, pitted and cut in half
1/8 tsp ground ginger

For the topping:
1 tsp vegan sugar

For the pastry: to a large bowl, add both flours, cinnamon, and salt, and whisk to combine. Drizzle oil over the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, work the oil in so the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water and maple syrup and stir until the mixture comes together to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

For the filling: in a small bowl, place sugar, flour, lemon juice, and cardamom, and toss gently to combine. Add strawberries to the sugar mixture and roll around to coat. Remove the fruit and place in its own bowl. Repeat with the blueberries and then with the raspberries. For the cherries, add the ginger to the remaining sugar mixture and stir in. Then add the cherries and roll to coat. Set the four bowls of fruit aside.

berries, dough, and rolling pin

berries, dough, and rolling pin

Transfer the chilled dough to a floured work surface. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough out to 1/8” thickness, then cut it into 5” circles. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the circles to the prepared cookie sheet. Add trimmings to the remaining pastry dough and repeat the procedure to yield 7 or 8 circles. Add a fruit filling to the center of each circle. Carefully fold over one side of pastry dough, press down around edges of the dough to seal, then crimp edges with a fork. Sprinkle the pies with the remaining one teaspoon of sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Until next time, happy baking!

Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits

Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits

Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits

This post started out with me making dark chocolate. It was from a recipe that took homemade chocolate and crumbled it into fruity granola for a trail mix. Well, that disaster turned into something resembling chocolate leather. Also, upon analyzing the recipe further, I decided I didn’t like the ratios of the ingredients. So after another recipe search, I decided I might as well make my own granola. That had to be much easier than making chocolate. With more hunting I found a promising recipe for white chocolate. Those two put together made this creation – Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits.

Both of the recipes were vegan and did not require high altitude adjustments, so that simplified things. The granola was part of a smoothie bowl, but I made just the granola. Then I modified it by reducing the amount of pumpkin seeds so I could add some hemp seeds. You can use any seeds here, and even any dried fruit. Pick your favorite fruit or seed – the possibilities are endless. The white chocolate was originally the base of a rice crispy bar, but I made the chocolate by itself and put it in smaller molds.

Fruit and Seed Granola with White Chocolate Bits adapted from recipes on Go Dairy Free

for the White Chocolate
1 ounce (scant 1/4 cup) raw, unsalted cashews
1/4 cup + 1/2 TBS powdered sugar
Pinch fine sea salt
2 ounces Navitas Organics cacao butter
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp vanilla bean paste

for the Granola
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 TBS hemp seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 cup dried tart cherries, roughly chopped

To make the white chocolate, place cashews, sugar, and salt in a mini food processor and process into a fine powder (about 30 seconds). Place cacao butter in a double boiler and whisk until just melted. Whisk vanilla bean paste into the melted cacao butter. Remove from heat and whisk in the cashew-sugar mixture until smooth.

Place a mold on a small tray and pour the mixture into it. Place mold in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours to set up. When solid, remove the white chocolate from the mold and break or cut into small bits. Set aside.

To make the granola, preheat the oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, salt, and cinnamon. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir to evenly coat.

Spread granola onto prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes. Watch carefully in last 15 minutes as it may burn. Let granola cool completely. Stir in dried cherries and bits of white chocolate. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Until next time, happy baking!

Blueberry Banana Breakfast Cookies

Blueberry Banana Breakfast Cookies

Blueberry Banana Breakfast Cookies

Sometimes I need breakfast (or a snack) on the run, but I don’t want it overly sweet. These breakfast cookies are a good way to satisfy your hunger without getting a huge sugar rush. Almond flour is the base so they don’t offer a blood sugar spike while also making the cookie gluten-free. Translating recipes to gluten-free is difficult at high altitudes so I prefer not to. But if I stumble upon a creation that is naturally without gluten, like this one, then it is a bonus.

To make the recipe vegan, I omitted the egg and incorporated baking soda. I also created a version of a flax egg with the flax in the recipe to help replace the egg and to add moisture needed in the dryness at high altitude. Enjoy this healthy snack.

Blueberry Banana Breakfast Cookies based on Blueberry Almond Breakfast Cookies

1 TBS ground flaxseed
3 TBS warm water
1 banana, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups almond flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, whisk flaxseed into the warm water and set aside for 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together banana, vanilla, and flaxseed mixture. Add almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and stir until combined. Gently fold in blueberries.
Spoon 12 rounded mounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Move pan to a wire rack to allow cookies to cool.

Until next time, happy baking!

Rocky Road Maple Bars

rocky road maple bars

rocky road maple bars

Are you searching for a decadent treat to take to a summer party? Look no further. Fellow party guests will crowd around when their taste buds get a hint of these sweet and rich bars. The combination of chocolate, peanuts, and marshmallows will be a delight, but it’s the explosion of maple that is the surprise. Never having used maple flavoring before I was intrigued enough to try out these bars. I was glad I did and you will be, too.

The recipe I found was already vegan and it required no baking adjustments. So, the changes I made were more about techniques and flavors. The biggest adjustment was adding marshmallows to give the bars a rocky road profile. I had large ones in my cupboard that required the sticky task of cutting them up. If you have minis it will be much easier.

Rocky Road Maple Bars adapted from Chocolate Peanut Maple Bars

2 12-ounce packages vegan chocolate chips
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1.75 cups no-salt, dry-roasted peanuts
3 TBS dry vegan vanilla pudding mix
1 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
3.5 cups organic powdered sugar
1 tsp maple flavoring
8 large vegan marshmallows

Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a pot set on medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Take the pot off of the heat and stir in peanuts. In a 9 x 13” parchment-lined pan, spread half the chocolate mixture. Place the pan in the refrigerator to cool and set.

In a pot over medium-low heat, combine pudding mix and margarine. When melted together, lower heat slightly and stir in milk. Bring to a boil and let boil for 1 minute. Transfer pudding mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in powdered sugar and maple flavoring, and whip until smooth.

Remove pan from refrigerator and spread pudding mixture onto cooled chocolate layer. Place pot with remaining chocolate mixture over low heat. Cut each marshmallow into six pieces and stir into warmed chocolate mixture. Spread rocky road mixture evenly over pudding mixture. Chill in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Remove bars from pan with parchment paper flaps, place on a cutting board, and cut into squares.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Yogurt

chocolate chip cookies with yogurt

chocolate chip cookies with yogurt

Last week at the Vegan Dairy Fair, I was asked what egg substitutes I used in my baking. My reply was that I have tried them all, from packaged egg replacer to tofu. That question got me thinking about revisiting egg subs. I hadn’t used yogurt in awhile, and my hubby was craving chocolate chip cookies, so the following recipe was created.

The original recipe was a healthier rendition of a standard chocolate chip cookie. It used yogurt instead of eggs, but I veganized it by making the yogurt non-dairy. I also modified it with vegan versions of the other ingredients. No changes were needed for high altitude because cookies are forgiving that way. I just tweaked a few of the steps and the oven temperature, and came up with a very tasty cookie.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Yogurt adapted from Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Eat Smart New York!

1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup non-dairy vanilla yogurt
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine sugar, brown sugar, and margarine. Beat until light and fluffy. Add yogurt and vanilla and blend well. Sift together the flours, baking soda, and salt. Beat the flour mixture into the margarine mixture a cupful at a time. Stir the chocolate chips in by hand. Drop by rounded spoonfuls 2” apart onto cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute, then remove from cookie sheets.

Until next time, happy baking!

Apricot Nut Bars

Apricot Nut Bars

Apricot Nut Bars

Today’s recipe had quite the evolution. The initial idea was to make a no-bake bar, but then my hubby said the creation needed more chocolate. My mind wandered to chocolate bark as a topping, with a nod to Mediterranean flavors. What started out as a recipe with few ingredients morphed into a multi-step concoction. When I explained what I was about to construct, hubby’s response was that it didn’t sound simple. I said no-bake, I didn’t say simple …

The experiment began with a raw bar recipe. The changes I made were just from my imagination. I reduced the amount of tahini because the original crust was too oily. I added more chocolate to keep hubby happy. The additional ingredients borrowed loosely from baklava while adding a cardamom syrup for depth. The result was a delicious burst of flavor.

Apricot Nut Bars based on No-Bake Cashew Tahini Bars

1.5 cups raw cashews
1 cup soft, pitted dates, tightly packed
1/3 cup tahini
4.5 ounces vegan dark chocolate, divided
1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
2 TBS Cardamom Syrup (recipe to follow)

Line an 8” square baking pan with 2 overlapping strips of parchment paper and set aside. Add cashews to a food processor and pulse until mostly broken down. Add dates and tahini and mix until it just comes together. With your hands, press the dough into the prepared pan and smooth it out.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate until smooth and creamy. Use a spatula to spread most of the chocolate over the bars. Sprinkle the apricots over the bars, then add the pistachios on top. Drizzle first the cardamom syrup and then the remaining chocolate over the top of the bars. Place in freezer for an hour. Lift out of the pan by the parchment sling, place on a cutting board, and cut into squares.

cardamom seeds for syrup

cardamom seeds for the syrup

Cardamom Syrup adapted from Spiced Simple Syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously until sugar dissolves. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir in cardamom seeds. Allow to simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Store leftovers in a covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. You will have extra — I use mine to sweeten tea.

Happy non-baking!

Carrot Cupcakes for Easter or Earth Day

Carrot Cupcakes for Easter or Earth Day

Carrot Cupcakes for Easter or Earth Day

Are you wondering if you stumbled on a gardening blog? Well, you haven’t, but I couldn’t resist tying my cupcakes in with Earth Day by potting them. I slipped them into little terra cotta pots and stuck carrot greens into the little cakes. It makes a wonderful presentation for both Easter and Earth Day, both of which are happening now. To serve them, just take them out of the pots, remove the greenery, and slather with frosting. Now, on to the recipe so we can get to eating these cute and tasty cakes.

Before I share the cupcake directions, I need to let you in on some of the changes that occurred before they could take shape. The original vegan recipe was for a cake, so I chose to go with regular whole wheat flour instead of whole wheat pastry flour. Pastry flour will give the delicate crumb you look for in a cake, but I wanted more hand-held sturdiness for cupcakes. I also scaled back on both the baking soda and baking powder because the smaller size didn’t need that much oomph, especially in high altitude baking.

Normally I add moisture at high altitude, but this cake had loads more moisture than the other carrot cake recipes that I found. I knew that it would be great at high altitude, which is what led me to base my cupcake creations on the original recipe. Also, many recipes used carrot juice, which can be a difficult to obtain, but this one used orange juice which is readily available. And, I’m not one who likes raisins in her carrot cake so instead I used raw walnuts and lightly toasted them to bring out their nutty flavor. The combination was a winner. My taster and I polished off three cupcakes before I even had a chance to make the frosting!

Carrot Cupcakes for Easter or Earth Day inspired by 24 Karrot Cake

1/2 cup raw walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1.25 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup vanilla soymilk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 TBS orange juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups peeled, shredded carrots, loosely packed (optional: save carrot greens for decoration)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Lightly oil the top of a 12-muffin tin, then line with paper cups. Set aside. Spread the walnuts on a small baking sheet. When the oven is ready, lightly toast the walnuts until they become fragrant.

Meanwhile, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, maple syrup, soymilk, apple cider vinegar, orange juice, and vanilla until well blended. Pour wet mixture into the dry and stir with a whisk until the batter is smooth. Stir grated carrots into the batter with a rubber spatula.

carrots with their decorative greenery

carrots with their decorative greenery

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Gently run a thin knife between the cupcake tops and the pan. Remove cupcakes and cool completely. When cooled, drizzle with the frosting below.

Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking

8 oz vegan cream cheese, cold
2 tsp vanilla extract
1.25 cups powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Keep chilled.

Until next time, happy baking!