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!

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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!

Fruit and Oat Cookies

Fruit and Oat Cookies

Fruit and Oat Cookies

Have you ever wanted to make a quick cookie because guests were on their way? Or maybe you were craving something sweet now? These cookies fit both those requests, and they have very few ingredients so a swift run through the pantry and you are ready to bake. They come together so quickly that I had them ready before the oven came up to temp, and that never happens.

I didn’t have to make any changes for vegan or high altitude, so I let my creativity run with the ingredients. The original recipe contained dates but I used dried apricots, cherries and blueberries for more depth of flavor. You could try any dried fruit, such as cranberries or currants for a tart twist. To add even more layers of flavor, I added spices, but including spiced applesauce would make it simpler. So, not only are these treats easy but they are healthy and will satisfy my gluten free friends, too.

Fruit and Oat Cookies based on Banana-Oatmeal Snack Cookies
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
1/2 cup finely chopped dried fruit (such as apricots, cherries and blueberries)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine bananas, applesauce, oats, walnuts, dried fruit and spices in a bowl until evenly blended. Using a 1 TBS scoop, scoop out cookies and place on prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with a spatula. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to one week. Makes 18-20 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Raw Red, White and Blue Cheesecake

Raw Red, White and Blue Cheesecake

Raw Red, White and Blue Cheesecake

Lately it has been too hot to turn on the oven, but I had to make something patriotic for this week’s American Independence Day. My search came up with a no cook cheesecake with wonderful ripe summer fruit. It sounded like a perfect way to celebrate without heating up the kitchen or myself.

The recipe was already vegan, so that box was checked off. No bake meant no high altitude changes. So, to put my spin on the recipe, I made it a bit healthier by replacing white sugar with dates and agave syrup. I also made it multi-layer and added blueberries for the blue. I know they can look more purple than blue when blended, so I kept the blue holiday theme by arranging blueberries on top in the shape of a star.

Raw Red, White and Blue Cheesecake adapted from Raspberry Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake
2 cups plain, non-dairy yogurt
7 large dates
1.75 cups walnuts
1/4 cup agave syrup
1.5 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup + 10 fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, with extras for garnish
Place yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl. Let drain in fridge for 10 hours or overnight. Discard the strained liquid. Pour boiling water over dates and soak for 10 minutes. Drain and remove pits. Place dates in a food processor with walnuts. Mix until they come together in a sticky ball. Press this mixture into the bottom of an 8” springform pan. Place in refrigerator. In a bowl, stir together strained yogurt, agave, lemon juice and vanilla. Divide yogurt mixture into 3 equal portions and put each portion in its own bowl. Crush 1/2 cup of raspberries and stir into one of the bowls. Leave one bowl as is. Take the final bowl and put its contents in a blender. Blend with 1/2 cup of blueberries.
Slice the 10 raspberries. Remove crust from refrigerator and spoon in raspberry yogurt mixture. Scatter sliced raspberries over the top. Place cake in freezer for 10 minutes to help to keep the layers from blending together. Spoon in the plain layer. Place cake in freezer for 10 minutes. On the top, spoon in blueberry layer. Place remaining blueberries on top of cheesecake in a star pattern. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

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!

Superfood Earth Day Pudding

Earth Day pudding

Earth Day pudding

Earth Day is a fun day – not only do you get to honor the earth, but you can do so with whimsy. I combined cute ideas from a few blogs to come up with my celebration dessert. It wasn’t baked but it was filled with superfoods (cacao and hemp are superfoods) so I honored myself as well.

Because the already vegan dessert wasn’t baked it had no required changes. The alterations I made were to add baking extracts and more cacao to deepen the pudding flavor. Also, the pudding recipe called for cocoa powder but I used raw cacao powder instead to up the nutritional value. I grabbed ideas from a few websites to make my version of a dessert worthy of Earth Day.

Superfood Earth Day Pudding adapted from lovemefeedme.net and godairyfree.org
For the pudding:
1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 ripe medium banana
4-5 TBS maple syrup, to taste
1/2 tsp coffee extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 2 TBS Navitas Naturals raw cacao powder
2 TBS arrowroot
For the dirt topping:
2 TBS Navitas Naturals raw hulled hemp seeds
1 TBS Navitas Naturals raw cacao powder
1 TBS Navitas Naturals sweet cacao nibs
Put almond milk, banana, maple syrup, extracts, and cocoa powder in a blender and blend until smooth. Put 1/4 cup of the mixture aside and pour the remainder into a small pot. Heat over medium heat until it begins to boil. Whisk arrowroot into mixture you set aside. Slowly pour this mixture into the pot on the stove and whisk it in. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into 3 or 4 small containers. Let cool for 15 minutes before placing in fridge to cool completely.
While the pudding cools, mix topping ingredients together. Once pudding has cooled, top with a generous sprinkle of dirt topping. You can add an herb sprig or edible flower to your creation. Note: If using a flower pot with a drainage hole in the bottom, line it with foil prior to adding the pudding.

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!

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

cinnamon roll muffins

cinnamon roll muffins

After last week’s post on baking bread, I was craving cinnamon bread. But, as I mentioned, I don’t do yeast products. So, when I was scouring my recipe collection, one stood out – muffins based on cinnamon rolls. I could get my cinnamon cravings satisfied without proofing and kneading. Immediately I set out to make the rolls because they sounded easy and good. How good? Have you ever licked a (vegan) batter off of your fingers and then scooped more out of the bowl to eat? Yep, that good.

The recipe was already vegan (I did say it was easy) so all I had to do was adapt for altitude. I added flour and milk while reducing the baking powder. I also used less topping so it wouldn’t suffocate a muffin trying to rise at high altitude. Because I had vanilla flavored yogurt, I reduced the vanilla extract. I didn’t want to crowd out the cinnamon flavor. They seemed to turn out pretty good, but I should taste test another one or two to be sure.

Cinnamon Roll Muffins based on Cinnabon Muffins
Topping:
1 TBS coconut sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
Batter:
1 1/2 cups + 1 TBS all purpose flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 scant tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup vanilla cashew yogurt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup + 1 1/2 TBS almond milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBS raisins
Preheat oven to 350F and put paper liners in 11 cups of a regular muffin tin. In a small bowl, mix together topping ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flours, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir in raisins. Add wet mixture to dry, stirring until just well combined.
Distribute batter evenly between 11 muffin cups. Sprinkle topping on each. Bake for 18-19 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Until next time, happy baking!

Spicy Raspberry Chocolate Cups

raspberry spice chocolatesMy husband said, “bring on the chocolate,” so I did. I decided to make chocolates, which sounds scarier than it actually is. If you have the right equipment, making chocolate candies is as easy as melt-and-pour. The hard part is picking a flavor combination.

This is a no-bake vegan recipe, great for a hot summer’s day. It’s simple to do if you have the proper equipment: a silicon mold so you need not fuss with chocolate tempering, a silicon brush for the cleanest way to coat a mold, and a double boiler (or a small pot and a metal bowl that is large enough so its bottom doesn’t touch the water when it sits on top of the pot).

For this decadent and elegant dessert I chose chocolate cups filled with raspberry and a hint of chipotle. Raspberry is fantastic paired with the notes of dark chocolate, and adding the chili gives the taste buds a slight zing.

Spicy Raspberry Chocolate Cups inspired by Lazy Cat Kitchen
5 oz. dark chocolate
1 oz. seedless raspberry jam
chipotle powder, to taste
Boil a pot of water on the stove, then lower the heat to medium. Place the chocolate in the top of the double boiler and put it over the water. When the chocolate is melted, pull it off the heat making sure you get no water in the chocolate. Dip a silicon brush in the melted chocolate and fill in the mold cavities halfway, including up the sides. Put mold in the freezer for 20 minutes to set.
Remove mold from the freezer and place a teaspoon of jam into each cavity. Heat a pot of water to boiling, again. Re-melt the chocolate in the top of the double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in chipotle powder. Let the chocolate cool but not completely – you want it to be pourable. Pour the chocolate over the raspberry jam to fill each mold. Do not over- or under-fill the molds or it will be difficult to remove the candies. Put the mold in the freezer for 20 minutes more. Remove from freezer and carefully pop candy out of molds. Makes 6 chocolates.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Superfood Energy Bites

energy bitesAnother hot day, another no-bake recipe. Besides making a tasty treat without turning on the oven, I wanted something that my athletic husband could take on the go. I added superfoods for quality energy along with coffee and chocolate for a mocha tasting breakfast bite. Healthy mocha goodness was a good choice because they are yummy enough for dessert.

I have been collecting “energy balls” recipes for years, so this is an amalgamation of all of them with no nod to a particular author. I did choose ingredients that would not require refrigeration to make them an easy, anywhere snack. And, of course, there was no baking involved so no consideration was taken for high altitude.

Superfood Energy Bites
10 large, soft dates, pitted
1 cup unsalted, raw almonds
2 TBS Navitas Naturals cacao nibs
Dash salt
1/4 cup Navitas Naturals dried mulberries
2 tsp Navitas Naturals cocoa powder
¼ tsp coffee extract
Soak dates in warm water for 5-10 minutes, depending on the dryness of the dates. Save the date soaking water. Grind almonds and cacao nibs to a coarse powder in a food processor. Add salt, mulberries, and cocoa powder and pulse a few times. Add dates in batches. Add coffee extract. Squeeze mixture into balls. If too dry to form balls, then add a bit of the saved date water. Store in an airtight container. Will keep for one week.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Note: I do not make any money by mentioning products by Navitas Naturals – I just like them.