Chocolate Cookie Sandwich with Flavored Fillings

chocolate cookies with flavored fillings

chocolate cookies with flavored fillings

Periodically I go through my baking supplies to find expired items. It also helps reacquaint me with lesser used ingredients. A recent search uncovered black cocoa powder from my Cream-Filled Mini Cakes. This cocoa is a Dutch process cocoa powder which is “washed with a potassium carbonate solution that neutralizes cocoa’s acidity to a pH of 7.” The black version is bittersweet and is alkalized to a pH of 8. It is also the signature taste of Oreo Cookies, so I went into the kitchen to make a version of that iconic treat.

I found a chocolate cookie recipe that I veganized by substituting with non-dairy equivalents. I was concerned about using my special cocoa powder because Dutched cocoas, especially the heavily Dutched black cocoa, are used a little differently. “Since Dutch process cocoa isn’t acidic, it doesn’t react with alkaline leaveners like baking soda to produce carbon dioxide. That’s why recipes that use Dutch process cocoa are usually leavened by baking powder, which has a neutral pH.” When I realized that you want an Oreo-type cookie flatter to make cookie sandwiches, I stuck with baking soda as my leavener and it worked beautifully.

To finish my cookie sandwich, I dug up a recipe for flavored cookie fillings. I took the standard vanilla type and added coffee extract which added deeper flavor and a slight hue. I also thought that mint sounded tasty and was the perfect backdrop for my Color Garden plant-based food colors. Their food coloring isn’t as intense as artificial ones so I used more. If using another brand, use a drop at a time to get your shade. I liked my filling pale green.

Chocolate Cookie Sandwich with Flavored Fillings adapted from The Cooking Channel and Sugar Hero
1/2 cup vegan stick margarine, softened
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar, well packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup black cocoa powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 1.5 tsp non-dairy milk
In a stand mixer, cream together margarine, sugars, and vanilla until light, about 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powders, soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to margarine mixture and mix just to combine. Add milk, in a few segments, and mix just to combine. Form dough into two 1 1/2-inch-thick logs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours.
To bake: preheat oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice each log of dough into 1/8-inch-thick coins. Arrange on baking sheets with 1 1/2 inches between cookies. Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating trays in the middle of baking time. Bake for another 2 minutes or until they are dry looking and firm. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes, then slide cookies onto racks to finish cooling. Makes 4 dozen cookies, or use the filling below to make cookie sandwiches.
Flavored Fillings
1 cup vegan stick margarine, at room temperature
4 cups organic powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
For Coffee Latte flavor: 1 tsp vanilla bean paste + 1 tsp coffee extract
For Mint Flavor: 1 tsp mint extract + 18 drops Color Garden green food color
Combine margarine, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until powdered sugar is moistened, then turn to medium speed and mix for 1-2 minutes, until it has a lighter color and fluffy texture. Don’t over-mix. It needs to be somewhat firm. Divide into two portions to make two different flavors. For Coffee Latte: add vanilla bean paste and coffee extract. For Mint: add mint extract and green food coloring.

Color Garden food colors

Color Garden food colors

Until next time, happy baking!

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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!

Oatmeal Jammies

Oatmeal Jammies

Oatmeal Jammies

Have you ever looked at your baking supplies and wondered what to do with 1/2 cup of this flour, or a little of that flour? I was confronting that dilemma when I found a recipe for oatmeal bars. With all of the rolled oats and other textures, no one would notice that I had a flour mixture added in. I also decided that they would be tasty for breakfast, snack, or dessert, so they were winners.

To adapt to high altitude and dryness, I reduced the baking soda and added non-dairy milk to the recipe. To make them vegan, the easy swap was using oil in place of butter. The original recipe had packaged caramels as an ingredient which are generally not vegan, so I left them out and used jam instead. My final change was to make more of a crust layer underneath, thus creating a sturdier and less sweet bar.

Oatmeal Jammies adapted from Oatmeal Carmelitas
3 cups flour, mixed (I used a mixture of all purpose, whole wheat, and pastry flour)
3 cups quick cooking rolled oats
2-1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 heaping tsp baking soda
scant 1/2 tsp salt
1-1/8 cups canola oil
1-1/2 tsp non-dairy milk
1 cup seedless blackberry jam, gently melted
1 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 13″ x 9″ pan. In a bowl, add flours, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine. Add oil and milk and stir until crumbly. Reserve half of the crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Spoon jam to the edges of the crust in the pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over the jam. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture evenly to coat.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown and bubbling around the edges. Cool for 1 to 2 hours on a wire rack or until completely cooled. Cut into bars, then store covered with foil at room temperature.

Until next time, happy baking!

Apple Cinnamon Brunch Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Brunch Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Brunch Muffins

Upon looking over at the apples in my fruit bowl, I realized they weren’t getting eaten fast enough. I needed to bake them into something quick so I decided to make Apple Cinnamon Brunch Muffins. That, and I had just bought Alisa Fleming’s book “Eat Dairy Free” and wanted to make a treat from it.

The recipe was already already vegan and had high altitude suggestions, so I didn’t need to come up with substitutions for that. But, when I pulled out the ingredients from my pantry I realized that I didn’t have enough light brown sugar. To remedy that I used a combination of light brown sugar, dark brown sugar (which had too strong a taste to use on it’s own), and organic granulated sugar. The mix worked out great, and made muffins that were delicious with vegan sausage and tea.

Apple Cinnamon Brunch Muffins adapted from Wholesome Apple Cinnamon Muffins
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, warmed to room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup organic granulated sugar
2.25 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1.25 tsp ground cinnamon, plus additional for topping
.75 tsp baking powder
.75 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1.25 cups small-diced apple (cored and peeled)
1 TBS light brown sugar
Preheat oven to 400F and line 12 regular-size muffin cups with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine non-dairy milk, applesauce, oil, and apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes and then whisk together. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugars, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add diced apple and stir to coat. Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.
Divide batter among muffin cups. In a small bowl, mix together 1 TBS light brown sugar and a generous pinch or two of cinnamon. Sprinkle spiced sugar over muffin batter. The cups will be full. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the tins before removing the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Until next time, happy baking!

waiting (patiently) for apple cinnamon muffins to cool

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!

Holiday Sugar Cookies

holiday sugar cookies

holiday sugar cookies

For someone who doesn’t have the patience for making roll-out cookies, I have been creating quite a few of them lately. Perhaps it’s my new fascination with shapes that cut cookies, from adorable cookie cutters to water glasses. Or maybe it’s just the season. Whatever the reason, I was excited to enter the #DecemberBakingChallenge at Handle the Heat and come up with a recipe that added a few of my tweaks.

For making vegan cookies, I used vegan buttery sticks for the butter and chose organic sugar. My egg substitute was non-dairy milk with white vinegar added. For the dryness at high altitude I added extra milk to this egg substitute. I draw the line at spending hours to decorate cookies, so if you feel the same way then use any decorations you can find. For me it was frosting and sparkling sugar and sprinkles, oh my!

Holiday Sugar Cookies adapted from Easy Cut Out Sugar Cookies with Icing
5 TBS non-dairy milk, at room temperature
1 tsp white vinegar
3 sticks Earth Balance buttery sticks, at cool room temperature
1 1/2 cups organic sugar
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
icing, food coloring, etc., as desired
Combine non-dairy milk and white vinegar. Let sit for 15 minutes to curdle. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat buttery sticks and sugar on medium-high speed until well-combined and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add vinegar-milk and vanilla and beat until combined. On low speed, slowly add in flour and baking powder and beat until incorporated. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Place one dough portion between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out to 1/4” thickness. Repeat with remaining dough. Place sheets of dough, with their parchment paper, on a baking sheet and chill for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line large baking sheets with fresh parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Remove dough from fridge and cut into shapes, re-rolling any scraps and cutting more shapes. Transfer shapes to prepared baking sheets. If dough is too warm, freeze for 15 minutes or until firmed again. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are set and begin to brown. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. When fully cooled, decorate with icing, chocolate chips, colored sparkling sugar, or anything you like.

Until next time, happy baking!

Gingerbread Cookies with Chocolate – Two Ways

gingerbread cookies with chocolate

gingerbread cookies with chocolate

It was time to choose a cookie to bake for Santa, so I asked my husband what he thought about gingerbread cookies. His reply: “They’re okay, if you can add chocolate to them.” So, my spin on the classic holiday cookie was born. And because I couldn’t decide, I added chocolate to part of the batch before they were baked and some cookies were sandwiched in chocolate after they cooled. They are delicious both ways.

Cookies require only a little adaptation for altitude. I added small amounts of flour and non-dairy milk and used less baking soda. For my taste buds I reduced the cinnamon so the spices wouldn’t overpower the chocolate. These cookies are about the gingerbread, but they are very much about the chocolate. Happy Holidays!

Gingerbread Cookies with Chocolate – Two Ways adapted from Food52
2.75 cups all purpose flour (plus extra for rolling)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup + 1 TBS almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Vegan chocolate chips
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together molasses, oil, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until uniform. If adding chocolate chips to dough, do so now. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to overnight.
To bake, preheat oven to 350F. Dust a clean surface with flour. Roll dough out to a scant 1/4” thick. Cut into shapes, with some cookies having centers cut out if making sandwiches. Bake cookies for 12 minutes or, for cookies with chocolate chips, bake for 16 minutes. Let cool. For sandwich cookies, melt chocolate chips over a double boiler. Pair up cookies so each sandwich has a bottom cookie, without the center cut out, and a top cookie with a cutout. Take bottom cookie and flip it upside down so the flat side is facing up. Spoon melted chocolate into center of cookie and place match on top. Allow to cool. Repeat until all cookies have been sandwiched.

Until next time, happy baking!