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!

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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!

Caramel Brownies

Caramel Brownies

Caramel Brownies

Since I moved to high altitude, I have had a love-hate relationship with brownies. I love to eat them, but I hate to bake them because vegan brownies up higher are difficult to get right. I decided to take a different approach to succeeding at this task. Generally, I had been looking at non-vegan, low altitude recipes and then making a few guesses at how to adjust them. This time I looked at a non-traditional vegan blondie recipe, and when I made my changes it worked. No soggy center and lack of any evidence that they had risen! Now I can go back to loving brownies.

First off, to get them from a blondie to a brownie I added cacao powder. I also added chocolate chips because you can never get too much chocolate. I deleted the almonds to help the chocolate and caramel tastes come to the forefront. Then, for altitude, I added liquids. I also added baking powder which is unusual at altitude, but it helped the wetter brownies to rise.

Caramel Brownies inspired by Caramel-Almond Blondies

3.5 TBS warm water
1/2 tsp Navitas Organics chia seeds
6 TBS almond butter
1/4 cup organic light brown sugar, lightly packed
1.5 TBS agave nectar
1.5 tsp almond milk
2.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup Navitas Organics cacao powder
2 tsp Navitas Organics maca powder
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1-2 TBS vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8 x 4 x 2” loaf pan with two pieces of parchment paper, overlapping the pieces to create a sling that hangs over the sides of the pan slightly. Put 1.5 TBS water in a small bowl with the chia seeds and stir to combine. Set aside for 15 minutes to thicken.

Add the remaining 2 TBS water to a large bowl along with the almond butter, brown sugar, agave nectar, milk, and vanilla extract. Add in the chia gel. Stir until the mixture is well combined. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cacao powder, maca powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.

Navitas Organics maca, chia, cacao

Navitas Organics maca, chia, cacao

Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and push it out to the edges. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the top feels dry. Take the pan out of the oven and scatter the chocolate chips over the hot brownies. When slightly melted, run a fork through the chocolate to spread it over the top. Let them cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then use the paper sling to remove to a wire rack to cool. Cut into 6 pieces when fully cooled.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Chip Bread with Coffee Glaze

chocolate chip bread with coffee glaze

chocolate chip bread with coffee glaze

This week I was inspired by my hubby’s favorite Sunday breakfast — maple syrup dotted chocolate chip pancakes accompanied by an espresso drink. So for his tastebuds, and for yours, I sought out a chocolate chip quick bread to easily recreate the experience. The recipe I found was sweetened with maple syrup that echoes his syrupy pancakes. Then I decided that a coffee drizzle would really elevate the bread by combining chocolate and coffee. Hubby’s favorite flavor after chocolate is coffee, so the bread was a success.

To account for high altitude I made several changes. For better structure boosted by the extra protein in all purpose flour, I chose that type of flour instead of the pastry flour called for in the recipe. I also added a bit more flour for altitude. Next I reduced the baking powder and increased the baking soda for a bread that never fell, despite the high altitude. The original recipe was for a fruit bread so I easily exchanged chocolate chips for the fruit. I also added vanilla extract to enhance the chocolate chip taste and add moisture. This tea bread turned out beautiful and delicious.

Chocolate Chip Bread with Coffee Glaze inspired by Sweet and Natural by Meredith McCarty

for the bread
1.5 cups + 1 TBS all purpose flour
1.25 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life dark chocolate morsels)
for the coffee glaze
1/2 cup organic powdered sugar
1 TBS non-dairy milk
1/4 tsp coffee extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the inside of two of the four sections of a mini loaf pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, 1/2 cup milk, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Transfer the batter to the two mini loaf sections. Bake for 32-35 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool the loaves on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then allow them to fully cool. Once cool remove the bread by running a knife around the sides of the bread and inverting the pan onto a wire rack. Next flip the bread right-side up onto a plate.

For the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and coffee extract in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the bread once the bread is completely cooled.

Enjoy Life morsels with chocolate chip bread

Enjoy Life morsels with chocolate chip bread

Until next time, happy baking!

Granola Squares

Granola Squares

Granola Squares

So, yeah, that are lots of granola bar recipes out there on the internet. And, yes, most of them are probably vegan. But, I chose to make these granola squares because of the variety of textures and flavors they offered. I changed up the fruit and seeds recommended in the original recipe to use what I had in my cupboard, which is another bonus. Also, to satisfy my decadent tastebuds, I added mini chocolate chips. That was a no-brainer.

The recipe was already vegan, but you do have to be aware that many granola recipes contain honey which makes them non-vegan. I made a minor high altitude adjustment by adding almond butter to keep them moist. Most of my changes were purely a matter of taste, something I consider important nonetheless.

Granola Squares based on Chewy Granola Bars with Walnuts and Cranberries

1.5 cups walnuts
2.5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried mixed berries
1 cup packed organic brown sugar, light or dark
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus extra to coat the foil sling
2 TBS almond butter
3 TBS water
1.5 cups puffed brown rice cereal
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350F. Make a foil sling for a 13 x 9” pan by folding 2 long sheets of foil; the first sheet should be 13” wide and second sheet should be 9” wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over the edges of the pan. Push foil into corners and up the sides of the pan, smoothing the foil flush to pan. Lightly coat the foil with vegetable oil.

Pulse walnuts in a food processor until finely chopped, for 8 to 10 pulses. Spread walnuts, oats, and pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through toasting. When done, set aside to cool and reduce oven temperature to 300F.

While oat mixture is toasting, process dried berries, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor for 10 seconds. Run processor again, adding oil, almond butter, and water. Continue to process until a homogeneous paste forms, about 1 minute longer.

Transfer paste to a large bowl. Add oat mixture to bowl and stir with a rubber spatula until well coated. Add cereal and chocolate chips and stir gently until ingredients are evenly mixed. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Press and smooth with the bottom of a measuring cup, especially at the edges, until granola is level and compact.

foil sling with granola

foil sling with granola

Bake granola until just beginning to brown around edges, about 25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour. Using foil sling, lift granola out of pan. Place on wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Discard foil and transfer granola to a cutting board to cut it into squares. Granola squares can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

Until next time, happy baking!

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!

Cranberry-Studded Pumpkin Muffins

Cranberry Studded Pumpkin Muffins

Cranberry Studded Pumpkin Muffins

It’s a few days until American Thanksgiving, and I thought I would do an homage to some of the holiday’s traditional flavors. Pumpkin and cranberry are common tastes found at a Thanksgiving table, so I dug up a recipe combining the two. This muffin would make a wonderful pre-feast breakfast to get you in the mood.

I reduced the baking soda to account for high altitude concerns. Next, I made a chia egg (from chia and water) and swapped nonfat milk with almond milk to make it vegan. These not-to-sweet muffins offer lots to be thankful for with the burst of cranberries in every bite.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberry-Studded Pumpkin Muffins adapted from Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
1 Tbs chia seeds
3 Tbs warm water
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup organic sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Combine chia seeds and water in a small bowl, and set aside to gel. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Combine pumpkin, chia gel, oil and almond milk in a medium bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add the pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in cranberries. Fill 12-14 muffin cups and bake for 24-26 minutes.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chunky Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

chunky chocolate peanut butter bars

chunky chocolate peanut butter bars

For those of you who follow my blog, you may have noticed that I have been missing for a while. I was packing, then moving, and then unpacking. Now my new (awesome) kitchen is set up and I am back in baking action. To commemorate the event, and to have dessert to bring to a party, I made these bars with the delectable combination of peanut butter and chocolate.

With a delicious recipe in hand that I found on the blog “Handle the Heat,” I set out to veganize it. Vegan margarine was used instead of butter, and I substituted aquafaba for the eggs. To be more health conscious I swapped some of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Then, for altitude, I used a bit less baking powder. The party guests gobbled them up and my husband is already asking for more.

Chunky Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars based on Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Bars
1 stick vegan margarine
1 3/4 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
7 TBS slightly reduced aquafaba
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces vegan chocolate, cut into chunks
Preheat oven to 350°F. Create a parchment paper sling by lining an 8 x 8” metal baking pan with parchment in both directions, with a slight overhang. You will grab the overhang later to remove the cooked brownies.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the margarine. Add brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Add aquafaba and whisk until well combined. Allow to cool. In a large bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Once peanut butter mixture is cool, add vanilla and stir. Pour peanut butter mixture into flour mixture and stir to create a thick batter. Fold in 3/4 of the chocolate chunks, reserving the rest for sprinkling on top.
Transfer batter to prepared pan, spreading evenly to edges. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chunks, lightly pressing them into batter. Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is golden and edges are slightly browned. Allow to cool in pan. Use parchment sling to remove the bars before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

guittard chocolate

Guittard chocolate

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!

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!