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!

Strawberry Tea Bread

Strawberry Tea Bread

Strawberry Tea Bread

Just in time for Sunday brunch – I needed bread that would go great alongside eggs and mimosas. Strawberries are available everywhere so they were my first choice to flavor a bread. A short search of my files revealed a recipe for a vegan quick bread that incorporated these lovely berries.

For altitude I reduced sugar and baking soda. I added milk, although there was none, to help with dryness at altitude.To make it a little healthier, I took out some regular flour and put in whole wheat. The last change was substituting ginger for cinnamon, but that was merely to please my own taste buds. Add vegan cream cheese and fresh strawberries to a slice, and you’re set.

Strawberry Tea Bread adapted from Strawberry Quick Bread
1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cups canola oil
1 TBS arrowroot powder
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 TBS unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 1/2 cups mashed strawberries with their juice
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp powdered ginger
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 3 cavities of a mini loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix sugar and oil. In a small bowl, combine arrowroot and applesauce, then add to large bowl and stir. Stir milk and strawberries with juice into sugar mixture. Add baking soda, baking powder, and lemon juice, and whisk to combine evenly, without lumps. Stir in vanilla and ginger. One cup at a time, add flours and stir to incorporate into a smooth batter.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 30-33 minutes until tops turns golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and run a knife around the edges of each loaf. Allow loaves to cool for at least 10 minutes before turning them out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Once in a while I get lucky. I find a recipe that’s already vegan that doesn’t need much changing for altitude, and it works when I bake it! This recipe was one of those. My gluten free friends deserved a treat so I went searching and found this cookie recipe that didn’t need much finesse from me.

The adaptations I made were mostly due to the fact that it was a “pre-make the dry ingredients and dump” recipe. I altered the directions to make a smoother batter when the ingredients were added individually. The one nod I made to high altitude was to add more water to account for dryness, and the fact that I swapped the coconut for more oatmeal and it loves to soak up moisture.

Chocolate Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies based on Double Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup gluten free flour blend
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup vegan buttery spread
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 1 TBS water
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1.25 cups gluten free old fashioned oats
3/4 cup dairy free chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix together cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream applesauce, buttery spread, vanilla, and water. Add in both sugars and beat until creamy. Add in cocoa powder mixture and beat again. Stir in oats and chocolate chips by hand.
Let dough rest for 10 minutes so it will absorb the liquids. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 17-19 minutes. Makes about 24 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Lavender Granola

Lavender Granola

Lavender Granola

My usual breakfast of oatmeal with nut butter and fruit was getting old. It needed a facelift, and I remembered that I used to love granola when I was in college. The brand I ate had dried blueberries and oats and it got me through many a sleepy morning. I gathered up bits and pieces of many granola recipes I found, but especially liked one that included lavender. That would add something different to breakfast and make granola more decadent.

Granola is inherently vegan, unless it has honey, so no changes were made for that. It also doesn’t have high altitude issues. The only changes made to the ingredients are by you when you bake it. Pick any nuts and seeds, leave out the lavender, choose your favorite dried fruit. It all works. For baking the granola, I discovered a variety of cooking styles: higher temp, lower temp, stir, don’t stir. I went with the directions given by Alton Brown because he’s a food scientist so I imagine he’s worked his recipe to perfection. All I know is that it smelled heavenly while it baked and I couldn’t wait for morning.

Lavender Granola
2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free, if desired)
3/4 cup nuts (I used almonds, cashews and walnuts)
1/2 cup seeds (I used hemp and pumpkin)
2 TBS amaranth
2 TBS flax seeds, ground
3 TBS lavender flowers, food-grade
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup vegan margarine or coconut oil, melted
3/4 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used blueberries)
Preheat oven to 250F. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, seeds, amaranth, flax seeds, lavender, cinnamon and cardamom. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, margarine, vanilla and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add dried fruit and mix until evenly distributed. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Donut Mini Muffins

Donut Mini Muffins

Donut Mini Muffins

In the past, I have tried (unsuccessfully) to make baked donuts. I even bought a donut pan but donated it after the utter failure of my baked creations. But I am still drawn to the idea of making donuts. It’s strange, really, because I am not a big fan of donuts. However, this week I delved into that arena again, this time changing a batch of mini donuts into mini muffins.

The recipe I uncovered was already vegan but I went one step beyond – I used aquafaba as the egg replacer. It worked beautifully, making light and fluffy muffins. The change I made for altitude was to use less baking powder. Besides that, I had fun using different donut themes for my muffins. I filled some with jam and smeared chocolate on top. Others I dipped into chocolate and then added sprinkles. I could have added powdered sugar to a few but the idea of only chocolate flavoring won out, as usual.

Donut Mini Muffins based on Vegan Mini Baked Donuts
Dry Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch ground cinnamon
Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup aquafaba
4 TBS vegan buttery spread (not buttery sticks)
Toppings
2 TBS vegan sprinkles
3 ounces vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Put paper cups in 24 spaces of a mini muffin pan. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk to mix thoroughly. Combine wet ingredients in a pan over medium low heat and mix until buttery spread is melted. This should not get too hot; just slightly warm. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined. Scoop into muffin cups. Bake for 12 minutes until almost browned on top and a tester comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack before decorating. To decorate, put sprinkles on a plate then melt chocolate chips over a double boiler. Dip minis one-by-one into chocolate then into sprinkles. Makes 24.

Until next time, happy baking!

Spring Sugar Cookies

Spring Sugar Cookies

Spring Sugar Cookies

Spring has finally won out in the weather where I live. Warmer temps have caused flowers to burst out, so I thought it would be nice to do an homage to the Earth’s beauty. Thinking it would be fun to decorate flower cookies, I got a cookie cutter in the shape of a tulip and went on the hunt for a sugar cookie recipe.

Truth be told, I haven’t done roll-out cookies in forever. I am more of a drop cookie gal, but this was about cookie art. So, I found a recipe that was already vegan to make things easier. The only alterations I had to make were to add water for dryness at high altitude, and to switch some of the tapioca flour to all-purpose flour because the extra water makes very fine flours turn to wallpaper paste. I chose a large Wilton cutter to have a greater backdrop for decorating, but it also made the work go faster. Use any cookie cutters you like; the bake time is a range from small to large sized cookies.

Spring Sugar Cookies adapted from Veg News
1.5 cups vegan margarine
1 cup vegan sugar
6.5 TBS water
1 TBS vanilla
4.75 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 tsp salt
Frosting of choice
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together margarine and sugar until light and creamy. Add in water and vanilla and beat again. Add flours and salt and mix well to form a smooth dough. Cover and chill for 1 hour or until firm.
Preheat oven to 350F. Divide dough in half and work with one half at a time; keep remaining dough covered. On a floured work surface, roll dough out to desired thickness (1/8” for crispy cookies, 1/4” for soft), cut into shapes, and transfer cookies with a spatula to ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-24 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Cool slightly before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Decorate with frosting once fully cooled. Makes 3-6 dozen cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Flourless Fudge Cookie Failure

chocolate cookie failure

chocolate cookie failure

When I write blog posts, they usually include a few words about how the baked good was altered and include a recipe. Well, not this week. I have spent 8 hopeless days trying to produce an egg white based flourless cookie by using Aquafaba (the bean liquid from chickpeas). The substance makes a wonderful meringue cookie and is supposed to act in other eggy ways. I’ve used it in my super flegg egg substitute, but never as a stand-in for egg whites. It’s apparently going to require quite a few more trials.

The recipe for a flourless fudge cookie sounded like a challenge, but not as great a one as it turned out to be. The recipe called for whisked egg whites. I replaced them with whisked aquafaba and got an ooey gooey un-cookie like substance. Next I thought to whip up the chickpea water in the stand mixer to get more volume, but was still unsuccessful. Then I tried switching brands of canned chickpeas and discovered that the included brine varied immensely and a thicker liquid got me closer to a cookie but not exactly. The baked cookies were a bit gooey and rubbery at the same time, although my hubby thought they were good dipped in espresso.

So, today’s post will not include a recipe. This egg white substitution is still a failure and requires more testing. And more research. I plan to get it right one day, just not today.