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.
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.
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.
Have you ever wanted to make cookies but didn’t want to deal with pulling cookie sheets in and out of the oven? I was craving cookies but was too lazy to babysit cookie sheets, so I made a pan cookie. It’s basically a cookie in a baking pan that makes one big cookie with less work than baking up a few dozen. It’s instant cookie gratification.
There was a recipe that made a version of a pan cookie, but I made a few changes. I didn’t have the pan size called for so I reduced the ingredients to fit in the pan I had. (It’s times like this that make me glad I am a math person.) Then I changed the egg substitute to my new favorite – aquafaba. I also found the amount of salt to be what I deemed a typo – the first try made extraordinarily salty cookies – so I changed it accordingly. I also added flour and reduced baking soda to account for high altitude.
After the cookie was done and cooled, I used a star cookie cutter to make pretty cookies. Then I could pretend that I slaved over rolling and cutting dough to make cookies. It’ll be our little secret.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie adapted from Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Cake
1 1/2 cups + 2 TBS whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened, plus extra to grease pan
3/4 cup sucanat sugar
3 TBS aquafaba
1 TBS almond milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup peanut butter, unsalted
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease an 8 x 8” pan with vegan margarine. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together vegan margarine and sugar on low-medium speed until light and fluffy. Add aquafaba, milk, vanilla and peanut butter to sugar mixture and beat well. Slowly add dry flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate chips until combined. Add batter to prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake until cookie is lightly browned on the outside, but still slightly under-cooked in the center, for 15-16 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
In the past I brought up the topic of egg substitutes, notably the two choices of flaxseed meal and aquafaba. The flaxseed egg (aka flegg) is a common choice for vegans because it is easy to make while holding ingredients together and providing moisture. The downside of the flegg is that it doesn’t provide airiness and can make a baked good dense when used in larger quantities. We also have the new kid on the block – aquafaba. The texture of the brine is very similar to egg whites and it contains protein which is a boon at altitude. So, what is the next step? A combination of the two, or what I refer to as “The Super Flegg.”
I’ll back up for a moment and revisit each individually. Since writing my post on egg substitutes, I have discovered that the recipe for a flax egg that I cited was not the same as the majority of other recipes I have since found. I revise my proportions to those recommended on veganbaking.net. They state:
Flax Meal Egg Replacer Recipe
This recipe makes the equivalent of 1 egg.
3 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon golden flax meal
1) Grind the golden flax seeds into a meal in a blender or spice grinder.
2) Add the water to a small bowl or cup. Add the flax meal and mix together with a whisk or fork. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes so it develops a gelatinous texture similar to a raw egg. Warm water will speed up this gelling process.
My post on aquafaba touted the chickpea brine as being useful for high altitude baking because it offered the protein needed to maintain structure in a baked item. The problem I saw was its density. Those using aquafaba mentioned that it didn’t need to be whipped when used as an egg replacer, but now I had two dense items to work with. The solution – try whipping the two together.
When an egg is used in a baking recipe it is usually whipped. “Egg proteins and many other types of proteins can be denatured by heat but also by friction such as kneading or whipping.” The denatured proteins “join together and trap air bubbles. This is why eggs foams work so well in leavening cakes.” So, to emulate an egg better I needed to use it as one would use an egg. By whipping the two replacements together I had my perfect egg substitute – A Super Flegg.
You will see recipes in the future with The Super Flegg alongside recipes using other substitutes for those who like options. As always, I will search out and test anything that can make baking vegan at high altitude just a little easier.
Months ago, while searching online for vegan baking inspirations, I stumbled across a reference to Aquafaba. It said that the brine from cooked chickpeas could work as a vegan substitute for eggs. My initial response was, “Huh?” Then followed, “Who even thought that this made sense in the first place?” I realized I needed to explore this idea further and here is what I found.
Joël Roessel, through the testing of various vegetable foams, discovered that the liquid from cooked chickpeas can be whipped into a foam in the same way as flax mucilage. Flax mucilage is an egg substitute of flaxmeal whipped with water, but he found it had limited uses. So, one year ago, Joel posted his discoveries on his blog. Soon after, Goose Wohlt saw a video in which the creators used a whipped chickpea liquid to make chocolate mousse. The recipe was complicated so Goose experimented and found that he could make a vegan meringue with just sugar and the chickpea brine.
The brine, renamed by Goose as Aquafaba, is considered “the liquid drained off a can (or pot) of chickpeas, or other legumes. (Loosely, Latin for water = aqua, bean = faba.)” The word got out on this momentous vegan discovery and a Facebook page, now with almost 33,000 members, was born so that those using the product could share their experiences with it. That is the web page I discovered earlier this year that sent me down the rabbit hole. Most people were trying the product out on meringue because that was Joël’s original use, but I wanted to make cakes. I watched as foodists played with it and I read their recipes and soon Aquafaba took off.
There is now a website dedicated to the stuff. It has been talked about throughout the internet and been showcased in magazines such as Veg News and Vegan Life. As a vegan baker looking for higher protein egg substitutes to work at high altitude, I knew I had to jump on that bandwagon and test it for myself. My last post is about my Candy Cane Chocolate Cake made with Aquafaba. I enjoyed making and eating it but it seemed a tad dense, a problem I suspect was due to the brine. I know that I need to discover new uses for Aquafaba and perfect the old ones when used at high altitude. This will definitely not be my last word on the subject.
I have been craving the combination of chocolate and peppermint for weeks. I have also been dying to try baking with the vegan egg substitute called Aquafaba (more on that in a few days). There was a recipe I found a few months ago that used Aquafaba in a chocolate cake. I offered to high altitude it to get my sweets fix, but I swapped out a peppermint frosting to make the lovely holiday pairing of peppermint and chocolate.
The original recipe was gluten-free, but I thought I’d tackle Aquafaba solo in order to test how it works. Maybe I’ll try the cake gluten-free when I feel like wrestling that type of baking. Besides changing the flour, I added flour and liquids for high altitude. The interesting thing I discovered was that the batter seemed thicker like a traditional batter with eggs. The cake was moist and tasty and fantastic with the frosting.
The fire was roaring as I completed the cake so I thought it would be a nice setting for a picture. I learned that fire and frosting don’t play well together. Melted or not, it still tasted great.
The Coconut Sugar and Cacao Powder were provided to me by Navitas Naturals to test in my kitchen. I am not paid to use their products or endorse them.
Candy Cane Chocolate Cake adapted from the Plant Strong Vegan Cake
6 TBS chickpea liquid (Aquafaba)
2 TBS ground flaxseeds
¾ cup + 1 TBS soymilk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
1 cup Navitas Naturals Coconut Sugar
⅓ cup Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract Frosting
8 oz. vegan cream cheese
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
crushed candy canes for garnish
Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease and dust with cacao powder a 8×8” pan. In a bowl whisk together Aquafaba and ground flaxseeds. Let sit for 10 minutes. In another bowl whisk together soymilk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, cacao powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients (coconut oil, vanilla extract, milk + apple cider vinegar, Aquafaba + flax) into dry and whisk until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on center rack for 40 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean with sides of the cake pulling away from pan. Remove cake from oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
While cake is cooling, prepare frosting by stirring all ingredients together until smooth. Let chill until needed. Turn cooled cake out onto a cake plate. Frost and garnish. Store leftovers in an air-tight container, in fridge, for up to 4 days.