Spring Chocolates

Flower Truffles

Spring Chocolates

It’s spring and flowers have sprung up. The burst of floral beauty begged to be put into a sweet treat. Chocolate and flowers make a good combination when blended, so I thought I would make some tasty truffles. They would be lovely on a holiday table or in an Easter basket.

The recipe I used was already vegan, so I played around with it. It called for coconut milk, but I also made some with soy creamer. The texture of the soy creamer won me over. I chose to mix and match flowers and spices and decided that the original lavender flowers were fantastic but better when I toned down the spices. The mashup of hibiscus and ancho that I threw together was also a winning flavor. The addition of fruit powders in the coating added an interesting layer. So here’s to chocolate, spring flowers, and happy holidays.

Spring Chocolates adapted from Lavender-Infused Cocoa-Dusted Truffles
1/2 cup plain soy creamer
2 TBS culinary-grade dried lavender flowers or dried hibiscus flowers
1” piece of dried ancho pepper, if using hibiscus flowers
1 TBS agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 – 1 tsp maca powder
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/4 cups vegan chocolate chips
2 TBS Navitas cacao powder
2 TBS dried berry powder (blueberry if using lavender and Navitas goji berry if using hibiscus)
Place creamer in a small pan over very low heat. Add lavender flowers (or hibiscus flowers and dried ancho) and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain out flowers and discard. Put creamer in a bowl. Add agave nectar, vanilla, maca powder, cinnamon, and cardamom and stir well.
Melt chocolate chips over a double boiler on medium heat until consistency is smooth and creamy, stirring once or twice. When chocolate is melted, add bowl of infused creamer and stir well. Place in refrigerator until firm enough to scoop, about 5 minutes. Place cocoa powder and berry powder on a small plate and mix. Using a small scoop, form small balls. Roll around on plate with cocoa/berry powder to cover each ball with a light dusting. Place on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until cool. Makes 20 chocolates.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Blueberry Oat Bread

blueberry oat breadQuick breads are so nice to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Whether you are having brunch or just want the house to smell delicious, they are a comforting baked treat. The other great thing about them is that you mix one up and pour it into a pan with no fuss, no decorations or frosting to make, and they easily feed a crowd.

The recipe I found required a few changes. I used some all-purpose flour in place of whole wheat to lighten it up, and I swapped wheat bran for the wheat germ because that is what I had in the cupboard. Then, for high altitude adjustments, I added a bit more flour and used less baking powder. To veganize the recipe I used non-dairy yogurt and then switched out the eggs with aquafaba. That was easy. The hard part was waiting what seemed far too long for it to cool so I could eat it.

Blueberry Oat Bread adapted from Stonyfield
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
1 cup oats (old fashioned or quick cooking)
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup wheat bran
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.25 cups vanilla non-dairy yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 TBS aquafaba (chickpea brine)
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with shortening. In a bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: both flours, oats, sugar, wheat bran, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Using a stand mixer, beat together yogurt, applesauce, oil, aquafaba, and vanilla, and beat at medium speed. Slowly add dry ingredients until just combined then let batter rest for 10 minutes to allow bran to hydrate. Carefully fold in blueberries then pour batter into bread pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Until next time, happy baking!

Celebration Blueberry Oat Bar

blueberry oat bar

celebration blueberry oat bar

Today is the celebration of Independence Day in America. Befitting the red, white and blue color scheme that accompanies the holiday, I chose to bake a blueberry bar and top it with whipped cream and strawberries. Because I was sharing the bar with friends that have selective eating habits, I opted for dairy free, egg free, soy free, refined sugar free, gluten free, and nut free. Or, as my husband calls it, the BFF Bar – Blueberry Free From Bar.

To bump up the health factor on the bar recipe I found, I used whole oats to add fiber and texture. I also chose maple syrup and dark brown sugar for their added health benefits. After I realized I didn’t have enough fresh blueberries, I discovered that frozen works as well as long as they are fully drained. For a garnish I used vegan whipped cream and sliced strawberries even though the blueberries turned dark when baked. It became red, white and black, but I like it anyways.

Celebration Blueberry Oat Bar adapted from the GoDairyFree website
1 1/2 cups gluten-free whole oats
1/2 cup gluten-free flour
1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
6 TBS soy-free Earth Balance margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, rinsed and drained
3 TBS maple syrup
2 tsp arrowroot
1 tsp lemon juice
vegan whipped cream from a tub or can, for garnish
sliced strawberries, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease an 8×8” baking pan. In a bowl, whisk together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Add melted margarine and stir with a fork until evenly combined. Save ½ cup crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes to set crust.

While that is baking, combine blueberries, maple syrup, arrowroot and lemon juice in a small saucepan, whisking until arrowroot dissolves. Heat over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until juices are no longer cloudy, about 2 minutes. Spoon filling over baked crust and evenly spread reserved crumb mixture over top. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Cut into squares and garnish with whipped cream and strawberries before serving.

Until next time, happy baking!

Blueberry Bran Muffins

blueberry bran muffins Truth be told, I haven’t made blueberry muffins in a long time. And those were from a box. But it was breakfast and couldn’t decide between blueberry muffins or bran muffins. Yes, this is a departure from my decadent, chocolate ways, but I was feeling healthy. Besides, fresh blueberries were calling my name every time I passed them in the market. So I decided on Blueberry Bran Muffins.

For my recipe, I found one that was vegan. I swapped out oat bran for wheat bran because that was what I had. The high altitude fixes were the usual – more milk and flour, less baking soda. Also, I had read that dusting blueberries with flour keeps them from turning your muffins purple. Not that I have anything against purple, but I didn’t think that would make an appetizing picture.

They were good still warm from the oven, but the bran seemed a bit pronounced. After they had cooled a few hours the texture smoothed out, but they were still quite healthy. I think they should be eaten with a glass of chocolate milk.

Blueberry Bran Muffins adapted from Sweet and Natural Baking by Mani Niall
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tsp flour for dusting the blueberries
1 1/4 cup + 1 TBS whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
scant 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 cup + 1 TBS almond milk
1/3 cup liquid fruit juice concentrate (I used Waxed Orchards brand)
3 TBS canola oil
Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-muffin tin with paper liners. Wash blueberries and pat dry. Lightly dust them with a teaspoon of flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, wheat bran, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to combine and make a well in the center. In another medium bowl, whisk milk, fruit juice concentrate, and oil until the surface is bubbly. Pour into the well and stir with a wooden spoon just until smooth. Stir in blueberries.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Serve muffins warm or at room temperature.

Until next time, happy baking!