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!

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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!

In-The-Black Bottom Cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcake

Black Bottom Cupcake

Today is the day that American income taxes are due. For those of us who have been struggling with numbers all weekend, I decided that a very indulgent treat was in order. Enter: In-The-Black Bottom Cupcakes.

The recipe I found was already vegan, thanks to master baker Fran Costigan. The changes I made were for high altitude. I reduced baking soda for altitude and added non-dairy milk for dryness. Then I reduced the oil because high altitude baked goods can get oily and the filling could make it heavy enough. These decadent cupcakes are just what my brain and tummy needed.

In-The-Black Bottom Cupcakes adapted from Black Bottom Cupcakes
Filling
1 1/2 tsp ground chia seeds
1 1/2 TBS water
8 oz nondairy cream cheese spread, straight from the refrigerator
9 TBS organic confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 oz chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
Cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup organic granulated sugar
1/4 cup organic whole cane sugar, ground in a blender until powdered
1/4 cup + 1 TBS cocoa powder, non-alkalized
scant 1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup + 1 TBS almond milk
5 TBS canola oil
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix chia and water and set aside for a couple of minutes. Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined. Repeat twice, 5 minutes apart. In a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add chia gel and mix on medium for another 30 seconds until incorporated. Stir chocolate chips into the filling. Refrigerate in a covered container while you make the cupcakes. Position a rack on rung just above the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Lightly oil the top only of a 12-cup cupcake tin and line with paper liners.
Put a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add all-purpose flour, pastry flour, granulated sugar, cane sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt to the strainer. Stir with a whisk to sift ingredients into the bowl and whisk to aerate. (If very small bits remain in the strainer, add them to mixture in bowl.) In a small bowl, mix almond milk, oil, vinegar, and vanilla until thoroughly mixed. Immediately pour into dry ingredients. Whisk hard until batter is smooth.
Fill cups just over half full with batter. Scoop 2 tablespoons of filling into center of each cupcake. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, or until edges are firm when lightly tapped and filling is set. Set tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes. The filling will collapse into cakes while they cool. Remove cupcakes from tin, and cool completely on a wire rack before serving. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread Cookies

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread

Recently a local tea shop offered a matcha green tea tasting. Being a lover of all things tea, I attended and brought along hubby so we could experiment together. We learned that he is not a big fan of matcha, being a coffee aficionado. But I left with the inspiration to bake with the green tea powder. The challenge was to make it palatable for hubby, so I found a matcha cookie recipe and used a matcha / cocoa blend to appeal to his taste for chocolate. The result was a light, not too sweet cookie that we both enjoyed.

To veganize the recipe I replaced the butter with vegan margarine. My high altitude adjustment was to introduce a little non-dairy milk to counteract the dryness. You may think that adding tea to a recipe would make the cookie gritty, but matcha is powdered, not ground. If you find that your matcha is a little chunky, then sift it before measuring out the amount. These cookies are an eye catching green, but I couldn’t resist getting artistic and drizzling them with chocolate.

Cocoa Matcha Shortbread based on Matcha Green Tea Shortbread Cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1 TBS matcha with cocoa powder blend
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 cup vegan margarine, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup organic powdered sugar
2 tsp non-dairy milk
chocolate chips, for garnish
Sift flour, matcha, and salt into a bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat margarine and powdered sugar until fluffy. Add non-dairy milk and beat again. Add flour mixture to mixer bowl and mix slowly until dough just comes together. Form dough into a log that is 2” in diameter. Wrap dough log in parchment paper and place in freezer for 30 minutes or until dough has firmed to the touch.
Preheat oven to 325F. Slice dough into 1/4” rounds and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, 1” apart. Alternatively, take dough from freezer, pinch off round balls, place on cookie sheet, and flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes (or until cookies are just starting to turn golden around the edges), turning pan halfway through baking time. Remove cookies immediately from cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler on the stove. Decorate cookies with melted chocolate. Store in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

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!

Valentine’s Day Chocolates

Valentine's Day Chocolate

Valentine Day Chocolate

For Valentine’s Day I wanted to give you a box of chocolates. The recipe here includes ginger and cinnamon for spiciness and rose petals for romance. When you add in the chocolate you have an additional superfood to inspire passion and stamina.

The recipe I found was already vegan, but I switched out some of the flavorings to accent heat and passion. It isn’t a baked treat, but instead it is made with chocolate molds so you can choose your favorite meaningful shapes. I found an adorable love birds mold and also added extra rose petals to a floral mold. With love …

Valentine’s Day Chocolates adapted from The Herbal Academy
6 ounces vegan dark chocolate, broken up
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 TBS crushed dried rose petals
1 TBS chopped candied ginger
Melt chocolate in a double boiler ensuring that no water gets into the pot with the chocolate. Once chocolate has melted, fold in cardamom, cinnamon, rose petals, and candied ginger. Stir well and remove bowl with chocolate. Pour chocolate mixture into molds, adding extra crushed rose petals to mold first, if desired. Smooth out with a spatula. Keep in fridge until hardened. Once chocolate has set, remove from molds.

Until next time, happy un-baking!

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!