Strawberry Covered Chocolates and Sweetheart Peanut Butter Cups

Strawberry Covered Chocolates and Peanut Butter Cups

Strawberry Covered Chocolates and Peanut Butter Cups

Valentine’s Day is coming up so I thought I’d have some fun making chocolates. For simplicity I went with a rolled variety, where the forming tool is your hands, and a version made in silicon molds, where chocolate tempering is not required.

The first recipe, that I like to call Strawberry Covered Chocolates, is a riff on a truffle from Dr. Gregor’s cookbook. I had coconut sugar in my cupboard, so I used that, but know that this healthy treat originally called for date sugar. To enhance the truffles’ Valentine’s Day status, I rolled the candies in strawberry powder. If you can’t find that in your market, see if you can find freeze dried strawberries. You can run them through a coffee grinder and – presto – strawberry powder.

My other chocolate candy choice is an old favorite that I make. I can’t remember how the recipe evolved but I use as few ingredients as possible to get the boldest flavor. You will find that they are true to the peanut butter and chocolate tastes without any unnecessary fillers.

Today I offer you two recipes, in the name of love and chocolate. Show love to yourself and others with these decadent vegan candies.

Strawberry Covered Chocolates based on Almond-Chocolate Truffles from “The How Not To Die Cookbook” by Michael Greger, M.D. and Gene Stone

1/3 cup chopped and pitted soft dates *
1/3 cup raw cashews soaked in hot water for 3 hours and then drained
3 tablespoons almond butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Strawberry powder, for coating

Combine dates and cashews in a food processor and process to a paste. Add almond butter and process to combine. Add cocoa powder, coconut sugar, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon of water. Pulse until well combined.

Pinch a piece of the mixture between your fingers to see whether it holds together. If it’s too dry, add a little more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture can be shaped into balls. (The amount of water added can depend on the amount of moisture in your dates.) If the mixture is too soft, refrigerate it for 20 minutes or longer to firm up. If it’s still too soft, add a little more cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon at a time. The mixture should be slightly glossy.

Use your hands to shape and roll a small amount of the mixture into a ball and transfer to a plate. Repeat until all of the mixture has been formed into about 24 balls. Put the plate in the fridge for 10 minutes for the balls to dry out a bit.

rolling and dipping chocolates

rolling and dipping chocolates

Place the strawberry powder in a shallow bowl. Roll the chocolates in the powder until they’re coated, patting off the excess powder. Transfer the candies to a plate and refrigerate until firm.

* If your dates are not soft, soak them in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain and pat dry before using.

 

Sweetheart Peanut Butter Cups

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 TBS coconut palm syrup (you can use agave syrup instead)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 65% cocoa), chopped

In a bowl, mix peanut butter with coconut palm syrup and vanilla until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill.

Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat. With a pastry brush, apply a generous layer of chocolate inside each cup of a silicon mold. The chocolate cups should be sturdy enough to hold the filling, so coat the bottom and sides but don’t fill them to the top. Place the mold in the fridge for 30 minutes so the chocolate hardens.

coating silicon mold with chocolate

coating silicon mold with chocolate

Reheat remaining chocolate until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 TBS peanut butter filling into each chocolate cup. With a clean spoon, quickly spoon remaining melted chocolate over the filling to cover. Refrigerate until chocolate hardens, for 20 minutes. Unmold hardened chocolates.

Happy non-baking!

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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!

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!