New Year’s Eve Spiced Nuts

New Years Eve spiced nuts

New Year’s Eve spiced nuts

The following snack is fun to have on-hand to munch on this New Year’s Eve. Its decadent taste can get you through until the grand dinner is served, or it can be eaten alongside any cocktail. You can choose one nut, or a mixture as I did. The flavorings can also be chosen to suit your palate, making this a munchie with endless combinations.

Traditionally, flavored nuts use egg white as a coating, which is decidedly non-vegan. But the recipe I found uses a double toasting and a wet coating to bring out the taste. It originally made a sweet nut, but I wanted something savory for a change. Whether you prefer sweet or more herbaceous, this is still a treat worthy of any celebration.

New Year’s Eve Spiced Nuts adapted from Quick Candied Nuts by America’s Test Kitchen

1 cup unsalted nuts (such as a mix of walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and cashews)
1 TBS spices (such as a mix of dried rosemary, smoked paprika, ancho powder, and garlic powder)
1/2 tsp organic sugar
1 TBS hot water
1/8 tsp sea salt

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350F. Spread nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and slightly browned, 8 to 12 minutes, shaking sheet halfway through toasting. Transfer nuts to a plate and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes. If doing more than one type of nut, then toast each individually as they have different cook rates. Place dirty baking sheet aside.

Grind together all spices in a spice grinder until powdered and mixed. Line now-empty sheet with parchment paper. Whisk spice blend, sugar, hot water, and salt in a large bowl until sugar is mostly dissolved. Add nuts and stir to coat. Spread nuts on baking sheet in a single layer and bake until nuts are crisp and dry, for 10 to 12 minutes.

Transfer sheet to a wire rack and let nuts cool completely, for 15 minutes. Nuts can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Until next year, happy baking!

Peppermint Chocolate Holiday Cupcakes

Peppermint Chocolate Holiday Cupcakes

Peppermint Chocolate Holiday Cupcakes

Holiday dessert flavors to me will always be chocolate and peppermint, perhaps because I love candy canes and believe all desserts should have chocolate. Hot chocolate benefits from a bit of peppermint syrup, and a peppermint-filled chocolate bar is always welcome in my house. So, to get my go-to chocolate cupcake into the holiday spirit, I filled and topped them with peppermint.

To my veganized, high-altitude chocolate cupcake recipe, I had to inject some peppermint flair. I added peppermint extract to the frosting, which I then piped into the cupcake with a round tip and swirled on top with a star tip. To make things even more festive, I crushed a bit of candy cane and added the bits to the frosted cupcake. Happy holidays, and happy eating!

Peppermint Chocolate Holiday Cupcakes

cupcakes
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup chocolate almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
generous 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

frosting
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
3 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/4 cup almond milk

decoration
crushed candy cane bits

For the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-cupcake pan with paper liners. Whisk together the milks and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla to the milk mixture and beat until foamy.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat just until no large lumps remain. Pour evenly into the liners, filling three-quarters of the way. Bake 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

For the Frosting: Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat for 3 more minutes. Add the extracts and milk and beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy. Frost each cupcake and place crushed candy cane bits on top.

Until next time, happy baking!

Party Dips: Butternut Squash and Dessert Hummus

dessert hummus and butternut squash dips

dessert hummus and butternut squash dips

The holidays are near and people will soon gather to share a meal. Dinner is the star, but having something to nibble on before and after is important to maintaining a jovial atmosphere. A tasty dip or two makes a great snack, especially if there are savory and sweet choices. With that in mind I located a squash dip to serve as an appetizer, and a dessert hummus with chocolate.

The great thing about dips is the lack of high altitude challenges, so these dishes merely needed a bit of veganizing or a personal touch. The Butternut Squash Dip appetizer is a recipe by Carsen Snyder for New Hope Network. My changes altered it from vegetarian to vegan. With the Superfood Dessert Hummus I put my spin on it by using extra peanut butter, because chocolate loves peanut butter, and adding lucuma powder (a superfood, like cacao) for a smoothness and depth of flavor. Whether you offer these spreads before or after a big meal, they will be a big hit.

Butternut Squash Dip adapted from the article “New Ways with Winter Squash”

1 large butternut squash (about 4 pounds), halved and seeded (or pumpkin)
1 TBS olive oil
1 1/4 tsp salt, divided
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup tahini
1 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp allspice

Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds. Drizzle olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt over cut side of squash halves. Place squash, cut side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover squash loosely with foil, and bake for 1 hour. Once cooked, remove foil and let squash cool slightly.

Scoop flesh from cooked squash halves into a food processor. Add garlic, tahini, yogurt, vinegar, paprika, allspice and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; blend until creamy. Pause to push sides down if necessary. Scoop dip into a serving bowl, and chill for 1 hour or overnight.

Serve with dippers, such as veggies and crackers. Makes 5 ½ cups.

Superfood Dessert Hummus adapted from Chocolate Chickpea Spread
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
2 TBS creamy peanut butter
3 TBS olive oil
1/2 cup Navitas Organics cacao powder
1/2 cup Navitas Organics coconut palm sugar
1.5 tsp Navitas Organics lucuma powder
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 – 4 TBS water

Put all but the water into a food processor and puree, scraping down the sides as needed. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the water until the desired consistency is reached. Serve with dried or fresh fruit.

Until next time, happy non-baking and Happy Holidays!

A portion of this post was provided by New Hope Network. I am a member of the New Hope Influencer Co-op, a network of health and wellness bloggers committed to spreading more health to more people.

Rocky Road Maple Bars

rocky road maple bars

rocky road maple bars

Are you searching for a decadent treat to take to a summer party? Look no further. Fellow party guests will crowd around when their taste buds get a hint of these sweet and rich bars. The combination of chocolate, peanuts, and marshmallows will be a delight, but it’s the explosion of maple that is the surprise. Never having used maple flavoring before I was intrigued enough to try out these bars. I was glad I did and you will be, too.

The recipe I found was already vegan and it required no baking adjustments. So, the changes I made were more about techniques and flavors. The biggest adjustment was adding marshmallows to give the bars a rocky road profile. I had large ones in my cupboard that required the sticky task of cutting them up. If you have minis it will be much easier.

Rocky Road Maple Bars adapted from Chocolate Peanut Maple Bars

2 12-ounce packages vegan chocolate chips
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1.75 cups no-salt, dry-roasted peanuts
3 TBS dry vegan vanilla pudding mix
1 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
3.5 cups organic powdered sugar
1 tsp maple flavoring
8 large vegan marshmallows

Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a pot set on medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Take the pot off of the heat and stir in peanuts. In a 9 x 13” parchment-lined pan, spread half the chocolate mixture. Place the pan in the refrigerator to cool and set.

In a pot over medium-low heat, combine pudding mix and margarine. When melted together, lower heat slightly and stir in milk. Bring to a boil and let boil for 1 minute. Transfer pudding mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in powdered sugar and maple flavoring, and whip until smooth.

Remove pan from refrigerator and spread pudding mixture onto cooled chocolate layer. Place pot with remaining chocolate mixture over low heat. Cut each marshmallow into six pieces and stir into warmed chocolate mixture. Spread rocky road mixture evenly over pudding mixture. Chill in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Remove bars from pan with parchment paper flaps, place on a cutting board, and cut into squares.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Holiday Sugar Cookies

holiday sugar cookies

holiday sugar cookies

For someone who doesn’t have the patience for making roll-out cookies, I have been creating quite a few of them lately. Perhaps it’s my new fascination with shapes that cut cookies, from adorable cookie cutters to water glasses. Or maybe it’s just the season. Whatever the reason, I was excited to enter the #DecemberBakingChallenge at Handle the Heat and come up with a recipe that added a few of my tweaks.

For making vegan cookies, I used vegan buttery sticks for the butter and chose organic sugar. My egg substitute was non-dairy milk with white vinegar added. For the dryness at high altitude I added extra milk to this egg substitute. I draw the line at spending hours to decorate cookies, so if you feel the same way then use any decorations you can find. For me it was frosting and sparkling sugar and sprinkles, oh my!

Holiday Sugar Cookies adapted from Easy Cut Out Sugar Cookies with Icing
5 TBS non-dairy milk, at room temperature
1 tsp white vinegar
3 sticks Earth Balance buttery sticks, at cool room temperature
1 1/2 cups organic sugar
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
icing, food coloring, etc., as desired
Combine non-dairy milk and white vinegar. Let sit for 15 minutes to curdle. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat buttery sticks and sugar on medium-high speed until well-combined and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add vinegar-milk and vanilla and beat until combined. On low speed, slowly add in flour and baking powder and beat until incorporated. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Place one dough portion between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out to 1/4” thickness. Repeat with remaining dough. Place sheets of dough, with their parchment paper, on a baking sheet and chill for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line large baking sheets with fresh parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Remove dough from fridge and cut into shapes, re-rolling any scraps and cutting more shapes. Transfer shapes to prepared baking sheets. If dough is too warm, freeze for 15 minutes or until firmed again. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are set and begin to brown. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. When fully cooled, decorate with icing, chocolate chips, colored sparkling sugar, or anything you like.

Until next time, happy baking!

Gingerbread Cookies with Chocolate – Two Ways

gingerbread cookies with chocolate

gingerbread cookies with chocolate

It was time to choose a cookie to bake for Santa, so I asked my husband what he thought about gingerbread cookies. His reply: “They’re okay, if you can add chocolate to them.” So, my spin on the classic holiday cookie was born. And because I couldn’t decide, I added chocolate to part of the batch before they were baked and some cookies were sandwiched in chocolate after they cooled. They are delicious both ways.

Cookies require only a little adaptation for altitude. I added small amounts of flour and non-dairy milk and used less baking soda. For my taste buds I reduced the cinnamon so the spices wouldn’t overpower the chocolate. These cookies are about the gingerbread, but they are very much about the chocolate. Happy Holidays!

Gingerbread Cookies with Chocolate – Two Ways adapted from Food52
2.75 cups all purpose flour (plus extra for rolling)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup + 1 TBS almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Vegan chocolate chips
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together molasses, oil, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until uniform. If adding chocolate chips to dough, do so now. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to overnight.
To bake, preheat oven to 350F. Dust a clean surface with flour. Roll dough out to a scant 1/4” thick. Cut into shapes, with some cookies having centers cut out if making sandwiches. Bake cookies for 12 minutes or, for cookies with chocolate chips, bake for 16 minutes. Let cool. For sandwich cookies, melt chocolate chips over a double boiler. Pair up cookies so each sandwich has a bottom cookie, without the center cut out, and a top cookie with a cutout. Take bottom cookie and flip it upside down so the flat side is facing up. Spoon melted chocolate into center of cookie and place match on top. Allow to cool. Repeat until all cookies have been sandwiched.

Until next time, happy baking!

Raw Red, White and Blue Cheesecake

Raw Red, White and Blue Cheesecake

Raw Red, White and Blue Cheesecake

Lately it has been too hot to turn on the oven, but I had to make something patriotic for this week’s American Independence Day. My search came up with a no cook cheesecake with wonderful ripe summer fruit. It sounded like a perfect way to celebrate without heating up the kitchen or myself.

The recipe was already vegan, so that box was checked off. No bake meant no high altitude changes. So, to put my spin on the recipe, I made it a bit healthier by replacing white sugar with dates and agave syrup. I also made it multi-layer and added blueberries for the blue. I know they can look more purple than blue when blended, so I kept the blue holiday theme by arranging blueberries on top in the shape of a star.

Raw Red, White and Blue Cheesecake adapted from Raspberry Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake
2 cups plain, non-dairy yogurt
7 large dates
1.75 cups walnuts
1/4 cup agave syrup
1.5 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup + 10 fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, with extras for garnish
Place yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl. Let drain in fridge for 10 hours or overnight. Discard the strained liquid. Pour boiling water over dates and soak for 10 minutes. Drain and remove pits. Place dates in a food processor with walnuts. Mix until they come together in a sticky ball. Press this mixture into the bottom of an 8” springform pan. Place in refrigerator. In a bowl, stir together strained yogurt, agave, lemon juice and vanilla. Divide yogurt mixture into 3 equal portions and put each portion in its own bowl. Crush 1/2 cup of raspberries and stir into one of the bowls. Leave one bowl as is. Take the final bowl and put its contents in a blender. Blend with 1/2 cup of blueberries.
Slice the 10 raspberries. Remove crust from refrigerator and spoon in raspberry yogurt mixture. Scatter sliced raspberries over the top. Place cake in freezer for 10 minutes to help to keep the layers from blending together. Spoon in the plain layer. Place cake in freezer for 10 minutes. On the top, spoon in blueberry layer. Place remaining blueberries on top of cheesecake in a star pattern. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Until next time, happy non-baking!