Apricot Nut Bars

Apricot Nut Bars

Apricot Nut Bars

Today’s recipe had quite the evolution. The initial idea was to make a no-bake bar, but then my hubby said the creation needed more chocolate. My mind wandered to chocolate bark as a topping, with a nod to Mediterranean flavors. What started out as a recipe with few ingredients morphed into a multi-step concoction. When I explained what I was about to construct, hubby’s response was that it didn’t sound simple. I said no-bake, I didn’t say simple …

The experiment began with a raw bar recipe. The changes I made were just from my imagination. I reduced the amount of tahini because the original crust was too oily. I added more chocolate to keep hubby happy. The additional ingredients borrowed loosely from baklava while adding a cardamom syrup for depth. The result was a delicious burst of flavor.

Apricot Nut Bars based on No-Bake Cashew Tahini Bars

1.5 cups raw cashews
1 cup soft, pitted dates, tightly packed
1/3 cup tahini
4.5 ounces vegan dark chocolate, divided
1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
2 TBS Cardamom Syrup (recipe to follow)

Line an 8” square baking pan with 2 overlapping strips of parchment paper and set aside. Add cashews to a food processor and pulse until mostly broken down. Add dates and tahini and mix until it just comes together. With your hands, press the dough into the prepared pan and smooth it out.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate until smooth and creamy. Use a spatula to spread most of the chocolate over the bars. Sprinkle the apricots over the bars, then add the pistachios on top. Drizzle first the cardamom syrup and then the remaining chocolate over the top of the bars. Place in freezer for an hour. Lift out of the pan by the parchment sling, place on a cutting board, and cut into squares.

cardamom seeds for syrup

cardamom seeds for the syrup

Cardamom Syrup adapted from Spiced Simple Syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously until sugar dissolves. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir in cardamom seeds. Allow to simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Store leftovers in a covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. You will have extra — I use mine to sweeten tea.

Happy non-baking!

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Vegan No Bake Mini Blackberry Cheesecakes

no bake mini cheesecakes

no bake mini cheesecakes

The motivation for this post was the August Baking Challenge by Tessa of Handle the Heat. Tessa presented a recipe for bakers to make and share. It wasn’t vegan but that was simple enough to change. And, because there was no baking involved, high altitude adjustments were not necessary.

The vegan substitutions I made were to use vegan margarine in place of unsalted butter, vegan cream cheese for the cream cheese, and soy creamer instead of heavy cream. Another alteration I made was to put the cheesecakes in jars. Vegan dairy substitutes are often runnier than their dairy counterparts and make goopy cheesecake. I created a few in small mason jars where all they would require the eater to have was a spoon. The rest ended up in shot glasses for a fun party treat.

Vegan No Bake Mini Blackberry Cheesecakes adapted from Handle the Heat
For the crust:
1 sleeve (9 crackers) graham crackers (gluten-free, if desired)
4 TBS vegan margarine, melted
For the cheesecake:
12 ounces vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegan sugar
3/4 cup soy creamer
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup seedless blackberry preserves
For the topping:
1 cup blackberries
1 TBS vegan sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
Blackberries, for garnish
For the crust: Place graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add in melted margarine and pulse until moistened. Divide mixture among jars or glasses. Firmly press into the bottom of each cavity.
For the cheesecake: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until creamy and well combined. Add in creamer, lemon juice, and preserves and continue beating for 2 to 3 minutes, until well combined and thickened. Pour mixture over crusts and cover with plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
For the topping: Combine berries, sugar, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until pureed. Top each cheesecake with a dollop of sauce. Garnish with whole fresh blackberries.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Superfood Earth Day Pudding

Earth Day pudding

Earth Day pudding

Earth Day is a fun day – not only do you get to honor the earth, but you can do so with whimsy. I combined cute ideas from a few blogs to come up with my celebration dessert. It wasn’t baked but it was filled with superfoods (cacao and hemp are superfoods) so I honored myself as well.

Because the already vegan dessert wasn’t baked it had no required changes. The alterations I made were to add baking extracts and more cacao to deepen the pudding flavor. Also, the pudding recipe called for cocoa powder but I used raw cacao powder instead to up the nutritional value. I grabbed ideas from a few websites to make my version of a dessert worthy of Earth Day.

Superfood Earth Day Pudding adapted from lovemefeedme.net and godairyfree.org
For the pudding:
1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 ripe medium banana
4-5 TBS maple syrup, to taste
1/2 tsp coffee extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 2 TBS Navitas Naturals raw cacao powder
2 TBS arrowroot
For the dirt topping:
2 TBS Navitas Naturals raw hulled hemp seeds
1 TBS Navitas Naturals raw cacao powder
1 TBS Navitas Naturals sweet cacao nibs
Put almond milk, banana, maple syrup, extracts, and cocoa powder in a blender and blend until smooth. Put 1/4 cup of the mixture aside and pour the remainder into a small pot. Heat over medium heat until it begins to boil. Whisk arrowroot into mixture you set aside. Slowly pour this mixture into the pot on the stove and whisk it in. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into 3 or 4 small containers. Let cool for 15 minutes before placing in fridge to cool completely.
While the pudding cools, mix topping ingredients together. Once pudding has cooled, top with a generous sprinkle of dirt topping. You can add an herb sprig or edible flower to your creation. Note: If using a flower pot with a drainage hole in the bottom, line it with foil prior to adding the pudding.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

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!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pi Day Pie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pi Day Pie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pi Day Pie

Pi Day, celebrated on March 14th (3/14), is upon us. And, because I like math and puns, I am making Pie. If you read my Pi Day post last year, you know that I’m not a fan of traditional pie crust. So, I searched for a different type of pie recipe. The one I found sounded too good to pass up because it highlighted peanut butter and chocolate.

This unbaked pie didn’t need any high altitude tricks, and it was vegan so it didn’t require any of those conversions. My additional of milk did make it easier to blend and pour into the pie shell. I may have taken the easy route, but, c’mon – chocolate and peanut butter … in a pie. So here is a simple, albeit time-consuming in the fridge, pie recipe to help you celebrate Pi Day.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pi Day Pie based on Velvety Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
for the Crust
10 graham cracker sheets
5 TBS melted coconut oil
for the Filling
2 cups vegan chocolate chips
1.25 cups smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup almond milk
12 oz silken tofu
banana slices for decoration
Pulse graham crackers in a food processor until they are completely ground up. In a bowl, combine ground graham crackers with melted coconut oil and stir well. Pour mixture into an 8” pie pan and firmly press the crust onto the bottom and sides of pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips in a double boiler. Combine melted chocolate, peanut butter, milk, and tofu in the bowl of a stand mixer and blend until smooth. Pour filling into crust and decorate with banana slices. Chill for 4 hours before serving.

Until next time, happy un-baking!

Peppermint Fudge Cookie Bites

peppermint fudge cookie bite

peppermint fudge cookie bite

What do you get when you combine peppermint fudge and chocolate cookies? These delicious bites. They are a rich fudge spread over a cookie crumb shell to make them a decadent and elegant treat. And there is no baking involved. Decadent and easy – no need to say more.

The recipe I adapted these from was already non-dairy so I didn’t need to make those types of changes. No baking meant it didn’t need high altitude adjustments. The changes I made were to help them stick together for easier eating and presentation. I added coconut oil to the cookie shell for stability, and I added more milk to the fudge for pourability. Also, I made them in paper cups and in a muffin tin. They both worked out, but I find the paper cup is more festive and easier to hold if you are sharing them with others. If you’re not sharing, then you can just mash them up and eat them. I don’t judge.

Peppermint Fudge Cookie Bites based on Chocolate Mint Fudge Tartlets
1 TBS + ½ cup vegan chocolate chips, divided
4.5 ounces gluten-free crunchy chocolate cookies, processed into fine crumbs
1 TBS coconut oil, melted
¼ cup + ½ tsp almond milk
¼ tsp peppermint extract
Melt 1 TBS chocolate chips over a double boiler. Put cookies crumbs in a bowl with melted coconut oil, then add the melted chocolate. Stir until thoroughly combined and mixture resembles wet sand. Divide cookie crumb mixture between 12 lined mini muffin cups. Drop a spoonful of crumb mixture into each cup and press into bottoms and lightly up the sides.
Melt remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Turn heat off but leave the bowl of melted chocolate over the hot water. Whisk milk and peppermint extract into the bowl. Pour chocolate-mint filling into cookie crusts. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes. May be stored in a covered container in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Raspberry Chocolate Amy’s Cake

raspberry chocolate cake amysEvery once in a while I don’t really feel like baking. I want a decadent dessert that has my personal touch without my actually taking the effort to bake. So, what do I do? Semi-homemade to the rescue!

I don’t normally endorse any particular brands, but Amy’s Kitchen makes a frozen Chocolate Cake that is vegan (and gluten free). With a few ingredients that I usually have on hand, I can transform the cake into a Decadent Vegan Baker original without any high altitude fuss. I have brought this creation to parties and fooled everyone into thinking that I slaved all day in the kitchen.

Raspberry Chocolate Amy’s Cake
1 Amy’s Organic Chocolate Cake, defrosted
2 TBS seedless raspberry jam
3 oz dark chocolate
8-10 fresh raspberries
Take the defrosted cake out of the packaging and slice in half horizontally. Spread jam over the bottom half of the cake and top with the top half, like a jelly sandwich. Melt chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler. Pour the melted chocolate over the cake sandwich. Top with fresh raspberries.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Stovetop S’mores Sandwiches

stovetop s'mores sandwiches

stovetop s’mores sandwiches

Now that summer has started, the warm weather begs me not to turn on the oven. But, you ask, isn’t this is a baking blog? True, but the heat sometimes wins out. So I’ve decided that occasionally I will post a no-bake recipe instead of a baking tip. That means more goodies to taste and explore.

With the outdoor holiday coming up, I have seen a plethora of s’mores recipes across the internet. There were bits and pieces I liked from a few tasty treats, so today’s recipe is an adaption of a handful of them. There was no high altitude finesse needed, but at least this no-bake vegan recipe falls under the category of decadent. I dare you to eat a whole one.

Stovetop S’mores Sandwiches
12 graham crackers (choose gluten-free if desired)
4 oz dark chocolate squares
3 TBS vegan margarine (choose soy free if desired)
10 oz vegan marshmallows
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
Place waxed paper on a tray. Place six graham crackers in the tray. Top graham crackers with chocolate squares. Melt vegan margarine in a large pot on medium-low. Add marshmallows and stir constantly until melted. Stir in vanilla extract. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips. Working quickly, pour chocolate-marshmallow mixture over graham crackers in tray. Place six graham crackers on top of crackers in tray. Lightly press top crackers into the gooey mess to make sandwiches. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Separate sandwiches with a knife if necessary. Store in refrigerator.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Nanaimo Bites

nanaimo bitesWhile exploring gluten-free recipes, I came across Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook. The listing of gluten-free grains sounded mysterious and exciting. I especially liked the idea of cooking with amaranth because years ago I enjoyed a cereal with that grain in flaked form. The book mentioned popping amaranth like popcorn, and I was hooked.

There were many tasty sounding recipes, but the one that caught my eye was a take on the Canadian Nanaimo bar. It had chocolate; it had almond butter; it had popped amaranth. But what it didn’t have was the need to turn on an oven. Therefore, technically, the recipe was not baked. I mulled over whether or not it fell within the realm of this blog. Then I decided I was trying a gluten-free treat so I deserved to stretch the rules.

So, this has no high altitude changes because it’s not a baked treat. It is also based on a recipe that is vegan so there are no necessary substitutions. I made a couple of minor tweaks based on my tastes leaving the recipe with few changes. But it was fun and it is decadent. And my gluten-free friends can eat it.

Nanaimo Bites adapted from Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook
Bottom Layer
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups popped amaranth (see instructions below)
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Middle Layer
1 cup almond butter
1/4 cup almond milk
1 TBS coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Top Layer
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tsp coconut oil
Pop amaranth by heating a large dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 TBS amaranth and vigorously shake pan for 12-18 seconds or until seeds have popped (they should begin to pop within 1 to 2 seconds after being added to pan); watch closely, as the amaranth will burn quickly once it has finished popping. Immediately transfer popped seeds to a medium bowl to cool. Continue popping until desired amount is reached.
Prepare an 8×8” baking pan by lining it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang.
Bottom Layer: In a medium saucepan, melt coconut oil over low heat. Whisk in cocoa powder and maple syrup until blended and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. Stir in popped amaranth and chopped nuts until well coated. Press firmly into prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.
Middle Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt together almond butter, almond milk, coconut oil, and vanilla. Stir until smooth and spreadable. Spread over chilled bottom layer. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm.
Top Layer: In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil, stirring until melted and smooth. Spread over chilled middle layer. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes, or until chocolate is set.
Using parchment paper overhang, lift from pan and cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Until next time, happy baking?