Tag Archives: baking

Chocolate Orange Sables

29 Jan

Ever since I abandoned my Google Reader and its hundreds of bloggy contents, there are a few of my past daily reads that have fallen by the wayside. One of them was Smitten Kitchen for some reason, even though I adore her content and writing style. This weekend, I reignited my regular reading of the site and made not just the pumpernickel bread but — gasp — cookies!

CookiesDeb posted her recipe for Intensely Chocolate Sables on Friday, and as soon as I saw the post on Saturday, I knew I had to make them. Looking through my kitchen stuff drawer, I found only two cookie cutters: the heart above (which is really large) and a plastic novelty cutter of the leg lamp from A Christmas Story. The latter did not work at all for this dough, hence you will not see any in that absurd shape. Instead, I used a tiny tea/sake cup I rarely pull out of the cupboard.

Little cookieAnyway, to make these cookies vegan, I made the following alterations:

  • Used regular cocoa instead of Dutch processed, since that’s what I had
  • Used unsweetened baking chocolate instead of bittersweet and went with the full 2/3 cup of sugar to compensate
  • Subbed Earth Balance for regular butter
  • Instead of the egg yolk and vanilla, I used 1.5 tablespoons of fresh cara cara orange juice

I followed all of the original directions and was very, very pleased with the result. The orange flavor isn’t terribly pronounced, but it adds a little subtlety. I think adding a teaspoon of zest would be good if you want to intensify it. In all, I made out 32 cookies — four large hearts and 28 little rounds — and baked each pan for 10 minutes. I also found it necessary to re-roll and re-refrigerate twice, since the presence of baking chocolate quickly softens at room temperature/exposure to your hands.

HeartThese cookies are delicate and rich at the same time. They are very easy to prepare if you have an electric mixer, and even though I typically shy away from any baked good that needs to be rolled out, the flavor and light crispness were well worth the effort.

What’s your favorite cookie flavor combination? I love chocolate and orange, but cinnamon and pumpkin is pretty great, too.


Mendocino and Babycakes

15 Feb

I have been obsessed with Mendocino Farms lately, and I must blame Lynn for it. And thank her heartily.

Here’s the menu. So far, I have tried the: Tempeh Bacon Melt (excellent), Vegan Spicy Soyrizo & Black Bean Wrap (very good), Traditional Vegan Club (my fave, below)

Vegan Picnic Sandwich (my second fave), and the Caprese (with veggies added, below).

There are only two meat-free options left that I haven’t tried, and the only one that doesn’t appeal to me is the Drunk’n Goat on Highway 128. I’m not really into chutneys on a sandwich, but I’m sure my perfectionist nature will win out eventually. I recommend anything from Mendocino that involves their tempeh bacon. I’m borderline obsessed with it. It is smoky and delicious without trying to hard to taste like dead pig.

I really need to do a full Mendocino review, but I will have to wait until I manage to photograph their delicious side dishes. Somehow they almost always disappear before I remember to whip out my picture-taking device . . .

Also on the menu this weekend were some vegan treats from Babycakes.

That’s a maple doughnut and a Wonder Bun (gluten-free and like a denser cinnamon roll). Both were incredible! We polished them off for breakfast Saturday morning.

All hail the “Eat Me” plate.

What is your favorite breakfast pastry? I’m a cinnamon fiend, so a big, doughy roll is my fave.


31 Jan

Sorry, I couldn’t resist a pun (on a pun, actually).

It took months before it was my turn in the library queue, but I finally got my hands on a copy of Mama Pea‘s Peas and Thank You! I decided to tackle two of the recipes this week as a test drive. Behold breakfast:

Tea and a muffin. Before I get into the Pea biz, let’s talk about the tea. I made a quick Whole Foods run Sunday — my first since I moved to LA, believe it or not — and discovered that they had this delicious delight:

Celestial Seasonings‘ Nutcracker Sweet: “an irresistibly simple blend of fine black teas made more festive with creamy, nutty vanilla and just a pinch of cinnamon.” I was so excited to find this stuff!

Anyway, back to the food:

This little guy is a Blueberry Muffin with Streusel Topping from the aforementioned cookbook. It’s so cute and delicious!

As you can see, I didn’t go quite heavy enough on the streusel in an attempt to reduce the sugar and fat. If you do the same thing, I definitely recommend adding cinnamon to the batter. You can view the original recipe here, and below are the tweaks I made:

  • I used white whole wheat flour instead of whole wheat pastry. I don’t really know what the difference is, to be honest.
  • I subbed frozen bloobs for the fresh, and as a result followed the book’s instruction to add them to the muffin tin itself.
  • As I mentioned, I made about 1/3 less of the streusel topping than the recipe called for. Don’t do that. I also used turbinado for all the sugar in the recipe and canola oil instead of Earth Balance. These choices were totally fine.

I absolutely love these muffins! They are filling, considering how small they are, and have the perfect level of sweetness. I’m excited to work my way through the batch this week.

My second reci-pea is the Spicy African Peanut Stew:

The original recipe is here, and my changes are below:

  • I used freshly cooked chickpeas instead of canned. I swear I’ll never go back.
  • I used 1 rounded teaspoon ground ginger instead of 1 tablespoon of fresh.
  • I minced two massive garlic cloves and did not measure them.
  • I omitted the sweetener because I forgot about it.
  • Instead of 1 can light coconut milk (the store was out), I used half a can of full-fat and made up the difference with almond milk.

This stew is incredibly rich and delicious and full of fiber and protein. Plus, it was a great excuse to use my slow-cooker, which I love. I even used the general spice mix to make curry for Mr. X. Hopefully I can coerce him into sharing a picture this week.

Have you tried anything from this awesome cookbook? If so, what’s your favorite recipe? If not, what’s your go-to cookbook?

Spin on a classic

4 Jan

I have two go-to cookie recipes when I want to please a crowd or just my belly and am not feeling creative. One is the Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodle recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar that I know you’ve seen here before. The other is the Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies from the Joy of Vegan Baking. Both are simple but spectacular.

When I woke up on Christmas Eve, I dove right into wrapping gifts because, well, I’d done none so far. When all was done, it was 12:15, and I needed to shower and get ready for my first family gathering across town at 2:00. Except that I realized I hadn’t made a single food item for the celebration. Not only that, but the thought hadn’t crossed my mind until that second. I was desperate for a moment, and after being reassured by my mother and my taller half that I didn’t need to bring anything, I ignored them both — and the clock — and decided to make cookies, the Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies, to be exact.

Of course, I couldn’t just make cookies. I needed to make everything more complicated. Since the recipe makes about a dozen cookies, I realized I could take half to my dad’s house in the evening if only they were gluten-free. And didn’t I have a bag of Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour in the freezer? I know you know where this is going. Yes, I had my first baking experience with gluten-free flour at that moment. The result…

I came home empty-handed. Woo hoo!

Because I was scrambling, I didn’t get a good photo, but you can see them sitting comfortably with the Brussels sprouts and the steamed squash here:

The recipe is a copy of the original except that I subbed in the gluten-free flour for the all-purpose white flour. The texture and flavor were both slightly different — a little heartier, maybe — but the biggest chance was that these actually spread. Vegan cookies often do not.

The next yen I get, you may see my beloved snickerdoodles shackin’ up with Bob.

New Year’s Eats

2 Jan

I spent the rest of my initiation into 2011 either baking, bathing, watching a movie, or in a two-bit ditch effort to welcome good luck into my life. I’m not superstitious, but I will always welcome an excuse to eat delicious food.

We decided to have lunch at Genghis Grill, because 1. I knew it would be open, 2. Spicy food sounded good on that cold day, and 3. Noodles are the traditional New Year’s food in some Asian countries. Off we went. My bowl:

It contains udon noodles, squash, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, bok choy, snap peas, tofu, potato, cilantro, and garlic, with a mix of the roasted tomato, dragon, and red curry peanut sauces. I topped with sesame seeds and sriracha (the latter not pictured).

His bowl:

I think it was just carrots, broccoli, and tomatoes on brown rice with sweet n sour, ginger citrus, and dragon sauce. He topped his with lots of peanuts and sesame seeds.

I was feeling stressed yesterday, so I did what I do best: bake. I wasn’t in the mood for another batch of cookies. I contemplated banana bread but nixed it. I realized I was craving a cinnamon quick bread, so I did some research, and ended up with this loaf:

Brigid’s Blues-Beating Cinnamon Bread

(adapted from Natural Papa)

  • 1 tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer
  • 4 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cup natural, unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 water

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray and lightly oil a regular-sized loaf pan, set aside.

Either with a fork, a mixer or in the blender, whip the egg replacer with the warm water until it’s eggy. Set aside. I generally use a hand mixer, but I didn’t feel like the extra clean up, so a fork sufficed.

Pulse the oats in a blender or food processor for about three seconds until they break up slightly. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, soda, powder, salt, cinnamon, and oats, mixing. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a knife, toothpick, fork, whatever inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for about a minute, then remove the whole loaf to cool on a rack.

Slice and eat.

The bread is fairly hearty and very cinnamon-y. The original recipe said to use half the amount of spice, but I wanted very flavorful bread. The source also included raisins, but I think you know me better than to expect those nasty little buggers to show up in my cooking. The other big change I made was using old-fashioned oatmeal in place of quick oats. I didn’t have any of the latter, so I found quickly processing the regular kind made up for the cooking-time difference.

But back to the bread in a moment. For dinner, I reheated some of the black-eyed peas I made the day before.

For those not from the more redneck part of the country, black-eyed peas are supposed to bring lunch when consumed on the first day of the newest of years. I grew up hating the little things but have since realized I just don’t have a taste for the typical southern preparation style. Instead, I prefer this more herbaceous method. I suppose you’d like that recipe, too, eh? Fine.

Black-Eyed Peas with Herbs

(adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian)

  • 1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (or to your preferences)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced*
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano*
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme*
  • 2 teaspoons paprika*
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Soak the black-eyed peas in a large bowl covered with about five inches of water. Leave them overnight or start them in the morning if you plan to cook in the evening. Drain them when you’re ready to cook.

Bring the peas and 4 1/2 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Cover, then reduce the heat to low, simmering gently for 30 to 40 minutes, or until they are tender. Check them periodically. When fully cooked, set aside without draining the liquid.

In a very large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the crushed red pepper and the garlic, stir quickly for a moment, then add the peas in their cooking liquid and all the other ingredients. Stir, bring to a simmer, and then cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

(*All of these ingredients were doubled from the original recipe. If you like a normal amount of garlic and herbs, reduce them by half.)

I almost forgot to photograph these since I was quite hungry. As you can see, we both sopped up the juice with a little Stirato from Farrell Family Bread. We both topped ours off with black pepper and a little hot sauce, too.

Then we enjoyed our cinnamon bread with hot tea:

I ate at least one more piece. Maybe two more, but I admit nothing. I really like this bread and already have a variation in mind. Look for that eventually … when my life is less consumed by theatrics.

How did you eat your New Year’s Day away?

Gingerbread Pudding

27 Nov

I was a miserable failure at posting baked goods yesterday, but the truth is that I was just tired. I was too tired to bake and too exhausted to post anything other than my restaurant review. I didn’t bake today either, but I did whip up a double batch of Chocolate Gingerbread on Wednesday for my taller half’s family Thanksgiving. Four pieces remain, so I guess it was a hit. I used a slight modification on the original. In addition to doubling all the ingredients, I also:

  • Baked it in a 9×13″ pan instead of two 8x8s.
  • Added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
  • Used about 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips.
  • Used 1/2 cup of maple syrup and 1/2 cup of black-strap molasses.
  • Substituted white sugar for the brown because of the molasses.

My taller half liked this batch better. I think the flavor was about equal to the first (different, but not improved), but they are moister and more brownie-like, which is nice.

I would like to state once again that I do not believe in leftover dessert. There is only dessert that has yet to be eaten. However, sometimes it’s fun to play dress-up with what remains a few days later. I was curious to turn a square into Gingerbread Pudding with the addition of a butter sauce. Enter this unbelievably easy recipe:

Quickie Vegan Butter Sauce

  • 1/2 tablespoon Earth Balance
  • 1 tablespoon homemade almond milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegan sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put it all in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Yes, that’s really it.

To make Gingerbread Pudding, add a slice of Chocolate Gingerbread into the bowl and spoon the sauce on top. Put it back in the microwave for 15 seconds. Eat and rejoice.

The sauce was incredible! The last thing I needed to do was figure out how to make my Chocolate Gingerbread full of more fat, sugar, and calories, but I did it anyway. I plan to eat the rest of the leftovers in a similar manner.

I hope everyone’s having as delightful a weekend as I am!

Chocolate Gingerbread

19 Nov

I couldn’t decide what to whip up for my Friday baking, so I began looking through some cookbooks and comparing ingredients with what I had in the apartment. I ultimately decided to modify the Ginger-Spice Brownies from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. The results were a little cake-like for me to call them brownies. Instead, this recipe felt more like gingerbread to me with chocolate thrown in for good measure. Here’s what I did.

Chocolate Gingerbread

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray an 8×8″ baking pan and set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, allspice, and cocoa.

Stir in the chocolate chips and set aside.

In a medium owl, stir together oil, maple syrup, water, sugar, and fresh ginger. Add the wet to the dry and combine thoroughly.Pour the batter into the baking dish, spreading with the back of a large spoon to make it even. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Let cool completely, then cut into pieces.

Each of my contest winners received a few as well as some tea and more Justin’s Nut Butter. The original recipe includes some cinnamon, but I omitted it because a certain someone crazy delightful doesn’t like the stuff. I don’t get it either, but I don’t judge too much. It also called for regular sugar instead of brown, 1/2 cup of walnuts (which I left out entirely), and molasses instead of the maple syrup. I think my version is absolutely delicious and didn’t miss any of those ingredients. I saved a couple of small squares for myself. I ate one on its own but felt compelled to do something schmancy with the other one, so I made a Chocolate Gingerbread Shake based on my Pumpkin Cookie Shake recipe:


And now I’m off to lay on the couch. My craphead dog tripped me earlier and caused me to aggravate my bad ankle. Hopefully this doesn’t ruin all my weekend plans.