Tag Archives: vegan

Vegan Baking Experiments

24 Oct

I made a lot of goodies today!

And guess what?  They’re all vegan!  I have a vegan friend and have kind of challenged myself to make some delicious baked goods for him.  And then I made more fauxrabars for myself.

Vegan baking is not nearly as hard as you might think.  It’s mostly about replacing:

1)      butter—with oil, or coconut oil (or shortening) if you need a solid fat

2)      milk—almond or soy milk works in almost any recipe

3)      eggs—I’ve seen vegan egg replacers, but it seems like applesauce, pumpkin puree, and bananas can generally be substituted…though I’m no expert on that.

I accidentally made vegan pumpkin cookies when I left the eggs out of my whoopie pies.  So I made another batch of those (knowing how great they were).

Then I made Sunbutter cookies!  The boyfriend doesn’t like peanut butter desserts, but he does like chocolate covered sunflower seeds, so I figured I’d tackle sunflower seed butter cookies, but vegan, just because.

They taste pretty good, and I like the texture too (soft and cakey)…one of the great things about vegan cookie dough is that there’s no raw eggs, so you can taste the batter as you go.

They need some tweaking though because…these cookies are not pretty.  I figured the ugly color was from the drab color of the sunbutter.  Then I cracked one open…

It’s green.  Like…really green.  Spinach green.  ‘Omg is this going to kill me if I eat it? Green’ (that’d be a great crayon name, right?).

A brief search on the interwebs told me that no, it won’t kill you.  The green is from chlorogenic acid…which all plants have in the stems and leaves, and is also in the seeds of sunflowers. They’re totally safe, and taste normal.  The color is still off-putting though.  Could be fun for St. Patrick’s Day…

Anyway, here’s the recipe I used (substituting pumpkin for applesauce, and obviously sunbutter for peanut butter)…I’m pretty sure it would be great (and less strangely colored) with peanut butter.

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Moving on…fauxrabars!  I’ve devoted two posts to my other fauxrabar flavors, so I’ll keep this quick (the method is the same as before).

Another use for your leftover sunbutter and sunflower seeds…one that does not require baking…Sunbutter Cookie Dough Fauxrabars! (Adapted from ChocolateCoveredKatie).  If you dig sunflower seeds and/or sunflower seed butter, this one is great!

1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp raisins
1/8-1/4 tsp salt (to taste)
2 tbsp sunflower seeds (mine were raw, but roasted and salted would be good too)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients well in a food processor until well combined and uniform in texture.  This dough should stick together very well.  Pour dough out onto saran wrap, and form into three bars.  Wrap tightly with saran wrap, and store in the fridge or at room temperature.  Will keep for at least a week (probably more).

I also made some Cashew Cookie Dough Fauxrabars…they kind of do taste like cookie dough.  I think everyone that makes ‘fauxrabars’ has a version of this recipe, but here’s mine:

½ cup cashews (mine were roasted and salted)
1/3 cup raisins
1/8 – ¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 T chocolate chips (optional, I used white chocolate)

Blend all ingredients well in a food processor until well combined and uniform in texture.  If your mixture is dry and does not stick together well, add a few drops of water, pulse and repeat until sticky.  Pour dough out onto saran wrap, and form into three bars.  Wrap tightly with saran wrap, and store in the fridge or at room temperature.  Will keep for at least a week (probably more).

Whew.  After that marathon post you might think I was heading to the dark side…and turning to veganism.  You’d be mistaken.  I ate some bacon for breakfast.  And then I made apple pie.  With extra butter.

P.S. If you clicked on any of the links on this post, they take you to Chocolate Covered Katie’s healthy dessert blog.  Who doesn’t love healthy desserts?  But I really love her site because she makes special diet baking seem not so scary.  Overall, there’s no weird ingredients you’ve never heard of, and lots of suggestions for substitutions =]

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

22 Oct

I have a great dinner to share with you.  Remember when I made thai turkey burgers and said they reminded me of meatballs I ate as a kid?  I made those meatballs, and they were excellent!  I didn’t feel like wading through the pictures though.  Instead, how about some delicious whoopie pies?

I made whoopie pies once before.  They were chocolate cookies with homemade marshmallow fluff squeezed in the middle.  Both components were delicious…marshmallow fluff is actually incredibly easy to make with a candy thermometer and a stand mixer (or a third arm).  Otherwise it’s tricky, but much better than store bought.  As for chocolate cookies?  Oh boy, I have the best chocolate cookies to share with you later.

But back to the whoopie pies.  The chocolate cookies were dense and heavy, and the marshmallow fluff was soft and runny.  It was a mess.  So here’s what you need to consider when making any variety of whoopie pie:  soft, cake like cookies, and a firm filling.  It’s that easy.

And here are some that fit the bill.

Fluffy, cake-like cookies, with the fresh taste of pumpkin an intense pumpkin spice blend.  Not overly sweet, and perfectly paired with a thick, creamy, sweet maple cream cheese filling.  The perfect little fall bites.  And totally quick and easy to make.

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Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and seasonings in a medium sized bowl.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the sugar and oil, then vanilla extract and pumpkin puree.  And an egg…which I don’t remember adding.  Oh well.

Add your flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture in three increments (I used the mixer to beat in the first third, then a spoon to mix in the rest).  Stop once the flour is just mixed in.  Don’t overmix!

1-2 tablespoons of batter per cookie, placed an inch or so apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until they look like cooked little cakes and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cookie comes out clean.

Then it’s just a matter of letting these cool completely, making a quick cream cheese filling, and assembling your pies.

Cute, festive, and delicious.  What more could you want?

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

For the Whoopie Pies:
Makes ~24 small cakes; 12 pies

1 ½  cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch cloves
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup canola or vegetable oil
1 ½ cups canned pumpkin, ideally chilled
1 egg*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Maple-Cream Cheese Filling:
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 ounces (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ – ½ tsp maple extract (optional)
Pinch of salt

*I made half of this recipe, and definitely did not add egg.  My cakes were fantastic!  Without the egg, they’re also vegan!  (The filling’s not though)

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, baking powder, bading soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.  Set aside.
  • In a separate, large bowl, beat together the oil and sugars, then beat in the pumpkin, vanilla, and egg
  • Pour the dry ingredients into the wet.  Do this in three increments.  Use the electric mixer to beat in the first third of the flour mixture, then stir in the next third, and then the last third until just combined (do not overmix!)
  • Use a tablespoon measure to scoop out cookies, placing each an inch or so apart on the baking sheet.
  • Bake 10-15 minutes until the cookies look like a baked cake on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before filling.
  • To make filling: beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Then beat in the maple syrup and extracts.  Finally, beat in the powdered sugar and salt.  Start on low speed, then increase to high when the sugar is incorporated enough to not fly all over your kitchen.  Beat on high speed for a few minutes until nice and fluffy.  Be sure to taste…you can add more maple, powdered sugar and salt to get the flavor just right.
  • To assemble the pies: find pairs of cookies that are of similar shape and size.  Turn one over, and either pipe or spoon filling onto it.  Press the other cookie on top and press gently to seal.  Store in the refrigerator.

Going Fauxrabar Crazy!…and some quad rugby

30 Sep

Thursday was another quad rugby practice and this morning we headed off early for a  clinic in Richmond!  The boyfriend talked to some prospective players about the game all authoritative like, and then they scrimmaged for a bit.

He’s on the left and closest to the camera with the white shirt, if you were wondering.

I usually get into a chair and play with the boys at practices.  I’ve been doing that for a while now, so they’ve started hitting me a lot harder thinking that I’m no longer a wimp.  Unfortunately I am a wimp.  Plus, they use this stuff on the ball—klister, stickum…it’s this elasticy goo that is the stickiest stuff you’ve ever felt.  The only thing that will get it off is a metric ton of rubbing alcohol.

You carry the ball between your thighs in this sport.  Here’s what happens when a sticky ball gets ripped out of your sweaty legs multiple times:

My fault for not wearing longer shorts or pants, but this was so painful!

The point is that I’ve now started reffing practices instead.  Reffing is awesome.  I feel so powerful with a whistle and the ability to eject players from the game…I love it…mwahaha.

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As far as food, I didn’t have a chance to cook much, but I did whip up some delicious snacks for the trip:

Alright, so the term fauxrabar definitely sounded better in my head than when I tried to say it out loud.  Regardless, I still think it’s clever!  So it stays…especially because I’ve gone fauxrabar crazy the past week or so (after trying the oatmeal raisin cookie variety…I’m hooked).  They’re just SO EASY to make, and I’m thinking that with so many dried fruits, nuts, spices and extracts out there, I can make any flavor combination my heart desires!  Oh the power!

The crazy started with an Almond Joy variety.  The first batch was alright, but I knew there was room for improvement.  So I whipped up a batch this morning and was much happier with the results:

Makes 2 large or 3 small bars
1/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup shredded dried coconut (I used sweetened but only because I couldn’t find unsweetened)
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp almond extract

Just throw everything but the almond extract into a food processor and let it run for 30 seconds or so until everything comes together and the the raisins are chopped up finely.  Then drizzle in the almond extract and buzz it again.  If the mixture doesn’t seem sticky, pour in up to 1 tsp of water and blend it again.  It will look like this:

Then just pack it into a block and divide into two or three bars! (Do this on saran wrap or in a plastic bag if you don’t want your hands to get sticky).

You might be tempted to add almonds into this, since it’s an almond joy…feel free to replace ¼ cup of the coconut.  I used walnuts in the first batch and just didn’t like the texture of the little bits of nuts.  Plus, everyone knows almond joy bars are all about the chocolate and coconut anyway…and the almond extract adds some warm, sweet, almond flavor.

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The highlight of my fauxrabar making is my Cranberry Bliss Fauxrabar that is out of this world.  So freaking good.  If you’re familiar with the seasonal pastry from Starbucks (cranberry bliss bars), that’s kind of what these taste like…cranberry, white chocolate, and oats.  Here’s how I did it, but if you replaced the vanilla extract with orange extract, it would probably taste even more like the pastry:

Makes 3 bars

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnuts (cashews or pecans would probably also work)
6 T dry oatmeal
1 T white chocolate
1/8 – 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or orange)

First, add the oatmeal to the food processor and chop until a fine powder.  Then add in the walnuts, cranberries, white chocolate, and salt.

Process until it reaches a uniform texture.  It will still be quite dry.

Now pour in the extract and give it another buzz.

Mine was moist, but it wasn’t sticky, so I added water in 1/2 tsp increments until it started pulling away from the sides and center of the food processor (it only needed about 1 tsp)

Then just press it into a block and then divide into three bars!  Here’s a reference for how much total dough this makes…next to a toothpick.

 So it’s not very much dough, but these are an easily portable and relatively nutritious sweet snack.

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I have written down so many more varieties I can’t wait to try…Gingerbread, Cranberry Coconut, and Maple-Pecan to name a few!  I just have to eat up all the ones I’ve already made…

That shouldn’t be a problem.

PS, I promise I’ve got some good posts coming up! Thai turkey burgers (finally), pumpkin pie bars, and the easiest, tastiest pie you will ever encounter, to name a few!