Maple Cream Carrot Bread [v.]

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Despite my confidence that restocking my college pantry would inspire me to bake, assignments and exams swept me up and the only things I managed to make last semester were muffins and a terrible batch of spicy oatmeal cookies. The muffins were acceptable, but not post-worthy, and I don’t want to talk about the cookies. Let’s just say, don’t add spicy granola to oatmeal cookies…or at least do a better job of meshing the flavors than I did.

I’m finally back home for winter vacation, and besides practicing the art of doing nothing (also, I should really start training for the 15k I have in a couple of weeks), I’m finally with a kitchen of my own. The first thing I did when I got home was make this carrot bread. It’s a hearty and lightly sweet bread that is filled with the most delicious cashew cream filling and studded with caramelized walnuts. It’s loaded with fiber and free of refined sugar or flour, so try it out if you’re looking for a quick and filling breakfast or snack.

Cream Filled Carrot Bread

To make maple cream filling:

In a high powered blender combine:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp xanthan gum

Blend until smooth and set aside. (On a side note, I bet 1/8 tsp almond extract would be perfect in this.)

To make carrot bread batter:

In a bowl, whisk together:

  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 2 tbs coconut flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbs ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (2/3 cup if you prefer sweeter breads)

Add:

  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tsp molasses [optional, but good flavor]

Stir together, and fold in:

  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup caramelized walnuts*

To make the bread:

Spread half the carrot bread batter into a bread pan. Pour the cream filling on top and swirl into the batter with a butter knife (gently). Spread the rest of the batter on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before serving. If you have extra time, store overnight to let the flavors and textures better mesh.

* To make caramelized walnuts, add 1/2 cup walnuts + 1 tbs coconut sugar in a nonstick pan. Cook until the sugar is melted and coats the walnuts, careful not to let the sugar burn. Let cool completely before using.

 

 

Vegan Chocolate Silk Pie

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I was seven when my dad switched to an entirely raw food diet. Being seven, I ate what he ate, which included raw tomato sauce (ick), zucchini noodles (love ’em now, but with a quick sauteé please), and different types of dehydrated flatbreads. Needless to say, his diet changes prompted me to learn how to cook and bake.

In the past years my dad has relaxed his diet and now will eat soft-boiled eggs, cooked fish, and yogurt occasionally, but he still shies away from most desserts. This chocolate silk pie was my father’s day gift to my dad and the rest of my family. By the end of dinner, there wasn’t a single slice left. Success.

As I mentioned in my last post, college has been pretty chaotic and I haven’t had time or the supplies to cook, but I did make a pretty delicious pistachio smoothie the other day, so I’ll try to remake it and share that soon. Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Vegan Chocolate Silk Pie

Easiest pie ever. So silky, so delicious.

Makes 1 pie, which is about 12 normal servings (the cake is super rich ah) or 8 super generous servings.

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 2 1/2 cups assorted nuts (I used: half almonds, quarter pecans, quarter walnuts; salted nuts are ok, but will introduce a sweet salty element to the crust)
  • 2 tbs coconut oil

Filling:

  • 2 cups cashews, soaked overnight or boiled for 4 minutes
  • 1 3/4 cup unsweetened cashew milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 6 oz dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 tbs dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extact
  • 1/2 tsp salt

To prepare the crust, pulse the dates, nuts, and coconut oil in a food processor until the mixture is crumbly, but beginning to stick together. Press into the bottom and sides of a greased springform pan. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling, combine all the filling ingredients in a high-power blender and blend until completely smooth (no lumps or chunks!).

Pour into the crust and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. If desired, press fresh raspberries into the top of the pie before serving. Serve as is, or to be extra fancy, add a dollop of coconut cream to the top of each slice.

 

Banana Crumb Cake

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One of the first things I ever baked successfully was banana bread.

It was this recipe, and for once I didn’t venture off into impulsive ingredient substitutions and additions like I tended to. I think my parents were more relieved than anything when the end result was a basic loaf of quick bread that they didn’t have to pretend to enjoy like my other kitchen “creations”.

Since then I’ve tried many banana bread recipes, even posting about one here, and another super yummy one here, but the recipe I keep returning to is Flour Cookbook’s recipe by Joanne Chang. It’s the best banana bread I’ve tasted. Fragrant, soft, dense, and flavorful. Depending on how well I mash the bananas, it can be almost custardy (for this reason I recommend leaving some larger chunks, or if you’re like me and love bananas, fold in a diced banana at the end).

I recently brought this cake into my internship’s office for a co-worker’s birthday, and let me tell you, I felt like royalty for the rest of the day from all the compliments I received.

Try out this recipe and let me know what you think! If you love the taste of bananas, I think you’ll be a fan of this variation.

Other than that, college has resumed and all I have is a microwave and no ingredients to cook with. I’ll try to post if I end up baking any food with friends, but I’m anticipating a bit of a dry spell. Hang tight, friends.

My Favorite Banana Bread/Cake*

Recipe from Flour by Joanne Chang.

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour [210 g]
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar [230 g]
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed [340 g]  + 1 banana, diced [~90 g]
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Whip the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the oil, 3 1/2 mashed bananas, creme fraiche or sour cream, and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Fold the dry ingredients into the mashed banana mixture.
  5. Fold in the diced banana. Pour half the batter in a loaf pan or a 8 inch springform pan. Sprinkle 1/2 recipe crumb topping (recipe below) on top, and spread remaining batter over. Sprinkle the rest of the crumb topping  on top.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minuters.

Oatmeal Crumb Topping

I’ve tried to proportion this recipe to be only what you need for 1 loaf of banana bread, but any extra crumb topping can easily be frozen and used in another recipe.

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup [4 tbs] butter
  • optional: 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  1. Mix together the flour, quick oats, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
  2. Cut in the butter until the mixture forms coarse crumbs and there are no large pieces of butter.

*Traditionally cakes are less dense and have a finer crumb than quick breads, but carrot cake defies this stereotype so I usually define cake vs bread by whether I bake it in a loaf or round pan, or something by whether I top it with frosting. If you’re more picky about this distinction, this is technically banana bread.

Dairy-free Biscoff Ice Cream [v.]

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My favorite ice cream is the Biscoff flavor at this local ice cream shop in my hometown. It’s not what I would describe as a luxurious ice cream. It’s not exceedingly rich or overwhelmingly complex, but each bite is like a refreshing bite of chunky cookie butter. When I order it with friends, we get it sundae style, topped with chocolate shell and oreo crumbs. While I didn’t have oreos when I took the photos, chocolate shell was a must.

The ice cream’s base is lightly spiced, and there are copious rushed cookies added for texture. I’ve tried Trader Joe’s cookie butter ice cream and while good in a “how-can-you-screw-up-vanilla-ice-cream-and-cookie-butter” kind of way, it couldn’t compare to the biscoff ice cream at this shop.

Since my stomach has been rebelling against dairy as of late, I thought I’d try to make a dairy-free version of my favorite ice cream. I used a coconut cream and cashew milk base which I sweetened with brown sugar and plenty of crunchy cookie butter. I won’t lie and pretend you can’t taste any coconut because you can, but I thought the flavor paired perfectly with the cookie butter. I normally don’t like the taste of coconut, especially chocolate with coconut, ick, but the coconut flavor was mellow and if anything, enhanced the overall flavor of the recipe.

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Dairy-free Biscoff Ice Cream  – gluten free. vegan.

  • 1 can coconut cream
  • 1 can’s worth cashew milk (measure with the empty coconut cream can)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup biscoff spread or trader joe’s chunky cookie butter
  • (optional: 2 tbs plain vodka, to improve scoopability)
  • 5 ounces biscoff style cookies, crushed into a mix of crumbs and chunks

To make the ice cream base, whisk together the coconut cream, brown sugar, and biscoff spread. Once smooth, whisk in the cashew milk, and vodka, if using.

Refrigerate the ice cream base until cold, and then churn in an ice cream maker according to the machine’s directions. Right as the ice cream’s finishing, add in the biscoff crumbs and let the machine go for a few more seconds until the crumbs are mixed in.

Scoop into a tupperware container and freeze for at least several hours. Or if you’re feeling impatient, eat soft serve style straight out of the ice cream maker.

Everything Strawberry S’more Bars

Soon I’ll be headed off back to college so my current goal is emptying out my fridge, freezer, and pantry of anything perishable. It’s taken a lot of self control, but I’ve shied away from the grocery store for the past few weeks. Yesterday was a friend’s birthday, and I wanted to bring something sweet, so I decided to throw together whatever leftover ingredients I could find.

These bars are truly a strange assortment of ingredients . They have graham crackers, speculoos cookies,frozen bread crumbs from making these vegan sandwiches, gelatin-free marshmallows, salted premium butter, earth balance, aquafaba, toasted pecans, frozen Upick strawberries, homemade chocolate shell, flour, brown sugar, and baking powder. Granted, it’s hard to mess up a combination like that. 

The slight acidity of the strawberries brings a welcome freshness to the sweetness of the marshmallows and graham crackers. They’re a little chewy, a little gooey, a little crispy, and tasty all around.

Everything Strawberry S’more Bars 

Crispy chewy soft cracker cookie bars – good enough to make by itself tbh

In a food processor pulse until crumbs:

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 8 oz cookie crumbs (I used 5 oz, aka 1 sleeve, graham crackers, 2 oz plain bread crumbs, and 1 oz speculoos cookies)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Add:

  • 3/4 cup premium salted butter and/or earth balance (I used 1 stick earth balance & 1/4 cup premium salted butter)

Pulse until sandy textured. Add:

  • 1 egg or 3 tbs aquafaba(I used aquafaba)

Pulse until large clumps start to form.

Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of an 8×8 pan. I recommend lining the pan with parchment paper by cutting 2 strips of parchment, 8 inches wide and 12 inches long each, and laying them perpendicular in the pan. This prevents the marshmallow filling from sticking.

On top of the batter, scatter:

  • ~1/2-3/4 cup good quality chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped (I toasted them in a nonstick pan for a few minutes)

Store the 1/3 remaining dough in the fridge while preparing the strawberry marshmallow filling.

Strawberry Marshmallow Filling* 

Note: Alternatively, heat up 2/3 cup strawberry jam and proceed to the marshmallow step.

In a saucepan, combine:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 8 oz frozen or fresh strawberries

Cook until most of the water has been boiled away, about 15 minutes. Stir in:

  • 3/4 cup large or small marshmallows (~6 oz)

Stir until the marshmallows are mostly melted. Little chunks are ok and will add nice variation to the final bars.

Spread the strawberry marshmallow filling over the dough. Scatter the remaining dough on top in ~2 tsp chunks.

Bake the bars at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the top dough is lightly golden brown. Let the bars cool completely before removing from the pan, and refrigerate before cutting. Enjoy!

 

 

Sweet Potato Brownie Adventures

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Want a tray of brownies without my delirious rambling?

Click here for my melt-in-your-mouth sweet potato brownies recipe.

Otherwise, prepare to read about my adventure in sweet potato brownies™.

Earlier this year I posted a recipe for Sweet Potato Brownies. It was an on-the-whim type of recipe that I made once, decided was good enough, and posted. They were good brownies, super melty and soft with lots of chocolate flavor, but they had a notable starchiness from the sweet potato that I couldn’t get over. Eventually I put the post on private and forgot about it.

Then yesterday I was hit with an uncontrollable and explainable desire to make the damn best sweet potato brownies, so I picked myself off the couch and went to the store to buy sweet potatoes.

Batch 1:

  • “These taste really good but they’re a bit…I don’t know…gummy?” my mom says

My motivation grows stronger. I decide some kind of fruit puree might add moistness, better yet, carrot puree which I find more mild than applesauce, and that the food processor likely overworked the sweet potato. Fork mashing it is.

Batch 2:

  • Much better texture….but what was that I tasted…..a hint of….gumminess?

They are good, but I am on a quest for the best. By this point I am also running out of maple syrup. I decide to start making half batches.

I go to sleep, dreaming of sweet potato brownies.

The next day I start immediately after work. I double the oil to 2 tbs (1/4 cup if I were making full batches), and mash the sweet potatoes with it, like when making mashed potatoes, thinking this will prevent the starch from “developing”.

Batch 3:

  • The dough has that characteristic starchy pull to it. ‘Oh no’ I think.
  • Maybe there’s too much sweet potato in the batter?
  • I am pleasantly surprised, despite 3.5 ounces of sweet potato in the batter, the final brownies have a great texture: soft, fudgy, and a bit chewy (in a good non starchy way)
  • “Oh I like these ones”my mom says

But I’m not finished yet. I decide to see what happens when I reduce the amount of sweet potato. I reduce it from 3.5 to 1.5 ounces and mash the sweet potatoes with a tsp of oil. I reduce the oil in the batter back down to 1 tablespoon.

Batch 4:

  • The dough is much more liquid-y than the other batches.
  • The middle still looks wet after baking for 10 minutes, so I have to bake it about 5 minutes more.
  • The brownies are just the way I like ’em. Soft, melty, and gooey. Probably too gooey for the average joe. Was it a fluke? Why was the dough so liquidy?

I decide to recreate a new version of Batch 4 to see whether I screwed something up that led to its liquidy batter consistency. I’ve made so many sweet potato brownies that I’m not even sure I remember how exactly to make them.

This time I add 2 ounces of sweet potato, which I mash with 1/4 tsp of oil. Probably not necessary, but who am I to question this convoluted method I’ve developed? I’ve run out of good chocolate chunks and am using shitty chocolate chips. I learn that chocolate quality really matters in brownies.

Batch 5:

  • The batter is liquidy, but slightly less than batch 4. Does .5 an ounce of sweet potato make that much of a difference? Fairly believable.
  • I add 1/4 tsp of apple cider vinegar to the sweet potatoes. I’m not sure why.
  • It’s also 10 pm and I’m too impatient to let the sweet potato fully cool so most of the (shitty) chocolate chips melt
  • I decide to go to Trader Joe’s the next day and buy some chocolate chunks because Nestle chocolate chips taste janky, which I try to rectify by adding a splash of vanilla extract
  • They’re less gooey than the last batch, but still very fudgy…it still might be a bit too much for the average person.

Is this what obsession is? Will I ever make the perfect sweet potato brownie? That day I go to the store to pick up a new bottle of maple syrup. It reads “16 1/4 cup servings”. I read “16 potential attempts at sweet potato brownies”.

I want to determine if 2 tablespoons of oil are necessary for 3.5 ounces of sweet potato, or whether I can get away with only one. But I’m going to be a bad experimenter and reduce the sweet potato to 3 ounces at the same time. I’m starting to think this is a concave problem with no absolute maxima, but I’m still hoping to stumble upon a local maxima. If only I could apply stochastic gradient descent to cooking.

The fridge has been taken over by brownies. I eat sweet potato brownies for breakfast. I’ll probably eat sweet potato brownies for lunch. I get back from work and begin measuring out ingredients. It feels like muscle memory.

Batch 6:

  • I’ve developed a batter intuition. Glossy is good. Dull means too much starch. The thinner the batter, the more gooey the brownies.
  • 3 ounces of sweet potato and 1 tbs of oil gives the most beautiful batter I’ve ever seen. Angels are singing in my head, but maybe that’s from the past restless nights of sleep.
  • After I remove the brownies from the oven (they’ve lost their shine and are matte now, I take a nap to clear the angels from my head. Post nap hunger leads me to the brownies. Cold from the fridge they’ve regained glossiness. I hesitate before I take the first bite, but as soon as I taste chocolate I realize I had been nervous for no reason.
  • The brownies are soft and fudge-y with a complex chocolate taste, and there is exactly zero gumminess to be found. They don’t taste healthy in the slightest, despite being low-fat, vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free.

I’ve found the recipe, the quest isn’t quite over. Perfection is one thing, but repeatability and scalability (I had been working with half batches) is a whole ‘nother beast.

The next day I prepare for the final and most intense battle: baking a full pan of sweet potato brownies.

Batch 7:

  • The batter looks as it should: pourable and glossy, but thick enough that I have to scoop out the last bits of batter with a spoon. The batter is a bit less glossy than batch 6, which I blame on some chocolate chips melting (hey you, let the sweet potatoes fully cool).
  • I bake them for 22 minutes. They’re matte when I take them out of the oven but I’m not too worried. I leave them on the counter to cool and transfer them to the fridge before I go to sleep.
  • The next day I try them. Angels are singing again.

In conclusion, I’m completely nuts, but hey, I have the most incredible tray of sweet potato brownies in the fridge right now. I’m going to go hibernate for a very long time, only waking occasionally to stuff my mouth with brownies (maybe not a good idea considering the instant espresso, but based on what I’ve written, it’s safe to assume my judgement’s muted). Meanwhile, you should go make some sweet potato brownies so we can bask in their glory together.

You can find the full recipe here.

Nutty Apricot Bars

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My latest food stint has been vegan cooking. It evolved out of my desire to reduce the stress of “ahhh what am I going to do with this quickly expiring milk” and “oh my god i have 16 kinds of cheese let me just eat nothing but cheese for the next week” (really, I make this seem like a bigger problem than it is, because cheese is delicious), and has led to a lotta stir fries, smoothies, and pasta dishes.

Despite my growing confidence in plant-based cooking, there are still times when I turn to my dear friend butter, and this, my friend, is one of them.

These bars are so good. Like, bring-to-a-fancy-dinner-and-watch-anxiously-as-people-take-that-first-bite good. The nutty shortbread base melts in your mouth, and the slight tartness of the apricots is a perfect complement to the lightly sweetened frangipane. And this is coming from someone who is way more of a chocolate than fruit dessert person. (On a side note, I believe there are two type of people: people who prefer fruit desserts and people who prefer chocolate. I refuse to believe that there are people who want neither.)

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They’re also incredibly easy to make. Seriously, if you have a food processor (and if you don’t, I highly recommend you get one, because it is one of the few things I am willing to lug across the country to college), all you have to do is throw two sets of ingredients in (at separate times) and whiz away. That, and chop a few apricots, but still, the prep for this recipe is incredibly quick.

My “secret” ingredient for this recipe is premium salted butter. It has a lower water content than regular butter, which makes it perfect for shortbread. Kerrygold butter should be easiest to find, but Trader Joe’s had another brand that was cheaper so I used that. If you can’t find premium butter, don’t worry, regular salted butter works as well.

Nutty Apricot Bars

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup almonds or pecans (I used half of each) [60 g]
  • 1 cup flour [125 g]
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar [50 g]
  • 1/2 cup salted premium butter, or unsalted butter + 1/2 tsp salt [115 g]

Frangipane filling:

  • 1 cup almonds or pecans (I used half of each) [120 g]
  • 1 tbs all purpose flour [10g]
  • 1/4 cup white sugar [50g]
  • 5 tablespoons salted premium butter, or unsalted butter + 1/4 tsp salt [70g]
  • 1 large egg

Toppings:

  • ~6 small apricots
  • 2 tbs sliced almonds

Preparation Process:

Begin by roasting the nuts. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper. Cut two ~15 inch long pieces of parchment so they are 8 inches wide. Drape one piece in the pan so that it lines 3 sides, and drape the other piece perpendicular so that all sides of the pan are covered.

Add to a food processor:

  • 1/2 cup almonds or pecans (I used half of each) [60 g]
  • 1 cup flour [125 g]
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar [50 g]
  • 1/2 cup salted premium butter, or unsalted butter + 1/2 tsp salt [115 g], cut into 1 tbs piece

Blend until the mixture is beginning to form large clumps. Press the dough into the pan into an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to darken, and then remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. To speed up the process, put the pan in the freezer.

While the crust is cooling, grind in the food processor until sand consistency:

  • 1 cup almonds or pecans (I used half of each) [120 g]
  • 1 tbs all purpose flour [10g]
  • 1/4 cup white sugar [50g]

Add to the food processor:

  • 5 tablespoons salted premium butter, or unsalted butter + 1/4 tsp salt [70g]

Mix until no butter chunks are visible, then while the food processor is still running, add in:

  • 1 large egg

Pulse until just combined.

When the crust has cooled (I recommend letting it cool fully, or else the butter in the filling will begin to melt), spread the frangipane filling over it.

Top with:

  • ~6 small apricots
  • 2 tbs sliced almonds

I cut the apricots in half, sliced each half into thin pieces, fanned out the slices, and then transferred them to the base on a butter knife.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the bars should come out clean, and the edges of the crust should be deep golden brown, but not burnt.

For the cleanest presentation, allow the bars to cool on the countertop until warm, and then cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator until cold. Remove the bars by pulling up the edges of the parchment.

Slice into 16* squares**, and serve at room temperature.

*The smaller the slices the more you can eat, right?

**A little tip is to slice off the outer edges of the bars before cutting into squares. The crisp edges are perfect for eating like biscotti, and the squares look more uniform sans edges.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I consider myself a bit of a chocolate chip cookie aficionado. Once, my friend and I made 7 different chocolate chip cookie recipes in the span of 2 days because we wanted the find The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie (our winner? Serious Eats chocolate chip cookie).

The point is, I’m not speaking lightly when I say these chocolate chip cookies are indistinguishable from their non vegan counterparts. They have the soft, melty centers, crispy edges, and lightly caramelized flavor that I originally thought were inherent to the egg-and-butter cookies.

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This recipe makes 20 massive bakery-style cookies (or approx 4 dozen more reasonably sized cookies), but I’m fully in support of double-batches if your mixer/arms/health can handle it.

The secret to these cookies is aquafaba, otherwise known as the liquid found in cans of garbanzo beans/chickpeas! Aquafaba is actually a fairly recent fad in the food blogging world, because it turns out that aquafaba can imitate egg
whites almost perfectly.  In this recipe, aquafaba is used to replace entire eggs, but it steps up to the job with zero hesitation.

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One tip I have is to cream the shortening and sugar at medium to low speed. I’ve found that creaming butter and sugar until extremely fluffy works well for making light batters, but can make cookies a bit cakey and dry. In my opinion, it’s an absolute tragedy when this happens so I tend to err on the side of gentle creaming.

Besides that, these cookies are very simple to make, and follow the exact same process as most chocolate chip cookies. The dough was a little crumbly, which I was originally worried about, but baked up just fine. For gooey middles I baked the dough for 13-15 minutes, and for more chewy cookies I upped the time to 17 minutes. Both were delicious.

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Anyhow, onto the recipe!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks, 10 ounces, 280 grams) earth balance shortening, slightly colder than room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups (240 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons aquafaba (liquid from can of unsalted garbanzo beans)
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ cups plus 2 teaspoons (445 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ¼ pounds (565 grams) vegan dark chocolate, chopped into pieces

1) In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2) Combine the shortening, light brown sugar, and white sugar at medium speed. Cream for 1-2 minutes, but be gentle since over-beating can lead to cakey cookies.

3) Whisk in the aquafaba and vanilla extract.

4) Fold in the flour mixture, and add the chopped chocolate when only streaks of flour remain. Stir the dough until there are no more streaks of flour; the dough might be a bit crumbly, but don’t worry.

5) Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 12 hours, but ideally 24-36 hours.

6) Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, divide the dough into ~18 portions. If the dough is a bit crumbly, gently mold the cookie dough balls into compact spheres so that they won’t fall apart. At this point, you can freeze the dough and bake individual portions as desired, or go ahead bake the dough right away.

7) Bake the cookie dough balls at 350 degrees for 13 minutes (15 minutes for frozen dough). They might look a bit underbaked in the middle, but will continue to cook for a bit even after they’re removed from the oven. Enjoy!

Ricotta Maple Oat Muffin Tops

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Do you know those maple oat glazed scones at Starbucks? Now imagine them in muffin form. Mmm.

I originally intended to make scones, but I wasn’t heavy handed enough with the butter, and was a bit too generous with the ricotta and ended up with muffin tops instead.

At first I was disappointed, and packed them in a tupperware to share with friends, but I decided to try a bite and…I immediately unpacked them from the tupperware. They weren’t going anywhere.

These are truly little unassuming packages of joy. They’re not the prettiest (maybe some sliced almonds or a glaze could fix that), but they taste like autumn, and autumn tastes so, so good.

Ricotta Maple Oat Muffin Tops

Makes 8 muffin tops (size of regular muffins).

In a medium bowl, stir together:

  • ½ cup white whole wheat or spelt flour
  • ¼ cup oat flour + ¼ cup instant oats
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbs coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Stir into the dry ingredients:

  • 2 tbs melted butter

Finally, stir in:

  • ¾ cup fat free ricotta (or regular ricotta)
  • ½ tsp maple extract

Spoon the batter into a greased whoopie pie pan (what I used), or regular muffin tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serve warm, with butter, almond butter, or just plain.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Flour Peanut Butter Frosting

chocolatepbcake1

My motto for this cake was “go big or go home”. I can’t say I wasn’t tempted to add zucchini and applesauce to the cake, but I resisted because some times call for copious amounts of peanut butter frosting and chocolate ganache, and 21st birthdays are one of those times.

chocolatepbcake2

My favorite component of this is the peanut butter frosting, which I created with a technique that I’ve been using for the past five or so years. The frosting uses a flour, milk, and sugar roux which is cooled and then whipped with butter to create an incredibly fluffy and flavorful frosting.

I prefer this technique over traditional buttercream frostings which I find to be overly sweet, and swiss meringue frostings which I find to be overly buttery. Flour frosting combines the best aspects of both. I’m normally pretty iffy about frosting, but I could eat this frosting by the spoonfuls. It’s that good.

Chocolate cake recipe: this chocolate cake recipe

Ganache recipe: this recipe for ganache

Peanut Butter Flour Frosting 

Makes enough to frost 1 small 5 inch cake. Double the recipe for full-sized cakes.

In a medium saucepan combine:

  • 2 tbs flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup 2% or whole milk

Bring the mixture to a bowl, stirring constantly, and then cook for 1 minute. The mixture should be thick and slightly translucent. Scoop the mixture into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap to the surface of the roux.

Place the bowl in the fridge until cold.

In a medium bowl, cream with an electric mixer:

  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Add the frosting roux and continue whipping until a thick and fluffy frosting forms.

Add:

  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter (I used processed peanut butter because that’s the smoothest kind that exists. I’m not sure how natural peanut butter would fair.)

Whip until the peanut butter is fully whipped in. Now, eat a giant spoonful to “quality test”. Continue “quality testing” periodically.