a cake of a different feather…

17 Dec

Look at this beautiful cake. So pretty. So elegant. What a perfect dinner.

Now, before you think I’m on a path straight to Type 2 diabetes, let me assure you that we have not digressed to eating cake for dinner (as tempting as it may often be). Several weeks ago, I was intrigued and humored by Mo’s “Meat” Cake. I’d wanted to run what that idea for Thanksgiving dinner, but with moving and what not, it wasn’t going to happen.

Until last weekend.

They say there is a first time for everything and I think that using my offset spatula and frosting tips on garlic mashed potatoes definitely fall into that category. I used my lentil and grain meatloaf recipe and made a double batch, which I baked in two 8 inch cake rounds. The center is filled with sweet potatoes, topped and frosted with garlic mashed potatoes and some cranberries and served with mushroom gravy. Strange but delicious, just the way I like it. 🙂

vegan fruitcake delight!

15 Dec

I couldn’t resist posting this fruitcake recipe. We never had fruitcake in my family when I was growing up, so I don’t have bad memories of it, but you can’t exist this time of year and not be familiar with the jokes that go along with fruitcake.

This fruitcake, however, is dense, moist and delicious and doesn’t take weeks to cure in the back of you pantry (yuck!). It’s quick and easy and can easily be adapted to meet your fruit cakey preferences (some darker sugar or alcohol, a spike of molasses, etc).

Ah, fruitcake. The butt of many a holiday joke. But no one will give you a hard time about this light cake, studded with dried fruit and nuts. They’ll be too busy stuffing their faces with it. This version is a bit less, um, brilliant than the traditional neon-candied cherries version, but you can feel free to substitute the dried fruit with those familiar favorites if you’d like. The added bonus is that these cakes don’t need to cure, so you don’t have to start working on them in October to enjoy their Yuletide cheer!

1 cup flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 teas. baking powder
1/8 teas. salt
1/3 cup agave
1/2 cup orange juice OR 1/4 cup orange juice and 1/4 cup alcohol (rum or bandy) if going for the boozy taste
2 tbsp. apple sauce
2 tbsp. oil
1 teas. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts of choice
1/2 cup chopped sweet dried fruit of choice (dates, figs, raisins, etc.)
1/2 cup chopped tart dried fruit of choice (apricots, candied orange peel, tart cherries, etc.)
1/3 cup alcohol (same as used in batter) or 1/3 cup apple cider

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease and flour 1 loaf pan or 4 mini loaf pans.

In a small bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a medium sized bowl, combine the agave, orange juice, 1/4 cup alcohol (if using), applesauce, oil and vanilla. Whisk until combined. Add the dry to the wet in batches, until well combined. Add the nuts and dried fruit and mix until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan(s). For mini cakes, bake for 24-28 minutes and for a full loaf for 45-50 minutes, until lightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove cake from oven and set on rack. While warm, poke cake randomly with toothpick to create pin holes. Slowly and evenly pour the remaining alcohol or apple cider over the cakes, a little at at time to allow it time to absorb. Let cakes cool in pan for 20 minutes before inverting and let finish cooling on the rack.

Store cakes wrapped up or in a sealed container in fridge.

cookie, cookie, cookies!

13 Dec

Alright, as promised here is the Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie recipe, along with another cookie recipe that seems like it will pair perfectly with a cup of tea and some time with loved ones. Fatty sugar alert: these recipes are super not healthy. You have been warned.



Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teas. baking soda
1/4 teas. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, softened
1/2 cup organic granulated sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 teas. vanilla
1 teas. cornstarch
1/4 cup milk of choice
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together dry flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl, cream together sugar, brown sugars and softened margarine. Dissolve the cornstarch in the milk and add to sugar mixtures along with vanilla. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture in batches, then stir in chocolate chips and pecans.

Using a cookie dropper or tablespoon, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8–-10 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden. Remove cookies from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet pan for 5 minutes, then remove to cool on transfer to a cooling rack. Store cooled cookies in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Yields: 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Spice and Ice Molasses Cookies

These cookies are chewy and deeply flavored. If you like a strong ginger bite, add some chopped crystallized ginger for some extra kick.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teas. baking soda
1 teas. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teas. ground ginger
1/8 teas. ground cloves
1/4 teas. salt
3/4 cup margarine, melted
1 cup organic granulated or brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 teas. blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup organic granulated sugar

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. In a large bowl, cream together the melted margarine and the 1 cup of sugar. Add the molasses to the wet mixture and mix well. In batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet until a nice dough comes together. Let chill in fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 and line baking sheets with parchment, if using. Roll tablespoon sized balls of dough in the remaining sugar to coat well. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until cookies have cracked and spread. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Store cooled cookies in a loosely covered container at room temperature.

Yields: 2 1/2 dozen cookies

kittehs and cookies!

8 Dec

Animals are supposed to be able to recognize things that are harmful to them and withdraw from the edge of danger. When we see fire, we retreat. When we come across an unknown berry in the woods, we don’t eat it.

Bindhi is apparently not that bright. She is terribly attracted to two big kitteh no-nos- chocolate and coffee. Sigh. At least she looks cute when she’s sniffing cookies or when she wraps her paws around my arm and pulls with all her might to smell my mug.

Recently Leigh paid me a very high compliment, calling my Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie recipe from 100 Best the “perfect chocolate chip cookie”. Aw… That inspired me to whip some up with chocolate chips and pistachios. So good! I love that Trader Joe’s sells preshelled pistachios, it makes life so much easier. (For those who have an interest in the chemistry of baking, notice how the shape of our cookies is different around the edges. I softened my margarine in the microwave and overdid it a but, it ended up slightly liquidy. The cookies where still soft and chewy, but you can see how it affected the shape. Interesting…)

I was going to post a recipe this week for vegan fruitcake (that actually tastes good!) but thought I’d do a little pole and see which recipe you’d like more. What do you think?

mission: delicious

3 Dec

*Update* Tiffany, you’re the winner! Thanks, everyone, for all of your delicious holiday treat ideas!

This is your mission, should you choose to accept it.

What are your favorite holiday treats? Christmas, Hanukkah, it’s-cold-outside, whatever you do or don’t celebrate, what do you anticipate eating that is special to this time of year? Of course, your baked treats are of greatest interest to yours truly, but soups, stews, etc. are always welcome. Nostalgic treats, annual traditions, I want to hear ’em all!

Share your yums in the comments and on Sunday eve I will pick one random winner who will get a $25 Cosmos Vegan Shoppe gift certificate! Treat yourself to a present this time of year and peruse their awesome store to drool over their fabulous vegan goods. Even if you don’t win, you should totally still buy yourself a present from Cosmos. For realz. You’re worth it.

how do you cocoa?

2 Dec

Well, slowly but surely we’re getting settled into our new space (hence my absence from the end of MoFo. FAIL). My new kitchen is HUGE, with tons of counter space and natural light, two things I have been sorely lacking for years, so I’m very excited to start churning out holiday goodies in this lovely new space. Of course, my best kitchen helper is right by my side, per the usual.

All I can think of is holiday baking, it makes my heart swoon. What is better than the smell of fresh baked goods, wafting from a warm oven and the eager anticipation of what is to come? I say to heck with the presents and other traditions of Giftmas, gimme the cookies/brownies/pie/cake!

Which brings me to an important issue, near and dear to my heart. Cocoa.

There are two main types of cocoa powder for baking: regular and Dutch-processed. In the picture above, the lighter cocoa on top is standard baking cocoa, while the darker, redder powder on the bottom is Dutch-processed. When I mention Dutch-processed to folks, I am often met with a blank stare, so I thought a little cocoa lesson might be in order.

Dutch-processed cocoa is cocoa that has been alkalized to reduce the acidity of the cocoa. In doing this, the natural slight bitterness (apparent standard in baking cocoa) is reduced, making for a richer chocolate flavor. I personally LOVE Dutch-processed cocoa and use it almost exclusively in my baking because of that flavor. Before discovering Dutch-pressed cocoa, I always used to add melted chocolate to almost every recipe that called for solely cocoa and no other kind of chocolate, because I felt continually let down by the lack of chocolate flavor. With the Dutch-pressed cocoa, my chocolate hound taste buds are far more satisfied (although a generous sprinkle of chocolate chips never hurt anyone). There is a depth of flavor that’s priceless in the finished product.

Technically using Dutch-processed cocoa, being more acid neutral, could require more chemical leavener to compensate (another pinch of baking powder), but I haven’t really noticed any difference swapping between them and leaving the recipe as is.

Dutch-processed cocoa can be harder to find in some areas, but it’s worth looking for. Like anything, the price can fluctuate dramatically (I’ve seen packages range from $3-$20) so check around for the best deal.

*Post amended to state the obvious- please buy fair trade when you can! Yes, it costs more, but you are helping to pay living wages for people who are working for legitimate farms where they are not slaves, but actual employees. The chocolate, coffee and diamond (and tea and bananas and more!) industries are very dark and dirty businesses to be in. Vote with your dollars!

Chocolate chip pistachio cookies and pumpkin cinnamon rolls are in my near future. What holiday baking treats do you see in your baking crystal ball?

black friday fuel

25 Nov

Or lay-on-the-couch-and-watch-TV-all-day fuel. Or Tofurky-coma-hangover-need-energy-to-tolerate-family-I-only-see-this-time-of-year fuel. Whatevs. It works in any scenario.

While you worry about the food for today, let me worry about the food for tomorrow. Use some of the leftover elements of Thanksgiving that will be lurking in your fridge, destined to mold (ah, we all have such good intentions, don’t we?), and turn them into a hearty, delicious post-Thanksgiving breakfast. Creamy yet chewy steel cut oats join forces with that last little scrap of pumpkin puree, some spices and maple syrup to make an ultimate breakfast. And with leftover cranberries on top? Ooh yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

T-Day Oats

Serves 2

2 cups water
1/2 cup steel cut oats
1/4- 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (depending on taste)
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1/8 teas. pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teas cinnamon
cranberry sauce (optional)

In a pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the oats and lower the temperature to a simmer. Let cook until oats absorb most of the water, about 15 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree, maple syrup and spices and mix well. Let cook until oatmeal is bubbly and cooked to desired consistency.

Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup and some cranberry sauce, if using.