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decadent treat food, dessert, recipes

(The Best) Vegan Lava Cake (Ever)

The wait is finally over, blog-friends!  For our final Valentine’s Day Dinner post, we present you with… The Best Vegan Lava Cake Ever!  It may sound a little arrogant, or maybe you think this might fall under the classification of “too-good-to-be-true”, but I assure you that cake has everything you want in a lava cake, vegan or not!  I mean, I spent days trying to find or create the perfect recipe, and by the end of it I still wanted more of this cake!

Vegan Lava Cake with Ice Cream and Grand Marnier Glaze!

Before I even began I knew it would be a tricky process, so I made a checklist containing all the important qualities I wanted this cake to have.  That way, I would know when I had found success!  My checklist went as follows:

  • 100% Vegan (duh)
  • No crazy science ingredients (nothing that could be found in a science lab is allowed in this cake)
  • Holds form when removed from ramekin (looks matter)
  • Oozes out when cut into (otherwise it’s just not “lava cake”)
  • No cheating (some people take the easy way out by slipping a square of chocolate into the middle of the batter, or adding some kind of gooey filling at the end; no dice)

We could probably subtitle this post “The Birth of a Recipe”, because I plan on taking you through a little tour of how the recipe came about, and the trials and tribulations of each iterative step (but don’t worry, there are pictures!).  Before that, though, I’ll give you the final, good-copy recipe.  I think the best way to enjoy this blog post would be to read the recipe, find the ingredients, make a few portions, and then enjoy the rest of the journey with lava cake in hand (and mouth!).

The liquidy center spills out of the cake when you cut into it.  Beautiful!

Vegan Lava Cake

Ingredients:
for one 8 oz ramekin cake (two servings)

1 1/2 tablespoons vegan margarine (DO NOT use Earth Balance, use a “regular” vegan margarine like Becel)
80 grams (3 oz) dark chocolate

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/8 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons blended firm Silken tofu
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grand Marnier Glaze:


1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 small square dark chocolate (about 10 grams)
1 teaspoon confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Melt margarine in a small pot over medium heat.  Without letting the margarine get too hot, add the dark chocolate and stir until melted.

3. Combine the sugar, flour and cornstarch in a mixing bowl and set aside.

4. Stir the milk, blended tofu, and vanilla in with the melted chocolate.  Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until well combined.  You could use an electric mixer here if desired.  Make sure to mix very well – vigorously whisking it with a fork works well.

5. Pour cake batter into the greased ramekin and place in the oven.  Bake for 14 minutes. The cake should be soft and slightly “jello-y” (the goal here is to have a cake that is raw and pudding-like in the center), but it should definitely look like a chocolate cake.  Remove from oven and allow to sit in the ramekin for two minutes to set.

6. While cake is baking, prepare the glaze.  Heat the Grand Marnier in a small pot for a minute before adding the square of dark chocolate. Melt the chocolate, remove from heat and stir in the confectioner’s sugar.

7. Carefully run a butter knife around the edge of the ramekin to loosen the cake.  Cover ramekin with a small plate and invert quickly.  Remove the ramekin and top with Grand Marnier glaze and ice cream!

Note: The cake batter can be made and refrigerated for up to a day in advance.  Simply make as much batter as desired, pour into greased ramekins, and cover/refrigerate.  Remove them from the refrigerator just before baking, and add one minute to the cooking time.

And there you have it!  At long last, the perfect recipe for vegan lava cakes.  These are the kind of lava cakes I always loved.  I know some people consider regular cake batter with boiling water poured over top “lava cakes”, but they are most certainly not this awesome.  Nothing beats a delicious, moist cake with an ooey gooey molten center.

Nothing wrong with a little messy melty-ness!

Now that you have seen the final, successful recipe, allow me to take you on a journey down memory lane while we examine how this delectable desert came to be.  I had been wanting to make a vegan lava cake for a little while, and I decided Valentine’s day would be the perfect time to do it.  Keeping my checklist firmly in my mind, I began the experiments.

Trial 1: With my checklist in tow  I figured the best place to start would be to take a recipe from the internet and make it, seeing how much of my checklist I could achieve with someone else’ recipe.  I ruled out a few recipes right away for either being to complex (one recipe involved minute amounts of three different kinds of flour, three different egg replacers, a few seeds, and some fruit), using the so-called “science ingredients” (agar, xanthan gum, sodium-whatever-ate), or cheating.  Eventually I found one that stood out above the others.

A sea of scalding oil over top a bed of of rock candy

It did not turn out well.  This was a recipe taken directly from someone’s website, followed exactly, and it created the horrendous monstrosity you see above.  It certainly had a molten center, but the edges were equally lava-like.  The thing failed at even the most basics of being a cake.  To top it all off, it took a full two days of alternating soak/scrub cycles to get that ramekin clean.  Whatever wasn’t molten and scalding was crystallized and rock-like.  Moving on.

Trial 2: For my next trial, I decided to go off-book a little bit.  I increased the amount of flour and cornstarch by small amount, and decreased the amount of margarine.  At this point I was still using Earth Balance.  I also kicked up the amount of chocolate a little bit.  The results from this further experiment were… disappointing, but infinitely better than the pure trash that came from the first trial.  I was able to plate the cake, but it definitely did not hold up to the checklist. 

Oozes out all over the darn plate? Check.  Holds together when removed?  Not so much.

Trial 3: My next attempt contained the first of two major breakthroughs.  I was running out of Earth Balance, so I switched to using a “standard” vegan margarine (the vegan versions of standard supermarket brands like Becel and Smart Balance).  To help stop the crystallizing problem I was having I also cut down the amount of confectioner’s sugar and lowered the baking temperature a bit, increasing the time to ensure at least a little bit of done-ness.

At least this one looks like a cake.

Certainly the most successful looking attempt so far!  It held together, just like magic, but without any major changes.  Then it hit me: it must be the margarine.  Allysia has since told me that brands like Earth Balance tend to lack emulsifiers, which can sometimes lead to oily separation during baking.  I just call it magic and witchcraft.  Unfortunately my journey does not end here: the product is too much cake and not enough lava.

Trial 4:  A second breakthrough.  Up until this point I had been using semi-sweet chocolate chips, as that was what was called for in most of the recipes I looked at, but how would dark chocolate affect the cake?  I guessed that the lower sugar content would be a big help in fixing that stubborn crystallization issue.  After baking a and plating I had the best desert yet.  The outside was moist and delicious, rather than slightly crunchy with hardened sugar.  Now I just had to fix the inside.

Looking better and better…

Trials 5 and 6: It’s now down to fine touches and small adjustments.  First change: increase the cooking temperature back to the original and drop the cooking time.  Cook the outside before the inside can heat up too much.  Results?  Definitely not cooked in the middle, but not quite oozing out on it’s own.  The second try leads to similar results.  It is clear that cooking time alone is not going to solve this problem.

Smooth in the middle, and slightly jello-y!

Trial 7: I experience a zen moment.  My mind flashes back to my days of making non-vegan lava cakes.  I remember the batter being less viscous.  I know what I need to do.  Chop the amount of cornstarch in half, add some milk to thin the desert out and… voila!

Finally, a cake that exceeds expectations!

A vegan cake that fulfills every criteria on my checklist.  Fairly simple ingredient list, a nice shape, and the filling even oozes out on its own.  It has been a long, arduous journey, but eating this trial was worth every minute of baking and waiting and thinking and scrubbing.

If you’ve stuck with me through all that text then I know what you should do:  Find these ingredients, and make yourself a lava cake.  You’ve earned it!

dessert, recipes

Raw Turtle Truffles

Turtles!

You know, those chocolate candies full of caramel goodness and a happy little pecan on the bottom?  I went and did them up, raw-style!

One of the awesome things about raw food desserts is that they tend to contain real food – no processed sugar, no flour, etc.  While it would be a stretch to call them healthy (turtles are candy, after all), they’ve got some big advantages over their traditional counterparts.

These raw turtles make a great Christmas treat, or you know, a great anytime treat.  But especially Christmas.  And they’re easy to make, too – the most time-consuming part is forming each individual turtle.  All the more reason to make them with good company and a glass of wine, methinks.  You know, in the true holiday spirit.

I want to make a note that this was a recipe I made last year at Living Light Culinary School, so the credit goes to them.  Those peeps be the raw food geniuses!

Raw Turtle Truffles
Makes about 50 turtles

For the caramel:

1 cup pitted dates, packed
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the fudge:

1 cup pitted dates, packed
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed to liquid
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa or carob powder
Pinch of cinnamon

Generous 1/2 cup perfect pecan halves

Directions:

1. For the caramel: Loosely separate the dates and place them in a food processor along with the cashews and vanilla extract.  Process until smooth.  Place in the freezer while making the fudge.

2. For the fudge: Loosely separate the dates and place them in a food processor along with the raisins and coconut oil.  Process until smooth.  Add the cocoa powder and cinnamon, and process again.

3.  For assembly: Roll 1 teaspoon of caramel into a ball, and do the same for the fudge.  Using your thumb, make a depression in the center of the fudge ball large enough to fit the caramel ball inside.  Holding the two together, carefully pull the fudge coating up and around the caramel, and press a perfect pecan half on top.  Repeat until you’ve made all the candies, and chill for at least 1 hour.

Since the caramel mixture is quite sticky, it’s a good idea to have a bowl of water on the counter that you can wash your hands with.

These will keep for up to 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

And now for the pictoral instructions!  Start with 2 balls of each flava.

Check out that branched-off, tormented heart line.  And the funny x’s on my life line.

Then you press your thumb into the fudge to make a little space for the caramel to fit.

Now that the caramel has a home, you can send him home.  “His bags are packed, he’s got his airplane ticket, now why don’t you send him home.”

“Time to go home, there, ball.”

Why you don’t you just go home? That’s your HOME! Are you too good for your HOME? ANSWER ME!”

(I’ve seen that movie way too many damn times.)

Hooray, the caramel is home!

Then you just press a pecan into it.  Voila!  Raw turtle truffles.

Well I’m off to enjoy the rest of my Friday spent indoors since the weather decided to be all snowstorm-y.  Fun times in Saskatchewan!

It kind of looks foggy in the distance, but don’t be fooled – it’s snow coming down pretty heavily.  I’ll be off the roads today!
dessert, recipes

Raw Blueberry Date Cheesecake

So sometimes I dream about food.  In my most recent dream, I was road trippin’ across Canada and I stopped in Lethbridge, Alberta, since I had friends there (I don’t), and they had a crazy awesome vegan restaurant (they don’t).  At this restaurant, I tried to convince my friends to make me waffles with vanilla ice cream, but it was too late in the evening.  Instead, I had to settle for cheesecake in a cup. 

Since I had to test a cheesecake recipe for a raw food class I’m teaching next month, I figured I might as well make my dream come true.  Yay!

A few things:

-The texture won’t be silky smooth if you don’t use an awesome food processor.  A blender would equate with a better texture in this instance, but the wide food processor bowl makes it much, much easier to process.

-I used dates in the cheesecake, but if you want the filling white and more authentic looking, use clear agave.

-I’ve made raw cheesecakes with and without soy lecithin, and it does improve the texture but you don’t have to use it.

Raw Blueberry Date Cheesecake
Makes 4-6 small cheesecake cups

For the crust:

1 heaping cup pecans
2-3 medjool dates
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked for 2 hours and drained
1/3 cup dates (or agave)
2 tablespoons water (omit if using agave)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons soy lecithin powder (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed

Directions:

1. For the crust: In a food processor, process the pecans, dates and salt until crumbly and the mixture just holds together.  Scoop into the bottom of serving cups and set aside.

2. For the filling: In a small blender, blend the dates and water until smooth (omit this step if using agave).  Add to the food processor along with the cashews and coconut and process until smooth, then add the lemon juice, lecithin powder and vanilla and process once more until everything is smooth.  Scoop the mixture into the serving cups and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

3. Top the cheesecake cups with thawed berries – using frozen berries is important here so they get nice and juicy.  Enjoy!

These cups make rather large servings, perfect for sharing with someone.  This is a decadent and slightly pricey treat to make (like every cheesecake ever), but worth it for special occasions…like when you dream about cheesecake.

I’m very excited about tomorrow’s blog post – I’m going on an Ethiopian cooking adventure!  I’ve never made injera before so it could be a grand disaster, but I’m feeling good about it.  Can’t wait to share!

dessert, recipes

Raw Apple Pie

As Thanksgiving draws near (less than a week up here!), I’m trying to figure out what to make for a main course.  I’m happy enough with a Tofurky, but since I’m teaching a class at the end of November on veganizing holiday food, I figure I should put in a little more effort than that.  Stuffing a winter squash is always classy, but sort of predictable, so I’m waffling on this one.  Any ideas?

Dessert, however, was a no-brainer.  I’m teaching this other class in November (I know, busy bee Allysia) on raw food desserts, so I wanted to multitask that with a Thanksgiving dessert.  So raw apple pie it was, since it’s easy (albeit time consuming), not super expensive to make like a lot of raw desserts, and everyone loves apple pie (except Mike since he’s weird about cooked fruit, which means maybe this one will go over well).  Plus I’ve made it a zillion times.

I’ve learned a couple of hard lessons with this pie.  Since it’s raw, the ingredients should be tip-top.  No sad, languishing apples here (I’ve done it and it makes a big difference in the bad way), and use those awesome, caramel-y medjool dates that hang out with fresh produce in the store, not the crappy dried ones in the baking section.

When I first made this pie, I followed Ani Phyo’s recipe to a T, and upon making it a handful of times I’ve modified it to my preference.  I’ll share my modified version here, though I highly recommend checking out her books if you haven’t already!

Raw Apple Pie

For the crust:
1 cup dry almonds
1 cup pitted Medjool dates
1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt

For the sauce:
1/2 cup pitted Medjool dates
1 orange, peeled
water, for consistency

For the pie:
5 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

1.  In a food processor, process the almonds until fairy well-ground (some chunks are okay).  Sprinkle some of the ground almonds on the bottom of a pie plate to “flour” it.  Add the dates and salt to the food processor and process until the mixture sticks together when you squeeze it with your hand.  Press the crust firmly into the pie pan so the bottom and sides are covered.

2.  Using the food processor again (don’t worry about cleaning it), make the sauce by processing the dates and orange, adding enough water to keep the mixture running.  When it’s relatively smooth (some chunks are okay), set it aside.

3.  In a large bowl, combine the apple slices, cinnamon and sauce, tossing well to combine.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and press evenly.  Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to help it become more sliceable and enjoy!

This pie takes on more of a cooked texture when it has the chance to sit for about a day, but since it’s made from fresh ingredients it’s best to enjoy in the course of 2 days.  Trust me, it won’t last that long anyway.

In addition to being a great holiday dessert, it also makes a fairly fancy guilt-free breakfast!  I want to mention, too, that the type of apples you use here makes a big difference in flavor (obviously).  I absolutely love using tart Granny Smiths since it contrasts the sweetness of the syrup and crust so nicely, but go with your preference.

Well have fun with the MoFo, folks, and I’ll catch up with your blogs tonight!

decadent treat food, dessert, recipes

Vegan Buttermilk Cake with Blackberries

Yo-yo!

So last week before I fell ill, I veganized a buttermilk cake for a few reasons:

1.  I had some leftover whipped topping that needed a use (aside from me shoveling it in my face with my hands).

2.  I had leftover cashew cream that also needed a use.

3.  Cake.  Caaaaake.

I want to talk about buttermilk for a minute.  It’s really easy to veganize – if you have soy creamer or homemade nut cream (made with a 1:1 ratio of water/nuts), just dilute it with a little bit of water and you’ll get this rich, thick milk very similar to dairy buttermilk.  The finishing touch is to add a squeeze of lemon juice (I find it’s the most non-offensive acid) to the milk and let it curdle for a few minutes.  It works really well in baking and it’s really simple.

I’ve also veganized buttermilk for recipes, using regular non-dairy milk with a squeeze of lemon, and the results are good, but for this recipe I wanted something more rich and luxurious.  Soy creamers are available at most health food stores (and some big box stores around here carry them too!), and I’ve seen Mimicreme around too, which is an almond/cashew blend and a good alternative to soy.

Of course, making cashew cream is easy as pie – all you gotta do is blend 1 cup of cashews with 1 cup of water until relatively smooth, and then strain it with a strainer bag (or fine mesh sieve) for a really flawless cream.  You can add a bit of sweetener to it and voila, your morning coffee has a new best friend!  You can also dilute some of the cream with water to make a refreshing glass of non-dairy milk, or use it for creamy pasta sauces and soups.  It’s so handy to have!

And of course, you can make cake.  Because come on – cake.

Vegan Buttermilk Cake with Blackberries
Lightly adapted and veganized from Food and Wine magazine
Makes 1 9-inch cake


Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegan margarine, softened
2/3 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons blended soft tofu or yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegan buttermilk (about 1/3 cup cream with enough water to equal 1/2 cup, plus a squeeze of lemon)
1 cup blackberries, plus more for serving
Vegan whipped topping, for serving

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Rub margarine all along the inside of a 9-inch cake pan, and then sprinkle in some flour and shake around to coat.  Set aside.

2.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl, beat the margarine with 2/3 cups of sugar until fluffy (a fork works fine).  Then beat in the tofu and vanilla.  Add the buttermilk and dry ingredients in 3 alternating batches, ending with the dry ingredients.  Be careful not to overbeat!

3.  Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the top.  Scatter the blackberries across the top of the batter and lightly press them in.  Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar over the top of the cake.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

4.  Let the cake sit in the pan on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes, and then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely.  Serve with whipped cream and more blackberries.




This cake was super easy to make, and was really elegant too.  I shared some with coworkers and was met with a very enthusiastic response, especially toward the sugar baked on top.  I had to agree – it added just a little bit of crunch and sparkle to an otherwise fairly ordinary (but awesome!) white cake.  I highly recommend this one as a light summer treat, if you’re so inclined to turn on the oven.

And now I must spend some time memorizing some songs, since the summer is short and there is busking that needs to be done.  A friend of mine named Jessica, a fellow music teacher and guitar player, has been so kind as to jam with me and learn a wide repertoire of music to grace downtown and the liquor stores with.  Not only do I never see girls busking here, I typically don’t see much that’s musically interesting in my city.  So we’re going to challenge the norm and hopefully make a few bucks while doing so. 🙂

With that said, happy Tuesday-ings!

dessert, recipes

Baked Sweet Plantains

Heyo!

In the last post, I mentioned that I would drop in over the weekend to share with you a simple new dessert that Logan and I highly enjoyed.  A dessert of plantains!  Ever since I fell in love with sweet plantains a few weeks ago, we’ve been buying them regularly, letting them get all hideous-looking atop the fridge in unison with the far more aesthetic bananas and avocados.

But they’re not hideous on the inside.  Wait – I know this one – don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  See?  Plantains are so awesome they can teach us life lessons.

Biding by Erin‘s advice to roast plantains, I decided to sprinkle them with a little sugar and cinnamon to make them nice and dessert-y.  We also found that they were heavenly eaten with non-dairy cream – I bet they’d be great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, too.

Ripe plantains are plenty sweet on their own, so I used a minimal amount of sugar.  I’m sure you could eliminate it entirely and it would still taste awesome.

Baked Sweet Plantains
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 yellow-black plantains, peeled and sliced into 1-inch rounds (cutting on the diagonal makes for pretty slices)
1 1/2 teaspoons oil or melted margarine
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Non-dairy cream, for serving

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 F and lightly oil a baking sheet.  Place the plantains on the baking sheet, drizzle on the oil and sprinkle on the sugar and cinnamon.  Toss gently to coat all the plantain slices.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the bottom of the slices are golden brown, then flip ’em around and bake for another 10 minutes or so.  Remove from the oven, divide between two plates and serve with non-dairy cream.

Have a fabulous Sunday, all!

decadent treat food, dessert, recipes

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Several weeks ago I began brainstorming ideas for Christmas gifts, and as always my mind drifted to gifts of food, particularly for those people who I’m acquainted with in only a casual way. 

However, despite my love of food – making it, eating it, and sharing it – as a piano teacher, I’m all too aware of how we can get overloaded with goodies during the holiday season.  So I came up with a foodstuff that’s hardy and long-lived, something that can endure far beyond the lifespan of sugar cookies and ginger snaps and shortbread.  Hello, biscotti.

Biscotti is cool for the above reasons (it keeps at least two weeks and isn’t fussy), and also because it’s kinda classy.  It’s one of those things we don’t tend to bake at home for ourselves (if you do, you should invite me over), and it’s also seldom veganized, maybe because a typical biscotti recipe calls for 4 eggs. 

I must confess that it’s been years since I’ve eaten the coffeeshop variety of biscotti, but this recipe has everything I was looking for – not too sweet, meant to be an afternoon snack with a crunchy bite that softens when dunked in tea.

As Christmas draws closer and I start distributing gifts of food, I’ll inevitably come up with a variety of biscotti flavor combinations, but my first several tests were made with my ultimate dream flavor combination – chocolate hazelnut.  Aside from using hazelnut meal (ground hazelnuts), I used some Frangelico liqueur to pump up the hazelnut flavor, though it was also good with simple vanilla extract – just a little more subtle, perhaps.  I’m fairly confident that hazelnut extract would be sheer perfection here as well.



Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
Makes about 20 cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup hazelnut meal (or ground and skinned hazelnuts)
2/3 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup non-dairy yogurt, ideally vanilla flavor
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons Frangelico (hazelnut) liqueur, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon oil
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F and lightly spray a baking sheet.  In a large bowl, combine both flours, the hazelnut meal, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.  In a small bowl, combine the non-dairy yogurt and milk, liqueur, and oil.  Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and stir until combined – the mixture will be a little dry and sticky, but should hold together.  Form into two rectangles that are about 3 inches wide and 3/4-inch thick and place on the baking sheet.  Bake for 35 minutes, and then cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes.

2.  Lightly spray a second baking sheet with cooking spray.  Cut the logs into 1/2-inch slices and place the slices on the baking sheets.  Bake for 15 minutes on one side, flip, and bake 15 minutes on the other side.  Each side should be fairly dry with only a little softness.  Remove from the oven and let the biscotti cool completely on a cooling rack – the biscotti will harden even more as it cools.

3. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and melt them in the microwave in 20-second increments, stopping to stir between each 20 second interval.  When they’re fully melted, you can either spread the chocolate on one side of the cooled biscotti lengthwise, or spread the chocolate around the tip of the biscotti.  The first way is perfect for dunking, and the second way looks pretty.  Place the chocolate-coated biscotti on parchment or wax paper to set and dry.

Biscotti is best enjoyed in the same manner as scones – with an afternoon tea or coffee.  It’s not meant to be a super sugary affair, at least in my humble opinion – a slight pick-me-up, a snack that just cusps on dessert.

Dunking is mandatory.

On an unrelated but awesome note, I published an article on One Green Planet called 11 Tips for Making Great Vegetable Soups, since I’m passionate about soup and stuff.  Check it out, and catch y’all later!

dessert, recipes

Easy Pumpkin Pudding

Happy Saturday, everyone!

I wanted to share this easy pumpkin pudding recipe with you because I’ve recently gotten addicted to it and have been eating it every morning.  It’s.  So.  Good.  And easy (hence the title).  There’s something about this time of year that just makes me want to eat a whack-ton of pumpkin, especially in sweet applications.  And as much as I love pumpkin pie, it’s not something that I want to be eating for breakfast every morning.

This recipe was inspired by Gena’s Pumpkin Pie Pudding, with me meddling a bit and swapping a banana for cashews so I’d be able to enjoy a big serving to myself for breakfast, or for a mid-afternoon snack.  I also added some ground ginger in there, because ginger and pumpkin are BFF, didn’t you know?

And for some random nutritional information, in case you needed another reason to eat pumpkin:  it’s super high in beta-carotene (vitamin A), with just a half cup being over 300% of the DRI.  Pumpkin also packs in a ton or iron, vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber.  But the most important thing is that pumkin is yummy – what’s the point in all that great nutrition if it tastes like ick? 

Easy Pumpkin Pudding
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 frozen banana (or a normal banana, but add some ice)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup – 1 cup non-dairy milk (depends on how thick you want it)
1 tablespoon molasses (go for blackstrap if you’ve got it)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
12 pecan halves, chopped (optional)

Directions:

1.  In a blender, process the banana, pumpkin puree, non-dairy milk, molasses, cinnamon and ginger until smooth, adding more milk if you want a thinner pudding.  Pour it into a bowl and garnish with the optional chopped pecans.  Enjoy!

I completely love the texture contrast between this creamy pudding and the crunchy pecans – their unique buttery flavor plays very nicely with pumpkin’s mild-mannered ways. 

I think it’ll be a while before I get sick of this super easy pumpkin pudding.  It’s just like pumpkin pie in a bowl, but way healthier!  You just can’t go wrong with that.

Well folks, I’m keeping this post short today, since I’m busy with work and a wine party with the band and our album production team.  We’ll catch up tomorrow with my submission for Vegan MoFo’s Iron Chef Challenge #2, which could turn out awesome, or a complete disaster – whatever the outcome, I’m excited to play!

And hey – we’ve hit the MoFo halfway mark, and it’s been a blast so far!  I can’t wait to see what the other half of the month will bring, especially as we near Halloween. 🙂

dessert, recipes

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies with Beans – Low Fat, Whole Grain

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies with Beans

I’m a gal with the DIY mentality.

When we wander the grocery aisles on the weekend, pushing through hordes of people like we’re at a rock concert, it’s hard not to notice all the goodies. Those sandwich cookies in the health foods aisle, the mock meat in the tofu section, the chips and salsa. Oh, the chips and salsa, Logan’s one true weakness. Call it frugality if you will, but we hardly ever buy the stuff. Which is fine by me, but I often catch Logan gaze longingly at the snack foods we so often pass by.

“It’s too expensive,” I tell Logan. And if that doesn’t persuade him, “look at that abhorrent ingredient list. We’d be better off just making that at home!”

And then we walk away from temptation, with me hoping that Logan will just forget it ever happened.

Oh, Logan doesn’t forget.

“We never have any snacks around the house,” he says. I open the fridge and show him the abundance of fresh food. “There’s plenty to eat,” I say. “But there are no snacks,” is his reply. And by this he means there’s no chips, bread and peanut butter, no ramen, cookies or seasoned nuts and seeds. The fridge could be full but if there isn’t anything that can be whipped up in 2 minutes or less, there’s no food.


Well if I’m the one making tough calls in grocery stores, then I should be the one to amend the situation with homemade snacks. Homemade snacks that are maybe not the definition of perfect health food, but are significantly more wholesome than store-bought.
And the clincher for a couple like us, a piano teacher and school bus driver, about to be virtually unemployed for the next two months – homemade is cheaper.
These cookies are crunchy on the outside, and soft and slightly cakey on the inside. They contain only 2 tablespoons of oil, and no white flour. Each cookie contains approximately one teaspoon of sugar, a big step up from your average cookie.

But the best part about these cookies? There are beans hidden inside!

Pureed beans (white or pinto, or even lentils) replace the fat and add a nutrition boost, and I promise you won’t taste the beans in the finished product – only snacky cookie goodness.
Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies with Beans

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies with Beans

Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients:
A generous 1/2 c. cooked pinto beans (or 1/2 c. cooked navy beans or lentils)
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp ground flax
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 and 1/3 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. chocolate chips
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and lightly oil 2 baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.
2. In a blender, blend the beans, water and ground flax until smooth.
3. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, oil and vanilla with a fork until smooth. Add the bean puree and stir until everything is well-combined.
4. Mix in the oats and chocolate chips with a spoon, and then add the flour and baking soda. Mix well.
5. Drop tablespoon-sized cookie balls on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches of space between the cookies. Flatten them slightly and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden.
6. Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
chocolate-chip-oat-cookies-4
Enjoy! Logan and I have been happily gobbling these up, and he hasn’t uttered a word of snack food woe since. Though I have a feeling that will come once the cookies are gone…

Each cookie is 100 calories, has 3 grams of fat, 7 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. That ain’t too bad at all for a cookie.

Now I’m off to do more packing. We’re out of our house by the end of this weekend, and everything’s all in disarray, with boxes strewn everywhere. But boxes are easy compared to hauling couches, tables and desks! Go muscles go!

decadent treat food, dessert, recipes

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Happy Wednesday!

Here in Regina, Saskatchewan, we’ve got lots to celebrate – the high temperature today is -9 degrees Celsius! Yay to almost average temperatures – one quickly tires of January weather when it’s supposed to be warming up!

In the last post, I discussed my pre-performance food and wellness tips, mentioning that I was going to be sharing a cookie recipe! Because what better way to celebrate good, healthy behavior than with a batch of cookies every now and then? 🙂
Without further ado, check out these classic vegan chocolate chip cookies!
Now I know pretty much everyone has a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. But on the slight chance that you don’t, these ones are definitely worth checking out, since they’re perfect! Yeah, I said it. Perfect. Lightly crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside…what more could you ask for from a vegan chocolate chip cookie?
Oh yeah, and this recipe doesn’t come anywhere close to being healthy. This is the kind of cookie you can offer up to doubting non-vegans who have the inaccurate perception that we only eat bland and crunchy food. They’ll be all like, “om nom nom…best cookies ever…” and you’ll be all, “they’re vegan!” and they’ll be all, “say whaa?” Beautiful moments, those ones.
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2-3 dozen little cookies

Ingredients:
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp hot water
1/2 c. organic white sugar
1/4 c. organic brown sugar
1/4 c. Earth Balance margarine
1/4 c. vegetable shortening
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 c. + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. vegan chocolate chips
Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and hot water and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together both sugars, margarine, and shortening. You can use electric beaters or just use your arm muscles and a big spoon. Once it’s fluffy, add the cornstarch mixture and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Grab a couple of ungreased cookie sheets and get to work! Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of batter on the cookie sheets and leave them 2 inches apart from each other. Don’t flatten the cookie balls – they’ll flatten plenty in the oven! Bake for 8-10 minutes, until they start turning slightly golden. Let cool on the baking pan for a minute or two before transferring to a cooling rack. To keep your oven and cookies happy, only put one baking sheet in the oven at a time!
4. Om nom nom. Cookie paradise.

See you tomorrow! 🙂