Spring Quiche for Mother’s Day

spring quiche for mothers day
spring quiche for mothers day

The sun is shining and plants are reaching towards it. Yes, it’s lovely springtime. This weekend also happens to be Mother’s Day in the U.S., so I thought I would head to the kitchen and make a celebratory brunch.

To me, the perfect brunch starts with quiche. Next add a salad made up of veggies, fruit, and a bright dressing. Include warm bread slathered in olive oil to complete the meal. You can also serve mimosas to make it more joyous.

My refrigerator had everything for my feast except the quiche, so I dug up a recipe that a friend had shared with me. It was already vegan, and needed no altitude adjustments, but I changed the flavors to suit my tastes and what I found in the fridge. I used fresh asparagus and vegan salami with a bit of dill and parsley and had delicious results. So whether you are celebrating Spring or Mother’s Day, this quiche makes a wonderful brunch entrée.

Spring Quiche for Mother’s Day adapted from Easy Vegan Quiche 2 Ways

crust
2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup vegan butter, cold from a brief time in the freezer
2 – 4 tablespoons ice water
filling
8 asparagus spears
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 cup chopped vegan salami (I used Renegade Foods)
sea salt, to taste
1/3 cup vegan feta, broken into small pieces (I used Violife)
1 (12-ounce) bottle Just Egg, cold and shaken
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast

For the crust, sift together the flour and salt and place it in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse several times until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Gradually add the ice water, pulsing until the dough just comes together.

Sprinkle a light layer of flour onto a clean surface. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and use your hands to bring the dough into a ball. Lightly sprinkle the dough with flour, and roll the dough ball out into a roughly circular shape. Keep rolling the dough until it is 3 inches larger than the dish you are making your quiche in.

Carefully lift the dough and place it in the dish. Gently press the dough into the sides of the dish, bringing it up and slightly over the top of the dish. Trim any excess with a knife and crimp the edge with your fingertips. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork, then place the crust in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, put a baking pan on the center rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400F. Line the chilled crust with parchment paper and fill the crust with dried beans or pie weights. Place the crust dish on the baking pan in the oven and bake for 12 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and reduce the temperature to 325F. Remove the beans and parchment paper and return the dish to the oven for 10 more minutes, or until the crust is slightly golden brown. Place the cooked crust on a wire rack to cool. Leave the oven on with the baking pan still on the center rack.

For the filling, bring a large skillet of salted water to a boil. Place the asparagus in the skillet and blanch for 3 minutes but don’t fully cook it. Rinse the asparagus in a colander under cold running water, drain, then pat dry. Take half of the stalks and trim the ends, placing them aside for the top of the quiche. Take the remaining spears and cut them on the bias into slices 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch wide.

Dry the skillet and set it over medium heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, sauté the shallots
for about 2 minutes. Add the salami and cook 1 minute more. Season with salt, then scrape into the crust. Add the cooked asparagus over the shallot-salami mixture, spreading everything out evenly. Scatter bits of feta over top.

spring quiche
spring quiche

Place the Just Egg, dill, parsley, and nutritional yeast in a bowl. Whisk together, then pour the mixture into the crust. Artfully arrange the reserved asparagus spears over the top of the quiche. Bake for 60 minutes, or until the center is set. Place on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes to cool before eating.

Until next time, happy baking!

Rice Cereal and Chocolate Easter Eggs

rice cereal and chocolate Easter eggs
rice cereal and chocolate Easter eggs

It’s the time for baskets filled with themed treats, especially goodies that are homemade and vegan. These “eggs” are quick and easy, and also fun to make with the entire family. The only hard part is waiting for them to be cool so they don’t burn the roof of your mouth!

I’ve posted about rice cereal treats before (see Halloween Rice Krispie Monster), but I thought to add a chocolate spin on the usual recipe. Not wanting the result to be overly sweet, I used Blissfully Better’s Coconut Thins that are sweetened with coconut sugar. A few chopped up bits of the chocolate mixed in with the other ingredients made a tasty addition.

Rice Cereal and Chocolate Easter Eggs

2 TBS vegan margarine
2 TBS refined coconut oil
10 oz. bag vegan marshmallows
5 cups brown rice cereal
4-6 pieces Blissfully Better’s Coconut Thins, diced

Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt the margarine and coconut oil on low heat. Add marshmallows and melt, stirring often to avoid burning. Be patient; low and slow is best with vegan marshmallows.

Once melted, remove from heat and quickly stir in the cereal. Wait a moment for the mixture to cool slightly, then carefully stir in the diced chocolate bits.

Blissfully Better vegan chocolates
Blissfully Better vegan chocolates

Place the mixture in the lined pan and pat down gently. Let cool for 15 minutes. Tip the pan over onto a cutting board. Gently remove the parchment paper from the slab. Cut into individual treats with a large egg-shaped cookie cutter.

Until next time, happy Easter and happy non-baking!

Want to get Blissfully Better’s chocolates at a discount? Use the code BBSOCIAL2022 in their Shopify store for 20% off. (I make nothing sharing this code with you — I’m just spreading some holiday joy!)

Oatmeal Cookies with Pumpkin Seeds and Ginger

oatmeal cookies with pumpkin seeds and ginger
oatmeal cookies with pumpkin seeds and ginger

In last week’s post, I wrote about prepping a dough and then stashing it in the freezer. Today I present the cookie recipe that I used, with notes on how I baked the frozen dough. You can make these cookies and bake them straight away for immediate gratification, or you can pop the dough into the freezer to make daily fresh baked goodies.

I found a recipe for vegan oatmeal cookies, but I wanted to boost their flavor so I added pumpkin seeds, dried apricots, and ground ginger. The high altitude adjustments were adding more applesauce and vanilla to combat dryness, and reducing the amount of baking soda.

To make the cookies more cohesive I used a trick I just learned — pulse the oats a few times in a food processor to make them a bit smaller so they blend in better. The pumpkin seeds also needed chopping so I added the oats with them in the processor and let my kitchen appliance do the hard work.

My tasters enjoyed these as a midday snack and with tea for breakfast. Hubby even liked them, despite their lack of chocolate, so I knew I had a winner.

Oatmeal Cookies with Pumpkin Seeds and Ginger adapted from Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

1.25 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup + 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup diced dried apricots
6 tablespoons vegan butter
6 tablespoons organic sugar
1/4 cup organic light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the oats and pumpkin seeds in a food processor and pulse a few times to break them into smaller bits. Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking soda, ginger, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the oats-seeds mixture and the apricots. Stir with a spatula to mix together and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the vegan butter and both sugars. Add the applesauce and vanilla and beat to combine. (Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled.) With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Continue mixing until a cohesive dough forms. Remove the dough and wrap it in plastic wrap. Place the wrapped dough in the fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, set the oven to 375F.

Once the dough has chilled, use a 2-tablespoon scoop to make 22-24 dough balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets, 3” apart. Press each ball down slightly then bake for 9-10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies harden and the bottoms become golden brown.

Place the baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes to allow the cookies to cool slightly, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

To freeze the cookies then bake later, make the dough balls and place them on the baking sheets. Put the baking sheets in the freezer for 30 minutes, or until the dough balls are firm and solid. Place the dough balls into freezer-safe zipper top bags and store in the freezer for up to two months.

To bake from frozen, preheat the oven to 355F. Place the desired amount of dough balls on parchment lined baking pans with the cookies 2” apart. Bake for 14-15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies harden and the bottoms become golden brown. Place the baking sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes to allow the cookies to cool slightly, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Until next time, happy (freezing and) baking!

Experiments with Cookie Dough, Part 2: Freeze Then Bake

Experiments with Cookie Dough
Experiments with Cookie Dough

This post idea started out in the usual way — think of a tasty treat and make it. And I did start to make something yummy until I realized I was too full from dinner to enjoy dessert. In an effort to avoid wasting fresh-baked goodies, I decided to stop in the middle of my cookie preparations.

However, I stalled out wondering what I should do with my prepared cookie dough. Previously, I had worked with baking and then freezing cookies (see The Great Cookie Freezing Experiment.) Now I guess I needed to jump in and try my hand at freezing and then baking the dough itself.

To start, I grabbed my batch of cookie dough and a cookie scoop that made 1.5 tablespoon balls. I portioned the dough out onto small parchment paper lined baking pans. The pans were then placed in the freezer for over 1 hour for the dough balls to become firm. Once solid, the dough balls were put in a large zip-top freezer bag which went into the freezer.

The next day I was pondering again, but this time I had different questions. Did I need to defrost the dough balls? At what temperature should the oven be set? How long should I bake the cookies? Should I bake all the cookies now, or save some for later?

An internet searched came up with the answers, thanks to Handle the Heat. “You can bake from frozen. Here are the steps…

  1. Preheat the oven to about 20 degrees lower than the original recipe temperature. 
  2. Remove however many balls of dough you need from the freezer and place on a parchment-lined baking pan.
  3. Bake the cookies for 2 to 5 minutes longer than the original recipe instructions, or until the cookies are golden at the edges but still slightly ‘wet’ looking at the very center.”

Using the advice above, I did a test of six frozen cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet in an oven set to 355F instead of 375F. I baked them for 5 minutes more than the recipe stated because I felt my cookies were a little larger than those in the original recipe. My cookies were beautiful golden brown on the bottom and they flattened with minimal dough spread. They were gorgeous, and also delicious.

frozen cookie dough
frozen cookie dough

The tips above even helped answer the question on how many cookies to make. I learned that the dough could be frozen for up to 6 weeks, so I realized I should bake some now but save some for a future cookie craving.

By now are you wondering what cookie I baked? The pictures give a hint, but you will have to wait until next week for the recipe.

Until next time, happy baking!

Spring Brownies with Peppermint Frosting

spring brownies with peppermint frosting
spring brownies with peppermint frosting

Spring is the best time of year. Plants push up out of the ground and crisp scents are everywhere. So, what does this have to do with baking? Well, I’m giving a nod to spring with a treat slathered in minty-fresh, spring-green frosting.

A chocolate brownie is the perfect base for a mint topping, so I have adapted these Spring Brownies from my Quick Brownie Bites. The brownies have a buttercream frosting that is boosted with the addition of peppermint extract and green food coloring.

Even with a swath of frosting, the goodies needed more decadence so I added chocolate ganache. After taking the blog photo, I asked my favorite taster if it looked okay. He replied with an emphatic “yes” so I felt fantastic. That was until I realized he thought I was asking if he would like the plate of brownies. But, his blind faith in my baking skills is good, too.

Spring Brownies with Mint Frosting

Brownies
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup Dutch Processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup neutral flavored vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon non-dairy chocolate milk
1/2 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
Peppermint Frosting
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1.5 tablespoons vegan butter
3-4 teaspoons non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (or to taste)
green food coloring
Chocolate syrup or ganache, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of 8 individual cups of a brownie pan with parchment paper squares, then grease the cups and paper with vegan shortening. (You can use a mini muffin tin with liners if you don’t have a brownie pan).

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the applesauce, oil, vanilla, and chocolate milk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the prepared brownie pan, filling the cups three-quarters full. Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until set on top. Let the brownies cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.

While the the brownies are cooling, prepare the frosting. Beat the powdered sugar and vegan butter together until creamy. Add enough non-dairy milk to make the frosting spreadable. Stir in the peppermint extract and food coloring. Frost the cooled brownies and chill until set, for 15 minutes. Decorate with chocolate syrup or ganache.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Granola Two Ways

chocolate granola two ways
chocolate granola two ways

Over the years, hubby and I have come to love granola. We eat it almost everyday with yogurt or, in the summer, with a smattering of fresh berries. A new favorite is chocolate granola, but the store nearby stopped carrying it. So, into the kitchen with me for a little experimentation.

Another reason to make DIY granola is that we prefer different types — he likes simple oats whereas I like nuts and seeds mixed in. The solution is to make a granola base and then portion it out for different add-ins. With little effort, hubby gets a decadent chocolate granola while I get the same with the addition of almonds, pumpkin seeds, and cocoa nibs.

Which would be more popular in your house — the simple chocolate granola or the chocolate granola with added nuts and seeds? Either way it makes a yummy breakfast.

Chocolate Granola Two Ways based on Lavender Granola

for granola base
1/4 cup vegan butter or margarine, melted and cooled slightly
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon loose-packed brown sugar
pinch sea salt
2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free, if preferred)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (and a bit of chili powder, if you like it spicy)
for nuts and seeds granola
1/4 cup unsalted almonds, or other nuts
1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds, or other seeds
1 tablespoon cocoa nibs

Preheat oven to 250F. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, maple syrup, cocoa powder, brown sugar, and salt. In a large bowl, stir together oats and cinnamon. Pour the butter mixture over the oats and combine with a spatula.

Pour half of the mixture onto a small sheet pan and spread it out evenly. Add the nuts, seeds, and cocoa nibs to the remaining mixture and stir to combine. Pour this mixture onto a small sheet pan and spread it out evenly. Place both baking pans in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove both pans from the oven and transfer to wire racks to allow the granola to cool completely. Once cooled, transfer to airtight containers and store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.

Until next time, happy baking!

Peanut Butter Tart with Vegan Meringue Topping

peanut butter tart with vegan meringue
peanut butter tart with vegan meringue

About two years ago I discovered that I really enjoy making tarts. Not having made one for a year, a tart craving struck me. I was long overdue for baking a new tart.

Peanut butter and chocolate make a delicious combination, so with those tastes in mind for my tart I headed to the kitchen. I made a chocolate cookie crust then filled it with peanut butter mousse and added a dollop of whipped meringue. My favorite taster took one look and said, “Pie!”

While I appreciated his enthusiasm, I had to correct him and tell him it was a tart. He took a bite and said, “Peanut butter pie.” Seeing as tomorrow is Pi Day (3.14 or March 14), I conceded. So, I guess I made a pie (tart) for Pi Day.

Peanut Butter Tart with Vegan Meringue Topping

Chocolate Cookie Crust (adapted from Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes for Mother’s Day)
20 vanilla cream filled chocolate wafer cookies (such as Oreos)
4 tablespoons vegan butter or margarine, melted
Vanilla Pastry Cream (from Pear-Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream)
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3-4 hours then drained
3 ounces almond milk
1 ounce agave syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
Vegan Meringue (from Star-Spangled Berry Parfait)
1/2 cup unsalted chickpea liquid, previously reduced and chilled *
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 ounces caster sugar
1 teaspoon non-alcoholic vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Peanut Butter Filling
1.25 cups smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup vegan powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon non-alcoholic vanilla extract
3/4 cup vanilla pastry cream (a portion of the recipe above)
3/4 cup vegan meringue (a portion of the recipe above)
Garnish
shaved chocolate

Chocolate cookie crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Place the cookies in a food processor and process until they are fine crumbs. Drizzle in the melted butter and process until the mixture is like moist sand, up to 1 minute. Press the mixture into a 4” x 14” tart pan. Tamp the mixture down using the bottom of a small glass. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. After it has chilled, bake the crust for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Vanilla pastry cream: Place the cashews, milk, agave, vanilla, and salt in a high speed blender. Process on high until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the jar as needed. Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the peanut butter filling. The leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for a week in an airtight container.

Vegan meringue: Place the chickpea liquid and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the mixture on low speed until the cream of tartar is incorporated and the liquid is semi-opaque. You may need to stop the mixer and stir the contents at the bottom a few times to get it fully mixed. Increase the speed to high and beat for an additional minute, or until opaque.

Reduce the speed to low and begin adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. After the first addition, raise the speed to high, beating for 1 minute after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added, continue to beat for 10 minutes on high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula once or twice. The meringue should be stiff, white, and glossy. If not, keep beating until it is.

Reduce the speed to medium and slowly add vanilla and lemon juice. Immediately raise the speed to high and beat for another 3 minutes, or until the meringue is stiff, white, and glossy and resembles marshmallow fluff.

* Heat the chickpea liquid on the stove to reduce it by 1/3, then chill it before making the meringue. It should be thick and resemble egg whites.

vegan meringue
luscious vegan meringue

Peanut butter filling: Put the peanut butter, milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and beat with a spoon until smooth. Add the pastry cream and mix until combined. Carefully fold 1/4 cup vegan meringue into the peanut butter mixture. Once blended, add the remaining 1/2 cup vegan meringue and gently fold in until just combined.

To assemble: Spoon the peanut butter filling into the cooled chocolate cookie crust. Garnish with dollops of vegan meringue and sprinkles of shaved chocolate.

Until next time, happy baking!

A Quartet of Snack Bites: Cinnamon Raisin Bagel, Cranberry Raspberry, Chocolate Blueberry Chipotle, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

from left: chocolate blueberry chipotle, cranberry raspberry, chocolate chip cookie dough, cinnamon raisin bagel

Protein bars have become a ubiquitous part of snack time, handy for whenever blood sugar takes a dip. I like to eat them when my tummy begins to rumble, but they are too big to be considered a snack. Instead of eating a partial bar and tucking the rest away for the future (yes, I do this), I decided to make a smaller version that I call “snack bites.”

To come up with my one-bite nibbles, I thought about the basic formula for a whole food protein bar. They usually contain dried fruit, nuts, nut or seed butter, and spices or other flavorings. There are many choices in each category with substitutions galore, such as using sunflower seed butter in place of almond butter or cardamom instead of cinnamon. The possibilities are endless with an appeal for a variety of tastes.

Working with this template I made four combinations to suit any craving — there’s chocolate, sweet, tart, and spicy alongside a variety of fruit and nuts. So, grab whatever you have in the cupboard to mix and match for this quartet of tasty bites.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagel Snack Bites

2 dates
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons creamy almond butter
1 tablespoon maple sugar
for rolling in:
1 tablespoon vegan sugar
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon

Soak the dates in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain but save the soaking water to add later if the mixture is too dry. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the rolled oats in a food processor fitted with the S-blade and pulse to make a coarse flour. Add the drained dates, raisins, almond butter, and maple sugar to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until the mixture just starts to clump together and holds together when squeezed between your fingers. If the mixture is too dry then add a bit of date soaking water. If it is too wet, add more oats.

Combine the vegan sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl and put it next to the lined baking sheet. Scoop a tablespoon of mixture into your hands and roll it into a ball. Place the balls on the lined baking sheet as they are formed. When all the balls are formed, roll 2 or 3 at a time in the shallow bowl until each is coated with cinnamon sugar. Place them back on the lined baking sheet as you work.

Snack bites can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for 2 – 3 months. Makes 10 – 12 bite-sized snacks.

Cranberry Raspberry Snack Bites

1/8 cup dates
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon tahini
1/4 teaspoon ground flaxseed
1/8 cup almond meal
for garnish:
1/8 cup ground freeze dried raspberries

Soak the dates in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain but save the soaking water to add later if the mixture is too dry. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the drained dates, dried cranberries, walnuts, orange zest, tahini, ground flaxseed, and almond meal in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Pulse until the mixture just starts to clump together and holds together when squeezed between your fingers. If the mixture is too dry then add a bit of date soaking water. If it is too wet, add more almond meal.

Scatter a bit of almond meal on a cutting board and put it next to the lined baking sheet. Place the ground freeze dried raspberries in a shallow bowl and put it near the lined baking sheet. Remove the mixture from the food processor and place it on the cutting board. Scatter a bit more almond meal on top of the mixture and roll it out to 1/4-inch thick. Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to portion the dough (my cutter made 12 hearts). Dip one side of a cut-out heart into the shallow bowl with the dried raspberry powder and place it on the lined baking sheet as you work to dip all of the hearts.

Snack bites can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for 2 – 3 months.

Chocolate Blueberry Chipotle Snack Bites

1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds
1/8 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon almond butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
generous pinch chipotle powder
for rolling in:
1/4 cup ground freeze dried blueberries

Soak the dates in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain but save the soaking water to add later if the mixture is too dry. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the drained dates, dried blueberries, almonds, cocoa powder, almond butter, vanilla, and chipotle powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Pulse until the mixture just starts to clump together and holds together when squeezed between your fingers. If the mixture is too dry then add a bit of date soaking water. If it is too wet, add more cocoa powder.

Put the ground freeze dried blueberries in a shallow bowl and put it next to the lined baking sheet. Scoop a tablespoon of mixture into your hands and roll it into a ball. Place the balls on the lined baking sheet as they are formed. When all the balls are formed, roll 2 or 3 at a time in the shallow bowl until each is coated with the blueberry powder. Place them back on the lined baking sheet as you work.

Snack bites can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for 2 – 3 months. Makes 10 – 12 bite-sized snacks.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Snack Bites

1 graham cracker sheet
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
4 teaspoons date paste or caramel
1 teaspoon chocolate tahini (I used Soom Chocolate Tahini) or chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the graham cracker in a food processor fitted with the S-blade and pulse to make small crumbs. Add the cashews, date paste, and chocolate tahini. Pulse until the mixture just starts to clump together and holds together when squeezed between your fingers. If the mixture is too dry then add a bit of chocolate tahini. If it is too wet, add more graham cracker crumbs.

Put the mixture in a bowl and stir in the mini chocolate chips. Scoop a tablespoon of mixture into your hands and roll it into a ball. Place the balls on the lined baking sheet as they are formed.

Snack bites can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for 2 – 3 months. Makes 10 bite-sized snacks.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Sweet Heart Chocolate Cupcakes for My Sweetheart

sweet heart chocolate cupcakes with strawberry filling
sweet heart chocolate cupcakes with strawberry filling

Ah, Valentine’s Day … a time when everything is made into the shape of a heart. I couldn’t resist the trend after watching a trick for making heart-shaped cupcakes without a special pan. All that is required is a muffin tin, paper liners, and a bit of foil.

Prepare your cupcake batter, such as the version of my favorite chocolate cupcakes below. Before you portion the batter into the lined muffin tin, take strips of foil and form them into small balls. Take one foil ball, place it in a cavity on the outside of a liner, then crease the liner against it to form a heart shape. Repeat to make 12 cute heart-shaped cupcakes!

My heart cupcakes were made using my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe, although this time I tried a new plant milk from sesame seeds. Because the milk is a bit thicker, it made a more dense batter that I easily remedied by adding more liquid. On the upside, the thicker milk did make the frosting creamy and more luxurious.

To make a Valentine-themed cupcake, I added strawberry jam to the filling because chocolate loves strawberry. Next I accented the heart shape with pink frosting then gave the sweet heart to my sweetheart.

Sweet Heart Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Filling

For the cupcakes
1 cup + 4 teaspoons Hope & Sesame Organic Sesamemilk
1.5 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-process cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
for the frosting
1/4 cup vegan shortening
3/4 cup Miyoko’s Creamery Cultured Vegan Butter, salted
3 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 cup Hope & Sesame Organic Sesamemilk
for the filling
2 tablespoons strawberry preserves
decorations (optional)
red food coloring
red decorative sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 muffin pan with paper liners and set aside. Whisk together the 1 cup + 4 teaspoons milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add sugar, oil, and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla to the milk mixture and beat until foamy.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to the wet ingredients and beat just until no large lumps remain. Place foil balls (described in post above) into the muffin pan alongside the paper liners. Pour batter into the liners, filling three-quarters of the way.

sweet heart cupcakes with foil in tin
baked sweet heart cupcakes with foil in muffin pan

Bake for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then tip the cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting and filling. Place the shortening and vegan butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle blade. Beat until just combined. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla to the bowl and beat again. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, adding the milk when the mixture get too dry. Once all frosting ingredients have been added, let the stand mixer run for several minutes until the frosting is light and creamy.

For the filling, place 1 cup of frosting in a bowl and mix it with the strawberry preserves. Using a knife or cupcake corer, remove a small portion of the center of each cooled cupcake. Using a spoon, add the filling to the holes. Don’t worry if it’s slightly messy as you will be frosting the tops of the cupcakes.

Divide the rest of the frosting as you wish, tinting some of it with red food coloring or leaving it all white. Decorate the tops of the frosted cupcakes with red sugar, if desired.

Until next time, happy Valentine’s Day and happy baking!

Ginger Maple Shortbread — vegan and gluten-free

ginger maple shortbread
ginger maple shortbread

Something odd is going on. Gluten-free recipes are catching my eye and not scaring me. Usually I grimace when someone asks me if I make no-gluten treats as part of my high altitude and vegan baking repertoire. Making too many changes can ruin a baked good, but I must be adapting because this is my second recipe of that style in just a few weeks.

What intrigued me about this shortbread-type recipe was that it called for coconut or palm oil. The cookbook I found it in was from 2009 and so many new vegan butter substitutes have become available since then. It seemed like a good opportunity to test out the recipe with a newer product.

Shortbread cookies have so few ingredients that each one needs to shine. Fortunately I had Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter in my fridge, so that became the base of my bar. With no leavening in the cookie, high altitude wasn’t much of an issue. But I did add ginger because maple syrup and ginger are a match made in heaven.

Ginger Maple Shortbread based on Maple “Butter” Bars

2.75 cups brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 cup unsalted Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter, at room temp
1 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 10 x 10” (or similar-sized) pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Add the rice flour, salt, and ginger to a bowl and whisk together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the vegan butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. (This may take several minutes.) Slowly add the flour mixture a half cup at a time, and mix until well combined.

Spread the batter into the lined pan, then smooth the top. Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until the edges are firm. Place the pan onto a heat-safe surface and immediately score the dough into 16 equal portions. (Hubby cut the bars or they wouldn’t look so even; see the picture below.)

scored ginger maple shortbread
scored ginger maple shortbread

Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, the bars can be fully broken apart and removed from the pan. They can be drizzled with chocolate syrup to keep hubby happy 😉

Until next time, happy baking!