Brown Sugar Rice Krispie Treats

brown sugar rice krispie treats
brown sugar rice krispie treats

With temperatures hovering around 100F I vowed not to turn on the oven. That meant no baking of any kind, including that of tasty desserts. Still I was craving a yummy snack so I turned to the classic Rice Krispie Treats. After the ingredients spend a short time in a saucepan and then a mixing bowl, they transform into a cool and decadent pleasure.

I have offered various versions of this in the past, but I delved deep into my archives to find a brown sugar cereal bar. The website I retrieved it from is defunct, so I am glad to share my take on these Krispie Bars. The recipe was already vegan and needed no high altitude adjustments. The changes made were to adapt the ingredient amounts for my tastes, including the addition of chocolate chips. These cereal bars taste a bit caramely, a bit marshmallowy, a bit chocolatey, and a whole lot of delicious.

Brown Sugar Rice Krispie Treats

2.5 cups brown rice crisps cereal
2 TBS + 2.5 tsp light brown sugar, packed
1 TBS almond milk
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 TBS vegan margarine or coconut oil, plus extra to grease the pan
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz (or 14 large) vegan marshmallows
1/4 cup mini vegan chocolate chips

Line and grease an 8 x 8” pan with foil, leaving an overhang to help lift the finished bars from the pan. Pour the cereal into a large bowl and set aside.

In a saucepan, over medium-low, heat the brown sugar, milk, salt, and 1 TBS margarine. Cook for 5 minutes, whisking continuously, until the mixture looks like caramel sauce. Add the vanilla and cook an additional minute. Whisk in the remaining 1 TBS margarine until completely combined. Remove from heat and immediately add the marshmallows, stirring until smooth. Pour marshmallow mixture over the cereal and stir until partially combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir until well combined.

Press the mixture firmly into the prepared pan. Allow to cool before removing from the pan and placing on a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares, or maybe just 9 squares as I did.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Chewy Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

chewy chocolate crinkle cookies
chewy chocolate crinkle cookies

Several readers have been asking for this recipe, and here it is (drumroll, please). Let me present … Chewy Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. My post The Magic of Crinkle Cookies chronicled my experiments with different crinkle ideas, and now I offer you the delicious cookie that arose from those tests. This chocolatey cookie is moist and chewy with notes that are sweet with a hint of salty. The fissures in the cookie’s crust are brought out by a slight dusting of sugars. This cookie took me back to my childhood and made me smile. I hope it makes you smile, too.

Although I borrowed parts of many recipes, the base of my creation was from a cookbook called A Good Bake. To make their cookie vegan, I swapped the dairy butter for Flora plant butter, and I used aquafaba in place of an egg. I kept the brown sugar because it has more moisture (for chewiness) and is more acidic (for its reaction with baking soda to help the cookies rise), but I used light brown sugar for a more subtle flavor. Before baking, I rolled the dough balls in granulated then powdered sugar to ensure I would get that snowy look that crinkles have. I am glad that I took the time to sort these tasty treats out because now they are a part of my regular cookie repertoire.

Chewy Chocolate Crinkle Cookies adapted from A Good Bake

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (not dutch-process)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
16 TBS unsalted vegan butter, softened (like Flora)
1.5 cups light brown sugar, packed
3 TBS aquafaba
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegan sugar, for rolling
1/4 cup vegan powdered sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.

Put the butter and brown sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the aquafaba and vanilla, and beat until well combined, 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until no visible flour remains, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pour the vegan sugar in one shallow bowl and the powdered sugar in another. Use a 2 TBS cookie scoop to get a lump of dough, then roll it in your hands to form a ball. Roll the dough ball first in the bowl of vegan sugar then in the powdered sugar, and place on a prepared cookie sheet. Repeat until all dough is used, leaving 2” between each cookie.

chocolate crinkle cookie defies gravity
chocolate crinkle cookie defies gravity

Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, for 13-15 minutes, rotating each baking sheet from front to back midway through the baking time. Remove cookies from the oven and let them cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Yield: 24 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling

dark chocolate cupcakes with raspberry filling
dark chocolate cupcakes with raspberry filling

It’s a long holiday weekend in the U.S., and that calls for a special dessert. Special doesn’t mean complicated, but maybe more than a plate of cookies. That got me thinking … hmmm, cupcakes are still easy … but, FILLED cupcakes are easy and noteworthy. Now, to decide on the flavors … raspberry and chocolate are always a hit. Armed with my choices, I came up with a delicious dark chocolate cupcake and then an easy-but-tasty raspberry frosting.

Admittedly, I had a lot of changes to make. To veganize the cupcakes, I made buttermilk from soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Then I replaced the butter with canola oil, and the eggs with aquafaba. For high altitude, I reduced the total amount of leaveners and increased the flour. The frosting was easier, as I swapped out dairy items with their non-dairy counterparts. Although I may not have needed to make the frosting. As fantastic as these were filled, my hubby loved them without frosting. That’s okay; more raspberry frosting for me!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling adapted from Food & Wine and Food Network

for the cupcakes
1/2 cup soy milk
1.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/8 cup natural cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup canola oil
3 TBS aquafaba
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 TBS all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup vegan granulated sugar
for the filling / frosting
6 TBS cold vegan butter
2 TBS vegan shortening
3 cups vegan powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp non-dairy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 heaping TBS raspberry fruit spread

Preheat oven to 350F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a standard muffin tin with paper cups and set aside. Place soy milk in a jar and add the apple cider vinegar. Place the lid on the jar and shake gently to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes to curdle.

Put cocoa powder in a large heatproof bowl. Add boiling water and whisk until a smooth paste forms. Whisk in curdled milk, oil, aquafaba, and 3/4 tsp vanilla until combined. In a medium bowl, sift flour with baking soda, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir to combine.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups until they are half full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with just a few crumbs. Let cupcakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the vegan butter and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with the non-dairy milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla, until it is smooth and creamy. Add the raspberry fruit spread and beat until creamy.

Spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Holding a cupcake in your hand, plunge the tip into the top of the cake, pushing it halfway in. Gently squeeze the pastry bag to fill the cupcake, withdrawing it slowly as you squeeze. Repeat until all cupcakes are filled. Use the remaining filling to pipe tiny rosettes on the tops of the cupcakes. Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes for Mother’s Day

mini chocolate mousse cakes
mini chocolate mousse cakes

Mother’s Day requires a special dessert. The idea is that if you slave away all day at the oven, then you prove that you care. But all you really need is a treat that is decadent and delicious. These Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes are all that, and more. They are fairly easy to make, too. The hardest part for me was cutting the parchment circles to fit the mini pans. (I am not very adept with scissors).

My search for a decadent Mother’s Day treat provided a recipe that made a 7-inch cake. Not having a pan that size, I decided to change it up to make mini cakes. I liked that idea because they can be served individually so Mom can get a fancy one made just for her. The recipe was vegan and no-bake, so I didn’t have to make those changes. I did make alterations to ensure the mini cakes would be firm. The result was the cutest mousse cakes that were deemed so delicious that they should be made on more than just special occasions.

Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes adapted from Vegan Chocolate Mousse Cake

Cookie Crust
14 vanilla cream filled chocolate wafer cookies (such as Oreos)
4 TBS vegan margarine or butter
Mousse Filling
11 ounces dark chocolate, 65% or higher
12.3 ounces silken tofu, drained but not pressed
10.6 ounces vegan greek style yogurt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 TBS powdered sugar
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
4 TBS maple syrup
Garnishes
fresh raspberries
powdered sugar

For the crust: Cut parchment paper to line the bottom and sides of 8 mini cheesecake tins with removable bases. Set aside. Add cookies and vegan margarine or butter to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is like moist sand, up to 1 minute. Remove 1/2 cup of the cookie mixture and set aside. Press the remaining mixture into the bottoms of the 8 mini tins. Tamp the mixture down with the bottom of a small glass to compact it. Place the tins in the fridge.

For the filling: Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Set aside briefly to cool slightly. Place the tofu, yogurt, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and maple syrup in a high speed blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, creamy, and slightly warm. (The heat will help the melted chocolate to blend in smoothly). Add the melted chocolate and blend again until the mixture is very smooth. Remove the tins from the fridge and pour the filling into them. Bang the tins on the counter to flatten out the tops of the mousse. Return the tins to the fridge for 4-5 hours, or overnight, to firm up. Once set, remove the cakes from the tins and remove the parchment paper.

To plate: Place each cake on an individual plate and place a raspberry on top. Sprinkle some of the remaining crust crumbs over the top and dust the cake with powdered sugar. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Until next time, happy non-baking and Happy Mother’s Day!

Custom Muffins with Glazes

custom muffins with custom glazes
custom muffins with custom glazes

I ran across a recipe for a customizable muffin and it intrigued me. The concept was to have a “base” that you can vary any way you like. Berries could be stirred in, or nuts, or chocolate chips, or candies … you get the idea. It seemed like a fantastic way to make multiple flavors at one time without baking dozens of muffins at once. You could make a variety pack for yourself, or have several flavors to give as treats. I wanted to so something special for my neighbors, so I decided that four different muffins might put smiles on their faces. And, since I can’t leave well enough alone, I opted to make a different flavored glaze for each muffin flavor.

To veganize the recipe, I curdled cashew milk as a stand-in for buttermilk. In place of regular unsalted butter, I used Flora unsalted plant butter. Lastly, aquafaba was my egg substitute. To account for high altitude, I reduced the amount of baking powder and the oven temperature. Despite all of these changes to the original recipe, the muffins turned out tall and beautiful. My neighbors said they were great, and I enjoyed the diversity of the ones I saved for me.

Custom Muffins with Glazes adapted from Ultimate Muffins

4 TBS unsalted vegan butter (like Flora plant butter)
1 cup + 1 tsp non-dairy milk
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
2 cups all purpose flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup vegan sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 TBS aquafaba
1 tsp vanilla extract
Custom mix-ins:
blueberries, fresh or frozen, drained if needed; 4 – 6 per muffin
chopped berries, fresh or frozen, drained if needed; 4 – 6 pieces per muffin
chocolate chips, regular or minis; 2-3 TBS
Custom glazes:
3 TBS powdered sugar, sifted
up to 1 tsp non-dairy milk
flavored extracts (such as vanilla, coffee, chocolate, lemon, orange)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper cups and spray the cups with nonstick cooking spray. Melt vegan butter in a small saucepan and set aside to cool. Place non-dairy milk in a jar and add the apple cider vinegar. Place the lid on the jar and shake gently to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes to curdle.

Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the sugars and whisk to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, curdled milk, aquafaba, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined. Remove 1/2 cup of batter to a bowl. Scoop the remaining batter into separate bowls, one per flavor. (I made 4 flavors, 3 muffins each, so I scooped 1/4 of the remaining batter each into its own bowl). Add the mix-ins, one flavor per bowl, and fold in gently. (I added 18 small blueberries to one bowl of batter, 12 bits of chopped cherries to one bowl, 15 bits of chopped raspberries to one bowl, and 2 TBS of mini chocolate chips to the last bowl).

Divide the 1/2 cup of reserved plain batter between the 12 muffin cups, as a layer on the bottom of the muffin cup. (This keeps the mix-ins from sinking to the bottom of the muffin). Next, fill the muffin cups 2/3 full with the flavored batters, one flavor per muffin cup. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the muffin tin halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. Move the tin to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled slightly, tip the muffins out onto the rack to finish cooling.

baked custom muffins, 4 flavors
baked custom muffins, 4 flavors

While the muffins cool, make the glazes. Add the powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp nondairy milk to a bowl. Add more milk, one drop at a time, as needed to dissolve the powdered sugar without making it too runny. Divide the glaze base into individual bowls to make separate flavors. I added vanilla and coffee extracts to put on my chocolate chip muffins, vanilla extract only for the raspberry muffins, chocolate and vanilla extracts for the cherry muffins, and lemon extract with a sprinkle of lemon zest for the blueberry muffins). When the muffins have cooled, drizzle the glazes over the tops of the muffins.

Until next time, happy baking!

The Magic of Crinkle Cookies

chocolate crinkle cookies
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

When I think back to childhood, one of my favorite cookies was the chocolate crinkle. The dense chocolate flavor and sugary coating was a hit, but I was also mesmerized by the cracks and ridges in the cookies. Where did they come from? And what magic made it possible? As a self-proclaimed baking researcher, I now had to dig into the subject and solve the mystery of the crinkle cookie.

There are many recipes for crinkles out there, but they differ in strategic ways. Some bakers put the dough in the refrigerator prior to baking, while others stand resolute in the idea that they should not be cooled first. Certain recipes use only one leavener but others use both baking soda and baking powder. I wondered why there was such a disparity of ideas, so I dove deeper to reveal the science behind the different recipe twists.

In the cookbook A Good Bake, we are told that crinkles are considered a rise-and-fall cookie. This moniker “refers to one that rises in the oven and then falls when you take it out. The rise-and-fall process is a result of the baking soda reacting with the cocoa powder and brown sugar before the cookie is set. When the cookies are removed from the oven, they fall, giving them that crackle top. How quickly the cookie rises before it sets up is the key to achieving that finish.” The authors recommend against putting the dough in the fridge, as this helps the cookie rise quicker. They also say to bake in batches, one tray at a time. This makes sense as it maximizes the oven heat that each tray receives.

Additional crinkle cookie information was found on the WonderHowTo website. “Crinkle cookies are meant to have gaps between wrinkles of powdered sugar. … Achieving this perfect appearance relies solely on the amount of spreading and expanding they do in the oven.” So, again, the recommendation is to keep the dough out of the fridge. The article also mentions how oven temperature affects cookie expansion. “If crinkle cookies are baked at 350°F, the outside bakes and hardens more quickly, which doesn’t give the dough enough time to spread. … Therefore, crinkle cookies are best baked at 325°F; this temperature allows the ingredients to spread and melt onto the sheet for a longer amount of time before they start to bake and harden.”

As oven temperature can play a role in high altitude baking, I tested both 325F and 350F. While the cookies baked, I peeked through the oven window to watch them rise and fall. It was interesting that the 350F cookies took longer to fall, so I kept them in the oven for the same amount of time as the 325F batch. You can see in the photos that the higher temp made cookies with cracks that were slightly wider. I ended up preferring the texture of those baked at 350F.

crinkle cookies at 325 F
crinkle cookies at 325 F
crinkle cookies at 350 F
crinkle cookies at 350 F

From Cook’s Illustrated I learned “a simple tweak (that) turned out to be key to producing a maximum number of fissures: rolling the balls of dough in granulated sugar before rolling them in powdered sugar. Coating the cookies with either type of sugar draws out moisture from their surface, promoting cracks by drying out their tops before the interiors set. But granulated sugar does so more efficiently because of its coarse, crystalline structure.” I also noticed that if you swirled the cookies in powdered sugar only, then the white coating seemed to disappear as they cooked. When I rolled the dough in both I achieved the snowy look that is part of the signature the cookie.

A test baker at Cook’s Illustrated also did a thorough testing of leaveners. “Baking powder, as I already knew, did a decent job by itself, but a combination of baking powder and baking soda proved to be the winner. These cookies spread nicely, without any hump, and they had a more crackly surface (than baking soda alone).”

What did all of this prove? That I love chocolate crinkle cookies. Okay, I already knew that. However, I did discover that I was searching for the cookie from my childhood — a crinkle that was not overly sweet and had a dense but chewy texture. The crinkle cookie can achieve an ever-so-slight hump and have a thick layer of powdered sugar and be a success. But, for me, chocolate crinkle perfection is found in a cookie that is flat and has just a light dusting of sugar.

Until next time, happy testing!

Molten Lava Cake

molten lava cake
molten lava cake

Lava cakes are fascinating; they ooze chocolate as if by magic. The desserts are designed somewhat like a chocolate torte combined with a little bit of soufflé. Their lush chocolate flavor deepens as the outside cake sets, yet the inside remains deliciously gooey. In a traditional recipe, this molten center is enhanced with the use of eggs. In preparing this dessert vegan-style, I turned to a chunk of chocolate to recreate the melted interior.

My search for lava cake recipes revealed several, but I chose one that was already vegan to make things easier. For high altitude, I merely reduced the leavener slightly. Next I scaled it down to make just one cake, and it’s good that I did. This treat is so intensely rich that half of the cake was extremely satisfying. I easily shared it, but you can double the recipe if you aren’t in a sharing mood.

Molten Lava Cake adapted from Vegan Chocolate Lava Cakes

Shortening, to grease the ramekin
1 TBS cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting the ramekin
1 ounce unsweetened soy milk
1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup + 1/4 tsp all purpose flour
scant 1/8 tsp baking powder
pinch sea salt
1 TBS + 1 tsp vegan sugar
1/2 TBS vegan butter, melted
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 TBS vegan mini chocolate chips, melted
1 piece dark chocolate
Chocolate shavings and vegan whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 3-ounce ramekin and dust with cocoa powder. Shake out the excess powder. Add milk and vinegar to a bowl and whisk. Set aside a few minutes to curdle.

To a medium bowl, sift together 1 TBS cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt. To a medium bowl, add sugar, melted butter, vanilla, and applesauce. Add curdled milk and whisk until foamy. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until no large lumps remain. Add melted chocolate chips and stir again. Pour batter into prepared ramekin. Push piece of chocolate into center of batter, then push batter over chocolate to cover.

Place filled ramekin on a baking sheet. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until the edges have pulled away slightly and the top no longer feels wet. Place the ramekin on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. When cool, run a knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it. Put a plate over the ramekin and carefully invert the cake onto the plate. Dust the cake with chocolate shavings and add a dollop of whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Until next time, happy baking!

Charoset-Inspired Dessert Bites

Charoset-Inspired Dessert Bites

This time of year I get a little excited for Charoset, the classic Passover relish made from fruits, nuts, spice, and grape (in the form of juice or wine). The combined tastes of those food elements dance playfully on my tongue. Some traditions make charoset into a paste rather than a relish, so I thought it would be fun to make a food item that melded the two forms. That is how I decided on dessert bites. A little pureed and a little chunky, with all of the wonderful flavors that I love.

This recipe is raw so high altitude baking wasn’t an issue. I merely wanted to create my version of this treat and share it with you. These bites make an energetic afternoon snack, a quick breakfast, or a healthy dessert. They would be appreciated for Passover or Easter, or anytime you want to savor the combination of apples, nuts, and grape juice.

Charoset-Inspired Dessert Bites inspired by Haroset Balls

1 cup dried apple
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup grape juice
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/8 tsp powdered ginger
1/8 tsp powdered clove
2 TBS almond meal
powders to roll the bites in, optional

Line a tray or baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Place dried apples, apricots, dates, and raisins in a bowl and cover with grape juice. Let sit for 15 minutes so the juice can soak into the fruit.

Place walnuts and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are roughly chopped. To the food processor, add the soaked fruit and any juices from the bowl. Add the spices and pulse until everything is finely chopped and well combined. Add the almond meal and pulse a few times to evenly distribute. The mixture will form a large ball in the food processor bowl.

Transfer the large ball to a bowl. Remove small amounts at a time to form balls the size of walnuts. Place balls on the lined tray and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. When firm, roll each ball into powder, if desired. I used ground up freeze-dried blueberries, dried raspberry powder, cocoa powder, goji berry powder, and maca powder. (Can you tell in the picture which bite has which powder?)

charoset dessert bites and toppings

Store up to 3 weeks in a covered container in the refrigerator. Yields: 24 sweet treats

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Irish Soda Bread with Currants

Irish soda bread with currants
Irish soda bread with currants

I should begin by saying that I attempted the following recipe with great trepidation. I had never made bread before, except quick breads that you essentially pour into a pan like you do with cake. You will see in my other posts that I’m not fond of making pie shells either. Both bread and pie crust recipes have directions such as, “move dough to a lightly floured surface,” or “knead until the dough forms a ball.” These types of instructions make my blood run cold. I am a bread wimp. But, if you are too, I have good news. I made bread and so can you. All that’s needed is the right recipe.

I pored over a variety of Soda Bread creations. They generally require no yeast and little or no kneading, so I figured it was a good place to start. Most importantly, they aren’t expected to have a light crumb or to look airy and beautiful. Great … bread I can make! The only change needed was to reduce the baking soda for high altitude. So, with a little Irish inspiration and luck on St. Patrick’s Day, I faced my fears and created my fruity loaf. The only drawback was when my favorite taster laid eyes on the baked treat and excitedly, yet incorrectly, thought it was chocolate chip bread. But all was redeemed when I slathered it with vegan butter and jam.

Irish Soda Bread with Currants based loosely on Classic Soda Bread from Williams Sonoma

1.75 cups unsweetened plain soy milk
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
550 grams plus 1 tsp all purpose flour, divided (plus extra for work surface)
2 TBS vegan sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1.25 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup grapeseed oil

Preheat oven to 400F. Whisk together soy milk and apple cider vinegar, then set aside to curdle. Spray an 8” tall-sided round cake pan with baking spray then dust with flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together 550 grams flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the currants. Add grapeseed oil to the soy milk mixture; no need to stir. Gradually add this milk mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until the dry ingredients are moistened. With your hands, knead the dough in the bowl to just combine the ingredients. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball, lightly dusting your hands with flour if needed. Press dough evenly into the prepared pan, then sprinkle the top with 1 tsp flour.

With a sharp knife, mark an X in the top of the dough so it will bake properly in the center. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Cover the pan loosely with foil halfway through the bake time.) Place pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before upending the pan to remove the bread.

soda bread and chai tea
soda bread with jam and tea

Note: I listed the flour in grams as precise measurements are best when making bread.

Until next time, happy bread baking!

Apricot Pistachio Bark with Tahini Swirl

apricot pistachio bark with tahini swirl
apricot pistachio bark with tahini swirl

Dried apricots and pistachios seem to be ending up in so much of my food lately. They were in my muffins last week, and my Moroccan stew the other night. And now they feel right at home in this chocolate bark. I started out with the idea of making a bark, and the two just showed up in my ingredient list. Luckily they pair well together, and they are complimented by a touch of tahini.

Admittedly, the idea of adding tahini to chocolate bark wasn’t mine. I borrowed it, but made a few alterations in the no-baking-needed recipe I found. Chocolate bark can really be any combination that sounds tasty to you, so feel free to borrow my recipe then modify it to suit your tastes. But keep the tahini swirl in. Trust me.

Apricot Pistachio Bark with Tahini Swirl adapted from Chocolate Bark with Pistachios and Tahini

1/3 cup chopped roasted pistachios
3 TBS chopped dried apricot
6 oz vegan chocolate (I used a bar with fruity notes to complement the other flavors)
2 tsp runny tahini, warmed (I used Soom Premium Tahini)

Line an 8×8” pan with parchment paper and set aside. Combine the pistachios and apricot in a bowl and set aside. Chop the chocolate and place it in a stainless steel bowl. Melt it gently over a double boiler. To do this, fill a saucepan with a few inches of water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Place the bowl of chocolate over the simmering water making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Let the chocolate melt, stirring occasionally. When it is almost fully melted, remove the bowl from atop the saucepan and gently stir the chocolate until it melts completely. Add the pistachios and apricot to the chocolate and mix it in with a spatula.

Pour the chocolate into the lined baking pan, spreading it out evenly. Drizzle warm tahini over top and swirl it with a toothpick. Place the pan of bark in the fridge until it hardens, 30-45 minutes. Break the bark up into pieces. Store bark in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

Until next time, happy nonbaking!