Rice Cereal Marshmallow Bark Bars

rice cereal marshmallow bark bars
rice cereal marshmallow bark bars

Many of us start the new year with healthy ideals — eating better, exercising more, taking vitamins. But it’s midway through the month and I held off as long as I could. Now I’m yearning for a decadent treat. If you are as well, then keep reading. The recipe I offer today is loaded with layers of rich and gooey deliciousness. Dig in and enjoy!

This tasty dessert is my mash-up of rice cereal treats, s’mores, and peppermint bark. The components had all vegan ingredients and no baking, so there were no changes needed there. I altered the original recipe to make it more reminiscent of s’mores. There are layers of luxurious chocolate with a hit of cool peppermint wrapped up in a chewy yet crunchy bite. It has everything you deserve after being good for over two whole weeks.

Rice Cereal Marshmallow Bark Bars based on Chocolate Peppermint Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Cereal Layer
5 ounces vegan dark chocolate
1 cup puffed brown rice cereal
Marshmallow Layer
20 large vegan marshmallows
1 TBS vegan butter
1.25 tsp peppermint extract
Peppermint Bark Layer
6 ounces vegan chocolate chips
2 full-size 5” vegan candy canes, crushed

Prepare an 8.25 x 4.25” loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper then greasing it with shortening or vegetable oil spray. For the Rice Cereal Layer: Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat. When melted, remove from stove and stir in the rice cereal, mixing gently until evenly coated. Use a spatula to gently spread it in the bottom of the prepared loaf pan. Set aside to cool.

For the Marshmallow Layer: Place the marshmallows and vegan butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally until melted. Remove from stove and quickly stir in the peppermint extract. Gently smooth it over the rice cereal layer. Set aside. For the Peppermint Bark Layer: Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler over medium heat. When melted, remove from stove and spread over the marshmallow layer. Sprinkle the candy cane bits evenly over the warm chocolate. Set aside to cool for a few minutes. Cut squares with a hot knife and set aside to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for 5 days.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Healthier Chocolate Cookies

healthier chocolate cookies
healthier chocolate cookies

When I mention that the desserts I bake are vegan, the usual response is, “That’s healthy, right?” Well, I hate to burst a person’s bubble, but I can’t say that food made with sugar and flour promotes physical health. I would admit that it boosts my mental health but, generally speaking, desserts aren’t overly healthy. So, I dug into my recipe collection and found a cookie that was healthier and wasn’t just a blast of carbs. Now, wait a minute; don’t be alarmed. That’s not a bad thing. You see, I added chocolate to it.

The recipe I worked with was already vegan, and high altitude doesn’t have a big affect on cookies. I did sub in gluten-free flour to lighten the texture a bit, and added non-dairy milk to account for dryness at altitude. The other changes I made were for flavor. I used chocolate tahini (made by Soom Foods – it is as amazing as it sounds) and added chipotle powder to give the chocolate a kick. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if the dense dough balls were going to be more than hockey pucks. But the cookies came out light and chewy at the same time. It was the winning combination of a healthier cookie with a tempting flavor and satisfying texture. Maybe vegan desserts can be healthy.

Healthier Chocolate Cookies adapted from Maple Tahini Cookies

1/2 cup + 1/3 cup gluten free flour
1/2 cup fine almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 cup Soom Foods Chocolate Sweet Tahini
1/3 cup + 1 TBS maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp non-dairy milk

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, sift together the gluten free flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and chipotle powder. In a large bowl, whisk together the chocolate tahini, maple syrup, vanilla, and milk. Add the flour mixture into the tahini mixture and stir with a spatula until a dough forms. It should be moist and rollable, but not sticky. Roll walnut-sized balls of dough in the palm of your hand then place them 2-inches apart on a baking sheet. Lightly press down on the cookies to flatten.

Bake for 12-13 minutes. The cookies may seem soft but they will firm up upon cooling. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack for the cookies to cool and get firm enough to remove. Makes 20 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Halloween Candy Store

Halloween Candy Store
Halloween Candy Store

Thank you for visiting my candy store for Halloween. Today I have several treats for you … and no tricks! I offer you a trio of fairly easy candy recipes. You won’t need a candy thermometer, and you don’t have to laboriously temper chocolate. And, if you are the impatient type (aren’t we all when it comes to treats), the truffles are ready in just a few minutes.

Each recipe that I adapted was already vegan. There is no baking involved, so high altitude was not a problem. Any changes I made were to finesse textures and include ingredients that I prefer. I also chose treats that were a little bit healthier so I wouldn’t get too crazy a sugar buzz. I hope you enjoy these treats, and have a Happy Halloween!

Matcha Nut Truffles adapted from Pistachio and Matcha Truffles

1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
9 medjool dates, pitted
1 TBS chia seeds
1 TBS hemp seeds
2 TBS vegan chocolate chips
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder

Add everything except the matcha to a food processor. Process until well combined, with a somewhat crumbly texture. Add the matcha powder and process again. Pour the mixture out into a bowl. Take a spoonful of the mixture in your palm and squeeze tightly, then roll it into a ball. Place on a dish and repeat with the rest of the mixture. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Makes 10-12 truffles.

Chocolate-Covered Caramel Rolls

1.25 cups medjool dates, pitted
1 cup raw cashews
1 tsp maca powder
pinch sea salt
1 TBS vanilla extract
1.5 cups vegan chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a food processor, combine the dates, cashews, maca, salt, and vanilla. Process until the cashews are broken down to tiny flecks and the mixture starts to form a ball. The mixture will be a bit sticky. If it is not, then add another date or two and process again. Take a spoonful of the mixture and roll it between your palms. Place each roll on the parchment-lined sheet. Put the baking sheet in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler. When melted, remove the chocolate from the heat. Place a cooled roll on a fork, quickly dip it into the chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip off, then place it on the parchment-lined sheet. Repeat with remaining rolls. When all are dipped, put the cookie sheet in the fridge until the chocolate is firm. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Makes 24-30 rolls.

candy making ingredients
candy making ingredients

Cool Peppermint Patties

organic powdered sugar for baking sheet
1 TBS raw cashew butter
2.5 TBS refined coconut oil, in solid form
1.5 tsp agave syrup
1/8-1/4 tsp peppermint extract, or to taste
2 tsp organic powdered sugar
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar, and set aside. In a bowl, use a spatula to combine the cashew butter, coconut oil, agave, peppermint extract, and 2 tsp powdered sugar. Place the bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes for the mixture to get firm. When the mixture is a scoopable consistency, take a small amount and roll it into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture, then place the sheet back in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Prepare another baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Melt the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler. When melted, remove chocolate from the heat and let it cool slightly. When cooled, take a large dollop of chocolate and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Swirl it into a thick disc with the back of a spoon. Place a peppermint disc on top of the chocolate, then place another dollop of chocolate on top of that. Swirl the chocolate around to coat the peppermint disc. Refrigerate the coated patties until firm. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week. Makes 15 patties.

Until next time, happy nonbaking!

Pear-Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Pear Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Pear Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Before I went through pastry school, I had never made a tart. I don’t know why but tarts never got my attention. Then, part of my training was to make everything and, in doing so, I discovered something. I love making tarts! The art of pressing the crust ingredients into a shell can be very meditative. There is also the flexibility of making the crust raw or baked. And don’t get me started on fillings or toppings — there are so many to choose from!

For this recipe I began with a vanilla pastry cream filling. Then I chose to roast pears to put on top, as I had pears that needed to get eaten. Next I opted for a raw crust that began as a basic recipe but then got a bit crazy with the inclusion of some Kibo chickpea chips. (It was a creative dare, and they worked beautifully.) I threw in a bit of raspberry jam and fresh raspberries and my creation turned heavenly, although hubby said it needed some chocolate. He can be predictable.

Pear-Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream
(This recipe is separated into components as any or all of the parts may be made ahead and the tart assembled later.)

Vanilla Pastry Cream adapted from Rouxbe Online Culinary School
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3-4 hours to soften
3 ounces unsweetened almond milk
1 ounce agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
Place 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 assemble the tarts. (There will be extra, but it keeps in the refrigerator for a week.)

Tart Crusts
1 mini bag Kibo Himalayan Salt Chickpea Chips
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup finely chopped dates
1/2 tsp water, as needed
Lightly spray four mini tart pans with vegetable oil spray. Set aside. Place the chickpea chips into a food processor and process into a coarse meal. Pour the meal out into a bowl. (You will only need 1/8 cup of this meal). Put the walnuts and almonds into the food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Put 1/8 cup chickpea chip meal into the food processor. Add the dates a spoonful at a time, pulsing between additions, until the dates are incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. Add the water, a little at a time, and pulse until the mixture just holds together when pressed with your fingers. If the mixture seems a bit too dry, add another date. If the mixture seems a bit too wet, add a few more nuts. Spread the mixture among the prepared tart pans. Press the mixture thinly, firmly, and evenly onto the sides and bottom of the pans. (You can use a small glass or measuring cup to press down with). Put the pans in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the tarts.

Roasted Pears
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 pear, sliced thin
Preheat the oven to 375F. Mix the maple syrup and balsamic in a bowl. Add the pear slices and toss to coat. Pour the pears along with the liquid into a baking pan, arranging in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Set on a wire rack to cool completely. Use immediately to assemble the tarts, or store in the refrigerator for up to several days.

ready for tart assembly
ready for tart assembly

To Assemble Tarts
4 mini tart crusts still in their pans
3-4 TBS seedless raspberry jam
Vanilla pastry cream
Roasted pear slices
12 fresh raspberries
For each tart, spread a thin layer of jam over the bottom of the crust. Spoon the pastry cream on top of the jam almost to the height of the crust. Lay several pear slices and a few fresh berries over the pastry cream. To serve, carefully remove the tart from the tart pan. For tips on how to remove a tart from a pan with a removable bottom, see this article.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Immune Boost Bites

Chocolate Immune Boost Bites and matcha tea

Chocolate Immune Boost Bites and matcha tea

The seasons are starting to change, often a time that ushers in new colds and flus. It’s a good idea now to keep up immune health, and I have a tasty way for you to do just that. These nuggets of sweetness can be beneficial to your immune system, all the while disguising themselves as dessert.

Over the years I have collected many recipes for what are called Energy Bites. The recipe here is a mashup of those, with an accent on herbs to keep you well. It’s raw and vegan so there are no high altitude tips and no veganizing was necessary. You can substitute your favorite sweetener and nut or seed butter, but please do not consider this medical advice. Seek out your healthcare provider if you have serious health issues.

Chocolate Immune Boost Bites

2 TBS astragalus root powder
1 tsp maca powder
2 tsp cacao powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
6 TBS date paste (see my post on how to make date paste, or use Soom Silan Date Syrup)
1 cup tahini or nut butter (I used Soom Premium Tahini)
walnut pieces, for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk the powders together. In a medium bowl, combine the date paste and tahini or nut butter. Stir the powders into the wet ingredients until well incorporated. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes for the powders to better absorb. Roll teaspoon-sized balls in the palms of your hands. Press walnut pieces in the tops of the bites. Store in an airtight container on the counter. Eat 2-3 daily. Makes 10 Immune Boost Bites.

Until next time, happy nonbaking!

This post was a collaboration with Soom Foods, however my opinions are my own.

Star-Spangled Berry Parfait

star spangled berry parfait

star spangled berry parfait

Happy 4th of July! Okay, it’s actually the 5th. But 4th of July, known in the United States as Independence Day, is a weekend long celebration. So, if you have not yet made a red, white, and blue dessert to go with tonight’s dinner, then try out this patriotic parfait.

For the conclusion of my holiday feast, I wanted a treat that echoed red, white, and blue in berries and cream. Parfaits are a wonderful way to achieve this look. I started with a box of vegan jello mix that I had on hand, and got fancy with a vegan cream recipe I rustled up. I added fresh berries then, admittedly the toughest part, a vegan meringue to complete my layered dessert. Altitude had no effect on any component, and each part was vegan, so no changes needed to be made. I’ve merely gathered the pieces together for you to enjoy.

Star-Spangled Berry Parfait with thanks to Rouxbe Online Culinary School

for the gelled layer
1 packet Simply Delish Jel Dessert in strawberry or raspberry
for the cream layer
3/4 cup raw cashew pieces, soaked for 3-4 hours to soften
1/2 cup water
5-6 tsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
1 cup rough chopped fresh strawberries with stems removed
for the meringue layer
1/2 cup unsalted chickpea liquid, previously reduced and chilled *
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
4 ounces caster sugar
1 tsp non-alcoholic vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
for the fruit layer
1-2 cups fresh blueberries, or a combination of blueberries and sliced strawberries
for the garnish
several fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries

For the gelled layer: Prepare Jel dessert per instructions on the box. Pour into a heat-resistant glass bowl. Let cool on the counter for a few minutes to allow condensation to evaporate. Place the bowl in the fridge to cool completely and set up.

For the cream layer: Place cashews, water, maple syrup, vanilla and salt in a high speed blender. Process on high until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed. Add strawberries and blend well.

aquafaba meringue on whisk

aquafaba meringue on whisk

For the meringue layer: Place the bean liquid and cream of tartar in the bowl of a standing 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. The total time needed depends on your mixer and the brine used. You cannot over beat aquafaba, so don’t worry. * Success Tips: Heat the bean water on the stove to reduce it by 1/3, then chill it before making the meringue. It should be thick and resemble egg whites. Also, vegan meringue keeps its loft best when prepared with a non-alcoholic extract.

To assemble: Take the bowl of set up gelled dessert out of the fridge. Add an even layer of blueberries for the fruit layer, extending to the edge of the bowl so the berries can be seen from the side. Pour the cream over the berries, leaving space at the edge of the bowl to allow berries to be seen through the glass. Either add dollops of meringue over the top, or put the meringue in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip to pipe a decoration over the top. Garnish with fresh berries.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Cheesecake with Strawberries and Chocolate Crust

raw cheesecake with strawberries and chocolate crust

raw cheesecake with strawberries and chocolate crust

It’s Father’s Day and I wanted to show my love by making a dessert. My initial inspiration was the gorgeous fresh strawberries in my fridge. Strawberries … chocolate is fantastic with strawberries … hmmm … chocolate cookie crust … what goes in the crust … cheesecake … Yes, I have it! A raw cheesecake from cocoa butter in a chocolate crust with strawberry on top. The chocolatey cocoa butter ties to the chocolate crust, and strawberry jam swirled into the cheesecake echoes the strawberry jam on top.

My cheesecake recipe search found a filling that was already vegan, and raw. The changes I made were to I bump up its tart flavor so it wouldn’t be too sweet when the jam was added in. This filling went with a simple cookie crust recipe I had. I chose a baked crust, but a raw one would work just as well. Strawberry jam and fresh strawberries were added, with a bit of shaved chocolate as a garnish. It was a dessert worthy of any special man.

Cheesecake with Strawberries and Chocolate Crust with a nod to Deliciously Raw Kitchen

cookie crust
8 chocolate cookies (I used Enjoy Life Double Chocolate Crunchy Cookies)
1-2 tsp vegan margarine, melted
cheesecake filling
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for two hours or up to 24 covered in water in the refrigerator
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
5 TBS agave syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 TBS lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp liquid lecithin (this is very sticky, so coat measuring spoon with oil first)
2.75 oz melted cocoa butter
5 TBS strawberry jam, divided
garnishes
fresh strawberry slices
chocolate curls

For the crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 6” tart pan with cooking spray; a pan with a removable bottom is easiest for serving. Put the cookies in a food processor with 1 teaspoon melted margarine. Process until the mixture looks like damp sand and just holds together when pinched between your fingers. If needed, add additional margarine and process again. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the tart pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For the filling: Rinse soaked cashews under cold running water. Place drained cashews in a blender together with the milk, agave syrup, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, and lecithin. Blend until smooth, then add melted cacao butter and blend again. Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in 3 tablespoons of jam. Spoon filling into the cooled crust and chill until firm.

raw cheesecake with strawberries

raw cheesecake with strawberries

To garnish: Put remaining 2 tablespoons of jam in a bowl and stir vigorously until spreadable. Spoon gently over the chilled cheesecake. Decorate the cheesecake with fresh strawberry slices and chocolate curls.

Until next time, happy baking!

Mocha Mousse for Mom

mocha mousse for mom

mocha mousse for mom

Some days I want a treat that doesn’t require turning on the oven. And some days I’m simply out of flour. Today was both of those. But still I yearned for a decadent dessert that was easy and fast and chocolatey, and good for a special occasion. When I make chocolate mousse it’s always a big hit, so I started there.

My tofu mousse is vegan and doesn’t require baking, so none of those changes had to be made. I decided to amp up the decadence and flavor of the basic recipe by adding more coffee flavor. Bring on the coffee liqueur and coffee granules, and say hello to a more adult mousse. A perfect dish for a refined mother.

Mocha Mousse for Mom adapted from my Chocolate Mousse Pie

3 TBS coffee liqueur
1 TBS instant coffee granules
1/2 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips
2 12-oz packages silken tofu, drained (firm or extra firm; your choice will affect the texture)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 TBS vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon powder

Heat the coffee liqueur in a small saucepan. Add the coffee granules and stir until dissolved. Set aside. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler by placing the chips in a small saucepan. Set this pan in a larger pot filled with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water. Heat over medium heat on the stove and stir the chips until they are melted.

Combine the tofu, maple syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, liqueur mixture, and melted chocolate in a food processor. Process for 5 minutes, or until thick and smooth. Pipe into individual bowls and chill for 15-30 minutes. Garnish as desired.

Happy Mother’s Day, and happy nonbaking!

How to Make the Perfect Date Paste

the perfect date paste

the perfect date paste

The first time I made date paste I found the results to be less than desirable. I had followed the directions, as minimal as they were, but it looked more like I was making a smoothie. Paste wouldn’t describe what was in my blender. Later, after poring over many recipes, I discovered that the key was the water. Too much made a runny mess, while too little seemed to tax the blender. It was like the fairy tale in which the middle was “just right.”

The success of the paste starts with the dates. The moisture content in them varies greatly depending on how old they are and how they are stored. My guess was that my dates were very old so I added lots of extra water at the start. But the trick is to add water a little at a time; this helps to create the perfect consistency. Another trick is to use the soaking water as it has a hint of date flavor. These tips will help you create the perfect date paste to add to baked goods, such as Baked Oatmeal with Peaches.

Date Paste adapted from Fruit Paste from Rouxbe Culinary School’s Essential Vegan Desserts

1/2 cup pitted dates
1 cup water (or as needed)

Soak the dates for 1 to 2 hours or until quite soft. Strain in a colander set over a bowl in order to save the soaking water. Transfer the dates to a high-speed blender with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the soaking water. Process until smooth. Add more water as needed to create the desired consistency. If using the paste in baked recipes, use as little water as possible. The paste will keep for over a week in a jar in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen for several months.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Baked Oatmeal with Peaches

baked oatmeal with peaches

baked oatmeal with peaches

With my husband working from home now, he has time for more than cereal for breakfast. I concluded that if I made a large dish of baked oatmeal on the weekend, then it could be reheated on many mornings. This meal would be hearty enough to keep his hunger at bay while he toiled at the computer. Another bonus was that I adapted the recipe to use up what I found in the backs of my cupboard and freezer. Feel free to use whatever you find in your pantry — the recipe is very flexible.

This dish is by nature vegan and not one that requires adjustments for high altitude, so I didn’t need to make those modifications. You can choose the fruit and oats you include, and the thickeners and sweeteners. Ultimately, I ended up with a sweet treat that was gluten-free and refined sugar free. Here is my healthy, pantry staple version of baked oatmeal.

Baked Oatmeal with Peaches adapted from Peach Crisp

5 large peaches, peeled and sliced (or 10 cups frozen)
2-3 TBS chia seeds (or tapioca starch)
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free, if desired)
1/8 cup brown rice flour (or oat flour)
1/8 cup date paste*
1/8 cup smooth almond butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 350F. Put peaches in a large bowl and sprinkle with chia seeds, lemon juice, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. Depending on how much juice the peaches give off, you may need to vary the amount of chia seeds. Let peaches stand for 15 minutes to thicken up and release some of their juices. Put peaches into a baking dish (mine was 10 x 10” but you can use a similar size).

In the same large bowl, add oats, brown rice flour, date paste, almond butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix until it forms a crumbly texture that is neither too wet nor too dry. Sprinkle the mixture over the peaches. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 5 minutes.

*If you don’t know how to make date paste, or even what it is, keep an eye out for my post next week.

Until next time, happy baking!