Chocolate Crispy Rice Treat Cake

Chocolate Crispy Rice Treat Cake
Chocolate Crispy Rice Treat Cake

Argh! It’s still too darned hot to turn on the oven. But I won’t let that stop me from enjoying an indulgent treat. Rice crispy treats are a good one to turn to when the weather is a scorcher.

A quick online search pulled up a crispy rice treat from Soom Foods. The recipe was already vegan and no-bake, so the changes I made were based on what I had in the cupboard. I didn’t have their vanilla bean tahini, but I had the chocolate flavored one, so I used that and added vanilla extract. If you only have regular tahini, then add cocoa powder and liquid sweetener along with the vanilla.

Also, I have learned that most rice treat recipes have more cereal than I can stir in so I change the amount. A tip for you is to add the required amount in slowly and stop when you start crushing the cereal with your stirring. My recipe is 1/2 cup less than listed in the original because that is when I began smashing the cereal.

Another tip I can offer is for how to clean your dirty pot when you are done preparing the dessert. The marshmallow mixture is gooey when warm, but it will harden as it cools and stick with fierce determination. Try adding water to the pot and set it to boil for a few minutes on the stove. Let it cool just enough so that you won’t burn yourself. Proceed with your cleaning; the goo should have released making the job is easier.

As I have several rice cereal treat bar recipes on the blog, I decided to make this one more glamorous and decadent. Instead of a sheet of bars, I removed my treat as one piece and decorated it with frosting. Now you have a crispy rice treat cake that is suitable for any occasion.

Chocolate Crispy Rice Treat Cake adapted from Vegan Vanilla Tahini Crispy Rice Treats

for the cereal treat
3 tablespoons vegan butter, plus a little extra to grease the pan
1½ tablespoons Soom Chocolate Tahini
1 10-ounce bag vegan marshmallows
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
4 ½ cups crispy brown rice cereal
for the frosting
1/4 cup vegan powdered sugar
1/4 cup Soom Chocolate Tahini
1/4 cup coconut cream (the thick stuff, not the liquid)

Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper, then grease the paper with a bit of vegan butter. Set aside.

Melt the 3 tablespoons vegan butter in a large pot over low heat. Once melted, stir in the tahini. Add the marshmallows, stirring constantly until the mixture is well blended. Add the water and stir until everything has melted together.

Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Add the rice cereal to the pot and stir to coat the cereal with the marshmallow mixture. Press the cereal mixture into the prepared pan, flattening out the top. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip together the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup Soom Chocolate Tahini, and coconut cream. Place the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes to allow the frosting to firm up. When firm, scoop the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a star tip.

To assemble, flip the cake pan over onto a plate. Remove the pan then remove the parchment paper from the cereal treat. Pipe the frosting on as desired.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Vegan Espresso Date Shake

vegan espresso date shake
vegan espresso date shake

With a scorcher of a weekend imminent, it’s time to turn off the oven (no baking??) and bring out the blender. Thoughts of blended beverages has my imagination conjuring up frosty glasses filled with cool drinks. But then, an old memory surfaces.

When I was a child my family visited Hadley Fruit Orchards in California. I remember ogling seemingly endless displays of dried fruit and fresh nuts. And beyond these tempting shelves was a cafe where they scooped up their (in)famous date shake.

Fortunately Hadley’s website has a post for this date-sweetened concoction so I don’t have to leave the recipe up to my sketchy memory (I did say it was when I was young). The recipe is good, but to make it my own I veganize it with non-dairy versions of milk and ice cream, and I add espresso. I’m glad for this addition because now I know that espresso and dates are a delectable combination.

Vegan Espresso Date Shake based on Hadley’s Famous Date Shake

1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup fresh espresso, cooled
1/8 cup date paste
1.5 cups non-dairy vanilla ice cream
toppings, optional: non-dairy whipped cream. fresh strawberries, mini chocolate chips

Add all ingredients, except toppings, to the jug of a blender. Blend until creamy. Garnish with toppings. Makes 2 small drinks or 1 generous drink.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches

vegan ice cream sandwiches
vegan ice cream sandwiches

While I was shopping recently I decided that it was so hot that I deserved a treat for running errands in extreme conditions. Sauntering over to the frozen foods section, I spied vegan ice cream sandwiches. They seemed like the perfect snack — until I looked at the price. They were over $5 each. Each!

Armed with the ingredients needed to construct them myself, I returned home to my kitchen. A quick recipe search brought up a biscuit that would be soft enough to mold into a sandwich but sturdy enough to contain ice cream. And a look around my cupboard revealed mini chocolate chips for decoration.

Cookies do not generally require high altitude changes, so that wasn’t an issue. However, the recipe I found was not vegan; it didn’t even list ingredients found in an American market. So, I set out to adapt it to my needs. I lightly ground my oats in a food processor to closer resemble the porridge oats called for in the recipe, then I did the same with my vegan sugar so it would be like caster sugar. Vegan versions were brought in for butter and milk replacements.

The final change was to make the cookies a bit larger so they would make decent-sized sandwiches. This meant they needed to cook longer, but I kept an eye on them to see what the new time would be. The result was a wonderfully chewy cookie that was the ideal backdrop for both my vanilla and chocolate ice creams. I’m ready next time the extreme heat rolls in.

Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches with cookies adapted from Oat Biscuits

for the cookies
75 grams old fashioned rolled oats
50 grams vegan sugar
75 grams vegan butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
75 grams whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
for sandwich assembly
vegan ice cream
garnishes: mini vegan chocolate chips, vegan sprinkles, or chopped nuts

for the cookies:
Heat the oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lightly chop the oats in a mini-food processor until the oats are broken down in half. Place the oats in a bowl. Place the sugar in the food processor and grind it until it is less coarse but not until it is powdered. Add the sugar to the bowl of oats and set aside.

Put the butter, maple syrup, and milk in a small pan and heat gently until the butter melts. Take the pan off the heat and stir until the ingredients are combined. Set aside.

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Whisk in the baking powder and oat-sugar mixture. Pour the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

Place scoops of batter onto the baking sheet and shape it into round cookies. The batter is wet so the cookies need to be coaxed into rounds. The cookies also need to be spaced apart as they will spread a bit more.

Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the sides are firm and the bottoms are golden brown. Move the parchment paper with the cookies to a wire rack. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 8-10 cookies, depending on how big you want your sandwiches.

ice cream sandwich components
ice cream sandwich components

for sandwich assembly:
Remove the ice cream from the freezer while the cookies are cooling. When the ice cream is soft enough to scoop but not runny, spread large spoonfuls of it onto a flipped over cookie. Place another cookie on top to complete the sandwich. Take a garnish and push it into the ice cream along the sides of the sandwich. Repeat until all cookies are made into sandwiches. Place the sandwiches on a tray in the freezer for 15-30 minutes to firm up.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Tahini Bars

chocolate tahini bars
chocolate tahini bars

Bar cookies are often rustic looking and are best to grab for a quick dessert. But these bars are different. They are elegant, delicious, and decadent, making them a perfect party treat. They also have no refined sweeteners so they are a healthier option. But if you don’t tell your guests, I won’t.

The original recipe seemed like it had so many ingredients, but it comes together easily. Choosing the tahini option reduced sweetness; they are plenty sweet so you won’t miss it and the layers complement each other nicely. I used Soom’s chocolate tahini to emphasize the chocolate flavors. You can use all regular tahini instead, or try regular tahini with a bit of cocoa powder or chocolate syrup stirred in.

Another bonus to this delicacy is that it requires no baking, meaning you don’t have to heat up the house on a hot summer day. So, the next time you want to make a simple but impressive dessert (maybe for upcoming Father’s Day?), give these a try.

Chocolate Tahini Bars adapted from Triple Layer Tahini Bars

Bottom Layer
200 grams walnuts, chopped
150 grams pitted Medjool dates
2 tablespoons almond butter
pinch sea salt
Middle Layer
50 grams Soom Dark Chocolate Tahini
65 grams sesame tahini
1 tablespoon almond butter
3 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted
pinch sea salt
75 grams pitted Medjool dates
Top Layer
5 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 teaspoons maple syrup

cocoa nibs, optional

Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment, leaving overhang on two opposite sides for removing the bars. Set aside.

Place the bottom layer ingredients (walnuts, dates, almond butter, and salt) into a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse until the mixture holds together. Press the mixture into the lined baking pan, spreading it evenly and pushing it down with your hand. Put the filled pan into the freezer while you make the next layer.

Wipe out the food processor with a paper towel; no need to clean it yet.

Take the tahinis, almond butter, and coconut oil of the middle layer and place them in a small saucepan. Heat on low until just blended. Place the mixture in the food processor with the salt and dates of the middle layer. Process until smooth. Remove the baking pan from the freezer and spread this middle layer over the base layer. Return the pan to the freezer for one hour.

Place the top layer ingredients (coconut oil, cocoa powder, and maple syrup) in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir to combine until just melted. Remove the baking pan from the freezer and spread this top layer over the middle layer once it has set. Sprinkle with optional cocoa nibs. Place the pan in the fridge for two hours until the top layer has set.

Take the pan from the fridge and remove the bars by grasping the overhanging parchment flaps. Place bars with parchment cradle onto a cutting board and cut into bars. Serve cool or cold.

Until next time, happy non-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!)

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!

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!

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!

Apple Blueberry Streusel Pie — vegan and gluten-free

apple blueberry streusel pie
apple blueberry streusel pie

If you are working your way through Veganuary and it seems difficult, don’t worry. You’re half the way there (congratulations!). If you are unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a challenge to try vegan throughout the month of January.

Eating vegan can be tough for some, especially when it comes to dessert. Many pastries include eggs and butter and can appear impossibly hard to make at high altitude. But, today I offer you sweet encouragement.

I wanted a recipe that wasn’t too complicated, so I decided to use a pre-made pie shell. Never having baked one, it was an experiment for me. In the vein of experimentation I decided to go with a gluten-free version as well. The results were surprisingly delicious.

The dessert recipe I found was vegan once I used the pre-made crust. No changes were needed for high altitude, but I did have to adjust filling quantities for the smaller ready-made shell.

After ingredient amounts were altered, I added blueberries because you can always use extra antioxidants, right? I then removed the nuts to make it very allergy-friendly. May this decadent treat get you through the rest of the month, and beyond.

Apple Blueberry Streusel Pie adapted from Apple Crumble Pie

for the pie
4 apples, cored, peeled, and sliced into 1/8” slices
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, washed and patted dry
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup gluten free flour
1.75 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1 store bought pie shell (I used a gluten free one by Wholly Gluten Free)
for the streusel topping
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup gluten free flour
1/3 cup unsalted vegan butter, melted and cooled slightly

Add the apples, blueberries, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1/4 cup flour to a large bowl. Stir carefully with a spatula to coat the fruit. Place 1.75 teaspoons cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and sugar in small bowl. Stir to combine, then sprinkle over the fruit. Stir carefully with a spatula until the fruit is evenly coated with the spices. Set aside while the oven preheats.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Take the pie shell out of the freezer to defrost per manufacturer’s instructions. Meanwhile, make the streusel topping.

Put the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 3/4 cup flour in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter with a spatula. Break it up into small clumps using the spatula or your fingers. When the pie shell is defrosted, pile the fruit into it. Then sprinkle the topping over the fruit.

Place the filled pie shell onto a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Leaving the pie in the oven, carefully place a pie crust shield over the crust. Close the oven door and reduce the heat to 375F. Bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Place the pie with the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for 3 hours. Cover leftovers tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

Until next time, happy baking!

A Duet of Vegan Holiday Cookies

chocolate peppermint cookies and oat thumbprint cookies
chocolate peppermint cookies and oat thumbprint cookies

Ah, holiday cookie baking. The sweet scents that emanate from the kitchen this time of year are drool-worthy. They make you want to bake every cookie recipe you see.

Recently I got inspired by a friend who was madly baking like some Keebler elf, so I joined in the frenzy. The flour was flying and baking sheets were in heavy rotation. I thought that others would also begin their boisterous baking, so I have not one recipe for you, but two.

I wanted a classic Thumbprint cookie to start, and I found a recipe that was healthy and tasty. But, variety is crucial in a cookie tray, along with a bit of chocolate, so I have a chocolate cookie kissed with peppermint and slathered in vanilla frosting. The Thumbprints were already vegan; I merely changed the cooking technique to allow the dough to rest and absorb fluids to combat dryness found at altitude. The chocolate cookie was veganized by using non-dairy milk, and adjusted for altitude with the addition of liquid. I hope you are as excited for holiday cookies as I am!

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies with Vanilla Frosting inspired by NutraMilk

for the cookies
3 Tablespoons almond butter
1 Tablespoon non-dairy milk
1 Tablespoon applesauce
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons almond flour (not almond meal)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
for the frosting
1/2 cup vegan butter
1.75 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup almond milk

Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the almond butter, milk, applesauce, maple syrup, and peppermint extract in a bowl and whisk together. Combine the almond flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a bowl and whisk together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry bowl and stir until a dough forms. Roll the dough into 12 balls and place each ball on a baking tray, flattening each slightly. Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the cookies are firm.

Remove the tray from the oven and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove cookies from the tray and put on a wire rack to cool completely. Make the frosting: add the ingredients to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle blade. Start beating slowly and work up to medium speed. Beat until the frosting is light and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. When the cookies are fully cooled, add the frosting and decorative sugar.

Oatmeal Thumbprint Cookies with Jam adapted from Vegan Jam Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fruit jam, seedless

Place the oats, flour, and walnuts in a bowl and stir to combine. Whisk together the oil, maple syrup, orange juice, and vanilla, then add to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine everything. Place the bowl of dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the dry ingredients to absorb the liquids. It will become sticky.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets. Use the back of the scoop to create an indent on top of each ball. Fill the indents with jam. Bake for 14-16 minutes until the bottoms are golden. Remove the trays from the oven and place on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cookies from the trays and put on a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 32 – 34 cookies.

Until next time, happy Holiday baking!