Chocolate Brunch Bread with Cafe au Lait Glaze

chocolate brunch bread
chocolate brunch bread with cafe au lait glaze

Ah, Sunday brunch. It’s an excuse to eat, and cook, something different and extravagant. Like, maybe, a chocolate quick bread. Then … add a decadent glaze, one with a punch of coffee flavor and an aftertaste of sweetness. And, to make it even more tempting, it should be a treat that’s simple and quick to prepare. Are you drooling yet?

The uncomplicated chocolate bread recipe I chose was already vegan. I adapted it to high altitude by reducing the leaveners and adding more non-dairy milk. To make the bread brunch-sized, I baked it as mini cakes instead of a loaf. The festive pan I used has cavities with a fall theme. (It’s hard to see in the picture, but the upper cake is acorn-shaped.) Sadly, the glaze masks the intricacies of the cake form. But that glaze — it’s so delicious that I forgave it for hiding my artistic creations. Cheers to brunch!

Chocolate Brunch Bread with Cafe au Lait Glaze inspired by Easy Vegan Chocolate Bread

for the mini breads
1.25 cups non-dairy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup + 1 TBS vegan brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch fine sea salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
for the glaze
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 TBS + 1 tsp strongly brewed coffee, cooled
2 tsp non-dairy milk
pinch fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine the milk and apple cider vinegar then set aside to curdle. Grease mini cake pan cavities with shortening then dust with cocoa powder. In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, whisk milk mixture together with oil, agave, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until the batter is just smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the mini cake pans.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a mini bread comes out clean or with a few crumbs. Let the pan cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing the mini breads. Let the breads cool on a wire rack while you prepare the glaze. For the glaze, stir together the powdered sugar, coffee, 2 tsp milk and salt. Drizzle it over the cooled breads.

Until next time, happy baking!

A Sweet New Year Apple Muffins

sweet new year apple muffin

sweet new year apple muffin

The Jewish New Year is celebrated this weekend. The holiday offers new beginnings at a time when hope is welcome. Traditionally, apples are dipped in honey, two symbols of the sweetness and joy of a new year. Although it may seem a long way off until the Gregorian calendar ends in December, now I give you a festive treat of apple muffins drizzled with bee-free honey.

For the muffin, I tweaked a recipe already in my repertoire. I traded peaches for apples, used applesauce as the liquid, and scattered apple pieces over the tops — all chosen for the most apple flavor. For the vegan honey-like drizzle, I adapted a recipe I learned at Rouxbe Online Culinary School. The end result was like dipping apples in honey, but in muffin form.

A Sweet New Year Apple Muffins adapted from my Cardamom Peach Morning Muffins

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup agave syrup
3 TBS canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup + 2 TBS non-dairy milk
1.25 cup apples, peeled and diced into small cubes, divided
vegan honey (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 375F and line a muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, whisk together the agave, oil, vanilla, applesauce, apple cider vinegar, and milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is just smooth. Gently stir in 1 cup of apples.

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of apples onto the tops of the muffins. Bake the muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool the muffin tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then gently remove each muffin and place on a rack to cool completely.

While the muffins are cooling, make the vegan honey. When the muffins have cooled, drizzle each with a generous spoonful of the warm honey. Store in an airtight container, at room temperature, for 1 day.

Vegan Honey

1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup agave syrup
1 tsp vegan sugar
thinly sliced orange, organic
thinly sliced lemon, organic

Combine the syrups and sugar in a medium saucepan with high sides. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add the sliced fruit. Lower the heat and cook at a low boil for 15 minutes, stirring a few times. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain a low boil. Once the desired consistency is reached, pour the syrup through a mesh strainer into a jar, discarding the fruit. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 weeks.

Until next time, happy baking!

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

perfect chocolate chip cookie

the perfect chocolate chip cookie

You’re probably thinking … does she really need another chocolate chip cookie recipe? Yes, I do, because I found a new plant-based butter and it’s a game changer. This new butter, called Flora Plant Butter, consists mostly of plant oils. But it also contains faba bean protein, a component of aquafaba. Aquafaba is used by bakers to bind things together, and in my cookies this protein seemed to keep the butter from separating and getting oily. When vegan butter or margarine separates it can lead to greasy cookies, and I do not like greasy cookies.

I tried this new butter on a recipe of mine, Chocolate Chip Shortbread, so I didn’t have to worry about making vegan or high altitude changes. I did alter my original recipe to make it look, feel, and taste more like a classic chocolate chip cookie. If you like your cookies slightly chewy with crispy edges (like I do), then you will love these!

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup Flora Plant Butter
1/2 cup slightly ground organic sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 TBS aquafaba (bean water)
1/2 TBS non-dairy milk
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla, aquafaba, and non-dairy milk and beat again. Add in the sifted dry ingredients one cup at a time, beating between each addition. With a spatula, stir in the chocolate chips.

Flora plant butter

Flora plant butter

Using a scoop, portion out balls of dough onto two cookie sheets. Flatten each ball slightly with the heel of your hand. Bake for 14-16 minutes until the edges are firm. Let pans cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then move cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 24 cookies.

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.

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!

Easy Naan Bread

easy naan bread

easy naan bread

After going through months of intensive baking in pastry school, I swore off baking for a bit. I needed a breather, yet I still heard the siren call of my all purpose flour. What could I make with flour that didn’t require baking in the oven? And was there something easy enough to create that wouldn’t burden my overtaxed baking skills?

My search first uncovered recipes for bread that could be made in a skillet. (Technically still baking, but not in the oven). But I didn’t want to fuss, so that omitted yeast and repeated kneading. Then I discovered a recipe for naan that is leavened with baking powder so it is easier to make than your average bread.

I should back up here for a minute. Admittedly, before going to school I never would have used “easy” when describing bread making. I’m not the type that considers kneading or rolling dough out to be fun or relaxing. So I was quite surprised with myself when I became interested in making bread. Going through school gave me the confidence to attempt anything baked, and I found that naan can be easy. In the end it was very rewarding to make my own bread, and veganizing it was only a matter of using vegan yogurt instead of traditional. Now I can add “bread making” to my list of accomplishments.

Easy Naan Bread adapted from Masala & Meatballs

1/4 cup plain unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
1 TBS baking powder
1.75 cups lukewarm water, divided
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
scant 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
optional: seeds for topping

In a small bowl, place yogurt, baking powder, and 1/2 cup warm water. Stir and set aside for a few minutes. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda, and salt. Add yogurt mixture and remaining water. Knead to make a semi-soft dough. Once everything comes together to form a smooth dough, place it in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Transfer it to the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

Place a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat and get it really hot. Divide the dough into nine pieces. Using one piece of dough at a time, while the rest remains in the bowl covered with the damp towel, roll it out to 10” on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with a few seeds, if desired, and roll again so they stick to the dough. Put naan on hot griddle and let it cook for about 1 minute. When you see a few bubbles on top, turn naan over and cook the other side, 2-3 minutes total. Makes 9 naan.

Until next time, happy baking!

Lemon Lavender Muffins

Lemon Lavender Muffins

Lemon Lavender Muffins

Happy National Tea Month! To honor the celebration, and to have another excuse to drink tea, I wanted to make a delectable treat that would go nicely with hot tea. Lemon and tea is a common pairing, so I looked into lemon muffins. I found a yummy recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, and then decided to take them up a notch by icing them with a lavender infused glaze. My tasters found them to be delicious and compared them to decadent cupcakes.

The recipe I tried was already vegan, so all I had to do was adjust for high altitude. To do this, I added flour and non-dairy milk while reducing the baking powder. My other alteration was to steep lavender flowers in non-dairy milk to give my glaze recipe its lavender taste. So, put the kettle on and enjoy!

Lemon Lavender Muffins adapted from Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins by Zsu Dever

glaze
2 1/2 TBS non-dairy milk
1 TBS culinary lavender buds
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

muffins
2 3/4 cups + 2 tsp unbleached all purpose flour
2 TBS poppy seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup reduced aquafaba
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup + 2 TBS vegan sugar
1 cup + 2 1/2 TBS non-dairy milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBS grated lemon zest

To start the glaze, bring 2 1/2 TBS non-dairy milk and lavender buds to a low simmer in a small pot on the stove. Take the pot off the heat, cover, and leave for 15 minutes to steep.

To make the muffins, preheat an oven to 375F. Line two muffin tins with paper cups to make 15 muffins. Combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Place aquafaba in a large bowl and whisk for 1 minute or until it is frothy. Slowly add oil, whisking constantly to emulsify. Add sugar in the same manner. Add milk and vanilla along with lemon zest, whisking to blend completely.

Add dry ingredients into the wet and, using a wooden spoon, mix until almost no flour is visible. A few lumps are fine; do not over-mix. Pour batter into the muffin cups filling 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake for 17 to 19 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean or with just a few crumbs stuck to it.

While muffins are baking, finish making the glaze by placing the powdered sugar in a bowl. Add the lavender milk and vanilla and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

When muffins are ready, set the muffin tin on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Place muffins onto the rack to cool completely before icing. Either drizzle the icing on the muffins with a spoon, or dip the tops into the bowl of glaze. Store muffins, airtight at room temperature, for 2 to 3 days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

large zucchini next to zucchini muffins

chocolate chocolate chip zucchini muffins

The giant zucchini from my local farm showed up right when my favorite food tester requested a snack he could grab for breakfast. Add to that the fact that everything is better with chocolate, and I needed treats for a neighborhood Labor Day party, and the Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffin was born.

I started with a bread recipe that I scaled for muffins. To make the recipe vegan I omitted the eggs, as they aren’t necessary for muffins, and I made buttermilk from non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar. For high altitude, I used a bit more liquid and I reduced the baking powder. Combine all that with a huge zucchini, or several smaller ones, and you have a delicious dessert for a crowd.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins inspired by Craftsy’s Easy Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 cup + 2 TBS non-dairy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (not dutch process)
1 cup organic sugar
1/3 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Place 15 liners in two muffin tins. Put non-dairy milk in a small bowl and whisk in apple cider vinegar. Set aside to curdle.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add oil and vanilla to the curdled milk and whisk together until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until only a few streaks of dry ingredients remain. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips, and stir until batter is uniform.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed. Let tins cool on a wire rack. Makes 18 muffins.

Until next time, happy baking!

Cardamom Peach Morning Muffins

cardamom peach morning muffins

cardamom peach morning muffins

It’s peach season, and I got so excited I got twenty pounds of peaches. Now I am (desperately) trying to find a zillion ways to use them up. After grilled peaches, bellinis, and eaten raw, peach muffins came to mind. I thought that the peach flavor would be the star in a muffin that was not too sweet, so I looked up my Hearty Raspberry Muffins. Also, I consulted a peach recipe in my archives to help get a good balance. A tweak here, an addition there, and I had a tasty muffin. If you like a sweeter treat, then drizzle them with a simple sugar glaze made of one part non-dairy milk to three parts organic powdered sugar. Add a pinch or two of cinnamon and cardamom powders to your glaze to spice things up.

To make the recipe vegan, I merely removed the eggs. Muffins can generally get by with enough baking powder. To help combat the dryness at altitude, I added more liquid to my batter. To bump up the peach flavor, some of that liquid was the juice that ran off when I diced my peaches. If you don’t get enough peach juice, then add more milk. The last adjustment was to use up my cardamom simple syrup I had made for another recipe. You can substitute another liquid sweetener, but be sure to add cardamom to your batter.

Cardamom Peach Morning Muffins adapted loosely from Spiced Peach Muffins

1.75 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole bran
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1.25 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup cardamom simple syrup, or other liquid sweetener
2.5 TBS canola oil
1/4 cup peach juice
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup peaches, diced but not peeled

Preheat oven to 375F and grease 10 sections of a muffin tin. Whisk together the flour, bran, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the simple syrup, oil, peach juice, and milk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently fold in the peaches.

Heap the batter into the muffin tin; the cups will be 3/4 full. Bake the muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden and risen high. Cool muffins on a wire rack. Store, well-wrapped, on the counter for 3 days; or freeze for up to 3 months.

Until next time, happy baking!

Fruit Pocket Pies

Fruit Pocket Pies

Fruit Pocket Pies

Summer is all about the fruit as far as I’m concerned. And the best way to combine fresh fruit and baking is to make pies. If you are a regular reader, you know that I’m not fond of pies. So, the creation I found isn’t exactly a pie but a fruit pocket pie, a.k.a. a hand pie. It requires fewer steps and less perfection than a standard pie therefore it is a treat I will happily bake.

The recipe I used was already vegan and didn’t need high altitude tweaks, so I didn’t change much. However, I didn’t blend all of the berries together as the original recipe stated. Instead I made each pie its own fruit at my hubby’s request. Also, you may notice that my rolling pin looks like it has big rubber bands on it in the picture below. Those bands are an item that ensures the thickness of your dough without measuring or having to eyeball it. This dough-rolling novice thought they made the work much easier, and easier work in the kitchen is a good thing.

Fruit Pocket Pies based on Berry Hand Pies

For the pastry:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS mild-flavored vegetable oil
3 to 5 TBS water, as needed to bring dough together
3 TBS maple syrup

For the filling:
1/3 cup vegan sugar
1 TBS all purpose flour
1 TBS lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/3 cup strawberries, destemmed and cut up
1/3 cup blueberries
1/3 cup red raspberries
1/3 cup cherries, pitted and cut in half
1/8 tsp ground ginger

For the topping:
1 tsp vegan sugar

For the pastry: to a large bowl, add both flours, cinnamon, and salt, and whisk to combine. Drizzle oil over the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, work the oil in so the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water and maple syrup and stir until the mixture comes together to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

For the filling: in a small bowl, place sugar, flour, lemon juice, and cardamom, and toss gently to combine. Add strawberries to the sugar mixture and roll around to coat. Remove the fruit and place in its own bowl. Repeat with the blueberries and then with the raspberries. For the cherries, add the ginger to the remaining sugar mixture and stir in. Then add the cherries and roll to coat. Set the four bowls of fruit aside.

berries, dough, and rolling pin

berries, dough, and rolling pin

Transfer the chilled dough to a floured work surface. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough out to 1/8” thickness, then cut it into 5” circles. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the circles to the prepared cookie sheet. Add trimmings to the remaining pastry dough and repeat the procedure to yield 7 or 8 circles. Add a fruit filling to the center of each circle. Carefully fold over one side of pastry dough, press down around edges of the dough to seal, then crimp edges with a fork. Sprinkle the pies with the remaining one teaspoon of sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Until next time, happy baking!