Moderate Midnight Chocolate Cake

Moderate Midnight Chocolate Cake

I do love a good sale, so Black Friday is loads of fun. What does that have to do with baking? For the purchase of baking pans, of course!

Bundt pans are very useful for high-altitude baking, so when they go on sale I scour the internet with glee. There are several 10-cup Bundt pans in my arsenal; it was time to get a more manageable 6-cup model.

With the smaller version in hand, I looked back at favorite Bundt pan recipes. My Midnight Chocolate Cake has always been well-liked, so I chose that for the new pan. Checking the recipes on Nordic Ware led to the tip that you can simply halve a full-sized recipe to use in the more petite pan. Whew! That makes things much easier.

When my hubby saw me making a half-sized version of the cake, he asked why. My response was a query of what would two people do with a large cake. His reply, “Eat it!” With that, I give you my sensibly-sized revision.

Moderate Midnight Chocolate Cake

Shortening, to grease pan
1/2 cup cocoa powder (packed tightly) + extra to dust pan
1 cup + 3 tablespoons boiling water
1.25 teaspoons instant coffee
1.25 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt, depending on how salty your butter is
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegan butter (at room temperature)
1.5 cups organic cane sugar
1/2 cup pureed silken tofu
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla pastry cream and crushed peppermint candies, for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350F. Use shortening to grease a 6-cup bundt pan then dust the inside with cocoa powder. Set aside.

Mix boiling water with 1/2 cup cocoa powder and instant coffee and whisk well. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and tofu. Alternate adding cupfuls of dry ingredients then cocoa liquid to the creamed butter mixture. Scrape down the sides as needed. Add vanilla and beat until fluffy.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out with a few specks clinging to it.

Let cool for 15 minutes in the pan set on a wire rack. Gently loosen the center and cake edges from the pan using a small spatula. Invert the pan onto a wire rack and let the cake sit for 20 minutes.

To unmold, pick up the rack with the pan on top and lightly tap both on the counter to loosen the cake. Remove the pan from atop the cake and place the rack on the counter to allow the cake to cool completely. Once cooled, decorate the cake as desired.

Until next time, happy baking!

Vegan Honey Mini Cakes for a Sweet New Year

vegan honey mini cakes
vegan honey mini cakes

This week was a celebration of the Jewish New Year. The tradition is to eat honey cakes at this time to ensure sweetness in the upcoming year. Because honey is not a vegan food, vegan bakers can turn to a honey substitute to have a sweet new year.

I have a honey-like syrup in my files from my “A Sweet New Year Apple Muffins,” so I went in search of a honey cake recipe that I could use it in. What I found was perfect because the spices in the cake would go well with the fruit in the vegan honey. Also, the cake was already vegan, but I amped it up by using my own egg substitute described in “Super Flegg – A Perfect Egg Substitute.”

Next I put the high altitude spin on it by adding flour and liquid (in the form of applesauce), then reduced the leaveners. The batter was divvied into mini cake pans to help with rise issues caused by altitude, but that had an added bonus. I now had several mini cakes so each person could have their own tasty treat to enjoy while ringing in the new year.

Vegan Honey Mini Cakes for a Sweet New Year adapted from Vegan Honey Cake for Rosh Hashanah

for the vegan honey
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/8 cup pure maple syrup
1/8 cup agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon vegan sugar
1/2 organic orange, thinly sliced
1/2 organic lemon, thinly sliced
for the cakes
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
3 tablespoons aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas)
1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1.25 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup raisins, optional

To make the vegan honey, 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 a syrupy consistency is reached, pour the liquid through a mesh strainer into a heat-safe measuring cup, discarding the fruit. If you do not have 1/2 cup of syrup, then add agave syrup to reach that amount. Set aside to cool.

For the cakes, preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour the cups of a mini cakes pan, or a muffin tin.

Prepare the super flegg by putting the ground flaxseeds and the aquafaba in a small bowl and stirring well. Set aside to thicken.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves into a large bowl. Place the applesauce, oil, vanilla, vegan honey, and super flegg into a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Stir in the raisins, if using.

Divide the batter among the cups of the pan you are using. Do not fill the wells completely or your cakes will overflow while baking. Bake for 18 to 23 minutes, depending on the pan used, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out with a few small crumbs. Place the baking pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then tip the cakes onto a wire rack to fully cool.

Until next time, Happy New Year and happy baking!

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

curried sweet potato soup
curried sweet potato soup

Okay, I know that soup isn’t baked, and you may be wondering why I am posting a soup recipe here. Well, my last blog showed how to make homemade plant-milk and I wanted to offer a way to use that milk.

In the post “Chai Spiced Milk and DIY Plant-Milk Tips,” I mention that you can get thicker milk by changing the nuts to water ratio. Denser plant-milks make wonderfully creamy soups, and this soup is a shining example of that.

A local restaurant makes a curry sweet potato soup that I adore so I sought to recreate it. I found a recipe using powdered curry, but I find that the concentrated paste has a more bold flavor. And I like bold flavor.

Curried Sweet Potato Soup adapted from Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Soup

1 cup raw cashews (no need to soak)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, rough chopped *
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 garlic cloves, rough chopped *
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed *
1/2 cup butternut squash or carrots, peeled and cubed *
2-3 tablespoons green curry paste, depending on the strength of the brand used
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon Thai basil, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted, for garnish

Place the cashews and water into a high speed blender and blend until almost smooth. Set aside. (No need to clean the blender yet; you’ll use it again soon).

Warm the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and salt and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the sweet potatoes, squash or carrots, and curry paste. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the broth and coconut milk. Stir in the cashew milk you set aside.

Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Add the Thai basil, if using. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Carefully transfer the soup to your high speed blender and puree to desired thickness. Put the mixture back in the pot and warm it over a low heat until heated through.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

* You don’t need to finely chop any of the ingredients as you will be blending the cooked soup.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

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 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!