Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake Bites

vanilla chocolate chip cake bites
vanilla chocolate chip cake bites

It’s been one snowstorm after another where I live. With the cold, blustery days I just want to cozy up to a hot cup of tea and a sweet snack. The thing is I’m a little burnt out on cookies (see all of the cookie posts I did last month).

Making a cake seems like too much effort, and a bigger treat that I have in mind. What I need is a two-bite snack. Perhaps a cake bite?

My recipe search uncovered an easy, smaller cake that I could convert into mini cakes without much effort. I have a pan that makes individual brownies, which is a life-saver for high altitude bakers, and I realized it was ideal for my cakelets. So, I had the basics covered.

To adapt the recipe for high altitude, I decreased the baking powder and completely omitted the baking soda. The original recipe was for a cake and smaller versions often need quite a bit less leavening. I also added a smidge more liquid to account for dryness at altitude, and reduced baking time for the smaller pastries.

The final change was to add brown sugar. Seeing as I was no longer making a cake but veering into blondie territory, this ingredient was added for a slightly chewier texture. The result was a moist, delectable, and perfectly-sized nibble to chase away winter’s chill.

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cake Bites inspired by Vegan Choc Chip Loaded Cake

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used Take Two Original Barley Milk)
1 tablespoon applesauce
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1.25 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the cups of a brownie pan. Alternatively, use a cupcake pan with paper liners.

Place the non-dairy milk, applesauce, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar in a medium bowl and whisk together. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Portion the batter into the sections of the prepared brownie pan (or into muffin liners). Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cake bite comes out clean. Note: It will take a few more minutes to bake cupcakes.

Move the baking pan to a wire rack and allow the bites to cool completely. Remove cake bites from the pan. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Makes 12 cake bites.

Until next time, happy baking!

Mini Allergy-Friendly Spider Bites

mini allergy friendly spider bites
mini allergy friendly spider bites

Are you looking for a Halloween Treat? I have an easy one that is also allergy friendly. It contains only three ingredients, and I modified it so it doesn’t contain common allergens. Now you have a snack to share with all of your favorite ghoul friends (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

The original recipe I found was from Food Network, but I made a few tweaks. I prepared it on the stove top and used a double boiler so the chocolate doesn’t scorch. Then I used ingredients that are generally safe for those with common food allergies. No changes were needed for baking at high altitude, but I made the goodies bite-sized so kids of all ages can enjoy them. Happy Halloween!

Mini Allergy-Friendly Spider Bites adapted from Spider Bites

12 ounces semisweet morsels or chunks (I used Enjoy Life Foods brand)
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter (I used Once Again brand)
6 cups gluten-free pretzel sticks, broken into 1-inch pieces (I used Fit Joy brand)

Place parchment paper on a baking sheet or two and set aside.

Put a few inches of water in a medium pot and put it on the stove to boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and place a heat-safe bowl on top. Place the chocolate chips in the bowl to melt; be sure that steam doesn’t enter from the pot below or the chocolate will seize. Stir the chips occasionally. When the chips are melted and smooth, turn the heat off and stir in the sunflower seed butter. Remove the bowl from over the pot and stir in the pretzel pieces.

spider bites allergy friendly ingredients
spider bites allergy friendly ingredients

When the pretzels are thoroughly coated with chocolate, pick up a few and place them on the parchment lined sheet. Next, take 8 pretzel pieces from the bowl and arrange them to form spider legs. Take a small amount of chocolate from the bowl and blob it over the top to form the body, and to cement everything together. Repeat with the remaining pretzels. You can get creative and anatomically correct, or you can drop them on the sheet to create haystacks instead of spiders. They won’t be Halloween themed, but they will still taste good. Heck, they taste good right out of the bowl.

Place the sheet of spiders in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden. Remove gently from the parchment paper and remove any drips that don’t look like spider.

Until next time, happy nonbaking!

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Krispie Rice Snacks

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Krispie Rice Snacks
Raspberry Chocolate Chip Krispie Rice Snacks

Ah, September. It may not be autumn yet, but it’s peeking around the corner. With the glimpse at future cool weather, we rush out to enjoy the last of summer’s sun. For me this means walks along the water, strolls at local farms, and outdoor cooking. And, with a weekend of sharing meals outdoors, there will be marshmallows. At least once.

Oftentimes I use marshmallows to make s’mores (with recipes here, here, and here), but my current inspiration was Rice Krispy Treats. Searching around I discovered that you can add jam to the melted marshmallows. Who knew?! With no baking required the recipe needed no high altitude changes, just a few vegan substitutions. I used vegan butter and margarine in place of the dairy versions. I also used seedless raspberry jam, as that is my preferred jam in desserts, and added mini chocolate chips to appease my chocolate craving hubby. These tasty treats can be enjoyed outside, before or after your dinner comes off of the grill.

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Krispie Rice Snacks adapted from Strawberry Jam Rice Krispies Treats

2.5 Tablespoons margarine or vegan butter
5 ounces vegan mini marshmallows
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
3 cups brown rice cereal
1/4 cup vegan mini chocolate chips, plus more for garnish

Grease an 8 x 8” baking pan and set aside. Be sure to have your ingredients measured and close at hand (called “mise en place”) because things go fast once the marshmallows have melted.

Melt the margarine in a large pan on a burner set to medium-low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir occasionally until they melt. When melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the jam to the pan. Stir to combine. Add the cereal to the pan and stir to coat. Add the mini chocolate chips to the mixture and stir just to combine. (They will melt a bit, but the smears are tasty.)

Krispie Rice Snacks mise en place
Krispie Rice Snacks mise en place

Pour the cereal mixture into the greased baking pan. Smooth the top of the mixture with a spatula, pressing down firmly into the bottom and corners of the pan. Sprinkle a few mini chocolate chips over the top and press them in gently with your fingertips. Let the treats cool for 2 hours, then cut into squares.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Milkshake for World Plant Milk Day Book Giveaway

milkshake for world plant day giveaway
milkshake for world plant milk day giveaway

When I started my journey of seeking milk that didn’t come from a cow, the options were very limited. It may have been rice milk and three brands of soy milk. These days you can find milk beverages made from those two bases, alongside others consisting of almonds, oats, peas, hemp seeds, coconut, cashews, macadamias, quinoa, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, bananas, hazelnuts, and flax seeds.

Plant milks are so popular now that they have their own holiday. Today is World Plant Milk Day, a celebration of plant-based dairy alternatives that is recognized internationally. People all over the globe can find a way to enjoy a milky beverage that is better for their health, the environment, and the animals.

The website behind this celebratory day explains that a “dairy-free lifestyle has the power to make you feel fantastic, now and in the long-term future. You may experience increased energy, less bloating, improved digestion, clearer skin, reduced asthma symptoms, less inflammation, and other lasting health benefits when you make the switch away from dairy.”

In honor of this day, and to offer you a way to easily get involved, I made a plant-based milkshake. The recipe below is from Alisa Fleming’s book “Eat Dairy Free.” If you like Alisa’s recipe and want more, you’re in luck! I’m giving away one copy of her book which includes recipes for meals, snacks, and sweets. To enter the drawing, comment on this post or my posts with the above book picture on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. **

Strawberry Cheeseshake

1/2 cup raw cashews
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon melted coconut, grapeseed, or rice bran oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cut frozen strawberries
1/2 cup unsweetened plain or vanilla dairy-free beverage
1 tablespoon agave nectar or sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Graham cracker crumbs (gluten free, if needed) for garnish (optional) (note: I used cacao nibs)
2 fresh strawberries, for garnish (optional)

Put the cashews in your spice grinder or food processor and whiz until powdered, about 30 to 60 seconds.

Put the cashew powder, water, lemon juice, oil, and salt in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Transfer the cashew mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate for 2 hours or more, to allow the flavors to mingle and the consistency to thicken.

Put the chilled cashew mixture, frozen strawberries, milk beverage, sweetener, and vanilla in your blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

Pour the shake into 2 glasses and garnish each.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

** Contest ends 8/27/21 at 11:00 AM PST. Open to US residents only. Void where prohibited. One winner will be chosen at random and announced in the comments.

Brown Sugar Rice Krispie Treats

brown sugar rice krispie treats
brown sugar rice krispie treats

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

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

Brown Sugar Rice Krispie Treats

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

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

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

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

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Charoset-Inspired Dessert Bites

Charoset-Inspired Dessert Bites

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

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

Charoset-Inspired Dessert Bites inspired by Haroset Balls

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

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

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

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

charoset dessert bites and toppings

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

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Apricot Pistachio Bark with Tahini Swirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, happy nonbaking!

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!

Easy Spanakopita Appetizers

easy spanakopita appetizers
easy spanakopita appetizers

Today’s post is not about my usual tempting desserts, but it is still decadent. The dish is a savory appetizer, but one so creamy and tasty that you’ll find it disappears quickly. It is perfect for a holiday platter, especially for New Year’s Eve festivities.

This recipe was shared by a friend at a cooking get together. I made minor alterations for my taste preferences, but essentially it’s the recipe provided to the class. It was already vegan, and can be made at any altitude. And, with pre-baked vegan fillo shells, you can make these in no time.

Easy Spanakopita Appetizers

2 TBS olive oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 TBS minced garlic
1 pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
8.1 oz Violife Just Like Feta
8 oz Kite Hill Ricotta Alternative
2 TBS finely minced dill leaves (no stems)
2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
2 (1.6 oz) packages The Fillo Factory Mini Fillo Shells

Preheat oven to 350F. Add 1 TBS olive oil to a pan on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until almost translucent. Add the garlic and cook until just starting to brown. Transfer the onion-garlic mixture to a bowl. Wipe out the warm pan and add the additional 1 TBS olive oil. Add the spinach and cook until warmed through. Stir the onion-garlic mixture into the warm spinach in the pan. Crumble the feta into the pan and stir in the ricotta and dill. Cook just until the cheese softens. Add the lemon juice and salt and stir to combine.

Transfer the filling to a food processor and process until just blended. Taste and adjust for dill, lemon juice, and salt. Transfer the filling to a piping bag. Arrange the fillo shells on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pipe the filling into the shells. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the shells are just browned on the edges. Eat while still hot.

Until next time, Happy New Year, and 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!