Chocolate Immune Boost Bites

Chocolate Immune Boost Bites and matcha tea

Chocolate Immune Boost Bites and matcha tea

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

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

Chocolate Immune Boost Bites

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

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

Until next time, happy nonbaking!

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

Star-Spangled Berry Parfait

star spangled berry parfait

star spangled berry parfait

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

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

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

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

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

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

aquafaba meringue on whisk

aquafaba meringue on whisk

For the meringue layer: Place the bean liquid and cream of tartar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the mixture on low speed until the cream of tartar is incorporated and the liquid is semi-opaque. You may need to stop the mixer and stir the contents at the bottom a few times to get it fully mixed. Increase the speed to high and beat for an additional minute, or until opaque. Reduce the speed to low and begin adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. After the first addition, raise the speed to high, beating for 1 minute after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added, continue to beat for 10 minutes on high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula once or twice. The meringue should be stiff, white, and glossy. If not, keep beating until it is.

Reduce the speed to medium and slowly add vanilla and lemon juice. Immediately raise the speed to high and beat for another 3 minutes, or until the meringue is stiff, white, and glossy and resembles marshmallow fluff. The total time needed depends on your mixer and the brine used. You cannot over beat aquafaba, so don’t worry. * Success Tips: Heat the bean water on the stove to reduce it by 1/3, then chill it before making the meringue. It should be thick and resemble egg whites. Also, vegan meringue keeps its loft best when prepared with a non-alcoholic extract.

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

Until next time, happy non-baking!

How to Make the Perfect Date Paste

the perfect date paste

the perfect date paste

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Baked Doughnuts with Sprinkles

baked doughnuts with sprinkles

baked doughnuts with sprinkles

In the past I have made several failed attempts at baked doughnuts. I was certain the fault was with me or the fact that I was at high altitude. The doughnuts had dense textures and were better suited as doorstops. Frustrated, I gave up. But recently I found a new recipe and bravely decided to try again. Am I glad I did. I got perfect, beautiful, and tasty doughnuts.

The recipe I used was already vegan, so all I had to do was make minor high altitude changes. I added almond milk and then baked them a little longer. That was all that was needed for my success. They are delicious plain, but I had leftover ganache in my freezer that I melted to dip my doughnuts in. You can drizzle melted chocolate on these treats, or decorate them with buttercream and a few sprinkles. The beauty of doughnuts is that they can be topped with a multitude of tasty things that you probably already have in your fridge or cupboard.

Baked Doughnuts with Sprinkles adapted from Baked Vegan Donuts

1.5 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup lightly ground organic granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup + 1 TBS non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBS unsweetened applesauce
5 TBS vegan butter, melted
For the topping: melted vegan ganache, vegan sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two non-stick doughnut trays with cooking spray. Set aside. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Add non-dairy milk, vanilla, applesauce, and melted vegan butter. Whisk together, removing any large lumps.

Place batter into a piping bag or ziplock bag with the corner cut off. Pipe evenly into doughnut wells. Bake for 16-17 minutes until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes on a wire rack. Then tip doughnuts from pan and place on a wire rack until completely cooled.

Place a wire rack over a piece of waxed paper. Dip doughnuts into melted ganache, then put on wire rack. Shower tops of doughnuts with sprinkles, then set aside for the topping to set. While waiting, you can snack on the chocolate and sprinkles that have fallen onto the waxed paper.

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!

New Year’s Eve Spiced Nuts

New Years Eve spiced nuts

New Year’s Eve spiced nuts

The following snack is fun to have on-hand to munch on this New Year’s Eve. Its decadent taste can get you through until the grand dinner is served, or it can be eaten alongside any cocktail. You can choose one nut, or a mixture as I did. The flavorings can also be chosen to suit your palate, making this a munchie with endless combinations.

Traditionally, flavored nuts use egg white as a coating, which is decidedly non-vegan. But the recipe I found uses a double toasting and a wet coating to bring out the taste. It originally made a sweet nut, but I wanted something savory for a change. Whether you prefer sweet or more herbaceous, this is still a treat worthy of any celebration.

New Year’s Eve Spiced Nuts adapted from Quick Candied Nuts by America’s Test Kitchen

1 cup unsalted nuts (such as a mix of walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and cashews)
1 TBS spices (such as a mix of dried rosemary, smoked paprika, ancho powder, and garlic powder)
1/2 tsp organic sugar
1 TBS hot water
1/8 tsp sea salt

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350F. Spread nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and slightly browned, 8 to 12 minutes, shaking sheet halfway through toasting. Transfer nuts to a plate and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes. If doing more than one type of nut, then toast each individually as they have different cook rates. Place dirty baking sheet aside.

Grind together all spices in a spice grinder until powdered and mixed. Line now-empty sheet with parchment paper. Whisk spice blend, sugar, hot water, and salt in a large bowl until sugar is mostly dissolved. Add nuts and stir to coat. Spread nuts on baking sheet in a single layer and bake until nuts are crisp and dry, for 10 to 12 minutes.

Transfer sheet to a wire rack and let nuts cool completely, for 15 minutes. Nuts can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Until next year, happy baking!

Walnut and Cinnamon Peach Crisp

The perfect bite of peach crisp

Walnut and Cinnamon Peach Crisp

Walnuts and cinnamon and peaches … oh, my! Looking at half a flat of local peaches, I was devising ways to use up a good portion of them when a crisp came to mind. The dessert turned out so velvety, luscious, and decadent that I wanted to eat the entire dish in one sitting, for dinner. A few bites were saved for breakfast, but it’s best to reheat it to bring out the full peachy flavor.

The recipe I liked had few ingredients and good preparation techniques but made a large baking dish of crisp, so I scaled it down. Then I added walnuts because I love a crunchy topping. To veganize it I used vegan buttery sticks. Fortunately, nothing needed to be changed for altitude. My final fix was to prefer mixing with my hands instead of using a stick blender. It made for easier kitchen cleanup, and it allowed me to create larger clumps of topping goodness.

Walnut and Cinnamon Peach Crisp adapted from Cinnamon-Oat Peach Crisp

3 pounds peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4” slices
1/2 cup organic granulated sugar
2 TBS + 3/4 cup all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup packed organic brown sugar
1/2 cup rough chopped walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan margarine, softened

Toss peaches, granulated sugar, and 2 TBS flour in a bowl to combine. Let sit, tossing occasionally, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk oats, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup flour in a large bowl to combine. Add margarine and mix it in with your fingers, removing any lumps.

Place a rack in the center of the oven; preheat oven to 350F. Scrape peaches and any juices into a 2-qt baking dish. Evenly scatter oat topping over peaches and bake until peaches are soft, fruit juices are bubbling, and topping is a deep golden brown, 40–45 minutes. Transfer baking dish to a wire rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

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!

Spiced Zucchini Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

spiced zucchini layer cake

spiced zucchini layer cake

When zucchini is in abundance, you make cake. Armed with several zucchini, I scoured recipes for breads, muffins, and cakes to make use of my squash. After discovering this spice cake recipe, I decided I needed to go bigger because I had quite a few of the vegetable. This then prodded me to make a layer cake, although I had not made one in a while. Of course, I could have been easier on myself and made two simple cake pan cakes slathered in frosting, but I do like a challenge. My apologies for the messy cake as my layering skills are rusty.

I found a vegan recipe, so the next step was to do the math to make it fit two 8” round pans. Thankfully, I discovered a chart of pan volumes at Joy Of Baking. After that I made some high altitude adjustments, such as reducing baking soda and adding more liquid. I also made a few changes to the instructions by thoroughly squeezing the zucchini (to avoid a soggy cake), sifting the dry ingredients separately (to blend the spices in), and modifying the frosting (for a less sweet vanilla-infused boost). It ended up being a serious baking production, but the resulting cake had a wonderful texture and even better flavor. I’m glad I wasn’t feeling lazy.

Spiced Zucchini Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from the pretty bee and Handle the Heat

for the cake
1.5 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup canola oil
4.5 TBS unsweetened applesauce
1.25 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup + 2 TBS unsweetened non-dairy milk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
pinch ground nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar

for the frosting
8 ounces vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick vegan margarine, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla paste
3 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted

The cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two 8” round pans by greasing the pans, then lining the pans with parchment circles, and then greasing the parchment circles. Flour both greased pans. (The effort is worth it — see picture below.)

Lay zucchini on paper towels to absorb some of the moisture, then wring it out in a clean tea towel. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine oil, applesauce, vinegar, milk, and vanilla. Stir well and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Add both sugars and stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Fold in zucchini.

gorgeous spiced zucchini cake layer

gorgeous spiced zucchini cake layer

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cake cool completely, then level the layers. Set aside.

The frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, margarine, and vanilla on medium-high speed until creamy, and smooth. On low speed, gradually add in sugar and beat until fluffy. Apply between cake layers and around the outside. Leftover cake can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

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!