Gluten-Free Marshmallow-Studded Cookies

gluten-free marshmallow studded cookies
gluten-free marshmallow studded cookies

Marshmallows and chocolate — what a yummy combination. Just thinking of them reminds me of summer parties with marshmallows made oooey gooey from time spent over a fire’s flame. Add a graham cracker or two with a chocolate square and you have s’mores. Or you can bake these cookies in the oven for a similar tasting but easier to make treat.

I discovered a vegan cookie recipe with these flavors that I could make gluten-free and adapt to my circumstances. Aquafaba was used to make a super flax egg for extra moisture and structure that is lacking at high altitude and in many gluten-free desserts. Also, I made sure to use baking powder to help activate the dutch-processed cocoa powder. The last change made to add extra rise was to use vegan butter that was not melted. The result was a chewy cookie with a crisp exterior.

My gluten-free testers raved about the cookie. One said that each bite was a different combination of tastes and flavors, while another said it was the best cookie she ever had. Not too shabby for a gluten-free and vegan treat baked at high altitude.

Gluten-Free Marshmallow-Studded Cookies adapted from Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
3 tablespoons aquafaba
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup vegan butter
1 cup vegan sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1 cup vegan marshmallows, chopped large or unchopped minis

Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flaxseed and aquafaba and set aside to thicken.

In a bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place vegan butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, and combine on medium-high speed. Add flax mixture, vanilla, and non-dairy milk, and combine on medium speed until the batter is soft and smooth. Add dry ingredients and beat to combine. Add chocolate chips and marshmallows and stir with a spoon to combine.

Scoop up 2 tablespoons of batter at a time and roll into a ball. Place each ball on a baking sheet and flatten slightly with the heel of your hand. Bake for 12-13 minutes, one tray at a time, rotating halfway through bake time. Let cool on the baking sheet for five minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. They may seem too soft, but will become firm and crisp as they cool. Do not store airtight or they will get soggy. Yield: 24-26 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking and happy 4th of July!

Raisin Oat Muffins

raisin oat muffins
raisin oat muffins

I am a big fan of books called “Cozy” mysteries. These Cozies are lightweight murder stories (less Jason Bourne and more Jessica Fletcher) that are solved by someone whose job is not that of a detective. My favorites are solved by sleuths that work in the food industry, and the authors usually include recipes mentioned in the story. A fun crime to sort out in a food setting, with instructions for making the food – what’s not to love! So, today’s post is inspired by a recipe in one of Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mysteries.

To make the recipe vegan, curdled non-dairy milk subbed for buttermilk and Just Egg was used in place of an egg. For high altitude adjustments I added flour and milk, while reducing the leaveners. If you’d like to enjoy these muffins while sipping coffee and catching a killer with coffeehouse owner Clare Cosi, then visit The Village Blend.

Raisin Oat Muffins adapted from Cleo Coyle’s Oatmeal Cookie Muffins

1 cup soy milk
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
2 TBS Just Egg
3 TBS canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 TBS all purpose flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1.25 tsp cinnamon
generous 1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup raisins

Advance prep: whisk soy milk and apple cider vinegar together in a bowl or container. Let sit at room temp for 10 minutes. Add the oats, then cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

When ready to make the muffins, preheat the oven to 375F. Line muffin cups with paper liners and lightly coat the papers with non-stick cooking spray.

Put the Just Egg in a bowl and whisk until frothy. Add the oat mixture, oil, and vanilla, and stir to combine. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the brown sugar and raisins and stir. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir with a spatula until just moistened.

Scoop batter into muffin cups, filling 1/2 full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the top of a muffin is firm to the touch and an inserted toothpick has just a few small crumbs. Remove pan from the oven and tip the muffins out onto a wire rack. Let muffins cool completely.

Until next time, happy baking!

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!

Chewy Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

chewy chocolate crinkle cookies
chewy chocolate crinkle cookies

Several readers have been asking for this recipe, and here it is (drumroll, please). Let me present … Chewy Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. My post The Magic of Crinkle Cookies chronicled my experiments with different crinkle ideas, and now I offer you the delicious cookie that arose from those tests. This chocolatey cookie is moist and chewy with notes that are sweet with a hint of salty. The fissures in the cookie’s crust are brought out by a slight dusting of sugars. This cookie took me back to my childhood and made me smile. I hope it makes you smile, too.

Although I borrowed parts of many recipes, the base of my creation was from a cookbook called A Good Bake. To make their cookie vegan, I swapped the dairy butter for Flora plant butter, and I used aquafaba in place of an egg. I kept the brown sugar because it has more moisture (for chewiness) and is more acidic (for its reaction with baking soda to help the cookies rise), but I used light brown sugar for a more subtle flavor. Before baking, I rolled the dough balls in granulated then powdered sugar to ensure I would get that snowy look that crinkles have. I am glad that I took the time to sort these tasty treats out because now they are a part of my regular cookie repertoire.

Chewy Chocolate Crinkle Cookies adapted from A Good Bake

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (not dutch-process)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
16 TBS unsalted vegan butter, softened (like Flora)
1.5 cups light brown sugar, packed
3 TBS aquafaba
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegan sugar, for rolling
1/4 cup vegan powdered sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.

Put the butter and brown sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the aquafaba and vanilla, and beat until well combined, 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until no visible flour remains, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pour the vegan sugar in one shallow bowl and the powdered sugar in another. Use a 2 TBS cookie scoop to get a lump of dough, then roll it in your hands to form a ball. Roll the dough ball first in the bowl of vegan sugar then in the powdered sugar, and place on a prepared cookie sheet. Repeat until all dough is used, leaving 2” between each cookie.

chocolate crinkle cookie defies gravity
chocolate crinkle cookie defies gravity

Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, for 13-15 minutes, rotating each baking sheet from front to back midway through the baking time. Remove cookies from the oven and let them cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Yield: 24 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling

dark chocolate cupcakes with raspberry filling
dark chocolate cupcakes with raspberry filling

It’s a long holiday weekend in the U.S., and that calls for a special dessert. Special doesn’t mean complicated, but maybe more than a plate of cookies. That got me thinking … hmmm, cupcakes are still easy … but, FILLED cupcakes are easy and noteworthy. Now, to decide on the flavors … raspberry and chocolate are always a hit. Armed with my choices, I came up with a delicious dark chocolate cupcake and then an easy-but-tasty raspberry frosting.

Admittedly, I had a lot of changes to make. To veganize the cupcakes, I made buttermilk from soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Then I replaced the butter with canola oil, and the eggs with aquafaba. For high altitude, I reduced the total amount of leaveners and increased the flour. The frosting was easier, as I swapped out dairy items with their non-dairy counterparts. Although I may not have needed to make the frosting. As fantastic as these were filled, my hubby loved them without frosting. That’s okay; more raspberry frosting for me!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling adapted from Food & Wine and Food Network

for the cupcakes
1/2 cup soy milk
1.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/8 cup natural cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup canola oil
3 TBS aquafaba
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 TBS all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup vegan granulated sugar
for the filling / frosting
6 TBS cold vegan butter
2 TBS vegan shortening
3 cups vegan powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp non-dairy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 heaping TBS raspberry fruit spread

Preheat oven to 350F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a standard muffin tin with paper cups and set aside. Place soy milk in a jar and add the apple cider vinegar. Place the lid on the jar and shake gently to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes to curdle.

Put cocoa powder in a large heatproof bowl. Add boiling water and whisk until a smooth paste forms. Whisk in curdled milk, oil, aquafaba, and 3/4 tsp vanilla until combined. In a medium bowl, sift flour with baking soda, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir to combine.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups until they are half full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with just a few crumbs. Let cupcakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the vegan butter and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with the non-dairy milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla, until it is smooth and creamy. Add the raspberry fruit spread and beat until creamy.

Spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Holding a cupcake in your hand, plunge the tip into the top of the cake, pushing it halfway in. Gently squeeze the pastry bag to fill the cupcake, withdrawing it slowly as you squeeze. Repeat until all cupcakes are filled. Use the remaining filling to pipe tiny rosettes on the tops of the cupcakes. Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Learning New Things at The Bake Fest

Image by Anthea Chang @rainbownourishments
Image by Anthea Chang @rainbownourishments

When I first heard about The Bake Fest, the baking geek in me got so excited. Never having been to or even heard of a baking conference, I couldn’t wait to attend virtual lectures and hang out in chat rooms. It’s only been one day of The Bake Fest and already my head is filled with blog ideas for new creations, decorations, and scientific explanations.

The first half of the day I got warmed up by attending classes on cake and cookie decorating. It was inspiring to watch creative designers in their element, but then came the presentations most near and dear to my blog – Fundamentals of Baking Science by Kristin “Baker Bettie” Hoffman, and Introduction to Vegan Baking by Anthea Cheng. It’s impossible to quickly sum up Baker Bettie’s slides as she offered so much that my brain is still processing it. One quick bit to share concerns the differences between light and dark brown sugar. She says, “Light brown sugar has a small amount of molasses while dark brown sugar has larger amounts of molasses added. Molasses adds caramel notes to baked goods and also keeps baked goods very moist and chewy. Molasses is also acidic in nature which means that brown sugar can be used in recipes with baking soda in order to activate its chemical reaction.” However, she mentions that they can be used interchangeably, so I may stick with buying whichever is in sale.

Baker Bettie talking science
Baker Bettie talking science

Anthea Cheng’s segment started with a recipe for Vegan Brioche. Vegan brioche? And she made it look easy? I am not a bread baker, but I look forward to trying this out. We were also treated to a cake decorating demo that wowed me when she made frosting tinted with real food, not chemicals. The colorants included beet powder and blue spirulina. I must search online for these ingredients to add to my toolbox. (Literally … I keep my decorating items in a large toolbox).

Now, you may be disappointed that you missed out in this educational event. But, don’t worry! There is more going on today. You can register for The Bake Fest here and view tomorrow’s schedule here. If you see me in the Lounge, be sure to say hello.

Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes for Mother’s Day

mini chocolate mousse cakes
mini chocolate mousse cakes

Mother’s Day requires a special dessert. The idea is that if you slave away all day at the oven, then you prove that you care. But all you really need is a treat that is decadent and delicious. These Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes are all that, and more. They are fairly easy to make, too. The hardest part for me was cutting the parchment circles to fit the mini pans. (I am not very adept with scissors).

My search for a decadent Mother’s Day treat provided a recipe that made a 7-inch cake. Not having a pan that size, I decided to change it up to make mini cakes. I liked that idea because they can be served individually so Mom can get a fancy one made just for her. The recipe was vegan and no-bake, so I didn’t have to make those changes. I did make alterations to ensure the mini cakes would be firm. The result was the cutest mousse cakes that were deemed so delicious that they should be made on more than just special occasions.

Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes adapted from Vegan Chocolate Mousse Cake

Cookie Crust
14 vanilla cream filled chocolate wafer cookies (such as Oreos)
4 TBS vegan margarine or butter
Mousse Filling
11 ounces dark chocolate, 65% or higher
12.3 ounces silken tofu, drained but not pressed
10.6 ounces vegan greek style yogurt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 TBS powdered sugar
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
4 TBS maple syrup
Garnishes
fresh raspberries
powdered sugar

For the crust: Cut parchment paper to line the bottom and sides of 8 mini cheesecake tins with removable bases. Set aside. Add cookies and vegan margarine or butter to the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is like moist sand, up to 1 minute. Remove 1/2 cup of the cookie mixture and set aside. Press the remaining mixture into the bottoms of the 8 mini tins. Tamp the mixture down with the bottom of a small glass to compact it. Place the tins in the fridge.

For the filling: Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Set aside briefly to cool slightly. Place the tofu, yogurt, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and maple syrup in a high speed blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, creamy, and slightly warm. (The heat will help the melted chocolate to blend in smoothly). Add the melted chocolate and blend again until the mixture is very smooth. Remove the tins from the fridge and pour the filling into them. Bang the tins on the counter to flatten out the tops of the mousse. Return the tins to the fridge for 4-5 hours, or overnight, to firm up. Once set, remove the cakes from the tins and remove the parchment paper.

To plate: Place each cake on an individual plate and place a raspberry on top. Sprinkle some of the remaining crust crumbs over the top and dust the cake with powdered sugar. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Until next time, happy non-baking and Happy Mother’s Day!

Custom Muffins with Glazes

custom muffins with custom glazes
custom muffins with custom glazes

I ran across a recipe for a customizable muffin and it intrigued me. The concept was to have a “base” that you can vary any way you like. Berries could be stirred in, or nuts, or chocolate chips, or candies … you get the idea. It seemed like a fantastic way to make multiple flavors at one time without baking dozens of muffins at once. You could make a variety pack for yourself, or have several flavors to give as treats. I wanted to so something special for my neighbors, so I decided that four different muffins might put smiles on their faces. And, since I can’t leave well enough alone, I opted to make a different flavored glaze for each muffin flavor.

To veganize the recipe, I curdled cashew milk as a stand-in for buttermilk. In place of regular unsalted butter, I used Flora unsalted plant butter. Lastly, aquafaba was my egg substitute. To account for high altitude, I reduced the amount of baking powder and the oven temperature. Despite all of these changes to the original recipe, the muffins turned out tall and beautiful. My neighbors said they were great, and I enjoyed the diversity of the ones I saved for me.

Custom Muffins with Glazes adapted from Ultimate Muffins

4 TBS unsalted vegan butter (like Flora plant butter)
1 cup + 1 tsp non-dairy milk
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
2 cups all purpose flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup vegan sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 TBS aquafaba
1 tsp vanilla extract
Custom mix-ins:
blueberries, fresh or frozen, drained if needed; 4 – 6 per muffin
chopped berries, fresh or frozen, drained if needed; 4 – 6 pieces per muffin
chocolate chips, regular or minis; 2-3 TBS
Custom glazes:
3 TBS powdered sugar, sifted
up to 1 tsp non-dairy milk
flavored extracts (such as vanilla, coffee, chocolate, lemon, orange)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper cups and spray the cups with nonstick cooking spray. Melt vegan butter in a small saucepan and set aside to cool. Place non-dairy milk in a jar and add the apple cider vinegar. Place the lid on the jar and shake gently to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes to curdle.

Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the sugars and whisk to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, curdled milk, aquafaba, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined. Remove 1/2 cup of batter to a bowl. Scoop the remaining batter into separate bowls, one per flavor. (I made 4 flavors, 3 muffins each, so I scooped 1/4 of the remaining batter each into its own bowl). Add the mix-ins, one flavor per bowl, and fold in gently. (I added 18 small blueberries to one bowl of batter, 12 bits of chopped cherries to one bowl, 15 bits of chopped raspberries to one bowl, and 2 TBS of mini chocolate chips to the last bowl).

Divide the 1/2 cup of reserved plain batter between the 12 muffin cups, as a layer on the bottom of the muffin cup. (This keeps the mix-ins from sinking to the bottom of the muffin). Next, fill the muffin cups 2/3 full with the flavored batters, one flavor per muffin cup. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the muffin tin halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. Move the tin to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled slightly, tip the muffins out onto the rack to finish cooling.

baked custom muffins, 4 flavors
baked custom muffins, 4 flavors

While the muffins cool, make the glazes. Add the powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp nondairy milk to a bowl. Add more milk, one drop at a time, as needed to dissolve the powdered sugar without making it too runny. Divide the glaze base into individual bowls to make separate flavors. I added vanilla and coffee extracts to put on my chocolate chip muffins, vanilla extract only for the raspberry muffins, chocolate and vanilla extracts for the cherry muffins, and lemon extract with a sprinkle of lemon zest for the blueberry muffins). When the muffins have cooled, drizzle the glazes over the tops of the muffins.

Until next time, happy baking!

The Magic of Crinkle Cookies

chocolate crinkle cookies
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

When I think back to childhood, one of my favorite cookies was the chocolate crinkle. The dense chocolate flavor and sugary coating was a hit, but I was also mesmerized by the cracks and ridges in the cookies. Where did they come from? And what magic made it possible? As a self-proclaimed baking researcher, I now had to dig into the subject and solve the mystery of the crinkle cookie.

There are many recipes for crinkles out there, but they differ in strategic ways. Some bakers put the dough in the refrigerator prior to baking, while others stand resolute in the idea that they should not be cooled first. Certain recipes use only one leavener but others use both baking soda and baking powder. I wondered why there was such a disparity of ideas, so I dove deeper to reveal the science behind the different recipe twists.

In the cookbook A Good Bake, we are told that crinkles are considered a rise-and-fall cookie. This moniker “refers to one that rises in the oven and then falls when you take it out. The rise-and-fall process is a result of the baking soda reacting with the cocoa powder and brown sugar before the cookie is set. When the cookies are removed from the oven, they fall, giving them that crackle top. How quickly the cookie rises before it sets up is the key to achieving that finish.” The authors recommend against putting the dough in the fridge, as this helps the cookie rise quicker. They also say to bake in batches, one tray at a time. This makes sense as it maximizes the oven heat that each tray receives.

Additional crinkle cookie information was found on the WonderHowTo website. “Crinkle cookies are meant to have gaps between wrinkles of powdered sugar. … Achieving this perfect appearance relies solely on the amount of spreading and expanding they do in the oven.” So, again, the recommendation is to keep the dough out of the fridge. The article also mentions how oven temperature affects cookie expansion. “If crinkle cookies are baked at 350°F, the outside bakes and hardens more quickly, which doesn’t give the dough enough time to spread. … Therefore, crinkle cookies are best baked at 325°F; this temperature allows the ingredients to spread and melt onto the sheet for a longer amount of time before they start to bake and harden.”

As oven temperature can play a role in high altitude baking, I tested both 325F and 350F. While the cookies baked, I peeked through the oven window to watch them rise and fall. It was interesting that the 350F cookies took longer to fall, so I kept them in the oven for the same amount of time as the 325F batch. You can see in the photos that the higher temp made cookies with cracks that were slightly wider. I ended up preferring the texture of those baked at 350F.

crinkle cookies at 325 F
crinkle cookies at 325 F
crinkle cookies at 350 F
crinkle cookies at 350 F

From Cook’s Illustrated I learned “a simple tweak (that) turned out to be key to producing a maximum number of fissures: rolling the balls of dough in granulated sugar before rolling them in powdered sugar. Coating the cookies with either type of sugar draws out moisture from their surface, promoting cracks by drying out their tops before the interiors set. But granulated sugar does so more efficiently because of its coarse, crystalline structure.” I also noticed that if you swirled the cookies in powdered sugar only, then the white coating seemed to disappear as they cooked. When I rolled the dough in both I achieved the snowy look that is part of the signature the cookie.

A test baker at Cook’s Illustrated also did a thorough testing of leaveners. “Baking powder, as I already knew, did a decent job by itself, but a combination of baking powder and baking soda proved to be the winner. These cookies spread nicely, without any hump, and they had a more crackly surface (than baking soda alone).”

What did all of this prove? That I love chocolate crinkle cookies. Okay, I already knew that. However, I did discover that I was searching for the cookie from my childhood — a crinkle that was not overly sweet and had a dense but chewy texture. The crinkle cookie can achieve an ever-so-slight hump and have a thick layer of powdered sugar and be a success. But, for me, chocolate crinkle perfection is found in a cookie that is flat and has just a light dusting of sugar.

Until next time, happy testing!

Molten Lava Cake

molten lava cake
molten lava cake

Lava cakes are fascinating; they ooze chocolate as if by magic. The desserts are designed somewhat like a chocolate torte combined with a little bit of soufflé. Their lush chocolate flavor deepens as the outside cake sets, yet the inside remains deliciously gooey. In a traditional recipe, this molten center is enhanced with the use of eggs. In preparing this dessert vegan-style, I turned to a chunk of chocolate to recreate the melted interior.

My search for lava cake recipes revealed several, but I chose one that was already vegan to make things easier. For high altitude, I merely reduced the leavener slightly. Next I scaled it down to make just one cake, and it’s good that I did. This treat is so intensely rich that half of the cake was extremely satisfying. I easily shared it, but you can double the recipe if you aren’t in a sharing mood.

Molten Lava Cake adapted from Vegan Chocolate Lava Cakes

Shortening, to grease the ramekin
1 TBS cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting the ramekin
1 ounce unsweetened soy milk
1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup + 1/4 tsp all purpose flour
scant 1/8 tsp baking powder
pinch sea salt
1 TBS + 1 tsp vegan sugar
1/2 TBS vegan butter, melted
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 TBS vegan mini chocolate chips, melted
1 piece dark chocolate
Chocolate shavings and vegan whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 3-ounce ramekin and dust with cocoa powder. Shake out the excess powder. Add milk and vinegar to a bowl and whisk. Set aside a few minutes to curdle.

To a medium bowl, sift together 1 TBS cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt. To a medium bowl, add sugar, melted butter, vanilla, and applesauce. Add curdled milk and whisk until foamy. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until no large lumps remain. Add melted chocolate chips and stir again. Pour batter into prepared ramekin. Push piece of chocolate into center of batter, then push batter over chocolate to cover.

Place filled ramekin on a baking sheet. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until the edges have pulled away slightly and the top no longer feels wet. Place the ramekin on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. When cool, run a knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it. Put a plate over the ramekin and carefully invert the cake onto the plate. Dust the cake with chocolate shavings and add a dollop of whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Until next time, happy baking!