The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

perfect chocolate chip cookie

the perfect chocolate chip cookie

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

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

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

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

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

Flora plant butter

Flora plant butter

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

Until next time, happy baking!

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!

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake Pan Cake

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake Pan Cake

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake Pan Cake

The very ripe bananas on my counter were calling my name. Although I do love my Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, I wanted something more decadent and more banana-y. A banana cake seemed appropriate. With plenty of mashed bananas in an easy cake pan form, the recipe I found sounded perfect. I just had to make it vegan and high altitude friendly.

To veganize it, I used whipped aquafaba instead of eggs. I also traded butter with Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread. (Note: I did not use the sticks because I wanted the lighter texture of the spread.) To help counter the affects at altitude I added more liquid and flour. However, vegan banana baked goods can be heavy so I added apple cider vinegar and a smidgen of baking powder to boost the lift.

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake Pan Cake adapted from Banana–Chocolate Chip Snack Cake

1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/3 cup aquafaba, cold (the liquid from canned chickpeas)
2 cups + 1 TBS all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
scant 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup vegan buttery spread (see note above)
1 cup + 3 TBS vegan sugar
1 cup mashed bananas (2 to 3 bananas, very ripe)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour an 8 x 8” baking pan. Stir apple cider vinegar into the non-dairy milk and set aside. Add aquafaba to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk for 5 minutes. Place whipped aquafaba in a separate bowl, and replace the whisk attachment on the stand mixer with the paddle.

Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat the buttery spread on medium-high speed for a minute. Add the sugar and beat for 2 more minutes. Fold in whipped aquafaba. Add bananas and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, scraping down bowl as needed. Stir in half of the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

choose very ripe bananas

choose very ripe bananas

Transfer the batter to prepared pan and smooth top with the spatula. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips evenly over top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let cake cool completely in pan on wire rack. The cooled cake can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chunky Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

chunky chocolate peanut butter bars

chunky chocolate peanut butter bars

For those of you who follow my blog, you may have noticed that I have been missing for a while. I was packing, then moving, and then unpacking. Now my new (awesome) kitchen is set up and I am back in baking action. To commemorate the event, and to have dessert to bring to a party, I made these bars with the delectable combination of peanut butter and chocolate.

With a delicious recipe in hand that I found on the blog “Handle the Heat,” I set out to veganize it. Vegan margarine was used instead of butter, and I substituted aquafaba for the eggs. To be more health conscious I swapped some of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Then, for altitude, I used a bit less baking powder. The party guests gobbled them up and my husband is already asking for more.

Chunky Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars based on Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Bars
1 stick vegan margarine
1 3/4 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
7 TBS slightly reduced aquafaba
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces vegan chocolate, cut into chunks
Preheat oven to 350°F. Create a parchment paper sling by lining an 8 x 8” metal baking pan with parchment in both directions, with a slight overhang. You will grab the overhang later to remove the cooked brownies.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the margarine. Add brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Add aquafaba and whisk until well combined. Allow to cool. In a large bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Once peanut butter mixture is cool, add vanilla and stir. Pour peanut butter mixture into flour mixture and stir to create a thick batter. Fold in 3/4 of the chocolate chunks, reserving the rest for sprinkling on top.
Transfer batter to prepared pan, spreading evenly to edges. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chunks, lightly pressing them into batter. Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is golden and edges are slightly browned. Allow to cool in pan. Use parchment sling to remove the bars before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

guittard chocolate

Guittard chocolate

Until next time, happy baking!

Donut Mini Muffins

Donut Mini Muffins

Donut Mini Muffins

In the past, I have tried (unsuccessfully) to make baked donuts. I even bought a donut pan but donated it after the utter failure of my baked creations. But I am still drawn to the idea of making donuts. It’s strange, really, because I am not a big fan of donuts. However, this week I delved into that arena again, this time changing a batch of mini donuts into mini muffins.

The recipe I uncovered was already vegan but I went one step beyond – I used aquafaba as the egg replacer. It worked beautifully, making light and fluffy muffins. The change I made for altitude was to use less baking powder. Besides that, I had fun using different donut themes for my muffins. I filled some with jam and smeared chocolate on top. Others I dipped into chocolate and then added sprinkles. I could have added powdered sugar to a few but the idea of only chocolate flavoring won out, as usual.

Donut Mini Muffins based on Vegan Mini Baked Donuts
Dry Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch ground cinnamon
Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup aquafaba
4 TBS vegan buttery spread (not buttery sticks)
Toppings
2 TBS vegan sprinkles
3 ounces vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Put paper cups in 24 spaces of a mini muffin pan. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk to mix thoroughly. Combine wet ingredients in a pan over medium low heat and mix until buttery spread is melted. This should not get too hot; just slightly warm. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined. Scoop into muffin cups. Bake for 12 minutes until almost browned on top and a tester comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack before decorating. To decorate, put sprinkles on a plate then melt chocolate chips over a double boiler. Dip minis one-by-one into chocolate then into sprinkles. Makes 24.

Until next time, happy baking!

Flourless Fudge Cookie Failure

chocolate cookie failure

chocolate cookie failure

When I write blog posts, they usually include a few words about how the baked good was altered and include a recipe. Well, not this week. I have spent 8 hopeless days trying to produce an egg white based flourless cookie by using Aquafaba (the bean liquid from chickpeas). The substance makes a wonderful meringue cookie and is supposed to act in other eggy ways. I’ve used it in my super flegg egg substitute, but never as a stand-in for egg whites. It’s apparently going to require quite a few more trials.

The recipe for a flourless fudge cookie sounded like a challenge, but not as great a one as it turned out to be. The recipe called for whisked egg whites. I replaced them with whisked aquafaba and got an ooey gooey un-cookie like substance. Next I thought to whip up the chickpea water in the stand mixer to get more volume, but was still unsuccessful. Then I tried switching brands of canned chickpeas and discovered that the included brine varied immensely and a thicker liquid got me closer to a cookie but not exactly. The baked cookies were a bit gooey and rubbery at the same time, although my hubby thought they were good dipped in espresso.

So, today’s post will not include a recipe. This egg white substitution is still a failure and requires more testing. And more research. I plan to get it right one day, just not today.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie

Have you ever wanted to make cookies but didn’t want to deal with pulling cookie sheets in and out of the oven? I was craving cookies but was too lazy to babysit cookie sheets, so I made a pan cookie. It’s basically a cookie in a baking pan that makes one big cookie with less work than baking up a few dozen. It’s instant cookie gratification.

There was a recipe that made a version of a pan cookie, but I made a few changes. I didn’t have the pan size called for so I reduced the ingredients to fit in the pan I had. (It’s times like this that make me glad I am a math person.) Then I changed the egg substitute to my new favorite – aquafaba. I also found the amount of salt to be what I deemed a typo – the first try made extraordinarily salty cookies – so I changed it accordingly. I also added flour and reduced baking soda to account for high altitude.

After the cookie was done and cooled, I used a star cookie cutter to make pretty cookies. Then I could pretend that I slaved over rolling and cutting dough to make cookies. It’ll be our little secret.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie adapted from Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Cake
1 1/2 cups + 2 TBS whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened, plus extra to grease pan
3/4 cup sucanat sugar
3 TBS aquafaba
1 TBS almond milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup peanut butter, unsalted
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease an 8 x 8” pan with vegan margarine. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together vegan margarine and sugar on low-medium speed until light and fluffy. Add aquafaba, milk, vanilla and peanut butter to sugar mixture and beat well. Slowly add dry flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate chips until combined. Add batter to prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake until cookie is lightly browned on the outside, but still slightly under-cooked in the center, for 15-16 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Until next time, happy baking!

Super Flegg – A Perfect Egg Substitute

Flax seed for the super flegg

Image courtesy of veganbaking.net at flickr.com

In the past I brought up the topic of egg substitutes, notably the two choices of flaxseed meal and aquafaba. The flaxseed egg (aka flegg) is a common choice for vegans because it is easy to make while holding ingredients together and providing moisture. The downside of the flegg is that it doesn’t provide airiness and can make a baked good dense when used in larger quantities. We also have the new kid on the block – aquafaba. The texture of the brine is very similar to egg whites and it contains protein which is a boon at altitude. So, what is the next step? A combination of the two, or what I refer to as “The Super Flegg.”

I’ll back up for a moment and revisit each individually. Since writing my post on egg substitutes, I have discovered that the recipe for a flax egg that I cited was not the same as the majority of other recipes I have since found. I revise my proportions to those recommended on veganbaking.net. They state:
Flax Meal Egg Replacer Recipe
This recipe makes the equivalent of 1 egg.
3 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon golden flax meal
1) Grind the golden flax seeds into a meal in a blender or spice grinder.
2) Add the water to a small bowl or cup. Add the flax meal and mix together with a whisk or fork. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes so it develops a gelatinous texture similar to a raw egg. Warm water will speed up this gelling process.

My post on aquafaba touted the chickpea brine as being useful for high altitude baking because it offered the protein needed to maintain structure in a baked item. The problem I saw was its density. Those using aquafaba mentioned that it didn’t need to be whipped when used as an egg replacer, but now I had two dense items to work with. The solution – try whipping the two together.

When an egg is used in a baking recipe it is usually whipped. “Egg proteins and many other types of proteins can be denatured by heat but also by friction such as kneading or whipping.” The denatured proteins “join together and trap air bubbles. This is why eggs foams work so well in leavening cakes.” So, to emulate an egg better I needed to use it as one would use an egg. By whipping the two replacements together I had my perfect egg substitute – A Super Flegg.

You will see recipes in the future with The Super Flegg alongside recipes using other substitutes for those who like options. As always, I will search out and test anything that can make baking vegan at high altitude just a little easier.

What the Heck is Aquafaba?

Chickpeas for Aquafaba

Image courtesy of pedrik at flickr.com

Months ago, while searching online for vegan baking inspirations, I stumbled across a reference to Aquafaba. It said that the brine from cooked chickpeas could work as a vegan substitute for eggs. My initial response was, “Huh?” Then followed, “Who even thought that this made sense in the first place?” I realized I needed to explore this idea further and here is what I found.

Joël Roessel, through the testing of various vegetable foams, discovered that the liquid from cooked chickpeas can be whipped into a foam in the same way as flax mucilage. Flax mucilage is an egg substitute of flaxmeal whipped with water, but he found it had limited uses. So, one year ago, Joel posted his discoveries on his blog. Soon after, Goose Wohlt saw a video in which the creators used a whipped chickpea liquid to make chocolate mousse. The recipe was complicated so Goose experimented and found that he could make a vegan meringue with just sugar and the chickpea brine.

The brine, renamed by Goose as Aquafaba, is considered “the liquid drained off a can (or pot) of chickpeas, or other legumes. (Loosely, Latin for water = aqua, bean = faba.)” The word got out on this momentous vegan discovery and a Facebook page, now with almost 33,000 members, was born so that those using the product could share their experiences with it. That is the web page I discovered earlier this year that sent me down the rabbit hole. Most people were trying the product out on meringue because that was Joël’s original use, but I wanted to make cakes. I watched as foodists played with it and I read their recipes and soon Aquafaba took off.

There is now a website dedicated to the stuff. It has been talked about throughout the internet and been showcased in magazines such as Veg News and Vegan Life. As a vegan baker looking for higher protein egg substitutes to work at high altitude, I knew I had to jump on that bandwagon and test it for myself. My last post is about my Candy Cane Chocolate Cake made with Aquafaba. I enjoyed making and eating it but it seemed a tad dense, a problem I suspect was due to the brine. I know that I need to discover new uses for Aquafaba and perfect the old ones when used at high altitude. This will definitely not be my last word on the subject.

Candy Cane Chocolate Cake

candy cane chocolate cakeI have been craving the combination of chocolate and peppermint for weeks. I have also been dying to try baking with the vegan egg substitute called Aquafaba (more on that in a few days). There was a recipe I found a few months ago that used Aquafaba in a chocolate cake. I offered to high altitude it to get my sweets fix, but I swapped out a peppermint frosting to make the lovely holiday pairing of peppermint and chocolate.

The original recipe was gluten-free, but I thought I’d tackle Aquafaba solo in order to test how it works. Maybe I’ll try the cake gluten-free when I feel like wrestling that type of baking. Besides changing the flour, I added flour and liquids for high altitude. The interesting thing I discovered was that the batter seemed thicker like a traditional batter with eggs. The cake was moist and tasty and fantastic with the frosting.

The fire was roaring as I completed the cake so I thought it would be a nice setting for a picture. I learned that fire and frosting don’t play well together. Melted or not, it still tasted great.

The Coconut Sugar and Cacao Powder were provided to me by Navitas Naturals to test in my kitchen. I am not paid to use their products or endorse them.

Candy Cane Chocolate Cake adapted from the Plant Strong Vegan
Cake
6 TBS chickpea liquid (Aquafaba)
2 TBS ground flaxseeds
¾ cup + 1 TBS soymilk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
1 cup Navitas Naturals Coconut Sugar
⅓ cup Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
Frosting
8 oz. vegan cream cheese
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
crushed candy canes for garnish
Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease and dust with cacao powder a 8×8” pan. In a bowl whisk together Aquafaba and ground flaxseeds. Let sit for 10 minutes. In another bowl whisk together soymilk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, cacao powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients (coconut oil, vanilla extract, milk + apple cider vinegar, Aquafaba + flax) into dry and whisk until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on center rack for 40 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean with sides of the cake pulling away from pan. Remove cake from oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
While cake is cooling, prepare frosting by stirring all ingredients together until smooth. Let chill until needed. Turn cooled cake out onto a cake plate. Frost and garnish. Store leftovers in an air-tight container, in fridge, for up to 4 days.

Until next time, happy baking!