Chocolate Crispy Rice Treat Cake

Chocolate Crispy Rice Treat Cake
Chocolate Crispy Rice Treat Cake

Argh! It’s still too darned hot to turn on the oven. But I won’t let that stop me from enjoying an indulgent treat. Rice crispy treats are a good one to turn to when the weather is a scorcher.

A quick online search pulled up a crispy rice treat from Soom Foods. The recipe was already vegan and no-bake, so the changes I made were based on what I had in the cupboard. I didn’t have their vanilla bean tahini, but I had the chocolate flavored one, so I used that and added vanilla extract. If you only have regular tahini, then add cocoa powder and liquid sweetener along with the vanilla.

Also, I have learned that most rice treat recipes have more cereal than I can stir in so I change the amount. A tip for you is to add the required amount in slowly and stop when you start crushing the cereal with your stirring. My recipe is 1/2 cup less than listed in the original because that is when I began smashing the cereal.

Another tip I can offer is for how to clean your dirty pot when you are done preparing the dessert. The marshmallow mixture is gooey when warm, but it will harden as it cools and stick with fierce determination. Try adding water to the pot and set it to boil for a few minutes on the stove. Let it cool just enough so that you won’t burn yourself. Proceed with your cleaning; the goo should have released making the job is easier.

As I have several rice cereal treat bar recipes on the blog, I decided to make this one more glamorous and decadent. Instead of a sheet of bars, I removed my treat as one piece and decorated it with frosting. Now you have a crispy rice treat cake that is suitable for any occasion.

Chocolate Crispy Rice Treat Cake adapted from Vegan Vanilla Tahini Crispy Rice Treats

for the cereal treat
3 tablespoons vegan butter, plus a little extra to grease the pan
1½ tablespoons Soom Chocolate Tahini
1 10-ounce bag vegan marshmallows
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
4 ½ cups crispy brown rice cereal
for the frosting
1/4 cup vegan powdered sugar
1/4 cup Soom Chocolate Tahini
1/4 cup coconut cream (the thick stuff, not the liquid)

Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper, then grease the paper with a bit of vegan butter. Set aside.

Melt the 3 tablespoons vegan butter in a large pot over low heat. Once melted, stir in the tahini. Add the marshmallows, stirring constantly until the mixture is well blended. Add the water and stir until everything has melted together.

Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Add the rice cereal to the pot and stir to coat the cereal with the marshmallow mixture. Press the cereal mixture into the prepared pan, flattening out the top. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip together the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup Soom Chocolate Tahini, and coconut cream. Place the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes to allow the frosting to firm up. When firm, scoop the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a star tip.

To assemble, flip the cake pan over onto a plate. Remove the pan then remove the parchment paper from the cereal treat. Pipe the frosting on as desired.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Chocolate Tahini Bars

chocolate tahini bars
chocolate tahini bars

Bar cookies are often rustic looking and are best to grab for a quick dessert. But these bars are different. They are elegant, delicious, and decadent, making them a perfect party treat. They also have no refined sweeteners so they are a healthier option. But if you don’t tell your guests, I won’t.

The original recipe seemed like it had so many ingredients, but it comes together easily. Choosing the tahini option reduced sweetness; they are plenty sweet so you won’t miss it and the layers complement each other nicely. I used Soom’s chocolate tahini to emphasize the chocolate flavors. You can use all regular tahini instead, or try regular tahini with a bit of cocoa powder or chocolate syrup stirred in.

Another bonus to this delicacy is that it requires no baking, meaning you don’t have to heat up the house on a hot summer day. So, the next time you want to make a simple but impressive dessert (maybe for upcoming Father’s Day?), give these a try.

Chocolate Tahini Bars adapted from Triple Layer Tahini Bars

Bottom Layer
200 grams walnuts, chopped
150 grams pitted Medjool dates
2 tablespoons almond butter
pinch sea salt
Middle Layer
50 grams Soom Dark Chocolate Tahini
65 grams sesame tahini
1 tablespoon almond butter
3 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted
pinch sea salt
75 grams pitted Medjool dates
Top Layer
5 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 teaspoons maple syrup

cocoa nibs, optional

Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment, leaving overhang on two opposite sides for removing the bars. Set aside.

Place the bottom layer ingredients (walnuts, dates, almond butter, and salt) into a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse until the mixture holds together. Press the mixture into the lined baking pan, spreading it evenly and pushing it down with your hand. Put the filled pan into the freezer while you make the next layer.

Wipe out the food processor with a paper towel; no need to clean it yet.

Take the tahinis, almond butter, and coconut oil of the middle layer and place them in a small saucepan. Heat on low until just blended. Place the mixture in the food processor with the salt and dates of the middle layer. Process until smooth. Remove the baking pan from the freezer and spread this middle layer over the base layer. Return the pan to the freezer for one hour.

Place the top layer ingredients (coconut oil, cocoa powder, and maple syrup) in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir to combine until just melted. Remove the baking pan from the freezer and spread this top layer over the middle layer once it has set. Sprinkle with optional cocoa nibs. Place the pan in the fridge for two hours until the top layer has set.

Take the pan from the fridge and remove the bars by grasping the overhanging parchment flaps. Place bars with parchment cradle onto a cutting board and cut into bars. Serve cool or cold.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Rice Cereal and Chocolate Easter Eggs

rice cereal and chocolate Easter eggs
rice cereal and chocolate Easter eggs

It’s the time for baskets filled with themed treats, especially goodies that are homemade and vegan. These “eggs” are quick and easy, and also fun to make with the entire family. The only hard part is waiting for them to be cool so they don’t burn the roof of your mouth!

I’ve posted about rice cereal treats before (see Halloween Rice Krispie Monster), but I thought to add a chocolate spin on the usual recipe. Not wanting the result to be overly sweet, I used Blissfully Better’s Coconut Thins that are sweetened with coconut sugar. A few chopped up bits of the chocolate mixed in with the other ingredients made a tasty addition.

Rice Cereal and Chocolate Easter Eggs

2 TBS vegan margarine
2 TBS refined coconut oil
10 oz. bag vegan marshmallows
5 cups brown rice cereal
4-6 pieces Blissfully Better’s Coconut Thins, diced

Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt the margarine and coconut oil on low heat. Add marshmallows and melt, stirring often to avoid burning. Be patient; low and slow is best with vegan marshmallows.

Once melted, remove from heat and quickly stir in the cereal. Wait a moment for the mixture to cool slightly, then carefully stir in the diced chocolate bits.

Blissfully Better vegan chocolates
Blissfully Better vegan chocolates

Place the mixture in the lined pan and pat down gently. Let cool for 15 minutes. Tip the pan over onto a cutting board. Gently remove the parchment paper from the slab. Cut into individual treats with a large egg-shaped cookie cutter.

Until next time, happy Easter and happy non-baking!

Want to get Blissfully Better’s chocolates at a discount? Use the code BBSOCIAL2022 in their Shopify store for 20% off. (I make nothing sharing this code with you — I’m just spreading some holiday joy!)

Spring Brownies with Peppermint Frosting

spring brownies with peppermint frosting
spring brownies with peppermint frosting

Spring is the best time of year. Plants push up out of the ground and crisp scents are everywhere. So, what does this have to do with baking? Well, I’m giving a nod to spring with a treat slathered in minty-fresh, spring-green frosting.

A chocolate brownie is the perfect base for a mint topping, so I have adapted these Spring Brownies from my Quick Brownie Bites. The brownies have a buttercream frosting that is boosted with the addition of peppermint extract and green food coloring.

Even with a swath of frosting, the goodies needed more decadence so I added chocolate ganache. After taking the blog photo, I asked my favorite taster if it looked okay. He replied with an emphatic “yes” so I felt fantastic. That was until I realized he thought I was asking if he would like the plate of brownies. But, his blind faith in my baking skills is good, too.

Spring Brownies with Mint Frosting

Brownies
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup Dutch Processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup neutral flavored vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon non-dairy chocolate milk
1/2 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
Peppermint Frosting
3/4 cups powdered sugar
1.5 tablespoons vegan butter
3-4 teaspoons non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (or to taste)
green food coloring
Chocolate syrup or ganache, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of 8 individual cups of a brownie pan with parchment paper squares, then grease the cups and paper with vegan shortening. (You can use a mini muffin tin with liners if you don’t have a brownie pan).

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the applesauce, oil, vanilla, and chocolate milk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the prepared brownie pan, filling the cups three-quarters full. Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until set on top. Let the brownies cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.

While the the brownies are cooling, prepare the frosting. Beat the powdered sugar and vegan butter together until creamy. Add enough non-dairy milk to make the frosting spreadable. Stir in the peppermint extract and food coloring. Frost the cooled brownies and chill until set, for 15 minutes. Decorate with chocolate syrup or ganache.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Granola Two Ways

chocolate granola two ways
chocolate granola two ways

Over the years, hubby and I have come to love granola. We eat it almost everyday with yogurt or, in the summer, with a smattering of fresh berries. A new favorite is chocolate granola, but the store nearby stopped carrying it. So, into the kitchen with me for a little experimentation.

Another reason to make DIY granola is that we prefer different types — he likes simple oats whereas I like nuts and seeds mixed in. The solution is to make a granola base and then portion it out for different add-ins. With little effort, hubby gets a decadent chocolate granola while I get the same with the addition of almonds, pumpkin seeds, and cocoa nibs.

Which would be more popular in your house — the simple chocolate granola or the chocolate granola with added nuts and seeds? Either way it makes a yummy breakfast.

Chocolate Granola Two Ways based on Lavender Granola

for granola base
1/4 cup vegan butter or margarine, melted and cooled slightly
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon loose-packed brown sugar
pinch sea salt
2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free, if preferred)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (and a bit of chili powder, if you like it spicy)
for nuts and seeds granola
1/4 cup unsalted almonds, or other nuts
1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds, or other seeds
1 tablespoon cocoa nibs

Preheat oven to 250F. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, maple syrup, cocoa powder, brown sugar, and salt. In a large bowl, stir together oats and cinnamon. Pour the butter mixture over the oats and combine with a spatula.

Pour half of the mixture onto a small sheet pan and spread it out evenly. Add the nuts, seeds, and cocoa nibs to the remaining mixture and stir to combine. Pour this mixture onto a small sheet pan and spread it out evenly. Place both baking pans in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove both pans from the oven and transfer to wire racks to allow the granola to cool completely. Once cooled, transfer to airtight containers and store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.

Until next time, happy baking!

Peanut Butter Tart with Vegan Meringue Topping

peanut butter tart with vegan meringue
peanut butter tart with vegan meringue

About two years ago I discovered that I really enjoy making tarts. Not having made one for a year, a tart craving struck me. I was long overdue for baking a new tart.

Peanut butter and chocolate make a delicious combination, so with those tastes in mind for my tart I headed to the kitchen. I made a chocolate cookie crust then filled it with peanut butter mousse and added a dollop of whipped meringue. My favorite taster took one look and said, “Pie!”

While I appreciated his enthusiasm, I had to correct him and tell him it was a tart. He took a bite and said, “Peanut butter pie.” Seeing as tomorrow is Pi Day (3.14 or March 14), I conceded. So, I guess I made a pie (tart) for Pi Day.

Peanut Butter Tart with Vegan Meringue Topping

Chocolate Cookie Crust (adapted from Mini Chocolate Mousse Cakes for Mother’s Day)
20 vanilla cream filled chocolate wafer cookies (such as Oreos)
4 tablespoons vegan butter or margarine, melted
Vanilla Pastry Cream (from Pear-Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream)
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3-4 hours then drained
3 ounces almond milk
1 ounce agave syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
Vegan Meringue (from Star-Spangled Berry Parfait)
1/2 cup unsalted chickpea liquid, previously reduced and chilled *
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 ounces caster sugar
1 teaspoon non-alcoholic vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Peanut Butter Filling
1.25 cups smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup vegan powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon non-alcoholic vanilla extract
3/4 cup vanilla pastry cream (a portion of the recipe above)
3/4 cup vegan meringue (a portion of the recipe above)
Garnish
shaved chocolate

Chocolate cookie crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Place the cookies in a food processor and process until they are fine crumbs. Drizzle in the melted butter and process until the mixture is like moist sand, up to 1 minute. Press the mixture into a 4” x 14” tart pan. Tamp the mixture down using the bottom of a small glass. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. After it has chilled, bake the crust for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Vanilla pastry cream: Place the cashews, milk, agave, vanilla, and salt in a high speed blender. Process on high until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the jar as needed. Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the peanut butter filling. The leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for a week in an airtight container.

Vegan meringue: Place the chickpea liquid and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand 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.

* Heat the chickpea liquid on the stove to reduce it by 1/3, then chill it before making the meringue. It should be thick and resemble egg whites.

vegan meringue
luscious vegan meringue

Peanut butter filling: Put the peanut butter, milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and beat with a spoon until smooth. Add the pastry cream and mix until combined. Carefully fold 1/4 cup vegan meringue into the peanut butter mixture. Once blended, add the remaining 1/2 cup vegan meringue and gently fold in until just combined.

To assemble: Spoon the peanut butter filling into the cooled chocolate cookie crust. Garnish with dollops of vegan meringue and sprinkles of shaved chocolate.

Until next time, happy baking!

A Quartet of Snack Bites: Cinnamon Raisin Bagel, Cranberry Raspberry, Chocolate Blueberry Chipotle, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

from left: chocolate blueberry chipotle, cranberry raspberry, chocolate chip cookie dough, cinnamon raisin bagel

Protein bars have become a ubiquitous part of snack time, handy for whenever blood sugar takes a dip. I like to eat them when my tummy begins to rumble, but they are too big to be considered a snack. Instead of eating a partial bar and tucking the rest away for the future (yes, I do this), I decided to make a smaller version that I call “snack bites.”

To come up with my one-bite nibbles, I thought about the basic formula for a whole food protein bar. They usually contain dried fruit, nuts, nut or seed butter, and spices or other flavorings. There are many choices in each category with substitutions galore, such as using sunflower seed butter in place of almond butter or cardamom instead of cinnamon. The possibilities are endless with an appeal for a variety of tastes.

Working with this template I made four combinations to suit any craving — there’s chocolate, sweet, tart, and spicy alongside a variety of fruit and nuts. So, grab whatever you have in the cupboard to mix and match for this quartet of tasty bites.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagel Snack Bites

2 dates
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons creamy almond butter
1 tablespoon maple sugar
for rolling in:
1 tablespoon vegan sugar
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon

Soak the dates in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain but save the soaking water to add later if the mixture is too dry. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the rolled oats in a food processor fitted with the S-blade and pulse to make a coarse flour. Add the drained dates, raisins, almond butter, and maple sugar to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until the mixture just starts to clump together and holds together when squeezed between your fingers. If the mixture is too dry then add a bit of date soaking water. If it is too wet, add more oats.

Combine the vegan sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl and put it next to the lined baking sheet. Scoop a tablespoon of mixture into your hands and roll it into a ball. Place the balls on the lined baking sheet as they are formed. When all the balls are formed, roll 2 or 3 at a time in the shallow bowl until each is coated with cinnamon sugar. Place them back on the lined baking sheet as you work.

Snack bites can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for 2 – 3 months. Makes 10 – 12 bite-sized snacks.

Cranberry Raspberry Snack Bites

1/8 cup dates
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon tahini
1/4 teaspoon ground flaxseed
1/8 cup almond meal
for garnish:
1/8 cup ground freeze dried raspberries

Soak the dates in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain but save the soaking water to add later if the mixture is too dry. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the drained dates, dried cranberries, walnuts, orange zest, tahini, ground flaxseed, and almond meal in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Pulse until the mixture just starts to clump together and holds together when squeezed between your fingers. If the mixture is too dry then add a bit of date soaking water. If it is too wet, add more almond meal.

Scatter a bit of almond meal on a cutting board and put it next to the lined baking sheet. Place the ground freeze dried raspberries in a shallow bowl and put it near the lined baking sheet. Remove the mixture from the food processor and place it on the cutting board. Scatter a bit more almond meal on top of the mixture and roll it out to 1/4-inch thick. Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to portion the dough (my cutter made 12 hearts). Dip one side of a cut-out heart into the shallow bowl with the dried raspberry powder and place it on the lined baking sheet as you work to dip all of the hearts.

Snack bites can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for 2 – 3 months.

Chocolate Blueberry Chipotle Snack Bites

1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds
1/8 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon almond butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
generous pinch chipotle powder
for rolling in:
1/4 cup ground freeze dried blueberries

Soak the dates in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain but save the soaking water to add later if the mixture is too dry. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the drained dates, dried blueberries, almonds, cocoa powder, almond butter, vanilla, and chipotle powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Pulse until the mixture just starts to clump together and holds together when squeezed between your fingers. If the mixture is too dry then add a bit of date soaking water. If it is too wet, add more cocoa powder.

Put the ground freeze dried blueberries in a shallow bowl and put it next to the lined baking sheet. Scoop a tablespoon of mixture into your hands and roll it into a ball. Place the balls on the lined baking sheet as they are formed. When all the balls are formed, roll 2 or 3 at a time in the shallow bowl until each is coated with the blueberry powder. Place them back on the lined baking sheet as you work.

Snack bites can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for 2 – 3 months. Makes 10 – 12 bite-sized snacks.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Snack Bites

1 graham cracker sheet
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
4 teaspoons date paste or caramel
1 teaspoon chocolate tahini (I used Soom Chocolate Tahini) or chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the graham cracker in a food processor fitted with the S-blade and pulse to make small crumbs. Add the cashews, date paste, and chocolate tahini. Pulse until the mixture just starts to clump together and holds together when squeezed between your fingers. If the mixture is too dry then add a bit of chocolate tahini. If it is too wet, add more graham cracker crumbs.

Put the mixture in a bowl and stir in the mini chocolate chips. Scoop a tablespoon of mixture into your hands and roll it into a ball. Place the balls on the lined baking sheet as they are formed.

Snack bites can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for 2 – 3 months. Makes 10 bite-sized snacks.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Sweet Heart Chocolate Cupcakes for My Sweetheart

sweet heart chocolate cupcakes with strawberry filling
sweet heart chocolate cupcakes with strawberry filling

Ah, Valentine’s Day … a time when everything is made into the shape of a heart. I couldn’t resist the trend after watching a trick for making heart-shaped cupcakes without a special pan. All that is required is a muffin tin, paper liners, and a bit of foil.

Prepare your cupcake batter, such as the version of my favorite chocolate cupcakes below. Before you portion the batter into the lined muffin tin, take strips of foil and form them into small balls. Take one foil ball, place it in a cavity on the outside of a liner, then crease the liner against it to form a heart shape. Repeat to make 12 cute heart-shaped cupcakes!

My heart cupcakes were made using my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe, although this time I tried a new plant milk from sesame seeds. Because the milk is a bit thicker, it made a more dense batter that I easily remedied by adding more liquid. On the upside, the thicker milk did make the frosting creamy and more luxurious.

To make a Valentine-themed cupcake, I added strawberry jam to the filling because chocolate loves strawberry. Next I accented the heart shape with pink frosting then gave the sweet heart to my sweetheart.

Sweet Heart Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Filling

For the cupcakes
1 cup + 4 teaspoons Hope & Sesame Organic Sesamemilk
1.5 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-process cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
for the frosting
1/4 cup vegan shortening
3/4 cup Miyoko’s Creamery Cultured Vegan Butter, salted
3 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 cup Hope & Sesame Organic Sesamemilk
for the filling
2 tablespoons strawberry preserves
decorations (optional)
red food coloring
red decorative sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 muffin pan with paper liners and set aside. Whisk together the 1 cup + 4 teaspoons milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add sugar, oil, and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla to the milk mixture and beat until foamy.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to the wet ingredients and beat just until no large lumps remain. Place foil balls (described in post above) into the muffin pan alongside the paper liners. Pour batter into the liners, filling three-quarters of the way.

sweet heart cupcakes with foil in tin
baked sweet heart cupcakes with foil in muffin pan

Bake for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then tip the cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting and filling. Place the shortening and vegan butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle blade. Beat until just combined. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla to the bowl and beat again. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, adding the milk when the mixture get too dry. Once all frosting ingredients have been added, let the stand mixer run for several minutes until the frosting is light and creamy.

For the filling, place 1 cup of frosting in a bowl and mix it with the strawberry preserves. Using a knife or cupcake corer, remove a small portion of the center of each cooled cupcake. Using a spoon, add the filling to the holes. Don’t worry if it’s slightly messy as you will be frosting the tops of the cupcakes.

Divide the rest of the frosting as you wish, tinting some of it with red food coloring or leaving it all white. Decorate the tops of the frosted cupcakes with red sugar, if desired.

Until next time, happy Valentine’s Day and happy baking!

Ginger Maple Shortbread — vegan and gluten-free

ginger maple shortbread
ginger maple shortbread

Something odd is going on. Gluten-free recipes are catching my eye and not scaring me. Usually I grimace when someone asks me if I make no-gluten treats as part of my high altitude and vegan baking repertoire. Making too many changes can ruin a baked good, but I must be adapting because this is my second recipe of that style in just a few weeks.

What intrigued me about this shortbread-type recipe was that it called for coconut or palm oil. The cookbook I found it in was from 2009 and so many new vegan butter substitutes have become available since then. It seemed like a good opportunity to test out the recipe with a newer product.

Shortbread cookies have so few ingredients that each one needs to shine. Fortunately I had Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter in my fridge, so that became the base of my bar. With no leavening in the cookie, high altitude wasn’t much of an issue. But I did add ginger because maple syrup and ginger are a match made in heaven.

Ginger Maple Shortbread based on Maple “Butter” Bars

2.75 cups brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 cup unsalted Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter, at room temp
1 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 10 x 10” (or similar-sized) pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Add the rice flour, salt, and ginger to a bowl and whisk together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the vegan butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. (This may take several minutes.) Slowly add the flour mixture a half cup at a time, and mix until well combined.

Spread the batter into the lined pan, then smooth the top. Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until the edges are firm. Place the pan onto a heat-safe surface and immediately score the dough into 16 equal portions. (Hubby cut the bars or they wouldn’t look so even; see the picture below.)

scored ginger maple shortbread
scored ginger maple shortbread

Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, the bars can be fully broken apart and removed from the pan. They can be drizzled with chocolate syrup to keep hubby happy 😉

Until next time, happy baking!

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!