Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Espresso Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin spice cupcakes with espresso cream cheese frosting
pumpkin spice cupcakes with espresso frosting

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, ovens are being heated up across the United States. Cooks and bakers are frantically creating dishes that can be made ahead so the Big Meal is a little less stressful. But they’ll need breakfast (or a snack) that day too, and this tasty treat should still echo the flavors of the holiday. Iconic Pumpkin Spice can make an appearance long before the feast is at its end in the form of a pick-me-up cupcake for a harried chef to nibble on.

To come up with a snack or breakfast item that contains fall flavors, I modified a cake recipe to become a cupcake recipe. For high altitude I adjusted the amounts of baking soda and flour. To make the baked good more suitable for breakfast, its nutrition was elevated by using a combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour. I also topped it with a frosting rich in espresso flavor for a caffeinated morning boost. You may think a cupcake is too decadent for breakfast, but I see it as a reward for getting up so early to prepare the festive meal.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Espresso Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cake and Banana Cake with Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting

for the cupcakes
1.5 cups non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1.75 cups + 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1.75 cups vegan granulated sugar
1.5 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the frosting
1/2 cup (112 grams) vegan butter (not margarine), slightly softened
8 ounces vegan cream cheese (the firmest you can find)
2.5 to 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1.5 to 2 tablespoons espresso powder (depending on how strong you want the flavor)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Fill 21 cups of two muffin tins with paper liners. Combine the non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside to curdle.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the curdled milk, pumpkin puree, oil, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until combined.

Use an ice cream scoop to divide the batter into the 21 cups, filling them 2/3 full. Bake for 27-29 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Set the muffin tins on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. After that, tip the cupcakes out onto the rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle blade. Beat on low to medium speed until softened. Add the cream cheese and continue beating at low to medium speed until blended.

In a small bowl, add the espresso powder and 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir to combine. Add this liquid to the bowl of the stand mixer and briefly beat to combine. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating on low to medium speed until fully blended. Use all 3 cups if the frosting is too soft to pipe onto the cupcakes.

When the frosting is blended and fluffy, spoon it into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and frost the cooled cupcakes. Cover and store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days so you have them for Thanksgiving.

Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving and happy baking!

Chocolate Donuts with Strawberry Topping

chocolate donuts with strawberry topping
chocolate donuts with strawberry topping

Is it donut season? Everyone is making donuts right now. My inbox and social media feeds are overflowing with pictures of chocolate, vanilla, and spiced varieties. They come glazed or dipped or sprinkled, and all of them look mouth-watering. So, it’s time to dust off the donut pan and dive in.

I wanted to bake chocolate donuts, naturally. My recipe search revealed a vegan version with a chocolate glaze. As good as that sounded, I knew that a strawberry topping would be perfect. For high altitude baking, I added a bit of liquid and reduced the leaveners. Next, aquafaba was added for good texture.

The non-dairy milk I chose for my treats was from Take Two Foods, a new kid on the block. They upcycle spent barley by turning it into delicious plant milk, thus helping to reduce food waste. You can find out more about them here.

Chocolate Donuts with Strawberry Topping adapted from Vegan Double Chocolate Donuts

for the chocolate donuts
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Take Two original flavor plant milk, or other non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup less 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/3 cup dutch process cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon espresso powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons salted vegan butter, melted
2 teaspoons aquafaba
vegan sprinkles for garnish, optional
for the strawberry topping
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
2 tablespoons coconut oil, solid
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon non-dairy milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease the six cavities of donut pan.

Add the non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar to a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Whisk and set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, melted butter, and aquafaba to the curdled milk in the measuring cup. Stir the wet mixture, then pour it into the dry ingredients in the bowl. Stir until just combined.

Transfer the thick batter to a pastry bag or large ziplock bag. Snip off the bottom corner of the bag. Pipe the batter into the cavities of the donut pan. Spread the tops of the donuts flat with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 14-17 minutes. The donuts should be puffed up, and a toothpick inserted into a donut should come out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove the donuts from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the strawberry topping, heat the strawberries up in a small pan set on medium. When they have softened, add the coconut oil. When the oil has melted, remove the pan from the stove. Mash the mixture with a fork, then stir in the powdered sugar and milk. Stir until well combined, then let sit until cool.

Spoon the topping over the cooled donuts. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Eat immediately. Cooled and undecorated donuts can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for 2 – 3 days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Pumpkin Mini Tea Loaves with Tea Glaze

Pumpkin Mini Tea Loaves
Pumpkin Mini Tea Loaves

Autumn has arrived without my permission. The weather is too cold for me, and I’m not ready to bundle up just yet. Although, this time of year does have it’s advantages. Imagine a kitchen scented with the warming spices of ginger and cinnamon swirled into pumpkin batter. Yes, that works for me.

Mini loaves of pumpkin bread were my goal. I found a recipe in a wonderful vegan cookbook by Nava Atlas. To adjust for high altitude, I lowered the amount of baking powder and added liquid. The liquid I chose was milk tea by Twrl. Because the canned beverage is unsweetened, I added a little more sugar and a sugared glaze. I also chose not to add dried fruit or nuts to allow the flavor of the tea to come through; you may add 1/3 cup of either of those to your bread, if desired.

Pumpkin Mini Tea Loaves with Tea Glaze inspired by Pumpkin or Squash Mini-Loaves

for mini loaves
1.5 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1.75 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons Twrl black milk tea
for tea glaze
9 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon Twrl black milk tea

For the mini loaves: Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil three mini loaf pans and set aside.

Add the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger to a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the pumpkin puree, oil, and 6 tablespoons Twrl tea to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Stir until well combined.

Divide batter among loaf tins. Bake 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a loaf comes out clean. Cool loaves in their pans for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then tip out the loaves and place on a wire rack to fully cool.

For the glaze: add the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon Twrl tea to a small bowl and stir to combine. Drizzle over the cooled loaves just prior to serving.

Until next time, happy baking!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches

peanut butter chocolate cookie sandwich
peanut butter chocolate cookie sandwich

Gluten-free baking is scientific, with lots of math involved. When attempted at high altitude it also involves laborious recipe testing. Okay, that kinda sounds fun to me but it is not something I usually attempt. I start with tried-and-true gluten-free recipes and tweak then just a bit to compensate for altitude. Not today. Today I threw caution to the wind and made every type of substitution possible … all at once … with fingers crossed. Luckily I was successful.

The massive changes I made were based on science, so that dialed down the luck factor. I started with a gluten-free cookie recipe from Bob’s Red Mill then used America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks as a reference for substitutions. I didn’t have all of the flours listed in the recipe so, armed with knowledge from the Test Kitchen, I made swaps based on what was in my cupboard. I added aquafaba and soy milk powder for enhanced vegan structure, as well was guar gum. Granulated sugars were used instead of liquid sweetener so the cookies wouldn’t be too mushy. The last step was to sandwich my cookies with a rich chocolate filling, because life can always be more decadent.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches loosely based on a recipe from Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook

for the cookies:
1/2 cup teff flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/3 cup potato starch
1 teaspoon soy milk powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 cup + 2 TBS creamy peanut butter, salted but unsweetened
1/2 cup vegan sugar
1/2 cup vegan light brown sugar
1/2 cup neutral-tasting vegetable oil
1 tablespoon aquafaba
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
for the chocolate filling:
1/3 cup vegan margarine
3 cups vegan powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

For the cookies: Whisk the flours, starches, milk powder, baking soda, salt, and guar gum together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, sugars, oil, aquafaba, and 3 tablespoons milk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Cover the dough bowl with plastic wrap and put aside for 30 minutes to rest.

Meanwhile, line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place oven racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions, and heat the oven to 350F.

When the 30 minutes rest time has passed, scoop out small balls of cookie dough, 2-3 teaspoons in size, and place them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. (The dough will be moist and slightly sticky.) Flatten the dough balls with the palm of your hand.

Bake the cookies until golden brown and firm, 14-16 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through baking time. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for five minutes, then remove to wire racks to fully cool. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.

For the filling: Place the margarine in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar, cacao powder, and vanilla and beat for another minute. Keep beating, adding milk as needed, until the filling is light and fluffy. Fill a pastry bag with the filling.

To assemble the cookie sandwiches: Place half of the cookies upside down on a tray. Pipe filling onto the center of each cookie. Top each with a remaining cookie, pressing down gently until the filling spreads to the edges. Store assembled cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Until next time, happy baking!

Rosemary Lemon Shortbread

rosemary lemon shortbread
rosemary lemon shortbread

The rosemary in my garden is incredibly lush and fragrant this time of year. It makes me daydream of Mediterranean flavors. I wondered, “How can I put that dreamy seaside feeling in a baked treat?” While perusing shortbread cookie recipes I realized they are fairly versatile and can stand up to a strong herbaceous taste. With a little lemon zest for summery nuance, I knew I could create something delicious.

The recipes I found needed a simple vegan adjustment — using vegan butter in place of regular butter. No high altitude changes were required, which just left my taste preferences. Using less sugar brought out the scent of the rosemary I added, and lemon zest rounded out the flavor profile. These are slightly savory but still a cookie. They go as well with a bracing cup of coffee as they do alongside strawberry ice cream.

Rosemary Lemon Shortbread adapted from King Arthur Baking’s Shortbread recipe

2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup unsalted vegan butter, cold out of the fridge
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
up to 1.5 teaspoon water, if needed

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line the bottom of an 8″ round cake pan with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Set aside.

Run the rosemary leaves through a coffee grinder until you have coarse bits. Put the ground rosemary in a medium bowl along with the flour, salt, and lemon zest. Whisk until combined.

Add the vegan butter and both sugars to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream them until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until it comes together. If the mixture is too dry, then dribble in the water a little at a time. The dough should be a bit stiff.

Press the dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with your fingers or the bottom of a measuring cup. Use a fork to prick the dough all over to allow the steam to escape. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the shortbread is a light golden brown across the top and the sides have pulled away from the pan.

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately flip the shortbread onto a clean cutting board. Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut the shortbread into wedges. You want to do this while the shortbread is still warm and can be easily cut. Transfer the wedges to a rack to cool completely.

Until next time, happy baking!

Ice Cream Sunday

Hojicha Tea Ice Cream with Apricot Ribbons and Chocolate Crust
Hojicha Tea Ice Cream with Apricot Ribbons and Chocolate Crust

It’s so hot right now and I crave something deliciously satisfying to tickle my tastebuds. It’s Sunday and I need ice cream. And not just any run-of-the-mill ice cream, but a creamy delight with a chocolate crust. Luckily, I have a can of Twrl Hojicha Milk Tea that I’ve been wanting to use to make ice cream. The roasted green tea flavor will shine when complemented by a swirl of fruit jam and an earthy tasting cocoa crust.

I cobbled together two recipes to make my creation. The crust recipe was chosen for the earthy lucuma powder in it, although I reduced the amount so I could add cocoa powder in its place. If you don’t have lucuma, you could try another deep flavored dry sweetener, such as coconut sugar. The ice cream filling was altered to use the tea in place of water, with a little less sweetener so the green tea aroma could come through. The last feature of this dish was the apricot jam I swirled throughout the ice cream. Don’t leave it out — it’s a game changer for bringing the tastes together.

Thanks goes to the folks at Twrl Tea for providing the tea for my creative testing.

Hojicha Tea Ice Cream with Apricot Ribbons and Chocolate Crust adapted from Rouxbe Culinary School and VeganRicha

for the crust
3/4 cups almond flour
1/4 cup lucuma powder
2.5 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
for the ice cream
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3 hours then drained
7.5 ounce can Twrl Hojicha Roasted Green Milk Tea
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1.5 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons vegan sugar
3 Tablespoons refined coconut oil, in solid form
for the swirl
4 Tablespoons whole fruit apricot jam

Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving excess hanging over the sides. Set aside.

Place the almond flour, lucuma and cocoa powders, maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to combine into a fine crumble that just holds together when pressed between your fingers. Transfer this crust mixture to the lined loaf pan. Press it down firmly with your fingers, or the bottom of a glass, to create an even layer. Place the pan in the freezer while you make the ice cream.

Wipe out the food processor bowl, then add the cashews, Twrl tea, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, sugar, and coconut oil the bowl. (Note: if your food processor can’t handle this much liquid, then place the ingredients in a blender). Process until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl down as needed. The mixture may look lumpy at first; keep going until it is creamy.

ice cream with Twrl Hojicha Tea
ice cream with Twrl Hojicha Tea

Take the pan from the freezer. Pour the ice cream over the crust and smooth it out. Return the pan to the freezer for 15 minutes for the ice cream to harden slightly. After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the freezer. Drizzle apricot jam over the ice cream and swirl it in with a toothpick. Return the pan to the freezer for two hours. When the ice cream is firm, take the pan from the freezer. Remove the ice cream by grabbing the parchment overhang to lift the loaf out. Place the loaf on a cutting board and cut slices with a warm knife.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

A Look at Vegan Butter

a look at vegan butter
a look at vegan butter

When I first started adapting recipes to be vegan, there was only one option for substituting butter — margarine. Not being a margarine fan, I was disappointed because it can make baked goods greasy and oily tasting. These days more and more companies are introducing their versions of vegan butter, and some of them are absolutely amazing. Miyoko’s Creamery stepped into the limelight first with a “butter” so grand it could be eaten plain, on toast, without any complaints about it being vegan. Although I still have a great fondness for Miyoko’s dazzling array of vegan dairy products, I’ve looked into other choices.

One selection I have shared in recent recipes is Flora Plant Butter. This butter comes in salted and unsalted versions, like Miyoko’s. It works beautifully in baked goods, making tender cupcakes and delightfully chewy cookies, and it is moderately priced. It’s not as phenomenal on toast, as Miyoko’s is, but I often prefer the results it produces in baked goods.

Milkadamia is a brand of non-dairy milk I enjoy, but I have not sampled their Buttery Spread. An article on vegan butter from Veg News has piqued my curiosity and Milkadamia’s offering may soon be up for experimentation in my kitchen. The post goes through a run-down of 11 butter substitutes, with Miyoko’s and Earth Balance topping the list. Also mentioned are Melt Organic, Country Crock, Forager, I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter, The Cultured Kitchen Better Buttah, Califia Farms, New Barn Organics, and Kite Hill. I hope to explore these new “butters” one day.

While I don’t have the means or opportunity to try all of the vegan butters out there, I have baked with a few. King Arthur Baking also tested a couple of substitutes, and compared them to the same goods baked with butter (a test I won’t be doing). When using Land O Lakes butter as a control in recipes for biscuits, crust, cookies, cake, puff pastry, and frosting, they concluded:

“Miyoko’s European-Style Cultured Vegan Butter and Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks are both highly recommended substitutes for dairy butter. In recipes where they’re the only vegan substitute, both vegan butters will produce baked goods with texture similar to that of dairy butter, with flavor being the main difference.”

So, I go in search of new butters in an effort to make extraordinary decadent treats. And, no, I don’t work for any of these food companies. I just wish I did.

Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting

strawberry lemon cupcakes with raspberry frosting
strawberry lemon cupcakes with raspberry frosting

A friend’s birthday is coming up and I want to make a dessert that’s easy to share at a celebration. Cupcakes come to mind, but I need to bake some that are a little extra special. Fruity flavors are enjoyable in the summer, with strawberries and lemon reminding one of a cool drink, so they are perfect in my cupcakes. All these cupcakes need are a sumptuous fruity frosting to put them in the realm of ‘special enough for a birthday.’

I found a vegan cupcake recipe that included my combo of lemon and strawberry. To prepare at high altitude, I added extra liquid and flour while reducing the baking powder. I also used dry sweetener instead of wet to help keep the cupcakes light and fluffy. Next I switched to a deeply fruit-flavored frosting to embrace summery tastes. Tasters raved about the cupcakes noting how airy they were, and the mix of fruity flavors were a welcome surprise.

Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting adapted from One Green Planet and Food Network

for the cupcakes
1/2 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1.5 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup organic sugar
generous 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup pureed strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the frosting
6 tablespoons vegan butter, cold
2 tablespoons vegan shortening
3 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons soy milk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raspberry fruit spread

Preheat oven to 325 F and line muffin tins with 14 paper cups. Whisk soy milk and apple cider vinegar together in a bowl or container. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to curdle.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Place pureed strawberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add curdled milk and stir ingredients together. Add dry ingredients and stir just until the batter is smooth. Scoop batter into lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through cooking time. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out with a few tiny crumbs. Let the tins sit on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes to a wire rack to fully cool.

While the cupcakes are cooling, begin the frosting by beating the butter and shortening together in a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, beating after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add the fruit spread and beat until smooth. Put the frosting in a piping bag with a star tip and frost the cooled cupcakes.

Until next time, happy baking!

Gluten-Free Blueberry and Cherry Bars

gluten free blueberry and cherry bars
gluten free blueberry and cherry bars

On a hot summer day, it’s nice to have an easy dessert recipe. Turning on the oven can take all of your energy, so slaving over a complicated treat is not welcome. Sometimes scooping out individual servings or cookies can be just too tiring. That’s when bar cookies come to the rescue. Mix, pour into a pan, bake, cool, and cut.

The bar cookie recipe I found was fruity (yay!), and I decided to make it gluten-free to share with friends (yay, again!). It was already vegan, and high altitude wasn’t much of an issue, so I subbed gluten-free ingredients, mixed up the fruit choices, and added a decadent icing. Now I had a dessert that was not only easy, but bursting with flavor and allergy-friendly goodness.

Gluten-Free Blueberry and Cherry Bars adapted from Blueberry Crumble Bars

1.75 cups gluten-free flour blend
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup organic sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup vegan margarine, room temperature and cut into slices
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup + 4 teaspoons nondairy milk, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen cherries, chopped into quarters
1/4 cup organic sugar
2 tablespoons potato starch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup organic confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8 x 8-inch pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, including an overhang of a few inches on two opposite sides.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, oats, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt to combine. In a medium bowl, combine the margarine, oil, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until mixed but with a few small clumps.

dry ingredients for blueberry cherry bars
dry ingredients for blueberry cherry bars

In a small bowl, gently combine the blueberries, cherries, 1/4 cup sugar, potato starch, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Using your hands, press three-quarters of the dough mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the coated fruit evenly on top of the dough. Sprinkle the remaining dough over the fruit layer. Bake for 50 minutes, until the top is crisp and bubbly. Place pan on a wire rack to let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make an icing by whisking the confectioner’s sugar over a bowl. Stir in the 4 teaspoons milk until well combined. When the bars have cooled, drizzle the icing over the bars. Then use the parchment paper overhand to lift the bars out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Cut into squares, and store in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

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!