Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

leaves and flours vegan

Post-move I have been trying to reduce the amount of baking supplies I hoard. I found a pre-made Oreo crust at the very bottom of my box of supplies and knew it had been there for so long that I didn't remotely have a clue how old it was. A chocolate cookie crust called for one thing, pudding pie. Chocolate pudding pie is a tried & true classic. I have blogged about it before, so it's not enough to warrant a new post. However this time around I used So Delicious's new coconut whipped topping. While I think it tastes remarkably like Cool Whip, the texture was a little off for me. It was very heavy and quite hard to spread on top of the pie even though I had let it thaw overnight in the fridge & then beat it for several minutes to try to make it fluffier. I think if it were something that I was going to pipe whipped cream onto, it would be perfect for that & probably hold it's shape remarkably well. I have another tub in the freezer and a few more ideas for what I am going to do with it next.

leaves and flours vegan

Every year in DC my friend's host a vegan Thanksgiving dessert potluck. After 9pm once we have all gotten through dinners with our friends & family and maybe foraged through the meal to find the bits & bobs that are vegan, we get together to eat dessert together. Since I spent the last few years up to my knees in pie every holiday season, I decided to take a new route for the dessert potluck this year. I made an apple gingerbread bundt cake, tweaked from the apple cider cake recipe on Pickles & Honey. It went too quickly for me to photograph well. However, in my post-food coma I was wise enough to grab a few of the cookies I made to snap a photo of the next day. I saw these maple walnut cookies during Vegan MoFo on Shannon's blog. I decided to fore-go the frosting since there would be so many desserts and opted for a maple glaze & sprinkles instead.

leaves and flours vegan leaves and flours vegan

Greg was in Europe for two weeks and while he was kind enough to bring me back German chocolate bars that are more amazing than I could have even expected, I also got a little stir crazy. I used that momentum to buy a bus ticket to New York and convinced my friend Melanie to go with me. Despite walking around in the pouring rain for almost 8 hours in a city that neither of us are fond of, we had a pretty nice day. I got an amazing hot dog made solely of root vegetables and then topped with more pickled vegetables and a kale caesar salad from Yeah Dawg. But most importantly and the sole purpose for the trip, I got a dozen macarons. Sweet Maresa's released her winter flavors, and I knew I needed to try them. Pictured are hot chocolate, gingerbread, black licorice, carrot cake, caramel pecan, and pistachio. All phenomenal, but I think the gingerbread macaron is one of my new favorites.
I have also fallen pretty under the spell of copper lately. I bought my first copper pan because it was beautiful and not too expensive. Greg's mom, who is an amazing hunter of antique & vintage goods, was kind enough to buy me these copper pots & pans. Just look at that double boiler! A very good start to my newest collection.

leaves and flours vegan

And almost a whole year after they were posted in Kristy's cookie swap, I finally made the gluten free turtle cookies I bookmarked. Considering that we are now almost halfway through this year's cookie swap, one could say that I am a little behind in my pleasure baking. I'm going to an in-life cookie swap this weekend, and I am struggling to try and figure out what I want to make. I have tossed around many ideas. Traditionally I feel like I should make gingerbread or snickerdoodles or maybe some snowflake & mitten sugar cookies. But I think I might mix it up. Maybe eggnog cookies? I made a batch of pistachio pudding cookies that I want to tweak and make a little better, so that might be a good option. The pressure of making something with no restrictions whatsoever. It's almost overwhelming.

leaves and flours vegan

One of my main routines since my move to Philadelphia has been drinking too much coffee and eating doughnuts. Dottie's Donuts has been growing super rapidly. Originally wholesaling on the weekends to a few coffeeshops, they have now expanded to 6 days a week and are being carried at so many shops! While my favorite is the classic cinnamon sugar, Dottie's really specializes in their interesting flavor combinations. The donut shown here was a Little Baby's exclusive with a glaze of Little Baby's smoked cinnamon ice cream, chocolate drizzle, and waffle cone chunks. Other favorites have included horchata, apple cider, and sweet potato. But they just keep cranking out amazing flavors like Silk nog and cranberry tangerine. If you are in the Philly area and haven't tried these doughnuts yet, you are really messing up.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Caramel Apple Puppy Chow

Memory works in mysterious ways. I have always been a person who associates a specific event or person or book with a food. While some of this might make sense, let's say associating waffles with Parks & Recreation. I mean it's not possible to watch more than two or three episodes of Parks & Rec without craving a waffle, am I right?! However, some of these associations are a little more ambiguous. For example, I associate Gilmore Girls with puppy chow. Puppy chow, muddy buddies, sweet minglers, whatever you call it. I don't make this link because Lorelai or Rory ever ate puppy chow or mentioned puppy chow ever in seven years of the show, but solely because I ate a whole batch of it while I watched the last episode of Gilmore Girls at the end of my freshman year of college. So when Gilmore Girls got added to Netflix, I started craving puppy chow. I restrained myself for a few weeks or maybe even a few months, but I finally caved and fell back in love with the crunchy, sickeningly sweet, totally addictive snack. If you haven't ever made it, you need to because it's simply & satisfying & combines three of my favorite things: chocolate, peanut butter, & breakfast cereal. Here's the Chex official recipe for basic puppy chow.

leaves and flours vegan puppy chow muddy buddies

Once I knew that I was heading to the store solely to stock up on boxes of Chex cereal and towards that slippery snack slope, I started stumbling around the internet looking for variations on puppy chow. I found this recipe for caramel apple puppy chow from The Smart Kitchen Blog. I knew I had vegan butterscotch chips tucked away in my baking supplies and decided it was time to pull it out. If you haven't ever had the need for butterscotch chips before, the King David brand is vegan & can be found here. I modified her recipe a bit. Leaving out the coconut oil and adding peanut butter like classic puppy chow. This made the coating really thick and helped cut the cinnamon flavor on the cereal a tiny bit more. I am not entirely sure that this puppy chow is caramel apple flavored. But it's great, so don't question it and just go with it. I mean just look at the picture below. That bowl was all that was left in the morning after a movie spree. And I had to turn a few of those leaves over because I got powdered sugar on them picking pieces that "didn't look right" out of the bowl while I was snapping the pictures.

leaves and flours vegan caramel apple puppy chow muddy buddies

Caramel Apple Puppy Chow

1 box Apple Cinnamon Chex cereal
10 oz butterscotch chips
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2-3/4 cup powdered sugar to coat

Pour your cereal into a large mixing bowl. In a saucepan, melt the butterscotch chips and peanut butter. Add this mixture to the cereal and fold until covered. Allow cereal to cool for a few minutes. In a larger tupperware container or in gallon ziplock bags, combine the cereal and powdered sugar. Shake really well. Let totally cool and then try to not eat the whole batch in one sitting. It's easier if you aren't watching Gilmore Girls.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pavlova

leaves and flours vegan pavlova

These tiny pavlovas are a summer hold-over. Another small glimpse of warmth that I have been waiting to delve into. It's the season of apples and pumpkin and cinnamon and pecans and though I have happily been drinking cider and eating pumpkin bread these last few weeks, I'm not ready to wait for another year for fresh strawberries & sunshine until 7pm. But alas, this is the last summer baking that I did in 2014. I baked the meringues early in the morning on a day off using a recipe from Hannah Kaminsky's Vegan Desserts. A friend came over in the afternoon with beautiful farm-fresh berries. We watched About Time, and even though I had seen it before I quietly cried through most of it. And then I dried my tears and made the whipped cream and we assembled the loveliest baby pavlovas. Small and light enough to not feel weighed down in the summer heat. Simple enough to allow the ripe fruit to shine. Glorious. I could write them a love song, and it still wouldn't be enough.

leaves and flours vegan pavlova

We took a drive out of the city an hour for an apple festival. We bundled up and drank cider that was pressed right in front of us and then warmed in an older copper pot. The leaves made the hills yellow & red & burnt orange. With every gust of wind more leaves blew down, landing in my hair and sticking to my shoes. It was all so right & fleeting & we had to traipse around the little town for an extra hour because there's only so much more time before it's too cold and wet and icy to be outdoors for any longer than a quick run to the trolley. And on cool, rainy days like these it's easy to remember that winter isn't so bad with blankets and pots of tea and Love Actually streaming endlessly. Here's to making the most, no matter the time of year.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

S'mores Macarons


leaves and flours vegan sweet maresa's s'mores macarons

I have been having trouble letting go of summer. I keep going outside without enough layers to keep me warm. Pretending that a cardigan or a sweater will be enough. I am not ready for these short, short, short days and all the darkness. My bones shake at the thought of snow. Winter is always a rough time for me. I have the tendency to hide in my bedroom and ignore the encouragements of friends to go out. I just want to burrow under blankets and watch endless hours of TV and not come out of my sad stupor until the spring. I am fighting these early signs of seasonal anxiety. Walking around outside, even if if just for a few minutes, to try and soak up as much vitamin D as I can. Remembering to wear socks & a scarf, and tucking an extra layer in my bag even if I think I won't need it. Avoiding sad music and books and films. Reaching out to friends and holding myself accountable for keeping all the dates I schedule. Writing postcards and quick notes to all the friends I miss, scattered across the country, to let them know just how important they all are to me.

leaves and flours vegan sweet maresa's s'mores macarons

These s'mores macarons were a going away present from my former housemate Carrie. She moved to Brooklyn right before I left DC, and sent these during a really stressful time. It's always such a nice surprise to have a really thoughtful gift show up. I have been obsessed with Maresa's macarons for some time and have written about them before here. I gushed about them repeatedly and convinced Carrie to split at least one order from their shop with me. I didn't think the almond macaron could be topped, but this s'mac was quite possibly the best treat I have ever eaten. They are charcoal shells, filled with toasted marshmallow, dipped in chocolate, and then sprinkled with cinnamon & molasses infused graham crumble. Maresa isn't shipping these delicate babies, so you'll have to visit New Paltz or head out to a Vegan Shop-Up to be graced with this particular piece of heaven. However, you can order all sorts of other magical flavors of macarons on the Lagusta's Luscious website! Now that I'm a few hours closer to the shop, I am planning a trip as soon as I can. Probably on a Tuesday so I can snag an eclair too!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Black Cocoa Cookies

leaves and flours vegan Halloween Cut Out Cookies chocolate sugar
I have now been a resident of Philadelphia for three weeks! I have taken public transportation several times a week, and didn't get lost even once! I've managed to find a bank and a grocery store and even develop some semblance of a new routine. This was one of the first things that I baked in my new oven (which doesn't have a timer?!), and I was mostly just happy that the cookies remotely turned out. I have had bad experiences with new ovens in the past, and it's reassuring to know that the temperature isn't off by 40 degrees and doesn't have wild hot spots. I may have let these cookies sit out for 36 hours trying to find a few minutes of sunlight to photograph them. The morning after I baked them I tried to photograph them outside five minutes before I needed to leave for work using a black table cloth. However it was very wrinkly from my not-so-careful packing, and it was a different sort of spooky than what I was going for with these Halloween cookies. I finally realized the light in my kitchen window is quite reasonable around noon and was able to snap these photos. Learning a new houses's light is a tricky thing indeed, but at least this time it involved treats!

leaves and flours vegan Halloween Cut Out Cookies chocolate sugar leaves and flours vegan Halloween Cut Out Cookies chocolate sugar
Spooky Black Cocoa Cut Out Cookies
makes 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on size of cookie cutters used

8 oz Earth Balance margarine
1 cup sugar
2 Ener-G eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup black cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 oz Tofutti cream cheese
Cream margarine and sugar. While this is creaming, combine hot water and Ener-G powder to make egg replacer & allow to thicken. Add Ener-G eggs & vanilla extract to sugar mixture. Beat until combined. Add half of the flour and mix. Add remaining flour, cocoa powders, baking powder, and cream cheese. Beat until a thick dough forms. Portion into two disks, wrap in wax paper, & allow dough to chill in fridge for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough between wax paper to approximately 1/3" thick & cut out shapes. The dough will hold up fine for multiple rollings. If your fridge or freezer will fit a baking tray, chill the cut cookies for another fifteen minutes before baking. Bake 12-14 minutes until edges are firm. The centers will still be soft, but will firm up slightly as they cool. If you would prefer to have classic sugar cookies, simply replace cocoa powders with additional flour. Some of these cookies are pictured as well!

Natural Black Glaze

2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup black cocoa
3 tbl agave nectar
2-4 tbl non-dairy milk of choice
In a large bowl add powdered sugar and black cocoa. Whisk until cocoa is evenly distributed. Add agave and 2 tablespoons of non-dairy milk. Whisk until combined. If mixture is too thick to whisk, add additional milk. However, glaze goes from too thick to too thin, very quickly so be careful to add liquid in very small amounts, whisking to check consistency frequently. Dunk tops of cooled cookies, shaking to remove excess glaze. Allow to harden for at least 4 hours before attempting to stack. I also decorated the cookies with a vanilla glaze (some tinted with a natural green dye) and sprinkled a few of the cookies with naturally dyed sanding sugars. The dye and sanding sugars are from Confection Craft, a really lovely small business based in Portland!

leaves and flours vegan Halloween Cut Out Cookies chocolate sugar leaves and flours vegan Halloween Cut Out Cookies chocolate sugar leaves and flours vegan Halloween Cut Out Cookies chocolate sugar

Black cocoa is pretty important to get the coloring of the cookies & glaze as dark as possible. You can buy a pound of Frontier fair trade black cocoa for less than $16 here! But if you can't find it locally and really don't want to order it, you can try replacing it with an extra dark cocoa. While it will still taste similar, it will not be quite as spooky. If you aren't opposed to artificial dyes, you could instead add a few drops of black dye and use regular 'ole cocoa powder in both of the recipes. But at least consider using fair trade cocoa, it's pretty important to protect the livelihoods of many people in the world.

leaves and flours vegan Halloween Cut Out Cookies chocolate sugar

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Peanut Chew Cheesecake


I am writing this from my desk on the first rainy morning where I'm calling a new city home. The last month has been wild and busy and emotional. I have repeatedly tried to wrap it all up into a few neat paragraphs, but the words just kept eluding me. For a few years my parter, Greg and I have been telling everyone that we were going to move to Philadelphia. After a year or so, it seemed to folks like maybe we were crying wolf. But we finally felt like it was the right time & mustered up the courage to leave a city that we love and venture to somewhere new. Everything was going smoothly, but then Greg got in a bike accident and broke his collar bone in a few places. He needed some surgery and got a metal plate put in his shoulder. So while it's really cool that I'm dating a bionic man, it wasn't conducive to moving. I was able to pack everything up alone and we convinced some friends and family to help us pack up the moving truck in DC. We left behind a queen size box spring since we couldn't fit ours down the stairs of our old bed room. We got it up the stairs by opening a window. But then we repaired the banister on the stairwell, and the extra two or three inches that we added made it impossible to bring it back down.
I narrowly escaped demolishing a tiny gas station in the city in my first ten minutes in our 14 foot U-haul, and then almost hit a cop car as soon as we got to our new block. But the ride in between wasn't too bad. Just small moments of nervous energy as I had to approach a toll booth or merge across 4 lanes of traffic. We got to Philly and thirteen amazing friends came to help unload the truck. You know you are moving to the right place when you already have as many friends helping you on your first day in town as you did at your going away party in the last city.

leaves and flours vegan
photo by Massimo Catarinella

Our first week has been pretty quiet. We are unpacking slowly, working on a few projects everyday. I'm almost done assembling the kitchen, obviously the most important room in the house to me. Even though it's large for an apartment, it's half the size of what we left. And in the last three years I have acquired a ton of bakeware. I'm hoping that an ingenious storage solution will strike me at any minute.
One of my favorite candies happens to be a Philadelphia creation, so it seemed very appropriate to share this cheesecake with everyone. If you haven't had a peanut chew before, you should see if they are available in your area or let me know and we can swap candy! It's a molasses caramel filled with roasted peanuts and then dipped in chocolate. Heaven. The factory is still in the city but I maybe already checked into it, and they don't give tours. This shows you my list of priorities. Touring the peanut chew factory > finding homes for all my displaced tea cups & saucers > hanging curtains. But eating sweets will always be at the top of that list. We moved two blocks from an ice cream shop, so things are about to get dangerous. If you have any suggestions of places to eat or visit or things you love about the city, please let me know. I am pretty well versed in Philly vegan food, but there are still so many places I haven't tried before.

leaves and flours vegan Peanut Chew Cheesecake


Peanut Chew Cheesecake
one 9" or several mini cheesecakes, varying based on size of pans used

Peanut Graham Crust
9 ounces peanuts
3 ounces graham crackers
10 tbl shortening

Pulse the peanuts and graham crackers to crumbs in a food processor. Melt the shortening. Pour over the cookie and peanut crumbs and mix with hands until fully incorporated. Press firmly into the bottom of your springform pan(s). This is not a sweet crust. If you would prefer it to be a little sweeter, replace two ounces of peanuts for more graham crumbs. I used gluten free graham crumbs, but they should be interchangeable with regular graham crackers.

Cheesecake Filling
24 oz non-dairy cream cheese, I prefer Tofutti
2/3 cup sugar
3 tbl blackstrap molasses
2 tbl Ener-G beaten into 1/3 cup hot water
6-10 peanut chews cut into small pieces, depending on how much candy you want in each slice

Make your cheesecake filling by beating the cream cheese, sugar, molasses, and Ener-G together until smooth. Place some candy around the bottom of the crust. Pour half of the batter into your springform pan. Add rest of candy and top with remaining cheesecake batter. Smooth surface & bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes until the cheesecake appears set. Allow to cool for at least 4-6 hours before attempting to slice the cake. I find that overnight is best.

Ganache
1/3 cup dark chocolate
1/4 cup non-dairy milk of choice
1 tablespoon agave nectar

In a double broiler heat all ingredients whisking frequently until the chocolate has totally melted and the ganache is smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes before assembling the cheesecake.

Assembly
Once your cheesecake has cooled for several hours or overnight, top with ganache shortly before serving. I also chose to add additional peanut chew pieces around the top of the cheesecakes to give it a little more height & decoration. If it's already on the sweet side for you, additional sprinklings of peanuts would also be lovely.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Copycat Early Bird Cookies

leaves and flours vegan

I often hear that necessity is the mother of invention. Sometimes necessity means having multiple days in a row craving a cookie you had in another city that you won't have again for months. It means driving to the closest grocery store straight from the gym and buying three boxes of cereal solely because you really need these cookies. It means breaking out your reserve stash of clearance mini-marshmallows that you have been hoarding for a few weeks trying to figure out the perfect thing to use them for. It means eating three cookies while in your now flour-speckled gym clothes, still dripping because the transition from elliptical to oven is not pretty.
These are based off cookies I had at Blackbird Pizzeria in Philadelphia. They started making their own sweets in house, and it was a great decision. I remember there being three kinds, and the chocolate coffee one almost swayed me but then I saw the Early Bird cookie next and never looked back. I may have eaten three or four in two days and I didn't regret it one bit. So this copycat is based off that cookie, but looking back at a picture I took, it doesn't seem to be a very close replica. Theirs is more of a classic cookie, and mine is basically an overloaded oatmeal cookies but it was still delicious.

leaves and flours vegan

Copycat Early Bird Cookies
makes 18 large cookies

1/4 cup hot water
1 tbl Ener-G powder
7 oz Earth Balance margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
2 cup oats
3 cup assorted breakfast cereal, partially crushed
1 1/2 cup Dandies mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine hot water and Ener-G powder, whisk well, and set aside to thicken. Cream Earth Balance and sugars. Add Ener-G eggs and vanilla. Mix until combined. Scrape sides of bowl and add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix until dough forms. Fold in oats, breakfast cereal, and mini marshmallows. Beat until well incorporated. Using a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop, portion dough onto cookie trays. Flatten with your palm and bake for 18-20 minutes until the edges of the cookies are firm & golden. These will firm up a bit as they cool, but the centers of the cookies will stay soft & chewy.
I highly suggest crushing the cereal for this with your hands, a wooden spoon or by pulsing it lightly in a food processor. I have made these cookies three times now, and learned the hard way that this amount of dough with uncrushed cereal will cause your mixer to stall and you will end up with teary eyes thinking you have killed your KitchenAid. For the cereals I used a mixture of Captain Crunch, Apple Jacks and Cinnamon Toast Crunch but you can use whatever cereals you like best. If you use Fruit Loops or Fruity Pebbles, you might want to omit the cinnamon from the cookie dough because those flavors might clash a little.

leaves and flours vegan

While these cookies are holding me over for now, my to-bake is list is starting to get pretty long. It's Vegan MoFo which means it's my favorite time of the year! This month I don't have time to participate in the insanity but I am following along with everyone's progress very happily. Do you have a new favorite blog? What's your favorite theme?