Sunday, September 30, 2012

September Vegan Food Swap

This was the first time that I participate in Cat of The Verdant Life's vegan food swap. I am really glad that it went as swimmingly as I had imagined.

My package came from Dianne of Veggie Girl. My favorite morning tea is Tazo Awake, so I was really excited to try to the Tazo Focus. The flavors were really nice. I took most of the bags to work to enjoy in the cool mornings. I was really interested in the Teecino as well. I knew of a few friends who drink herbal, caffeine free coffees, but hadn't ever given it a chance. The flavors were really nice, and I didn't feel the urge to add any milk or sugar like I normally do with coffee. It will also go really nicely with the marzipan filled chocolate, just sayin'.

I love Sweet & Sara's marshmallows, and am a huge fan of their rice crispy treats! I was really glad to find one in my little package. There was also a package of their rocky road bark. While it was pretty tasty, I am not sure that I would buy it for myself again. You just can't beat their rice crispy treats.
I haven't had a chance to try the powdered peanut butter, PB2. But I am definitely intrigued. I think I might try to incorporate it into some peanut butter cupcakes or frosting to see if I can make it even more peanut buttery! I also think it might be really nice on some savory tofu.
If you want to participate in the Vegan Food Swap, you can join here! You need to sign up by October 5th. And it will be the last one for the year, so you might as well join!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Everything But the Kitchen Sink

Sometimes there are things that I just want to say in some sort of public forum, but I didn't know how to classify it or whether I should bother to put it on this blog. I decided that it is aftebrall my blog, and if I want to tell people about things I enjoy, than I shouldn't worry about whether it fits in the narrow classification of 'baking blog' that I had originally intended to pursue. So I decided to create a title for this sort of thing that would let people know if they wanted to avoid it or not. I get that there are blogs people follow just because they are interested in hearing about recipes or clothes or life issues, and maybe you want to skip the rest. So here is "everything but the kitchen sink" since it's my favorite ice cream flavor, but also true to the fact that these things won't involve me filling the kitchen sink with dishes.

leaves and flours dc vegfest vegan treats cakes

Last week I tabled for my work at DC VegFest. While VegFest has always been a success, I would definitely say that this has been the best year yet. It was at Yards Park, which is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in DC. We gave out a few hundred pounds of BBQ Beyond Meat for folks to sample. If you haven't heard of it yet, it's the new best faux meat. If you're into that kind of thing. My kind of thing is the sweets. And I did spend $20 at the Vegan Treats table on donuts & cannolis. Never a bad choice. I normally fall into the trap of buying all their beautiful miniature cakes because I can't stop looking at them, but I always regret it because I would just rather eat a cannoli than a piece of cake.

Also at VegFest this year was Vegan Cuts. If you haven't heard of this phenomenal website, you should definitely join. They have amazing deals on things like Emmy's Organics macaroon sampler packs and reusable glass straws. I bought a subscription to their monthly snack box. I can't wait to get my first package in the mail!
Is there anything else new and exciting in the vegan world that I should be aware of? Besides the impending tidal wave of blogposts from Vegan MoFo? I signed up for the first time. I am pretty excited/nervous/overwhelmed.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Coffee & Donuts Cupcakes

I was making donuts for a bake sale for a few months ago and had a bit of batter left over from several batches. I make a few mini donuts to check their quality, but then realized that they had much more potential than being a half pint donut. A few minutes later,I was whipping up a batch of mocha frosting. Pipe that onto a dark chocolate cupcake with a hint of espresso powder, top it with a sprinkled donut, and you have what I deemed "the breakfast of champions." Hopefully, Kurt Vonnegut approved.

leaves and flours vegan chocolate coffee donut cupcakes breakfast of champions

Chocolate Cupcakes
recipe adapted from VCTTOW

1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ground espresso
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons coffee extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (Valrhona if you can find it)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. Curdle the milk with the vinegar. Add the espresso, sugar, oil, & extracts. Whisk rapidly. Sift together dry ingredients in large bowl. Add met and mix until combined and smooth. Fill liners 3/4 of the way and bake 16-20 minutes.

While your cupcakes are cooling you want to bake your donuts & make your frosting. If you are a great multi-tasker, you could even bake your donuts and cupcakes at the same time. If you are gonna attempt this, I recommend prepping all your ingredients first. I do the dry ingredients for both items, then the wet. In this instance, I scooped my cupcakes while I was melting the butter for the donut batter. Then I tossed the cupcakes into the oven while I was making the donut batter and filling the pans. By the time you are finish with that they will both be ready to pull out of the oven at roughly the same time. Just be sure to put your donuts in the oven gently so that your cupcakes don't fall!

Mocha Frosting
very minorly adapted from Sweetapolita

1 cup Earth Balance
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons coffee extract
5 oz quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
1/4 cup almond milk

Beat together the Earth Balance and powdered sugar. Add the extracts and mix again. Slowly pour in melted chocolate while the mixer is on. Add almond milk to desired consistency. You may not need all of the almond milk, but you could need a bit more. It's up to your preferences and a lot of little factors, like humidity and what not.

leaves and flours vegan chocolate coffee donut cupcakes breakfast of champions

These cupcakes sold out so quickly that I was shocked. Everyone kept crooning over them and taking pictures on their fancy phones. I was all pink and my cheeks hurt from grinning. It felt so good that I made another batch to box up for a friend's birthday. I baked them in blue polka dot liners, put them in a pink polka dot box, and wrapped the box with baker's twine & tied a candle into the center of the bow. Major cute factor. Basically what I am saying is that these cupcakes will impress everyone. You can't lose.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vegan a la Mode (Giveaway!)

It's no secret that I love ice cream. It is quite possibly my favorite form of dessert. I have Hannah's two other cookbooks, and adore them both. So when I heard she was writing an ice cream book, I pre-ordered it months in advance. I bought my standing mixer attachment, and anxiously waited. And then being the ditz that I am totally forgot I was waiting for a cookbook to come in the mail.
I got an email from SkyHorse Publishing asking if I would like a review copy and immediately said yes. So I got two copies in the mail. One of them has got a few splatters of almond milk and cocoa powder on it already, so that one will stay tucked away in my shelf. But the other shiny new copy is up for grabs! If you are interested in receiving a copy of Vegan a la Mode, comment here by noon on September 22nd. Congratulations, Lauren! And happy churning!
Now I'm going to let you know all the reasons that you want to have this cookbook. Hannah is pure brilliance. Her classic flavors are tried & true, but her innovative flavors are where she really shines. The gravel path, her take on rocky road, and her german chocolate are wonderful. Her vanilla ice cream recipe is the best that I have ever tried… and I own three books dedicated to ice cream and have tried several other recipes from the blogosphere. However, my absolute favorite is the toasted marshmallow ice cream. It's pictured below on some chocolate chocolate chip waffles. A perfectly sinful breakfast!
leaves and flours vegan ice cream and waffles

I would have taken more pictures of the ice cream, but it was devoured a bit too quickly. I also don't want to show you pictures that don't do the ice cream near the justice that Hannah's photography does. If you want to know more about Vegan a la Mode, Celine of Have Cake, Will Travel gave a much more eloquent review than I could hope to muster.
I still have a few more recipes that I am hoping to get to soon. Especially her blue moon ice cream! It's such a vibrant shade. And I'm a sucker for bright colors. I know September might seem a little late for ice cream, but that's just false! I will confess that even though it was so chilly in my house last winter, I took a hot bath one night just so that I could eat ice cream while I was in the tub. No shame.
Have you bought Hannah's cookbooks? Do you have a favorite recipe?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Apple Tarts

leaves and flours vegan apple tarts

I have had apples piling up for about two weeks now. I eat a lot of apples, but somehow I still don't enough apples to keep up with fruit share deliveries from my CSA. I eat an apple almost every day, but I somehow still had a basket with 4 or 5 just hanging around when my share came last week. I knew it was time to start preserving them in some way before they spoiled. So I made a batch of homemade apple sauce.

leaves and flours homemade apple sauce

Fresh Apple Compote
makes one large mason jar

6-7 small apples
2 tablespoons cane sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
roughly 1 cup water

You can use whatever apples you happen to have around. I used a mixture of red delicious, golden delicious, & granny smith. Peel & core your apples. Chop them roughly to 1/3" size pieces. Throw them in a sauce pan with 1/2cup water and the sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Allow the apples to simmer, covered, for roughly forty minutes. Check the apples every twenty minutes to stir and add a few more tablespoons water if the water is evaporating before the apples soften. After the apples have cooked down to a sauce, remove the pan from heat & stir in the vanilla. Mash with a wooden spoon to desired consistency. I prefer my apple compote to have a quite a few intact apple pieces.

Apple tarts look a lot more difficult than they are. You just need a batch of tart dough, some apple compote, and a few apples to slice for the top. I used 4" pans, but feel free to make a 6 or 8" tart. The apple slices are actually a lot easier to arrange in an 8" tart. I used the shortbread tart dough from Vegan Pie in the Sky. I gave more extensive directions on filling the pans when I made fruit tarts a last winter. The only difference in the baking. You don't need to blind bake these tart shells, since we want to bake the apples. Just fill the pan with dough, level it, add a thin layer of apple sauce (I used three tablespoons for a 4" tart), and arrange the apple slices. If you can make thin enough apple slices, you can fold rosettes for the center of the tart. I also sprinkled lemon sugar on top of the tart just before baking. I zested a half of a lemon into 1 cup of sugar a few months ago, and pull it out when I need a little hint of lemon in my tea or on my baked goods. You could also use vanilla sugar!

leaves and flours vegan pink pearl apples

I also made a second tart from an apple I hard recently seen. Pink pearl apples are so lovely. They are a beautiful shade of pink when you cut them open, and as I was dying to know, remain pink after they are baked. The apples are similar in taste to a granny smith, so they are tart & wonderful when paired with the sweetness of a nut butter. The texture was a little mealier than I would have preferred, and the apples weren't the easiest to slice thinly. But they baked up nicely. Can you imagine serving someone a pink apple pie?! It's perfect for a tea party.

leaves and flours vegan pink pearl apple tart

Have you ever tried a pink pearl apple? Or do you have another favorite apple? I am pretty partial to the honeycrisp myself, but I normally bake with granny smiths. I am so glad apple season is finally here. Prepare to be inundated with apple recipes. At least Rosh Hashanah is almost here, so I have an excuse right?! We are also filling the bakery shelves with apple flavored items. I just put out a few dozen apple cakes and am working on a caramel apple cookie too.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Soft Pretzels

leaves and flours homemade vegan soft pretzels

These pretzels are making me thirsty! I had to say it. I couldn't not say it. I mean c'mon. I hear it in my head every time I eat a pretzel. If you have a standing mixer with a dough hook and a few spare hours, then you should give these a shot.
I don't know why people feel like soft pretzels are so elusive. At the last bake sale that I did, they were the first thing to sell out. Pretzels really aren't difficult. The folding just takes a little bit of finesse. But after a few dozen, you'll be throwing the dough around like any Auntie Anne's employee. Heck, you don't even have to shape them like standard pretzels. Get creative. Spell your name or make your favorite sport's team's logo or just make circles. They will all taste just as good.
Most pretzels recipes are pretty similar. My recipes of choice is Alton Brown's, just substitute the butter and the egg wash for Earth Balance. But do melt the Earth Balance you're using for the egg wash step. This is one time when I really prefer weighing the flour. Doughs can be a little finicky, and it's just easier to know that you aren't too fair a hand with the flour. I also know a few people who like to throw a teaspoon or two of vital wheat gluten into the dough, but I don't find it necessary.
If you want to make a fancy snack platter with the pretzels, you could make a few dipping sauces. Maybe an agave dijon or a cheddar cheese sauce? Either way, you won't regret your foray into the saltier side of things.