Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gingerdead Man

leaves and flours vegan gingerbread gingerdead man
Happy Halloween!! I have been holding on to this cookie cutter for a few weeks now, waiting for the right time to use it. And of course it's Halloween! These bad boys are a little spooky, a little gorey, and definitely tastey. I used Isa's gingerbread recipe but upped the spice content a little. Things gotta have a little extra bite on all hallow's eve! To be honest, I was pretty disappointed in the cookie cutter. I only got 2 pipeable stamped cookies out of the 9 I made. I am not sure if I just need a gingerbread that is a lot firmer or what. That cookie cutter is also giant. The cookies are bigger than my hands. And while I have pretty dainty hands, that's still a whole lotta cookie!
It has been a wild month. I can hardly believe that it's over. AND that I managed to post 31 days in a row! And made 27 different things! It's time to take a tiny break and restock my kitchen cabinets. The flour & sugar jars are both empty. I'm out of cans of coconut milk for the first time in many months. I used almost a whole jar of cinnamon! I hope that everyone else had as good of a time as I did. I'm excited to reach a few more round-up posts. Maybe I will even make one myself! What's been your highlight of the month?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pomegranate Tarts

leaves and flours vegan pomegranate tarts

I was thinking about pomegranates a lot last week when I was making the panna cotta. I realized that while pomegranate juice was really expensive, I had recently gotten several whole fruits for pretty cheap. I looked up a few things on juicing pomegranates, and it's actually really easy! After I separated all the arils from the rind, I threw them in my food processor, then poured that into a fine mesh strainer. After squeezing the pulp for a minute or two I looked down at the measuring cup and was pretty pleased with how much juice I was able to get from the fruit. I reserved at least a third of a cup of arils for the top of the tarts, but from the remaining fruit I was able to get 3/4 cup of juice! That's so much cheaper than buying a bottle of POM.
These tarts are pretty simple. Once you have the juice it only takes a few minutes to make the filling. If you don't wanna go through the hassle of making tart shells, you could also buy pre-folded phyllo cups. They are most often vegan and are so, so convenient!

leaves and flours vegan pomegranate tarts
Pomegranate Tarts
makes three 3" tarts

1/2 batch of shortbread tart dough from Vegan Pie in the Sky
3/4 cup pomegranate juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbl cornstarch
2 tbl key lime juice
Prepare the tart dough, fill the shells, and bake them. While the shells are cooling, combine the pomegranate juice and sugar in a small sauce pan. Heat until boiling. While that is heating, whisk the cornstarch into the lime juice. Slowly whisk the lime mixture into the boiling pan. Whisk continually on medium heat until the mixture has thickened to a pudding like consistency. Fill tart shells and top with additional arils if so desired.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake with Speculoos Crust

leaves and flours vegan pumpkin vanilla swirl speculoos cheesecake

As the last few days of October are winding up I had to rethink what I was going to make a little more closely. I decided to combine a few of my things and make a pumpkin vanilla swirl cheesecake with a speculoos cookie crust. I always see pumpkin cheesecakes with gingersnap crusts, so I decided to tweak it and go with speculoos instead. I also have been trying to use more cookbooks, so I went with a recipe from Emily Mainquist's Sweet Vegan. I thought that I had all the ingredients, but when I started making the filling last night, I realized that somehow 2 of my 3 containers of Tofutti cream cheese had some sneaky little chunks missing. I ended up replacing the missing ~6 oz of cream cheese with vegan sour cream since the ingredients are pretty similar and the taste isn't too different either in my opinion. This might have led to my cheesecake setting a bit more softly than with all cream cheese, but no one seemed to mind. I also added a half tablespoon of vanilla bean paste to the vanilla cream cheese filling, and at least an additional teaspoon of cinnamon to the pumpkin cream cheese filling. I think pumpkin pie is pretty boring, so I was happy to know that this works & would be a fun substitute for the upcoming holiday dessert table.

leaves and flours vegan pumpkin vanilla swirl speculoos cheesecakeleaves and flours vegan pumpkin vanilla swirl speculoos cheesecake
Speculoos Cookie Crust

enough for an 8-9" cheesecake
13 ounces Speculoos Cookies (one & a half packages)
1/2 to 3/4 cup Earth Balance cinnamon spread
Crush the cookies to crumbs in a food processor. While those are being pulsed, melt the Earth Balance in the microwave. Pour over the cookie crumbs and mix with hands until the butter is fully incorporated. Start with 1/2 cup of melted Earth Balance. If the cookie crumbs still aren't wet enough to hold together when you squeeze it in your hands, then add the remaining spread. Press into the pan's bottom and up the sides. Bake as directed for your preferred cheesecake filling. If you want to use the regular spread, it will be just as good, but the kick of extra spice is really nice here, so I would add a half teaspoon of cinnamon to the cookie crumbs.

After the cheesecake baked I let it set overnight, then topped it with dollops of coconut whip cream and halves of the remaining speculoos cookies leftover from the crust recipe. I was glad to have so many people home from the storm so that I wasn't tempted to eat more than one slice of this cheesecake! Do you have a favorite cheesecake recipe? This is the first one I have ever made. I have never been a huge cheesecake fan until recently. Now that I found a nice springform pan at the thrift store for $2 I feel a lot more compelled to try a few recipes!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Cookies

leaves and flours halloween sugar cookies

It feels like Halloween has come a little early this year. I did most of my celebrating this weekend, watching scary movies with a bunch of friends. Things have gotten a little spooky today as people are preparing for this hurricane. Everything seems to be shutting down tomorrow. It's going to be a ghost town, but I'm ready to snack on popcorn and play a few board games. Hopefully things don't get too bad.
If you have power, then you should consider making some super simple Halloween cookies like these. The ghost to the left is a standard sugar cookie that I have shared my favorite recipe for numerous times. For the regular sugar cookie dough, I also used pumpkin and leaf cookie cutters. The black cat cookie to the right is a new one to me, it's from Hannah's Vegan Desserts. It's a chocolate cookie with a bit of black cocoa powder. The black cocoa lends the cookie a very oreo-esque taste and gives it it's dark coloring. I also used the chocolate cookie dough to make a few bats and tombstones. I searched around for a witch's hat, but to no avail. I should start searching a little earlier next year. On an unrelated note, I think this is either the third or fourth time that I have used one of Hannah's recipes this month. Maybe my MoFo theme should have been working my way through Hannah's anthology.
I hope everyone stays safe for the next few days. It's better to prepare for the storms and stay safe then to regret it later. So stock up on the cookies and almond milk while you can!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Coconut Milk Panna Cotta (Two Ways)

I have spent the last year pushing a lot of boundaries. I decided to try a lot of things that I have never done before, and not let myself back out when I got scared or tired. I made the decision to leave graduate school and take on the challenge of running a vegan bakery. I learned to shoot a bow and arrow. I went rock climbing for the first and second time already. I'm also trying to push myself in realm of sweets. I keep trying to become a more proficient decorator. I still haven't played as much with fondant or gum paste or sugar as much as I would have liked. But I have learned to make amazing vegan caramel and even made a few layered cakes that I was pretty proud of. MoFo was also a first. The first time I committed to very actively baking at home for a solid month and sharing what I learned. I've also tried to make several things I never tried before. I made cobbler and caramel apples even though it was a bit unfamiliar. I tried to be a little more creative and not be as afraid of messing new recipes up. This panna cotta is one of those things.

As someone who made agar plates for microbiology labs repeatedly for a few years, I should be innately comfortable with agar. But cooking with it is a little bit different. I have only been able to find agar flakes, which are a bit different than the powder. The flakes take a little longer to rehydrate, a little longer to dissolve, and you need to add a little more than you would for the powdered version. I twisted this recipe a little to try and use agar flakes. I could tell they weren't dissolving yet, so I kept boiling away. I poured four different glasses at 4 different points in the boiling to see what worked best. It's just my lab training kicking in. I replaced the powder with 2 tablespoons of flakes, and boiled it for 4 minutes before pouring it in the glass. That gave me the most creamy consistency. You don't want to boil it any longer than this or you will end up with rubber (like you will notice if you look at the picture with the spoon). If you still see undissolved flakes, you can easily strain them out through something with a fine mesh. But you will want to soak that strainer immediately, or you will experience ten minutes of hell trying to scrub it all out later. This pomegranate panna cotta that really intrigued me, and while I would have made it pomegranate juice isn't easy on the pocket book. I decided to go a different route and just add a thick layer of seeds to the top of the cup. The tart crunch of the seeds was a really nice contrast to the creamy subtle panna cotta. The second version was topped with a thin layer of cranberry reduction. It's the same reduction that I made for the cranberry white chocolate ice cream. It's tart and bright. And while I like the appearance of the second jello layer, I prefer the way the reduction will easily move around the cup as you take bites. It's a shame to only get a few small bites with tartness at the top of the dish. I also tried to add vanilla bean paste to add a nice swirl of flecks throughout the panna cotta, the majority of the flecks fell to the bottom. A girl's gotta try.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Caramel Stuffed Mocha Cookies

leaves and flours vegan Caramel Stuffed Mocha Cookies

At the beginning of the month, once of the first things I made were the caramel stuffed apple cider cookies. It was a really nice coincidence that Spencer's Market had the caramels that I used on sale. I ordered two packages of the sampler packs, because I hadn't tried any of the other flavors. I opened the box and was wondering what I should do with the java flavored caramels. A little light went on in my head, and I decided to to put them inside mocha flavored cookies. I tweaked the recipe a little to add cocoa and espresso. The cookies were by no means perfect. I sprinkled a little extra sugar on top because they didn't seem near as sweet as the apple cider dough (which in retrospect makes total sense since the concentrated cider have tons of sugar in them). If you want to try them, I replaced 1/4 cup of the flour with Valhrona cocoa and added 2 tablespoons of ground espresso. The coffee flavor went largely unnoticed, so next time I might even add a teaspoon or two of coffee extract. I might play with the ratios a bit more next time so that the cookies crack a little more on top too. But overall, I am fairly pleased with them. These cookies were a very decent attempt to bake, photograph, and write about something on a sick day when your head feels like it might explode. Here's to hoping this cold doesn't last for too long!

leaves and flours vegan Caramel Stuffed Mocha Cookies

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cranberry White Chocolate Ice Cream

leaves and flours vegan Cranberry White Chocolate Ice Cream
Cranberry White Chocolate Ice Cream
3 cups almond milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar, divided
3 cups cranberries
1/2 cup water
1 tbl vanilla extract
1 tbl vodka or coconut oil (to help it freeze softer)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
In a saucepan combine the berries with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Allow to come to a boil, and simmer for at least 10 minutes until the berries have burst and the sauce is fragrant. After it has cooled slightly, you are free to strain this if you want your ice cream free from pieces of the berry. Reserve 1/4 cup of sauce for later.
In another pan heat 2 1/2 cups of the almond milk with 1/2 cup sugar. While this is coming to a boil whisk the cornstarch into the remaining milk. Once the mixture is boiling, whisk in the cornstarch slurry and heat until it has thickened slightly. Once it has cooled slightly stir in the unreserved cranberry sauce, vanilla, and either voda or coconut oil. Allow to cool completely before churning. After the ice cream has churned to a soft serve consistency stir in white chocolate chips and drizzle in remaining cranberry sauce. Allow to freeze for another hour if a firmer texture is desired. Top with more fresh berries or additional chips.

leaves and flours vegan Cranberry White Chocolate Ice Cream

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Tiramisu

leaves and flours vegan lady fingers

Today has been an incredibly productive day. I got up early, even though I went to bed late. I made myself breakfast and starting baking. I caught up on all sorts of things that had been piling up. I ran a work errand and a personal errand with a friend so we had time to catch up. I came home, finished baking and cleaned up all my messes. I watched a movie. I talked to some friends & family. I took a bath full of seaweed and lavender and drank a glass of skullcap tea. I am trying my hardest to get a good night's rest to prepare myself as best possible for the last half of my work week. Things are starting to get very hectic in the bakery. Another person has left and no one has applied for the position yet. The holidays are rapidly approaching, and I am starting to panic. I know that things will work out. After all, they always do. And everything else is going so well in my life. There have to be a few minor bumps to help us appreciate those good things.

leaves and flours vegan pumpkin tiramisu
leaves and flours vegan pumpkin tiramisu
Pumpkin Tiramisu
makes 6 individual dishes or 1 loaf pan

1 batch lady fingers from Vegan Desserts
1 batch coconut whipped cream
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 container Tofutti cream cheese
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbl cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
In mixing bowl with the whip attachment, mix all ingredients (aside from the lady fingers and whip cream) until fully combined and slightly airy. In dishes, arrange a layer of lady fingers, a layer of pumpkin cream and repeat. Top with a layer of whipped cream. Allow to chill for at least 8 hours before serving. Once chilling is done, top with a heavy sprinkle of cinnamon

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Maple Pear Cobbler

leaves and flours vegan Maple Pear Cobbler

I keep getting caught up in waves of things. This weekend was a whirlwind of fun, and now I am deep into cleaning mode. I am going through my closets, and the kitchen, and my endless shelves of bakeware. I even managed to make it through the spice drawer. Living with four other people has it's benefits (i.e. cheap rent), but you always end up with redundancies of things. We had 4 jars of cloves, 3 jars of cinnamon, 3 jars of nutmeg, 3 jars of thyme, 2 jars of dill, and on and on. I managed to condense everything down to at least 2 jars or less. Small wins. Now it is on to tackle the endless dishes and silverware. I probably need to invest in even more plastic containers to keep things as neat as possible. I would start researching storage solutions on pinterest, but I know it would devolve into a dangerous spiral and soon I would be trying to fishtail braid my hair into some elaborate up-do or painting zig zag stripes on the seats of all out kitchen chairs. At least I know my weaknesses.
These cobblers were a good use of finishing up a few ingredients. I polished off the remaining red pears, emptied a mason jar of flour & an older bottle of maple syrup. I don't even want to admit that the Earth Balance I needed came from three separate end bits of Earth Balance sticks I found in various fridge drawers. There isn't a whole lot to the cobblers. They are easy and simple and best of all they smell like brunch. It's like eating a pear compote topped plate of warm french toast. I sort of compiled my own recipe from two other recipes. The maple pear filling is based off of this recipe from Smells Like Home, and the biscuit topping is an alteration from the Very Berry Chocolate Chip Cobbler in Vegan Pie in the Sky. Also, I used regular Earth Balance because I wanted to get rid of as many things as possible, but they just released a new cinnamon spread that would probably be pretty dreamy here.

Maple Pear Cobbler
4 four inch individual cobblers

For filling
2 red pears, chopped into 1/3" pieces
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tbl flour
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cloves
1 tbl Earth Balance
All the pears, maple syrup, flour, and spices to a medium sized bowl and mix with hands until the pears are evenly coated. Portion into oven safe ramekins. Add tiny slivers of Earth Balance to tops of each dish, cover with foil or place a sheet pan over top of all the dishes and baked at 425 for 15 minutes.

For topping
1/3 cup almond milk
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbl sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbl Earth Balance
a few teaspoons cinnamon sugar for sprinkling*
Combine almond milk, vinegar, and maple syrup in a cup to curdle. Add flour, baking powder, sugar, and spices to a bowl. Cut in the Earth Balance using a fork until tiny pea sized balls form. Fold in the wet ingredients just before your timer goes off on the pear mixture in the oven. Dollop on top of the dishes until you have your desired coverage, I ended up not needing all of the topping. Sprinkle on a bit of cinnamon sugar and continue baking at 425 for 15 to 20 more minutes until the biscuit bits are firm to the touch and golden. Best when eaten warm.
*If you don't keep a jar of cinnamon sugar handy at all times, you should. I use a ratio of 1 cup of sugar to 2 tablespoons cinnamon.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Local Favorites: Franklin Fountain

leaves and flours vegan pumpkin sundae franklin fountain philadelphia

This weekend while we were in Philadelphia, we ate a lot of amazing food. We always make multiple stops at Grindcore House and Blackbird, but this time we also tried a few new places. We got chicken ranch sandwiches at HipCityVeg that were pretty decent. But the highlight of new food was definitely the pumpkin sundaes we got at Franklin Fountain! They make a coconut based vegan ice cream, a caramel sauce, whip cream, and throw in a handful of salted pecans and a pinch of malt powder on top. It really surpassed all of my expectations when I heard about it. I feel like generally when non-vegan shops try to create vegan ice creams they tend to fall a little short, but this was certainly not the case! If you haven't been here before and are in the area, you should definitely check it out. The people also own a little candy shop that is a few doors down. I didn't ask about most of the candy because I was already maxed out on sugar, but it did appear that several things were likely vegan!

leaves and flours vegan pumpkin sundae franklin fountain philadelphia

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Local Favorites: Larriland Farm

leaves and flours larriland farm

This year was the first time that I have ever gone apple picking! I have actually never gone fruit picking at all. I think in elementary school I might have picked some cotton at a local farm on a school trip, but this was a whole different experience. The whole place was so neat. We picked a few bags of apples, got a jug of cider, ate a bag of kettle corn, and I tried to feed a goat. I even saw a llama! The farm is less than an hour away and have all sorts of other crops to pick too. I can't wait to go back during berry season! My CSA was pretty cool, but it's way more interesting to pick my own fruit instead of having someone else do it for me.

leaves and flours larriland farm

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fall Leaf Sugar Cookies

leaves and flours fall leaf sugar cookies
leaves and flours fall leaf sugar cookiesleaves and flours fall leaf sugar cookies
I saw these really adorable leaf cookies on HGTV. I knew that I had to make a batch of my favorite vegan sugar cookie dough and tint away. In retrospect, I wish I had went with a more maroon shade of red, because no matter how much red dye I added to the dough, it still baked up a bright shade of hot pink. Barbie would approve, but I do not. I also would have added either spices or extracts to the dough. I don't use dyes very often and I forget how bad most of them taste!
I am spending the weekend in Philadelphia. I am so excited to be away from DC for just a little bit again. Going home was nice, but it wasn't as relaxing as it could have been. So now it's time to eat pizza, go to a haunted house, and see a lot of friends! I was doing a really great job posting every day this month, but I think I might miss a day soon because I have been spending a lot more time working and doing things with friends than in the kitchen. But I won't stress about it. I never got a perfect attendance award in school, so why start now?!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cider Poached Pear Sorbet

leaves and flours vegan cider poached pear sorbetleaves and flours vegan cider poached pear sorbet leaves and flours vegan cider poached pear sorbet

Originally when I made my first "to do" list for this intense month, I placed poached pears on it. A few weeks later, I had seen so many baked fruit dishes on the internet that I got a little less interested. I spent the evening yesterday skimming through a few cookbooks, and saw a recipe for Cider Pear Sorbet in Hannah's Vegan a la Mode. I knew this was the perfect way to still poach my pears but also make a more interesting dessert out of it. I used a local spiced cider and a mixture of Bosc and Red Anjou pears. I didn't peel my pears, because I wanted a bit of texture in the sorbet. The sorbet ended up a beautiful color, a light peachy pink with flecks of spices and pear. I loved it! If you are intending to share this with anyone besides yourself and maybe your best friend, then you should just go ahead & double the batch. You won't regret it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pear Muffins with Candied Walnut Streusel

leaves and flours vegan pear and candied walnut streusel muffins

Pear Muffins with a Candied Walnut Streusel
This will make 6 jumbo muffins or a dozen standard size.

1/4 cup Earth Balance
1/3 cup Turbinado
1/4 cup applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup almond milk
2& 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 large pear, chopped

Streusel topping
1/2 cup candied walnuts*
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbl brown sugar
2 tbl turbinado
2 tbl Earth Balance

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream Earth Balance and sugar. Add applesauce, vanilla, & milk. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder salt, and cinnamon. Add half the dry mixture to the wet, mix to incorporate, and repeat. Fold in the pear. Fill liners 3/4 full with batter.
Chop candied walnuts to very tiny pieces. Combine all dry streusel ingredients. Melt the Earth Balance, drizzle it over the mixture, and blend using a fork and some patience. Sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake for 28-33 minutes or until toothpick comes out cleanly.
*There are tons of recipes for candied nuts, but the one I used was from Vegan Food Gifts

leaves and flours vegan pear and candied walnut streusel muffins

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gingerbread Cake

leaves and flours vegan gingerbread cake
Gingerbread Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G powder (not mixed with water)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup almond milk

In mixing bowl combine the flour, spices, salt, baking soda, and dry Ener-G powder. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. Lightly grease a large loaf pan or two smaller loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Once the cake is cooled, a glaze can be added if so desired. This cake is also delicious when served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

The gingerbread cake might read a little more winter than fall to some people. But the spicy flavors are something that I crave as soon as the nights get cool. Today I am starting to get in Halloween mood. I am watching the Addams Family while I bake. And I will probably watch Hocus Pocus at least four times before Halloween. What are your favorite Halloween movies?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Palmiers

I understand the concept of spring fever, and I remember feeling that way a few months ago. I remember how exciting it is for the flowers to start blooming, and the air to start getting warm, and feeling like all of the color is starting to creep back into everything after a long winter. But spring seems like so long ago, and I have been struck with fall fever. I can't walk down the street with picking up a beautiful red and orange leaf. I can't walk down the grocery store aisle without picking up more spices and tea. I don't want to do anything besides revel in fall. I am trying to hold onto fall for as long as I can. I am ready to carve our pumpkin & head to another haunted house. I don't ever want this season to end.

leaves and flours vegan pumpkin spice palmiers

I found a recipe for pumpkin spice palmiers while browning Serious Eats. The recipe sounded pretty intriguing to me, but seemed to lack a few details. I wasn't sure how long to cook the pumpkin syrup for, so I simmered until it was reduced to a half cup. While it tasted delicious as a syrup, once it was spread thinly on the puff pastry the flavor wasn't as intense. Next time I would reduce it to 1/4 cup most likely. If you make these, I also suggest spreading the syrup as thinly as possible. If there is too much parts of the palmier will not crisp properly and will get soggy only a few hours after you bake them. I also switched up the spice mix a bit. I omitted the ginger, and more nutmeg and a bit of cloves.

leaves and flours vegan pumpkin spice palmiers

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chocolate Dipped Hazelnut Shortbread

Some afternoons you turn on the oven and break out the jar of flour because you know that you should. You might just want to cuddle under the blankets and watch a movie, but instead you make a quick trip to the grocery store and make a batch of cookies. And it's good, because you have learned to let people help you bake. And so you know that not every cookie needs to look perfect and seeing their fingerprints in the cookie is pretty cute. And when you break it in the chocolate, it just means you get to eat one before you try to photograph the rest.
And some rainy evening you put on your nice shoes and go out even if you don't really feel like it. Sometimes you might feel like it would really be the best to just lie down and do nothing for a few days, but really what you need is to break your cycle and spend a little time with your friends. You might be stubborn and cranky at first, but after a few minutes you will be smiling and laughing and won't even mind that you are staying up a few hours past your bed time. Because you need to. You need to spend time with someone other than yourself and remember to let other people know how much you care about them.

leaves and flours vegan chocolate dipped hazelnut shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Hazelnut Shortbread
Recipe from Epicurious; makes one dozen large cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup finely ground husked toasted hazelnuts (about 2 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup coarsely chopped husked toasted hazelnuts

Cream Earth Balance and sugar. Add ground hazelnuts and vanilla extract. Slowly beat in flour, baking powder, and salt. Roll into logs and press down onto parchment to form oval cookies. Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and crisp. While cookies are cooling melt bittersweet chocolate and chop remaining hazelnuts. Dip half of the cookie in chocolate and roll in nuts. Allow chocolate to firm for about 30 minutes before serving.

leaves and flours vegan chocolate dipped hazelnut shortbread

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Local Favorites: Olive & Sinclair

leaves and flours nashville chocolate olive and sinclair

Before I moved away from Tennessee a few years ago, I had never heard of Olive & Sinclair. But if you go there today, you can spot their bars in almost every local shop. This bean to bar company seems to be winning over everyone. They have even received all sorts of publicity from Food & Wine magazine & Southern Living.
At roughly $6 a pop these bars aren’t exactly easy on the pockets, but I splurged on two while I was home. The 65% and sea salt sprinkled bars were my choices. The 65% has a really nice bitterness about it. While it might not be the favorite of someone who wanted to eat a chocolate bar on their lunch break, I can see it being a solid choice for incorporating into a cake or brownie. The sea salt bar was notably less salty than I expected. I was hoping for large grains of salt studding the chocolate similar to a Salazon bar, but the salt is very subtle and dissolved within the chocolate. It was delicious none-the-less. Olive & Sinclair’s chocolate has a great snap & a beautiful shine. Their award winning packaging clearly stands out, and I appreciate that they list the cacao bean’s country of origin on all of the labels. I haven't checked all of their flavors, but all of the bars that I saw that were not white chocolate were vegan.

leaves and flours nashville chocolate olive and sinclair

If you want to read more about Olive & Sinclair, they have an article in Nashville’s new free publication Native Magazine which can be read online. There’s also a terrific video showing the whole bean to bar process that you just have to watch if you have never seen a chocolate shop before. Also if you're lucky enough to be in the Nashville area, they do tours of the factory! I hope someone goes and can tell me more about it!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Caramel Apple Cake

I decided to make this caramel apple bundt. I let it cool a little, poured caramel all over it, and topped with coconut whipped cream. I cut slices to take photograph and somehow I ate two of them absentmindedly while watching TV. I also might have eaten another slice later that night too. This is the reason that I can't have a whole cake in my house. I don't even really like cake that much. I just could not not eat it. It was warm and sweet and spicy. I successfully pawned the remaining 7 slices off on others. It was in my best interest. You should try the cake, but just remember that you should probably make it when you have 6 hungry friends coming over.
leaves and flours vegan caramel apple cake
Apple Cake
a single 9" layer cake or enough to fill a small bundt pan

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbl baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 packet Alpine Spiced Cider (optional, but worth it)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup applesauce
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 small apples, chopped but not peeled
Wash and chop your apples. If you aren't using organic apples, you might want to peel them. But I prefer the texture and hint of color from the apple skins in the cake. I also suggest using a tart apple. I used Stayman apples. In a bowl mix the flour with the baking powder and spices. In a separate bowl combine all the remaining ingredients besides apples. Fold the wet into the dry until barely combined and then fold in apples. Pour into greased cake pan and bake at 350 for 35-50 minutes.
Once cake is cooled, top with caramel sauce and serve with coconut whipped cream.

leaves and flours vegan caramel apple cake

Friday, October 12, 2012

Speculoos Pudding

leaves and flours vegan speculoos pudding

Speculoos Pudding
makes 4 small cups or 2 large servings

1 3/4 cup vanilla almond milk
8 oz speculoos spread
2 tbl cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of white pepper
In a sauce pan combine 1 cup of milk and half of speculoos spread. Whisk on medium heat until all of the spread has melted into the milk. Add the remaining speculoos spread and spices and whisk until it is dissolved. Allow mixture to come to a low boil. In a small bowl combine remaining 3/4 cup milk with vanilla and cornstarch. Slowly pour this into the saucepan while whisking to combine. The mixture should thicken fairly quickly. You must cook this on medium to low heat and whisk continuously or the pudding will burn on the bottom of the pan.
Pour into small dishes and allow to cool for an hour. Top with crumbled speculoos cookies.

leaves and flours vegan speculoos pudding

This pudding is incredibly simple and only takes a few minutes. It is great cool, but also could be served warm if you so desire. The spices are really what enhances the flavor of the speculoos, so you won't want to leave them out!
The dishes in the photo are also from Anthropologie. I went on a teeny shopping spree earlier in the week, and bought one of all 6 colors that I saw. They were on sale for $2 each! I might have also bought the napkin on the same day from World Market. Whoops! My kitchen wares are slowly taking over the majority of my space. I really need to start doing some purging & reorganizing.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

When I first went vegan in college I needed to learn how to cook for myself pretty quickly. I had never really been too interested in baking, but was a huge fan of sweets. I realized that my sweet's connections had largely been cut off and so I started baking. I started with muffins. For the first few months those were the only things that I made. That's the first time that this recipe surfaced. I brought it to several potlucks and often shared them with friends. I hadn't made them in years. But when I decided that I would be doing fall sweets for my MoFo topic, my friend Jenna asked if they would be included. So I made a batch from memory. I never wrote down all my original alteration to the recipe, but I think that this is pretty close.

leaves and flours vegan pumpkin apple streusel muffins

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins
veganized from here; makes 16 muffins

2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tbl ground flax mixed with 3 tbl water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large chopped apple
In bowl combine all dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl combine all wet ingredients. Fold the wet into the dry, then add the chopped apples. Don't over-mix the batter. Scoop into muffin pans, about 3/4 full.

For streusel
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup oats
3 tbl flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbl Earth Balance
Combine every except the Earth Balance. Cut the Earth Balance into the mixture using your fingers and sprinkle heavily on top of all of the muffins. You might have a small amount of extra streusel. Just save it for your next pie.
Bake the muffins at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

These muffins might not be the most beautiful thing to look at, but most muffins aren't. But once you take a bite, they will win you over. The pumpkin is much more subtle than with most pumpkin muffins. The apple helps balance the pumpkin out a lot. The sugary streusel gives the top of the muffins a really wonderful crunch too. It might just be because I live with 4 boys, but these muffins disappeared more quickly than something has in quite a long time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Candy Apples

leaves and flours vegan candy apples

I have attempted to write this post four different times today. I don't feel capable of composing a sweetly written paragraph. All my words are gone. Some days it's just best to acknowledge that you aren't quite you, and move on. I'm sure it will be a little better tomorrow.
I wanted to make a corn syrup & dye free candy apple. I love sprinkles, and vegan M&M's, and all sorts of things that are full of dye. But apples are just so beautiful as is that I don't think they need to be covered in colored candy. There are plenty of reasons to avoid corn syrup, that I don't feel the need to go into detail about. I tried a few different versions. I tried one with brown rice syrup as the substitute, but I didn't enjoy the taste. I tried them with tapioca syrup, but the candy got far too hard. My third try I just used sugar and water. Because I used unbleached cane sugar, the color of the candy was just the slightest hint of tan. I cooked 2 cups of sugar in 1 cup of water until it reached 225 degrees. It was just the right amount of chewy for me. I didn't want something that was going to break my teeth. If you want a candy apple that has more of a crunch, cook your sugar syrup until it reaches 240 degrees. Just make sure to single dip your apple. A layer that is too think will make the apple inedible.

leaves and flours vegan candy apples

I also learned why people always add dye to candy apples. The high temperature of the syrup causes the apples to discolor when you dip them. If you look at the close up off the apple in the above picture, you will see what I am talking about. It happened with red & green apples alike. So lesson learned. I now know why for years people have added dye to candy apples. I am ok with the way the apples look. They reminded me of a Snow White-esque poison apple. Shiny and glossy and sweet but perhaps something a bit more sinister peeking out from under the candy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Caramel Apples (Two Ways)

leaves and flours vegan caramel applesleaves and flours vegan caramel apples

This past week has been completely exhausting. Last Tuesday feels like it was decades ago. Going to Tennessee was really nice. But we moved non-stop the whole time. We didn't sleep past 8am a single day of my 4 day vacation. And I stayed up later than normal too. When we landed on the runway in DC on Sunday, we sat there for 40 minutes waiting for a space for the plane to park. Waiting on the runway when you are so close to being home is excruciating, infinitely more so than being stuck in an airport. At least in the airport you can get up and walk to the bathroom or buy a chocolate bar. To top it all off, I got home only to realize that I had lost my keys on the trip. Luckily a housemate was home to let me inside and borrow his keys to make a few copies. Luckily I have a spare car key, so I was still able to drive to work the next day. I was really hopeful that they would be in the lost and found at the airport, but there was no such luck. Now it's time to start making more copies. This is also now the first time that I have lost my keys while traveling. I also managed to leave my keys on the coffee table of a friend of a friend's house in Philadelphia. And I didn't realize until I went to open my front door several hundred miles away. Maybe someday I will learn.

leaves and flours vegan caramel apples

While it might not be the first time I have lost my keys, it is the first time I have made caramel apples. So I thought I might as well do that twice too. Just to make up for lost time. The first attempt is the more traditional route. I used the same caramel recipe I have linked you to several times already this month. I made alterations to the caramel though. I used coconut milk and tapioca syrup rather than soy milk or corn syrup. Also, instead of cooking the caramel to 240 degrees to make solid candies or 220 degrees for a sauce, you will want to heat it to around 230 degrees. This should make the caramel firm enough to not fall off but soft enough that you don't lose a tooth when you bite into the apple.
The second option I found to be superior. I used Isa's peanut butter caramel apple recipe. You basically heat the peanut butter and brown rice syrup until it is warm, dip the apples, and then I rolled them in peanuts. No candy thermometer to scrub tiny pieces of caramel off of, no bubbling sugar waiting to burn your fingers, and about 40 minutes faster. You can't beat that. If you taste the syrup before you coat the apple in it, you won't think it will work. But when you combine it with the apple, the magic happens.

leaves and flours vegan caramel apples

I am so thankful that I have tomorrow off. I can't wait to maybe catch up on sleep, make a giant pot of chili, and drink lots of tea. The fall colors are finally showing up on the leaves here. I will probably even bundle up in a scarf and thick socks and go on a long walk through the park. Nothing like that to calm your nerves.