Sunday, December 29, 2013

Soy Nog Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

leaves and flours vegan Soy Nog Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

The holidays have finally come and gone. The new year is rapidly approaching. If your past month was anything like mine you probably have ample cookies tucked away in cabinets and half finished containers of nog in the fridge, already starting to get pushed towards the back behind those takeout containers and almond milk. This is the perfect recipe to help you finish off those cookies and nog. I started looking around for recipe inspiration and was really intrigued by Meet the Shannon's soy nog cheesecake, but I didn't have all the ingredients on hand. It was 9pm, I was already in pajamas and was set on making nog cheesecake now. So I took their beautiful recipe and tweaked it to fit my needs.
I made the crust from some gingerbread cookies that I rolled out too thin and baked a bit too long. They were too crisp to put into the cookie baskets I made for our friends & neighbors, so I tucked them away at the time not sure why I was saving them. But low and behold, they were perfect for making cheesecake crust. The spice balanced nicely with the creamy filling, and I didn't have to throw cookies away. One of the utmost offenses known to man. Also, if my cheesecake looks a little soft it's not because the recipe will give you a too soft filling. It's solely because I took the cheesecake out of the oven ten minutes before it was done baking. I suddenly got really tired and decided it was time to turn the oven off and go to sleep. Late night baking: you win some, you lose some. Waking up with soy nog cheesecake, a win. Even if it's a little under baked.

leaves and flours vegan Soy Nog Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

13 ounces gingerbread or gingersnap cookies
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine.
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 another tablespoon or two. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 or 10" springform pan. I used a 10" pan.

Soy Nog Cheesecake Filling
3/4 cup Silk soy nog
3 tablespoon EnerG Egg Replacer
28 oz Tofutti cream cheese (3 1/2 tubs)
3 tablespoon coconut flour
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoon flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
scraping of one vanilla bean

Heat oven to 350. Warm the soy nog and whisk in the egg replacer. Allow to thicken and slightly cool for several minutes. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment combine all the remaining ingredients. Add nog and beat until the batter is smooth. Add to springform pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until the center of the cheesecake is only slightly wiggly but appears firm. Allow to cool overnight.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Almond Crescent Cookies

leaves and flours vegan Almond Crescent Cookies

Today marks the first snow day in the District. Luckily I had the day off, so I slept in a little and didn't mind waking up to a sky full of flurries. I tucked myself into an extra layer and laid on the couch watching Love Actually before everyone else woke up. I will never under-appreciate the joy of lazy, quiet mornings. After I was moved to tears a few times even though I have the seen movie roughly nine hundred times, I decided it was time to start baking cookies. What better treat for the first snow then a powdered sugar dusted almond crescent cookie?!
I only had a handful of almonds on hand, and there's no way I was trudging out into the slippery streets or taking off my pajamas, so I used almond meal for the majority of the almonds in the cookies. Most recipes you will look out call for coursely ground almonds, and almond meal is quite a bit finer than that. That means my dough is a little more crumbly than you might expect from another recipe, but it still has the melt in your mouth almond flavor and a bit of a smoother texture.

leaves and flours vegan Almond Crescent Cookies

Almond Crescent Cookies
Approximately 30 medium sized cookies

1 cup Earth Balance margarine
1 cup sugar
2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond meal
1/3 cup almonds, ground into small pieces
1/2-1 cup powdered sugar, for dusting the cookies

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the margarine and sugar together. Add extracts and beat until fluffy, approximately 2 minutes. Add flour and almond meal and beat until dough forms. Fold in the ground almonds. The dough will be crumbly, but should hold together when squeezed in your palm. Taking roughly 1 tablespoon of dough, roll it in your hands to form a log while applying more pressure to the ends so they are slightly tapered. Curve the dough into an exaggerated crescent moon shape, as it will be less apparent after the cookies are baked. Bake on parchment covered trays for 14-16 minutes until the edges are slightly golden but the middles of the cookies are still soft to the tough. Allow to cool before either rolling in powdered sugar (more traditional) or dusting with sugar(prettier).

leaves and flours vegan Almond Crescent Cookies

Is there a Christmas movie you watch repeatedly every year? Love Actually is the only one I consistently stick with, but let's be honest, it's the only one I truly need. I adore all of the story lines, but Natalie & the Prime Minister are my favorites. Natalie's got a foul mouth, big thighs, & a sweet disposition. A lady after my own heart. If I was really being true to the movie, I wouldn't have let the snow steer me towards crescent cookies, but would have instead made chocolate biscuits. Good thing there's two more weeks before Christmas, so I can probably watch the movie at least four or five more times by then.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rocky Road Cupcakes

Thanksgiving is finally over, and everything is back to normal in the bakery. It's easily the biggest week of the year, so Christmas always seems like a piece of cake afterwards. It's easy to keep my chin up from here on out. After almost 400 pies, my fingers were a tiny bit sore from all the dough pinching & dish washing. I was certainly sleepy, but I was happy everything had gone so well. I even came home after three 15+ hour days and made myself two more pies. Because that's totally sane and normal right?!
The holidays are really difficult. My family lives eleven hours and one time zone away. I work the day before and early in the morning after most holidays, so there isn't really any time to go home even if I flew. The best I can offer is exchanging a few pictures and some teary phone calls, at least the digital age provides those comforts to my mom. I just hope she really knows how much I love her, and that I would be there if I could. I know bakery life isn't what you expected for me & that it certainly keeps me away from home for longer than you would prefer. But just know that I am really happy & I am doing what I love. This time might be a little rocky, but it will be worth my effort in the end.

leaves and flours vegan Rocky Road Cupcakes

Devil's Food Cupcakes
one dozen cupcakes

1/2 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp ground flax seeds
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup black cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brew your coffee. Whisk together water and flax seeds allowing to thicken for a few minutes. In a small bowl combine coffee, flax mixture, oil, vanilla and lemon juice. In a larger bowl whisk together dry ingredients. Create a well in the center and fold in wet. Mix until just combined. Portion into cupcakes. Bake for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Marshmallow Cream Filling
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine
1/2 cup shortening
1 ten oz container Suzanne's Ricemellow Creme, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat margarine and shortening until fluffy. Add 5 oz of the Ricemellow and beat again for several minutes. Add vanilla extract and powedered sugar. Beat until combined. Fold remaining half of Ricemellow into the frosting with a spatula. Core the cupcakes using one of my favorite kitchen tools or with a paring knife. Fill the cupcakes with the marshmallow cream!

Almond Frosting
1 cup shortening
1 cup Earth Balance margarine
7 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbl almond extract
2-4 tbl almond milk, until preferred consistency

In the bowl of standing mixer with a whip attachment or in a bowl with a handheld mixer, combine shortening and Earth Balance margarine and beat until combined and fluffy. Add half of powdered sugar. Beat until incorporated. Add remaining sugar, extracts, and 2 tablespoons of the almonds milk. Beat until fluffy. Add more almond milk if needed. Pipe on top of cupcakes and let chill in the fridge for at least one hour before dipping in ganache.

4 oz semisweet or dark chocolate
1/2 cup canned coconut milk

In a double broiler, combine chocolate and coconut milk and heat until the chocolate begins to melt. Whisk until totally smooth and remove from heat. Allow to cool for several minutes until the ganache is still pourable but not hot to the touch. Invert the cupcakes and rotate the frosting in the ganache in one swift movement. Top the cupcakes with a handful of sliced almonds and Dandie's new miniature marshmallows before the ganache sets.

leaves and flours vegan Rocky Road Cupcakes

I was searching for a devil's food cake recipe, and stumbled across this one from My Vegan Cookbook. The picture didn't look quite dark for me so I modified it a tiny bit with black cocoa powder. The brand I use is Frontier, and it's fair trade and organic to boot. But if you can't find black cocoa, you can replace it with some Dutch processed cocoa to get a nice color & flavor.
I am not a huge cake fan, but this cake is really terrific. They have a light, airy texture but taste rich & flavorful. The cupcakes take a while to bake and assemble, but it's worth your time. They will definitely impress everyone you make them for. People will ooh and ahh, and isn't that why we bake during the holidays?! So bake a big batch, and share them with your neighbors. Especially if they have a Bernese Mountain dog you want to pet. The tactic totally works. That's the main reason my neighbors are getting a cookie basket again this year.