Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Cookies

leaves and flours vegan eggnog snickerdoodles

Tonight and tomorrow are some of the busiest cookie-making days of the year. There's not too many days besides Christmas Eve that absolutely require a plate of cookies. Since I'm not working in a bakery mass-producing thousands of cookies this year, I decided to switch up the standard mix of gingerbread, snickerdoodles, spritz, and sugar cookies to include my favorite winter flavor: soy nog! I made these eggnog snickerdoodles from Amy's Healthy Baking using Silk Nog and adding some extra spices to both the batter and the spiced sugar because that's how I roll (insert bad joke drum roll here). I have a half a carton of soy nog left, and I'm hoping to make another soy nog cheesecake before I slowly sip away at it in the middle of the night.

leaves and flours vegan gingerbread cookies

I also decided that I couldn't forego classical cookies all the way, especially when making a new recipe (I mean you gotta have a fail-safe) so I made gingerbread mittens with my top secret recipe. My lips are sealed on this one and I don't think I will ever share it, but the recipe from the PPK is a very solid option if you don't have a top secret recipe of your own yet. Decorating gingerbread cookies is easily the best part of the holidays, so make sure to gather all your nearest & dearest to frost, sprinkle & snack. Happy holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

S'mores Puppy Chow

leaves and flours vegan S'mores Puppy Chow

It's crunch time! There's just a few more days left to get all those presents bought and wrapped for locals, and if you haven't gotten everything in the mail than you better overnight it to get there in time! In the craziness of the holidays, maybe you don't have time to bake anything super special but want a treat for an evening with friends or family. This s'mores puppy chow from Sally's Baking Addiction is easy peasy to veganize. Just grab a bag of Dandies mini marshmallows and everything else is pretty straight forward. You'll have your crunchy, sweet treat in less than 20 minutes.

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


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.

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.

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?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Funnel Cake

I love amusement parks. I love roller coasters and water parks and giant swings above the park. But most of all I love the drop tower. That moment at the top of the ride where you feel the machine click and you know that you're at the very top, suspended, about the plummet to the ground is one of my favorite feelings in the world. No matter how many times you do it, that instinctual fear hits you right when it clicks and you are waiting those agonizingly long seconds to fall. For the second year in a row Greg and I have gotten season passes to Six Flags, and it's my favorite part of the summer. We had the perfect trip a few weeks ago. We got there right at opening. We rode our favorite roller coaster two times, the drop tower two times, and then we headed to the water park. We rode every ride, hung out in the wave pool, and then rode the best water rides two or three more times. We didn't wait in a single line. We did all of that by 1pm and left before we even got hungry and had to debate whether we were going to eat french fries or soft pretzels or both. But the one thing that amusement parks always leave me missing is funnel cake. I haven't had funnel cake since I went vegan, but when we got home I was determined to make one. It didn't disappoint and was a solid end to a perfect summer day.

leaves and flours vegan funnel cake

Vegan Funnel Cakes
makes eight small servings

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups of non-dairy milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup warm water
1 1/1 tbl Ener-G
several cups of oil for frying
powdered sugar for dusting

Heat the oil the 375 degrees. In a medium size bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Make the Ener-G eggs. Once thickened, combine in a smaller bowl with milk, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk the wet into the dry until the batter is smooth. It should be near the consistency of pancake batter. You can use several things to make the funnel cakes, but I used a plastic squeeze bottle that I found to be really handy. It was easy to fill and didn't create much of a mess like a piping bag could have. Very quickly drizzle the batter into hot oil looping it over repeatedly to create a nest-like structure. Let cook for 30 seconds to one minute before flipping and cooking the other side for about the same time. You want the cake to be lightly browned on both sides. Let cool for a few minutes and sift powdered sugar on top.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Everything But The Kitchen Sink

leaves and flours vegan

We're over that hill that is the longest day of the year and moving full force into the heat of summer. I will never get over how magical summertime is. I constantly wake up bleary and sleepy eyed from a lack of sleep because those long days where it's light until almost 9pm make it difficult for a baker. It's hard to force yourself to go to sleep when you can still see the sun taunting you from around the edges of your blinds. Instigating you. Convincing you to stay up for another hour, or two. But summer is also the time where you can go nap by the city pool because you get off work so much earlier than everyone else. You can take your library book and read a chapter and nod off listening to splashing. Wake up just in time for adult swim. That beautiful ten minutes where all the kids line the edge of the pool, dipping their toes into the water. Enough to feel a little bit rebellious but not enough for the guard to blow their whistle. Those serene minutes that you faintly recall scorning as a youth, but now you can barely remember it through the fog of psuedo-adulthood.

leaves and flours vegan

I'm not really sure if I'm an adult yet. I don't really know when that defining time is. I have student loans and a car payment. But I also ate chips for dinner. I balance it out with a green smoothie. Is that adulthood? Realizing that you're being a little impractical and countering it slightly with something responsible. Trying to wash it all out in some giant balance of things? I've killed several houseplants so as badly as I sometimes want a cat to come home to, I'm not quite sure that I am ready to care for another life. I'm currently trying my luck with a succulent. Everyone keeps warning me that I just have to ignore it. People always kill them from overwatering, but we'll see just how quickly I can forgot to water it for six months, not noticing it shriveling away on the table.

leaves and flours vegan

Once or twice a year I have the urge to throw out all my earthly possessions. I am currently in one of those states. I convinced my housemates that it was a brilliant idea to have a yard sale. Forget the fact that we don't really have much of a yard, only so much as a walkway & a porch. Also ignore the fact that we are not on a street that anyone ever walks down. I half heartedly advertised it. We put fliers up the day before. I convinced everyone to lug out all the furniture that we didn't want while we sat on the porch for 4 hours waiting quietly. I sold a few books and maybe a cookie cutter or two. We stared at the furniture not wanting to bring it back in after all that effort and tried to pawn it off on people for free. The unused DVD shelf is currently resting several feet from the front door, as we didn't have the heart to move it a few rooms back again. I threw everything small enough into my car and donated it down the street.

leaves and flours vegan

I eliminated all the kitchenware that I bought to photograph cookies & cakes on several years ago when I started this blog and didn't know the first thing about photographing food. All of these terrible plates in too bright colors and dish towels in distracting patterns. I donated half of my cookie cutter collection. Adorable sailboats and mushrooms and kittens, that never quite come out looking quite recognizable. Endless pans for madeleines and doughnuts and bundt cakes that get used once and then stack up over time. Paring down the tea cups & saucers. They are my weakness. I hoard them and look at them and think about how beautiful they are. Those tiny, dainty china cups in delicate gold patterns but they only hold a sip or two of tea. And I'm the sort of person that makes tea two cups at a time, so they just sit there. Coming out only to photograph some beautiful almond strawberry & vanilla rhubarb macarons. I add a splash of whatever tea I have actually made several cups of already, and then they head back over to the shelf to sit there for a few more months until I find another cookie that will look nice on their saucer.

leaves and flours vegan

Is this what it is to be a grown up? To realize that it's ridiculous to have a shelf of beautiful plates that you only break out a few times a year to take a picture. To actually use everything you own or give it away to someone who will? To open up tupperware bins and marvel at how you somehow unwittingly collected 5 sets of popsicle molds in the two years since you last gave them all away? To determine that you don't need 25 silver plated spoons just because they are all slightly different shapes & patinas? To finally clear out your closet of all the clothes that don't fit you or you hate and haul them to Buffalo Exchange and swap them out for a few things that you actually need in your wardrobe to retain some semblance of togetherness? Because if so I am a total adult these days.

leaves and flours vegan

Thursday, June 12, 2014

French Macarons

leaves and flours vegan French Macarons

I went on vacation at the end of last month. For quite a while Greg and I debated over a list of cities that we hadn't been to and wanted to see. Denver ended up at the top of them. As we were getting off our last plane, I could start to feel the stress knots in my shoulder finally start to relax a little. It seemed like there was more space between my shoulders and my ears. Despite all the new pollen making my eyes & throat a little itchy, I tried to take deep breaths. We climbed a lot of mountains, I worked on my fear of heights. I saw tons of elk & even a few marmots. And as vacations tend to go, it felt like it was over before it even started.

leaves and flours vegan French Macarons

Our time in Denver was a little less than a week, so when I requested my time off & planned the schedule several months ago I gave myself an extra day at home. Sure enough in the chaos pre-leaving & the rush of getting back into town I went into work. A day early. And had to un-request my vacation time.
Even though I came back a little less than refreshed, and am still almost unbearably stressed out, I am trying to make the best of it. It's summer time and this season never lasts quite long enough. I'm enjoying the honeysuckle around the bakery. I'm taking a cake decorating class this weekend. I'm planning trips to the city pool, more amusement park visits, and berry picking at Larriland Farms.

leaves and flours vegan French Macarons

This summer I am also pushing myself to work on my skill set. I'm going to get better at decorating and hopefully find time to play with sugar. I'm going to work on perfecting lemon meringue pie and macarons. I've made a really decent lemon meringue pie, but there's just a few more wee changes I want to make to the meringue. The photographs here are of my second and third batches of French macarons. I need to get a larger tip to pipe them, so the tops aren't so swirly. I want to make a hundred more batches, tweaking all the ratios and playing with baking times & temperatures. I want to get a notebook and scribble down all my notes in between batches while I drink a million cups of tea and sing along to pop punk while I was all the dishes just like I did a few years ago when we were first opening the bakery. I want to feel that excitement and newness again.

leaves and flours vegan French Macarons

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I'm not really the gushy type. I mean I am emotional and occasionally I get a little sentimental, but I am definitely not the kind of person who kisses in public or says sappy things where other people could possibly overhear them. Until today. Five years ago, my friend Yuri was playing a show in my little college town. I made a big batch of banana chocolate chip muffins and headed over to meet him early. Yuri had another friend with him, Greg. After the show, we made chili and I made the worst batch of cornbread of my life because I was a little nervous. Greg and I stayed up until 2am talking on the hood of my car. I had to go to work the next morning but I went and got bagels at 7am so we could eat breakfast together first. And then a few hours later I took a long lunch break to eat falafel & say goodbye. He flew back to visit me a few weeks later. A month later I flew out to see him. A few months later I flew out to see him again. A year later I got accepted to graduate school. We went from 11 hours to 1 hour apart. Two years later I left graduate school, and moved to the District. We went from 40 miles to 2 blocks apart. Four years later we started sharing a house. And now it's been five years?! We still laugh and joke and are silly all the time. He can't take a picture of me that isn't ridiculous. He has supported me through really rough times, when I didn't have much hope. He challenges me, and pushes me to be a better person all the time. He's also gonna be so embarrassed when he reads this.

leaves and flours vegan cheese raspberry jam danish

When I saw that Sticky Fingers had made their first batch of danishes, I raced home from work to get them. If there is one thing that Greg and I love equally & have shared a lot of in the last five years, it's dessert. I was able to get a cheese & a raspberry danish. The pastry was the closest I have had to the butter laden version, and they were definitely some of the best sweets I have had from there. Danishes were a great surprise for a really adorable day.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Citrus Pistachio Pound Cake

leaves and flours vegan Citrus Pistachio Pound Cake

I am one year older. Maybe it's just because I have literally been elbow deep in frosting so many times in the past two years or maybe it's because I am feeling sturdier more stable, but I didn't want a traditional birthday cake this year. Normally I commit to some sort of two or three layer cake, but the sweetness and the fillings and all the piping just wasn't appealing to me for 26. I was considering foregoing birthday sweets altogether, but decided that was quite sacrilegious for a sugar sorceress like myself. I remembered bookmarking a pistachio citrus pound cake many seasons ago, promising myself to veganize it eventually. I decided that this was quite the proper occasion to splurge on a pound or two of pistachios and a lime since those have taken quite the price hike this spring. I zested all my fruits. Organic only, because we are getting older and wiser and we don't want to put too many things in our bodies that may contain pesticides. I baked the cake really hastily because I decided to spend some time with friends earlier in the evening and it was getting quite late and I still needed to go to work in the morning. Of course, in the haste or the adaptation of my previous pound cake recipe something didn't quite work out and the cake was very browned on the edges but still a little under baked in the center and of course fell in the middle. I was frustrated and went to sleep cursing at it.

leaves and flours vegan Citrus Pistachio Pound Cake

The cake tasted good, but it wasn't something I would ever share. So I came home from work on my birthday and decided to start over. I am a perfectionist at my heart of hearts and no cake was going to defeat me. Especially not on the day when I am the queen of the world. I set away to zesting and juicing and chopping more pistachios. I folded it all together and filled my pans and scraped all the bowls. The batter tasted perfect. I put my little baby pound cakes into the oven, five minutes before my partner Greg came home from work. He walked in and mentioned how nice the kitchen smelled, then looked at the timer, saw 25 minutes ticking away, and his face dropped. I realized I had messed up some dinner plans, but he assured me it would be ok & we would only be ten minutes late. When I told him there was probably another 20 minutes of baking after that, I saw in his face that I was spoilin' some serious surprise dinner plans. After a few minutes of scrambling and panicking and not wanting to take cakes full of expensive ingredients out of the oven or waste several of my friends' time, I realized I could ask someone else I live with to take the cakes out of the oven. I asked a housemate and he so nicely agreed, so this year I got to have my cake & eat it too. Note to self for twenty six: Utilize your resources, but don't squander them. It helps if you can offer cake in return for favors. Also, buy yourself flowers more than once a year. It feels great.

leaves and flours vegan Citrus Pistachio Pound Cake

Mini Citrus Pistachio Pound Cakes
altered from Mini Almond Poundcakes by Isa Chandra, queen of vegan baking

1 lemon, zested & juiced
1 lime, zested & juiced
1 orange, zested & juiced
7 oz almond paste
6 oz extra firm silken tofu
2/3 cup almond milk
1/3 cup citrus juice
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pistachios, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease & flour three 4x2" loaf pans.
Zest each of the citrus fruits and set the zest aside. Juice all the fruits and stir mixture well. You'll need a third cup of juice for the recipe; I stirred the remainder into the water I was drinking for prosperity. Combine almond paste, tofu, almond milk, citrus juice, and sugar in a blender or food processor bowl. Blend until smooth. Add the vanilla and melted margarine and blend again. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and zest until well combined. Whisk in wet until just combined. Add 1/4 cup pistachios and fold with a spatula. Portion into loaf pans until 3/4 full. Smooth tops and sprinkle with remaining pistachios. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the tops are firm & golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lemon Coconut Cheesecake

leaves and flours vegan Lemon Coconut Cheesecake

There might be green grass & tulips now, but I made this spring-inspired cheesecake in the dead of winter. I made it on a bitter, cold day when we had run out of oil and were waiting for the tank to be refilled. I really needed an excuse to turn the oven on & wish for warmer days. There's not much of a sunnier combination than lemon and coconut, so that is what I went with. I tweaked the recipe from my soy nog cheesecake to incorporate those flavors. And just for the record, if you have never had the pleasure of living in a house heated by oil consider yourself lucky. Our giant, old house in DC requires thousands of dollars of oil to make it through the winter. And that's not toasty warm, it's just tolerably chilly & with the windows wrapped to keep out the drafts.
Luckily worrying about heat is over, since it finally hit 70 degrees this week. I opened the windows. I broke out my shorts. I wore a skirt without tights. It was magical. I even braved the crowds to see the cherry blossoms in peak bloom for the first time. I snuck onto an empty lot a few blocks away and picked a ridiculous amount of daffodils to fill a few milk bottles. I am starting to see lilies in bouquets at the grocery store, so I know May is rapidly approaching. My favorite flowers are the lilies that bloomed in my mother's garden. They always opened up right around my birthday, my favorite time of the year. Not just because it's my birthday, but because May is the most beautiful month of the year. So here's to cheesecakes and flowers and perfect spring afternoons.

leaves and flours vegan Lemon Coconut Cheesecake leaves and flours vegan Lemon Coconut Cheesecake

Lemon Coconut Cheesecake
makes one 10" cheesecake

9 ounces lemon cookies (I used Back to Nature's California Lemon)
4 ounces shredded or flaked coconut
1/2 cup shortening

Crush the cookies & coconut to crumbs in a food processor. While those are being pulsed, melt the shortening. Pour over the cookie crumbs and mix until fully incorporated. 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 of shortening. Press into the bottom and up the sides of your springform pan.

Cheesecake Filling
3/4 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoon EnerG Egg Replacer
28 oz Tofutti cream cheese (3 1/2 tubs)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 cup sugar
scraping of one vanilla bean
zest of one lemon

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm the coconut milk and whisk in the egg replacer. Allow to slightly cool & thicken for several minutes. Meanwhile in the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, combine all the remaining ingredients. Add coconut milk and beat until the batter is smooth. Pour into to springform pan, smoothing the top of the cheesecake. Bake for 40 minutes or until the center of the cheesecake is only slightly wiggly but appears firm. Allow to cool overnight. I topped it with coconut whip, additional lemon cookies, and tons of toasted coconut flakes.

leaves and flours vegan Lemon Coconut Cheesecake

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cherry Jello

leaves and flours vegan Cherry Jello

Even with the last minute snow, spring is officially here. Yesterday I saw the first daffodils. It's a good sign. It's time to crawl out from under my comforter and stop watching so much television & reading too many novels. It's time to repair my bike & ride around the city. It's time to make some plans for my future & stick with them. It's the time to fight to be the person that you want to, because the long days and cool nights are on your side. It's ok to sleep a little less if you're out enjoying the sunshine and smiling endlessly. Spring is when I finally feel motivated again.
Springs also a good time to look back at the last few months and assess my position. Whatever aspect of your life, it's always a nice time to change directions and work on something new & inspiring. Just because things have been quiet around here, doesn't mean I haven't been working hard on things. I just haven't been digitally documenting them like I use too. I dropped the camera that I borrow to photograph things for this blog while photographing these macarons. Maybe because I was in a hurry to eat my Valentine's sweets but probably because I am the most klutzy (so it's actually a little surprising that I didn't drop it ever before in the last year). One time at work I dropped a five gallon glass jar of coconut oil. Of course it was summer in a bakery, so the coconut oil was molten. I cut three of my fingers and ruined a pair of jeans trying to gather up all the little shards of glass in the slippery mess. The camera was a little less dramatic, but has had more lasting effects on my life.

leaves and flours vegan Cherry Jello

Winter decided to spurn me one last time by leaving me with a super swollen throat & sinusitis. I spent most of yesterday afternoon gargling salt water and craving jello. My jello of choice & what's pictured here was the unflavored Natural Deserts jel pack & tart cherry juice left over from the frozen bins of cherries I order for the bakery. In the last few months, the company seems to have stopped making their jel must to my avail. I have searched high & low and have only found two boxes of flavored powders. I found a substitute for my old standby made by a brand called Simply Delish. Their strawberry was good, and the raspberry was even better. The texture is ever so slightly tougher than Natural Desserts jellos were, but my main problem is that Simply Delish doesn't seem to offer an unflavored powder so I can control the flavors like I would prefer. I know that I can use agar powder to make what whatever flavored jello I want, but the packets are so nostalgic. And if spring makes me anything, it's wistful.

leaves and flours vegan Cherry Jello

While I have waxed poetic before about my best friend Jenna and I having same-brain, she also shared some similar feelings regarding the approach of spring & talked about some of the exciting life changes she is going through on her blog Kitty Cat Stevens recently. I hope you will seek her out on the internet and encourage & help support her business if you are a book lover too. There's nothing more wonderful than giving a friend a gift that someone has poured so much of themselves into. One of my favorites gifts in the last few months was the napkins photographed here. They were a beautiful present from my housemate for feeding her cats while she was away for the holidays. I mean of course I would feed two of the best cats in the world no matter what, but the textiles screen printed by Sara Lee Parker were the icing on the cake. So if you're looking for something nice to give to a special person here are two great places to start. Here's to spring, feeling re-energized & ready to start anew.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sweet Maresa's Macarons

leaves and flours vegan Sweet Maresa's Macarons

I have heard the cliche phrase "never knew what you were missing" used in all sorts of dramatic & ridiculous ways. But I never really got quite what it meant until I tried my first macaron. I didn't realize that this amazing category of sweet had been missing from my life until I tried one of Sweet Maresa's little beauties. As I have never had an egg white laden macaron, it's hard for me personally to compare Maresa's to the traditional French version. But I hear tell that they are indistinguishable. Either way, these vegan macrons won't leave you wanting for anything. Maresa uses all natural, organic, fair trade, & GMO free ingredients. She also never uses palm oil! If you didn't know, palm oil is one of the leading sources of deforestation.

leaves and flours vegan Sweet Maresa's Macarons leaves and flours vegan Sweet Maresa's Macarons leaves and flours vegan Sweet Maresa's Macarons

While I might not have known what I was missing, once I did, I quickly made up for lost time. I ordered multiple boxes of macarons three times in the span of 5 weeks. So now I have done my homework and can offer all sorts of solid opinions. The staple flavors are rose, vanilla, pistachio, & almond. Without a doubt, almond is my favorite. It's so perfectly almond-y and always beautiful. The pistachio is my second favorite. Maresa recently reformulated the pistachio macaron to also include a pistachio paste buttercream, so I'm sure it's gotten even better since I last tried it. The vanilla is good & I would suggest it for those without an adventurous palette, but I am just not a vanilla-sorta girl. I adore vanilla beans, but mostly as a base for pairing with other flavors. And when there are so many other interesting flavor combinations offered, I just can't not chose them instead. I have an intense hatred towards rose (I know, I know, I'm a freak), but a friend who I ordered that flavor for said they were quite swoon-worthy.
I have also tried several of the baker's choice flavors. The burnt caramel pecan is at the top of my list for those. I am a sucker for pecans, and the burnt caramel filling just puts it over the top. The jasmine macrons were easily the most beautiful macaron I have ever seen. They also tasted great & were perfectly floral without being overpowering. I also tried cocoa vanilla & black hibiscus! There hasn't been a single flavor I wouldn't order again. There's a few more on my bucket list: lavender, chocolate raspberry & creamsicle! Plus Maresa is always dreaming up all sorts of new concoctions based on what ingredients she finds at local markets, so there's always new combinations to lust after.

leaves and flours vegan Sweet Maresa's Macarons

If you have ever interacted with Maresa or Lagusta either in person or online, you know without a shadow of doubt that they are the sweetest people in the world. So the next time you need to spoil yourself or buy a gift for someone you love, you should order something from their shop! Support small, woman-run, vegan businesses that work hard to source the best ingredients for the earth & the people on it.
Have you ever tried a macaron from Sweet Maresa? What did you think, and what flavors did you try?! I haven't ever been to the shop in New Paltz, but I am hoping to make a little pilgrimage there someday. It will be a dangerous trip, because I have no restraint around macarons or chocolate. Since I was already paying for shipping with my macarons, I also ordered a few chocolate goods from Lagusta's Luscious! Because it made economical sense, not because I have an insatiable sweet tooth. There were cute vinyl records & beautiful anatomical heart chocolates that made great Valentine's Day gifts. But now I'm already thinking about the amazing cream eggs & chocolate bunnies they just added to the shop! The Bluestocking Bonbon series is incredibly inspirational, so you should check that out too. Sorry if I am getting carried away, but it's hard not to gush when people make things this magical.

leaves and flours vegan Sweet Maresa's Macarons leaves and flours vegan Sweet Maresa's Macarons