Sunday, October 11, 2009

Marshmallows


Marshmallows are becoming a strong contender for the biggest trend of 2009. They seem to pop everywhere and they are being made in many different flavors. There are many vegan marshmallows on the market, but they aren't always gluten free and thus out of range for us non wheat eaters. 

One might think that marshmallows are one of the few items that their allergies has prevented them from eating without too much sadness; but I think that might because you are thinking of those stylophone-y ones that you bought in a bag before a camping trip and were sickeningly sweet even to my tastes. Or, maybe not, and you genuinely don't like them. 

If that's the case, try out the recipe and throw it in a dish with some puffed rice cereal and make an incredible non-trendy, but possible better treat: Rice Crispy Squares

Note: You really need a mixer with a whisk attachment for this recipe.

MARSHMALLOW INGREDIENTS:

4 envelopes of vegan gelatin (not as hard to find as I thought, most health food places have it)
1 1/2 cup water (or, for flavored marshmallows, use smooth fruit puree or juice)
1 tbs vanilla
3 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup corn syrup

gluten free powdered sugar

MARSHMALLOW INSTRUCTIONS:

First, prepare your pan. Generously oil a 9x13 baking dish and set aside. In the bowl of your electric mixer, put 3/4 cup water/juice, vanilla (if making vanilla flavored marshmallows) and sprinkle all of the gelatin over top. 

Meanwhile, in a pot bring the sugar, corn syrup and remaining 3/4 water to a boil. Using a candy thermometer allow the mixture to heat until the softball stage. 

Working quickly, pour the hot mixture into the gelatin mixture with the whisk attachment on a low speed. Be careful, as you don't want to splash yourself. Bring the mixer up to full speed and whip the mixture until it is nice and fluffy (ten minutes for me). Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and level out if you need to with a spatula that has been wiped with oil. 

Let the pan sit over night and then cut into squares, tossing each one in a light coating of icing sugar. Store in an airtight container!

Instead of vanilla, you could add peppermint oil to make a delicious minty treat (I'd also die them green, but that's just me!)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vegan Bake Off

Saturday, Oct. 3rd was the Second Annual Vegan Bake Off put together by the Canadian Vegetarian Society. I had seen the posters around my neighborhood and was excited to try my luck. It was a busy weekend for me (I start my first post grad school job on Monday, Markus' birthday dinner party at my place on Friday, and then a small get together with friends on Saturday night) but I was determined to make it work! 

As a surprise, Markus had made me little Mini Canteen business cards and he even invented a neat way to wrap each cookie.

I made the dough during the week and kept it in the freezer. I needed to make 50 cookies for sampling and 3 special ones for the celebrity judges. On Saturday morning I woke up early and baked away. I was worried about having enough, but ended up with over 100! Markus helped me fold and prepare each little packet. He even made cute little recipe cards to place beside my display! 
We were the first people to sign in at the event (I guess I was pretty excited!) and after I had set up my samples we had quite a bit of time before the sampling began. There were two rounds, one for cookies, bars, and raw foods and one for cupcakes, cakes, and professional bakers. See some great photos here.

Even though there were only supposed to be fifty samples, I was glad I had prepared extra because there ended up being closer to three hundred samplers lining up for the treats! I didn't get to try everything, but some of the treats were delicious! Especially the Nanaimo bars (which one a few prizes) and the Mini Cinnabons. A few hours later everyone sat on the floor of the gymnasium to hear the judge's picks for the various prizes. After I didn't win best cookie or runner up in my category, I was a bit bummed but was still having a good time cheering for the winners.

And then I won a prize! Out of all the contestants (forty in total) the judges picked my treat as most memorable! 

My prize pack included a subscription to Veg News, some chocolate from Boardwalk Chocolates, a cook book, a beautiful home made ribbon, and bragging rights! Then Markus won some cookies for answering a sports question correctly! 

It was so great to see everyone else's great treats and meet other bakers in my city. I wish I had more pictures of other people's offerings, but there is a facebook page if anyone is interested in seeing some of the other entries!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kransekake


Kransekake is a genuinely wheat and dairy free cake. In the original recipe there is no flour, no dairy, and no ingredients that 'may contain traces of wheat and dairy.' It does however, contain egg whites and almonds. I replaced the egg whites with 3 egg replacer mixed with water, but I don't think you could get away with replacing the nuts if you're trying to avoid those. 

This cake is traditionally for celebrations, like weddings and New Years. My backyard party while hardly as significant as the joining of two people for life or the dawn of a new year was reason enough for me to undertake the project. 

If you are Scandinavian you might already have Kransekake pans, but I'm not and I didn't, so my cake was decidedly more free form than one baked in the proper pans. To make my ad-hoc version, start with the smallest ring and bake it alone. See how much the dough expands and then make the rest of the rings based on that assumption. Full Disclosure: the above picture is not my cake–it was eaten before I could take a picture. If you make the cake without the rings, each layer will be a little flatter, but the effect will be the same.

KRANSEKAKE INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 pounds ground almonds
1 1/2 pounds icing sugar
3/4 tbs baking powder
3 egg replacements mixed with water


KRANSEKAKE DIRECTIONS:

I followed exactly what this man did on A Baker's Odyssey except without the pans. 


GLAZE INGREDIENTS:

hot water
icing sugar

GLAZE DIRECTIONS:

Mix ingredients together until you have a thick glaze that holds its shape. Place in a pastry bag fitted with a round hole and pipe onto kransekake. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blogger's Delight Granola


I absolutely never thought I'd be the type of person who makes my own cereal. Not only is it relatively inexpensive and widely available, it's just about the only thing I can safely buy at any number of country fairs I attend over the summer. If you get into this blogging business; however, you may find yourself (as I have) at the receiving end of free samples and thoughtful gifts sent to you by well meaning friends. While I am always eager to try something new, I regret to say that sometimes I end of serving myself something that truly deserves the name and bad connotations of 'health food.' Fortunately, I've found that if you combine many of these offending grains and cereals, coat them in oil and sugar and bake them until they are quite brown they (not surprisingly) taste amazing!

I like my granola in big clusters, perfect for snacking on, so I've invented a twice coated method that solicits large hunks rather than separated bits. 

Makes about 5 cups. 

GRANOLA INGREDIENTS:

5 cups of your choice dry ingredients. I suggest at least 2 cups being composed of oats. If you want to add chocolate chips or dried fruit, do so at the end after the baking. 
3/4 cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons vegan margarine (or, if your cereals are salty, use canola or coconut oil)
2 tbs honey/agave nectar
3/4 brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs wheat free flour

GRANOLA INSTRUCTIONS:

In a saucepan, combine maple syrup, honey, sugar, and margarine. Heat over low heat until boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla, stirring to combine. Pour two thirds of the sugar mixture over the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, stir to coat. Spread this mixture on a lined baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for twenty minutes. The cereal should be nice and brown. Remove from heat and set aside. Gently reheat remaining liquid. Remove from heat and add flour. If you are adding dried fruit or chocolate, sprinkle ontop of the granola. Pour over granola. Allow to set for 1/2 hour before breaking apart and storing in an airtight container for upto a week. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Almost There Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have been struggling with making the perfect chocolate chip cookie and these are pretty darn close. My only quibble is that they are a tad puffy rather than flat and Mrs. Fields like. Hopefully, with a bit more tinkering I can make them match the cookies of my pre-allergy memory. The taste, I have to say is, just about perfect. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know! I've been thinking of trying to use brown sugar and substitute some of the coconut oil with vegan margarine. 

Makes about 24 cookies.

COOKIE INGREDIENTS:

1 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 tablespoon molasses
pinch of salt (optional)
3/4 agave nectar
2 cups wheat free flour
1/2 cup ground up gluten free oats
1 1/2 tsp xantham gum
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

COOKIE DIRECTIONS:

In a bowl, combine the oil, vanilla, molasses, and agave nectar. Then, using a sieve, add the flour, xantham gum, salt, soda, cinnamon and oat flour. Sift this in and stir. Fold the chocolate chips in and mix until the dough is not shiny. Drop on a lined cookie sheet and spread the dough out a bit with an inverted spatula. Bake at 325 degrees for about nine minutes.

Store in an airtight container for upto 3 days. Refrigerate for longer life. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Great Fake Pound Cake


I made this cake to celebrate the completion of my Masters degree. I'm very excited if a bit jobless, so hopefully that will mean more time concocting recipes and less time writing papers. To celebrate, I baked a cake! After a week of no baking it was so satisfying to sift flour over creamed sugar; to pour batter into a tin; and bake a delicious, simple, wholesome treat. 

I wanted to make a pound cake. It has the depth and heftiness that a Masters degree seemed to require. Obvious restrictions were overcome and the result was a deeply vanilla-y cake with a dense crumb. 

POUND CAKE INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 cup white sugar
1 vanilla seed, scraped and deseeded
1 1/2 cup wheat free flour
1 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup rice milk or soy milk mixed with 1 tsp cider or white vinegar
1 egg replacement

POUND CAKE DIRECTIONS:

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the apple sauce, mayonnaise, sugar, and vanilla seeds together until creamy and the vanilla seeds are evenly dispersed. In another bowl combine the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda and powder. Add, alternating with the rice milk until combined. Finally, add the egg replacement prepared as per the instructions. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, rotating half way through. Allow to cool mostly in the pan and then turn out onto a cooling rack. 

MILK CHOCOLATE ICING INGREDIENTS:

2 tbs vegan margarine
1 tsp cocoa powder
2 tsp bird's custard powder
vanilla soy milk/rice milk
icing sugar

ICING DIRECTIONS:

Beat the margarine, cocoa powder, and custard powder combined. Alternatively add icing sugar and soy milk until enough icing to cover the top of the cake is made. Spread on cooled cake. 




Monday, August 31, 2009

Gluten Free Tea for Two


When you are in the mood to decorate these little goodies are a great alternative to sugar cookies. There is no doubt, that in a crunch, a drop cookie is the way to go. But there is something that just can't be beat about rolling out a bunch of dough, pressing it into shapes, and later when it has cooled, slathering them in icing. 

These cookies are incredibly soft and chewy and don't need to be iced at all if you prefer a less rich cookie. Both ways, these are great for afternoon tea. 

TEA COOKIES INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg substitutes
3 cups wheat free flour
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup cocoa powder

COOKIE DIRECTIONS:

In a mixer, beat the oils, apple sauce, and vanilla together. Add the sugar. Using a sieve, sift in the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Mix together. Add the prepared egg replacer. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to harden up in the fridge for a bit. 
Roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thickness onto a floured surface. Cut into shapes and baked on a greased sheet for about 8 minutes. Cool before icing. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Everything Free Ice Cream


This ice cream recently came to my attention via. several other blogs, to whom I owe incredible thanks. After taking dairy out of my diet, I sullenly moved to sorbet, which while I appreciated the health benefits, I've truly never enjoyed as much real ice cream. In addition, sorbet does not take to toppings and sauces the way a bowl of vanilla can. 

This little treat, on the other hand, is made with banana, which baked and on its own takes to just about every flavor you'd want to add to ice cream; chocolate, caramel, peanut butter, vanilla, strawberry, I even swirled in some cookie dough. 

There really is no recipe for the base, just keep in mind that one banana will give you about 1/4 cup ice cream. 

For chocolate, I added 1 tbs. cocoa and 1 tbs. sugar for every banana. This made a not too sweet, but very chocolatey ice cream. 

To make the basic ice cream: Cut very ripe bananas into large pieces. Freeze completely. Put into a blender and whir about until creamy and custardy. Store in an airtight container in the freezer. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

Decorating Cakes


Decorating cakes without buttercream or royal icing can be a challenge and is one of the reasons wheat and dairy free bakers often make do with cupcakes instead. There are some occasions that require a sheet cake covered in mildly distressing colors of icings. 

The following recipe is how I decorate my cakes when such an occasion arises. 

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup vegan margarine, unsalted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs - 1/4 cup vanilla soy or rice milk
3 - 5 cups vegan icing sugar

DIRECTIONS:

In an electric mixer, combine the vanilla and margarine, whirring together until creamy and smooth. Add a few tablespoons of milk. Then add your icing sugar. Alternate the icing sugar and milk until you've reached a consistency that is thick enough to pipe and spread. If you can, use gel food paste as it doesn't change the consistency of the icing as much as the little bottles do. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Ultimate Snack Mix




Before I started caring about the newspaper, my breakfast reading material was the side of cereal boxes. When I was quite young, this mostly consisted of games and other child friendly fare, but when my parents did an abrupt turnaround and enforced healthy eating, the sides of cereal boxes became seriously dull; filled with facts about nutrition and vitamins. Sometimes, there would be a recipe, that even as a child I found totally unappealing. Despite this, cooking with cereal has become one of my favorite ways to whip something up in a hurry. And, unlike many prepackaged foods, I find the breakfast category of the allergy aisle respite with options. 
The japanese rice cereal is a replacement for pretzels, which are hard to find without yeast (my other allergy).

This recipe is the amalgamation of several; but do read the packages carefully to make sure the brand you are purchasing is devoid of what ails you. 

This recipe yields a substantial amount that you might not personally require. I prefer to make a large batch however, in order to have on hand when snack cravings hit. 

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups Japanese rice chips
4 cups popped popcorn (or about one microwave bag)
5 cups gluten free, vegan corn cereal
1 cup toasted soy beans
vegan chocolate chips
dried cranberries
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine or canola oil
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Grease a large roasting pan with canola oil. Add the cereal, soybeans, popcorn, and rice chips and stir together gently. 

In a small sauce pot, combine the brown sugar, margarine, and corn syrup. Stirring, bring to a boil and then leave without stirring for two minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and baking soda. Pour over the cereal mixture and coat with a wooden spoon. 

Bake this at 250 degrees for 1/2 hour, stirring every ten minutes. Allow to cool completely before adding the chocolate chips and cranberries. 
 

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vegan Nutella


In my previous life, I was known to eat spoonfuls of Nutella for dinner. Its absence is sorely missed, but with a bit of tweaking, I've put together a replacement. It isn't quite as good (no preservatives, I suppose) but the chocolate to hazelnut ratio is there and the skim milk powder that I could never quite taste in the original is just as subtle when replaced with soy. 

NUTELLA INGREDIENTS:

4 cups hazelnut, pre skinned
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla

NUTELLA DIRECTIONS:

First, make a caramel out of the sugar and water by combining them in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until a light amber in color. Now, just like brittle, pour the caramel onto a line cookie sheet in a super thin layer. Allow this to cool. Break the cooled brittle to pieces and pop into a food processor. Blend like crazy until all the caramel has formed into  lovely, caramelly sand. 

Meanwhile, you can roast the hazelnuts. Don't make them too dark, watch them carefully! When theses are room temperature, put into the food processor and pulverize until you have hazelnut butter. Add the caramel bits, cocoa, and vanilla and whir together. 

I prefer my nutella at room temperature, though I know the sides of jars always recommend refrigerating them. So officially, this will last for a few months in the fridge, while as for me, I keep it just as long on the counter.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wheat Free and Vegan Peach Cake


I'm not really one for fruit desserts, but the bounty of summer requires stamina and creativity. Peaches, which are really just starting their season now take particularly well to being baked. Their juiciness creates an almost custard like layer of batter around them and the cake stays nice and moist. The recipe below is for one layer of crumb and one layer of peach. If I am swimming in peaches, I often make two layers and one and half batches of the crumb. 

CAKE INGREDIENTS:

Topping:
1/2 cup vegan margarine or coconut oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup wheat free flour

Cake:

1/2 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 egg replacer
1 cup wheat free flour
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
4 peaches, peeled and thinly sliced

CAKE DIRECTIONS: 

First make the crumble: combine all the ingredients in the food processor until a coarse meal forms. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar and coconut oil until well combined. Add the vanilla and beat in. Add the egg replacement. Using a sifter, add the flour, baking powder, and xantham gum. Beat until just combined. Pour the batter into a lined high-sided 9 inch pan. Layer the peach slices on top and then pat down the crumble. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Carrot Cake Cookies


This recipe is similar to a whoopie pie or some might say a muffin top. You could forgo the icing and serve them as is, but I like to serve them in a stacked pyramid after a nice, outdoor supper, along with fresh fruit. These are wonderful for the summer because unlike a traditional cake, they only take about fifteen minutes in the oven so you won't heat up the house for too long, but you get the wonderful taste of a full carrot cake.

I like to make mine quite small, but make them as large as like you like. 

CAKE INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbs molasses
1/4 white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/8 cup wheat free flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg replacement
1 cup finely grated carrots 

CAKE DIRECTIONS:

In a mixer, combine the sugars, molasses, canola oil, and apple sauce. Add the grated carrots and vanilla and whir together. Sift the flour, cinnamon, ginger, and baking soda into the carrot mixture. Add the egg replacement. 

Using a spoon, make uniform-ish drops of dough on a pan lined with parchment. Don't crowd them or they won't puff up. Bake at 375 degrees for about fifteen minutes. Allow to cool completely before icing. 
These will last three days uniced, so ice only right before serving.  

ICING INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups vegan icing sugar

ICING DIRECTIONS:

In the mixer, combine the cream cheese and coconut oil with the lemon juice and vanilla. Add the icing sugar by the 1/4 cup and adjust to your preference. If you would like to use a little less sugar, honey adds a wonderful dimension. Place the icing in a container and pop into the fridge for 1/2 an hour. 

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Date Squares


I know these seem a bit old fashioned and aren't a terribly trendy dessert, but the fact that they appear in almost every coffee shop leads me to believe there must be someone else who likes them besides me. 

I like my date squares to have a solid top, rather than the crumbly one popular in many recipes. No doubt, less crust is better for you, but the stodginess of dates seems to almost call out for the equally stoic oat crust. If you'd prefer a lighter topping, just make a little less and sprinkle it willy-nilly across the top. 

Makes one 8 x 8 pan, or about 9 squares

BAR INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups chopped, pitted dates (I usually buy them pre-pitted and chop them with kitchen shears)
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups water or apple juice
1 tsp vanilla

1 cups gluten free oats
1 1/2 cups wheat free flour
3/4 tsp xantham gum
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 room temperature coconut oil
1/4 cup vegan margarine

BAR INSTRUCTIONS:

Bring the water and lemon juice to a boil and and reduce to a simmer. Add the chopped dates and allow water to absorb, about ten minutes. Remove from heat. The dates should be a smooth paste. Add more juice/water and return to heat if needed. Add vanilla. 

In a bowl, add all of the ingredients finishing with the oil and margarine, and, using your fingers, turn into a crumble. Pat half of the crumble into a greased 8 x 8 pan. Spread the date mixture and then pat down the remaining crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1/2 hour until crust is golden brown. Cool on a rack and cut into squares. 

Store for up to a week in an airtight container. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Granola Cookies


These cookies were born out of the cupboards of the cottage. One rainy day, when I was in the mood to bake something, I decided to make cookies, only to realize we had no flour. I did find the ground up bits at the bottom of a bag of granola and substituted those instead. Those cookies were quite crunchy and not quite right, but inspired these little gems when I was back in the city. The recipe below is quite similar to a kitchen sink cookie, but a little crunchier because of the ground oats and granola. I like to eat them for breakfast, but they also make a nice afternoon snack. 

The amount of sugar you add is totally dependent on how sweet your granola is. So, if you aren't an incurable dough nibbler this will be the time to break with restraint and try it out. If you would prefer, try maple syrup instead of the brown sugar to up the granola-taste. 

Makes aprox. 30 cookies

COOKIE INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup prune puree or apple sauce
1/2 cup vegan margarine
3/4 cup gluten free granola, ground in a food processor
1 cup wheat-free flour
1/2 tsp xantham gum
1/2 cup gluten free oats, ground in food processor
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbs molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar (or to taste)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 egg equivalencies
1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1 cup gluten free granola
1 cup  flaked dried coconut
1 cup dried cranberries



COOKIE DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, mix together with a wooden spoon mix together the canola oil, prune puree, and margarine. Add the vanilla and molasses and then the ground up granola. Add the sugar, deciding how much you need. Add the ground oats and combine. Sift in the wheat-free flour, xantham gum, baking soda and powder and a pinch of salt if you'd like. Add the egg replacer as directed on the package, stirring gently. Lastly add the dried cranberries, oats, granola, and coconut. Drop by tablespoon onto a pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for about fifteen minute, rotating the pan half way through. 

Allow to cool on the pan for a moment and then cool completely on a cooling rack. 
Store in an airtight container for up to a week. 





Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Chocolate Coconut Bars or MAGIC BARS


When I was younger these bars were called Magic Bars. You made them in the pan you baked them in and took all of about ten minutes, due mainly to the fact that ninety percent of the ingredients were store bought, cupboard standards. While this is now impossible for me, I didn't want to sacrifice these goodies to the long list of "Things I Can't Eat" so I experimented and made a few changes and came up with a compromise between what I remember and what I can eat. While they are no longer magically simple, they are delicious and you can always just take photos on awkward angles, as I've done here, to make these feel a little more kooky. 

Recipe within a Recipe:
You'll need this to replace the sweetened condescended milk used in the original. 
In a bowl, combine 2/3 cup icing sugar, 1 cup powdered rice milk (or soy), 3 tbs. of vegan margarine, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Add 1/2 cup boiling water and stir until all blended. Pop this in the fridge and leave it at least overnight. It will keep for about two weeks in the fridge, but this recipe uses all of it

Makes about 12 squares. 

BAR INGREDIENTS:

Base:
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup wheat free flour
1/3 cup vegan margarine, melted
generous pinch of salt (optional)
splash of vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Topping:
Vegan Condensed Milk recipe (above)
1 1/3 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups coconut

BAR INSTRUCTIONS:

In a large bowl, combine the baking soda, salt, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips. Add the melted margarine and vanilla, coating the dry mixture with a spoon or your hands to make a soft crumb. Press this mixture into a lined 9x9 pan that has been lined and well greased with oil. Bake this base layer in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until just done. Remove from oven and lower heat to 325 degrees. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the base and then pour your home-made sweetened condensed milk on top and spread it to the edges of the base layer. Sprinkle the shredded coconut and more chocolate chip (if you desire) over top of the pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes, rotating half way through, so that the coconut is evenly toasted. 

Allow to cool before cutting into squares. These are great the first couple of days you make them but store in the fridge after day three. 


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vegan and Wheat Free Chocolate Cookies


These are the chocolate version of a chocolate chip cookie. They are great to make with kids and take very little time or special ingredients. While I'm still working out a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe, these have become my standby. 

Any type of chocolate chip will do; and I tend to up the quality if I'm making these for guests. If you aren't allergic to nuts, they taste great with hazelnuts. Failing that, sandwiching two cookies around a tablespoon of chocolate-hazelnut spread is a decadent treat perfect for a Tuesday afternoon. 

The espresso powder, if you choose to use it, has very little flavor on its own. Coffee is a wonderful accompaniment to chocolate and enhances its flavor. Used sparingly in baking it adds charming zip. 

Makes about 20 cookies

COOKIE INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups wheat free flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp xantham gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbs instant espresso powder mixed with 1 tbs water or 3 tbs brewed coffee (optional)
1 tbs vanilla 
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbs molasses
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup apple sauce or prune puree
1/2 cup oil
1 egg replacement
chocolate chips 

COOKIE DIRECTIONS:

In your stand mixer, beat the sugars, molasses, oil, and apple sauce together. When this is combined, add coffee (if using) and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, xantham gum, and baking soda. Using a sieve, sift this mixture into the oil mixture and, on low speed, combine. Add the egg replacement and quickly beat in. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by generous tablespoon onto a parchment lined baking sheet, flattening the dough out a bit with a spoon and bake at 325 degrees for about 12 minutes. 

Store in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Cake


Though I didn't grow up on a farm per se, my aunt and uncle and grandfather live in a big old house with a mini farm garden in the back. When my family would visit, we would be enlisted to help. Mostly, this meant my sister and I sat crossed legged in between rows of strawberry plants and ate about twice as many as we consumed. Which always proved to be short sighted, because breakfast, lunch, and dinner always included strawberries as well. Fortunately, my aunt is quite handy with a freezer and a canner and would make pots and pots of jam for us to take home. One crop that I never had to harvest was zucchini. Like strawberries, zucchinis yield an enormous amount and my aunt's freezer was always full of grated, pre-measured bags to make zucchini cake. When I first became interested in baking, she would send me bags of the vegetable along with her recipe and I would make it for my room mates in college. 

I've since made several adjustments to the recipe, not only for my diet, but also because some ingredients are harder to find or less popular to use for other health reasons. I've also incorporated some ideas from Nigella Lawson's recipe for Quadruple Chocolate Loaf. 

Makes 1 9 x 9 cake.

CAKE INGREDIENTS:

2 1/4 cups wheat free flour
1 1/2 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt (optional)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 apple sauce
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp brewed coffee (optional)
2 egg replacement, mixed with water right before adding
1 cup chocolate chips mixed with 1 tsp cocoa powder
2 cups pureed zucchini
1/2 cup soy or rice milk mixed with 1 tbs rice vinegar

CAKE DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, soda, salt if using, and cocoa powder. Set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the oil, sugar, and apple sauce until well mixed. Add the coffee and vanilla extract and mix together. Place a sieve over the bowl and sift in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Blend. Add half of the milk mixture and combine. Repeat, alternating with the flour and milk, ending with the flour. Make the egg replacement and add to batter. After this is combined, add in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into a 9 x 9 pan lined with tin foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, rotating half way through. 

After removing the cake, allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes and then, using the overlapping tin foil as a handle, allow to cool on a rack. If you would like to enjoy this as a snacking cake, you are done with maybe a smattering of chocolate chips half-meltingly strewn about. If, you'd prefer a more intensely chocolate experience, prick the cake all over and pour this glaze over:
1/2 cup coffee or water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs cocoa powder
Boil the three ingredients together for five minute and then pour over the cake. If you'd like, garnish with shaved chocolate. 

Store this yummy treat for up to 5 days wrapped in foil or plastic wrap. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies


Before I began my "everything free" allergic life, I wasn't really one for nuts. Passed around the table at a party or mixed in with other foods, I  would take a sample, but I've always been more of a sweet than a salty girl. 

Now that I have taken so many other things out of my life, I have reacquainted myself with nuts. They make the base of so many vegan recipes, at first it was more about necessity than choice. Now, while I still won't say I'm a complete convert, I keep several types of nut butters in my fridge. 

These cookies were developed after I tried to make the recipe on the back of the Kraft PB jar. Not having my own copy of the recipe, I relied on a friend who forgot to mention one of the three ingredients - eggs, and my first try was a failure. Fortunately, I only baked one batch and was able to salvage the remaining dough. These cookies are soft and not too crumbly. 

I often make these with chocolate chips as well; just add in a cup or so at the end. 

Makes about 24 cookies

COOKIE INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and a little bit cool
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tbs corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg replacement
2 cups wheat free flour blend
1 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking soda
4 tbs soy or rice milk

COOKIE DIRECTIONS:

In a mixer, blend coconut oil, peanut butter, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla until smooth. Sift in the flour, xantham gum, baking soda, and a pinch of salt if you would like. Mix this in on a low speed. Add your egg replacement and soy milk to combine. Place the dough in the bowl in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove dough from freezer and shape 1 heaping tbs into a ball. Place on your greased cookie sheet and flatten the ball with a spatula. Then make the characteristic fork marks, so as to avoid confusion. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes and allow to cool on a rack. 

Keep in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Caramelized Banana Muffins


The idea for this recipe came from when I served a brunch that included waffles with caramelized bananas. The original recipe calls for all sorts of things I can't eat, but it smelled so delicious, I decided to try to make it wheat and dairy free. In the spirit of innovation I decided to use the bananas instead of regular smushed brown ones in a muffin recipe recently and the result are these little goodies. 

I like them as is, but you could add a frosting to make these cupcakes quite easily. Chocolate chips or nuts would also be yummy, as would dried banana chips. 

Don't be nervous about making the caramel. This recipe is very cavalier and if you mess is it up terribly, all that's been waisted is a bit of sugar. Proper caramel making is quite a science, but these are so casual it hardly matters, just be careful not to burn yourself. 

Makes about 15 muffins (an awkward amount, I know)

MUFFIN INGREDIENTS:

5 bananas, sliced
1 sugar
4 tbs vegan margarine
1 tsp vanilla + 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 canola oil
1 tbs prune puree
1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
replacement for 1 egg or 1 egg
2 cups wheat free flour (or mixture of 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 cup gluten free oats)
1 1/2 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup soy milk with generous squish of lemon juice

MUFFIN INSTRUCTIONS:

Place white sugar in a sauce pan set over medium high heat. When edges of sugar begin to brown, swoosh the pan about until all the sugar is brown and dissolved. You may need the assistance of a wooden spoon. When the sugar is amber colored, about six minutes, add vegan margarine and stir until combined over low heat. Add 1 tsp of vanilla and the sliced bananas. Remove from heat and allow to sit at room temperature. 

In another bowl, mix the canola oil, remaining vanilla, brown sugar (if using) and prune puree. Add 2/3 cooled banana mixture. Smooth the very soft bananas against the side of the bowl until it resembles a chunky puree. Place a sifter over the wet ingredients and sift in the flour, xantham gum, baking soda, powder and a pinch of salt if you like. Stir this together until barely combined. Add the egg, vanilla, and soy milk and stir gently. Add the remaining caramelized bananas and swirl in, leaving the bananas slices whole this time. In a lined muffin tray, fill the tins 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes. It is a bit tricky to tell if these are done, because they are so moist, but I doubt anyone will complain if they are a bit underdone, so I'd pull them out early rather than allow them to firm up with too much time in the oven. If you are suspicious that the speck of banana on your toothpick might actually represent a glob of uncooked batter, pat your finger on the top and if it springs back, you should be good to go. 



Monday, June 29, 2009

Gingeries



I know this name is a bit odd, but I think, if you try these out, you will find it to be quite appropriate. I recently stumbled across this recipe for gingerbread bars on epicurious and was inspired to make something similar. I love ginger, but it often seems like more of a winter flavor. The recipe changed all that for me. The color is lighter than traditional ginger flavored breads and treats and it has the perfect texture of a brownie. It rises worrisomely high in the oven but quickly falls and the cracks all across the top just like a brownie. 

If you wanted, this would do quite nicely with a simple vanilla frosting topped with some candied ginger bits. But I like it the way it is–an intensely ginger scented blondie, or a gingerie. 

Makes 9 large bars. 

GINGERIE INGREDIENTS:

2 cups - 2 tbs. wheat free flour
1 1/2 tsp xantham gum
2 1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/4 prune puree
6 tbs white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbs ground fresh ginger
2 egg replacement

GINGERIE DIRECTIONS:

In a mixer, mix together the margarine, both sugars, prune puree, molasses, and fresh ginger. While this is blending, whisk together the flour, soda, xantham gum, and all the spices. Sift this mixture into the molasses mixture and mix together completely. Make your egg replacement and stir it in. Pour the batter into a 9x9 baking dish lined with tinfoil. If you like, sprinkle the top with 2 tbs sugar stirred together with 1 tbs rice flour. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the centre. Allow to cool completely in the tin and then cut into squares. 

Store in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Blueberry Muffins


These are the muffins I keep in the freezer when I have to eat breakfast on the go. I just defrost them and nibble at the streusel top while locking the door and then impatiently wait to devour the rest when I next have a quiet moment. They are quite moist and intensely blue-berry flavored so they don't need any jam or butter. When muffins for breakfast became a bit of a trend, nutritionists reacted by pointing out their horrifically high calorie numbers and that most of them were essentially cupcakes without (usually) icing. Fortunately, bagels became the next big coffee shop breakfast item and we could all stop reading articles in the morning paper about exactly how many servings of sodium we were digesting while we tried to enjoy a breakfast muffin. I don't know how much sodium are in these, but I am willing to argue not much. 

I am sure that any homemade muffin is bound to be much better for you than something you purchase at a cafe in the subway, which is where I previously got my muffin fix. So, maybe not an everyday affair, but certainly okay for any morning where what you really feel like is a cupcake, but know you shouldn't, if only to feel a bit better when you read the paper. 

Makes 12 muffins. 

MUFFIN INGREDIENTS:

2 cups wheat free flour
1 cup brown sugar + 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup vegan margarine
2/3 cup apple sauce
1/4 melted coconut oil
1/4 soy milk  mixed with 1 tbs lemon juice (or whichever type of milk you like)
2 eggs replace 
dash of vanilla
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup wheat free oatmeal
5-6 tbs canola oil
2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup dried blueberries

MUFFIN DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, combine the dried blueberries, oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, and canola oil. Using your hands, work the mixture together to form a crumb. You may need a little less or a little more oil. Set this aside

Place the blueberries in a sieve and gently coat in a few tablespoons of flour. This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom.  In a large bowl stir together the milk, apple sauce, margarine, coconut oil, 1 cup sugar, egg replacement, and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and xantham gum. When thoroughly whisked, sift the dry mixture into the wet and stir with a spoon until just combined. Carefully add the blueberries. Don't stir too much or your batter might turn blue!

Line your muffin tin and grease the top of the pan for any batter that might stick on the top. Place a heaping tablespoon of batter in each liner and then place a teaspoon of crumb on each pat of batter. Add additional batter until muffin liners are three quarters full and then place a little crumb on top, patting it down to make sure it stays while the muffins bake. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. 


Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Cake


This cake was actually a charming accident, made from a failed icing recipe and an excessive harvest of strawberries. The result is a combination of as close as I can recall to an ice cream flavored icing and an extremely moist banana cake. I made it for a birthday party and didn't tell anyone that it was 'everything-free' until they had all had a bite. They all swore they couldn't tell the difference! It was quite exciting! The only piece of advice that I can give you, other than to never try the recipes these first came from, is to assemble it all on the same day. Otherwise, the icing and cake can be made the day before. 

The icing recipe makes enough to generously ice the top and middle layer but might be a bit tight if you wanted to go around the whole thing. 

Makes 1 two layer cake. 

CAKE INGREDIENTS:

3 large bananas, very ripe, and mashed 
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 tbs prune puree
1 tbs molasses
1/3 c cup canola oil
splash vanilla
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 cups wheat free flour 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp xantham gum
2 eggs/egg replacer

CAKE INSTRUCTIONS:

Grease and line two 8 inch cake pans. In a large bowl, blend the banana, molasses, canola oil, vanilla, sugar, and prune puree. While this is whirring away, in a separate bowl whisk together thoroughly the flour, baking soda, powder, and xantham gum. Sift this mixture into the wet mixture. Add the egg replacement (as per package instructions) last. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees for twenty minutes, rotating half way through. Allow to cool in pans, as these cakes are so moist a cooling rack might leave horrible scars across the pretty, spongy top. If not using the same day, wrap in plastic wrap and place in tupperware containers (separately, so that one does not get crushed). 

ICING INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup soy milk or other milk
1 tbs cornstarch
2 tbs dried soy milk powder
vanilla seeds from one vanilla pod
2 cups icing sugar (aprox.)
squirt of lemon juice
dash of vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted coconut oil, melted and room temperature-ish

In the mixer, whir together the milk and coconut oil. Add the milk powder, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Whir until combined. Add the icing sugar slowly until the mixture is the consistency of frosting. You may need more or less icing sugar for this. Add the vanilla seeds and stir to combine. Place the frosting in the fridge until ready to use. 

To assemble the cake, place one layer on cake plate and spread 1/2 cup frosting on top. Place cut strawberry on icing and then spread another 1/2 cup of icing on top. Place second cake layer on top of icing and use the remaining frosting for the top. Any left over frosting will last in the fridge for about a month. Keep cake in the fridge until ready to serve. Dot any excess strawberries around the side of the cake plate. 
 

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gluten Free Chocolate Mint Vegan Fudge


My childhood treat choices are dominated by a love for chocolate mint, beat only by my boyfriend's, who considers himself a "chocolate mint connoisseur." I must admit my affection for the combination has waned with the popularity of the more recent coupling of sea salt and caramel, but I still carry a torch for this Baskin Robbins flavor standby. 

This recipe is a variation on the many fudge recipes that dot the internet. My chief aim was to make something that didn't turn into icing when left out of the fridge for too long. The addition of Vegan rice fluff is absolutely not traditional, but many simple fudge recipes call for marshmallows and it gave me the idea. 

I added some chocolate cookie crumbs I had left in the freezer because I love the crunch, but you can leave it out of course. And, while mint was an obvious choice for me, I've made this with a 2 tablespoons of strongly brewed chai tea and some cinnamon, vanilla bean seeds, and just plain chocolate with tasty results. 

One last important note: Use natural peppermint extract. Otherwise, this fudge will taste less like your childhood and more like a trip to the dentist. 

This recipe yields aprox. 8 squares.

FUDGE INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup + 1/2 cup vegan fluff
7 tbs + 2 tbs coconut butter
3 tbs + 4 tbs soy milk
1/2 cups vegan white chocolate
1 cup + 1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tbs peppermint extract
1 drop green food coloring (optional)
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped cookie crumbs (optional)

FUDGE DIRECTIONS:

Grease a loaf pan and set near your work station. Over very low heat melt 3/4 fluff, 5 tbs coconut butter, 3 tbs soy milk, and white chocolate until completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat and add 1 cup icing sugar. You may need to return the pan to low heat to combine the sugar. Add the peppermint and food coloring if using and adjust to your preference. Pour the ingredients into the pan. 

In a clean pot, melt the remaining fluff, coconut butter and soy milk with the chocolate chips. Add the vanilla and icing sugar. Remove from heat and add the cookie crumbs if using. The fudge should be thick and pourable. Dot the chocolate on top of the mint fudge and swirl using a skewer. Or make into two layers. Place the pan in the fridge to firm up, about 1 hour. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Oatmeal Cookies


My sister and I have been baking this recipe for so long, I am not sure where we got it from anymore. She makes it so often she knows the recipe off my heart (along with my mother's recipe for pie dough and baking soda biscuits). When I stopped cooking with dairy and wheat, this recipe was great for experimenting with. Oats, I found, are forgiving to other types of flour and moisture and the cookie's soft chewiness covers all kinds of baking substitutions.  

Some people with gluten sensitivities have difficulties with oats, making these cookies impossible to enjoy. If you can't find gluten free oats, (try Bob's Red Mill) you could easily substitute something else here: various gluten free granola cereals, coarsely chopped, or simply replacing the oats with flour would probably be fine, though less chewy. 

The reason I am posting this recipe today is because this weekend marks the first time I made them with this new (to me) trick for substituting eggs. I often eschew recipes that call for flax because I find the taste too strong. This weekend I whisked 1 tbs of ground flax seed with 3 tbs of water and before my very eyes, the mixture became the consistency of egg whites, perfect for holding all the ingredients together. Of course, if you'd prefer to use a vegan egg replacer or a real egg, that is fine. If you are nervous about the taste of flax, this is a good recipe to experiment on because the molasses and spice compensate for the little seed's most pronounced taste. 

Makes aprox. 2 dozen cookies. 

COOKIE INGREDIENTS:

1 cup coconut oil, melted
5 tbs prune puree
2 tbs molasses
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg replacement
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups gluten free oats
1 1/2 tsp xantham gum
pinch salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips (or to taste)

COOKIE INSTRUCTIONS

In an electric mixer, beat the coconut oil, molasses, prune puree, and sugar until combine. Add the egg and vanilla. While this is all whirring together, in a separate bowl sift together the wheat free flour, baking soda, salt, xantham gum, and spice. Add this flour mixture to the wet ingredients slowly. When combined, remove bowl from mixer and stir oats and chocolate chips in my hand with a wooden spoon. Drop 1 tbs sized blobs of dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for eight minutes. The cookies will be soft for three to five days and can be frozen. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Cherry, Pistachio, and Chocolate Icebox Cookies


These cookies are so tasty, I wish I could think of a better name for them. Even though icebox cookies are supposed to be easy and simple to make, this recipe does take a little time: but it is worth it. The idea for the recipe came from a package of Pistachio Almond Paste that I had bought at Dean & Deluca last weekend on our trip to nyc (along with many other tasty looking ingredients). I wanted to make something fancy enough to use marzipan, but that was super tasty and retained some of the lovely, nutty texture of marzipan. The cookies are soft and moist from the cherries and the almond's oil and the chocolate cookie is an even textured match. The sugar in the marzipan adds an amazing caramel flavor to the cookies. 

Although all the freezing time may look like alot, it really isn't; because there are several steps most of the time the dough is chilling, you can be getting the next level ready or tidying up a bit. 

The white chocolate was added because the first time I made these, they fell apart a little and I really wanted to eat them not as scraps, but as the dainty cookie I had imagined. After some slight recipe adjustments, the cookies hold together on their own, but I liked the addition so much I've included it here. 

Also, I've used a cherry jam because they are in season, but strawberry would also be good and if you were making these at Christmas cranberry would be appropriate. To let people know what they are getting into, shopped pistachios sprinkled on the white chocolate could provide a tasty hint.

Using regular marzipan with ground pistachios processed I imagine will produce a similar result, though a different texture.

COOKIE INGREDIENTS:

1 cup pistachio marzipan
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 egg substitute
4 tbs. brown sugar
1 1/4 all purpose flour substitute + 1/2 cup 
1/2 tsp xantham gum
6 tbs cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup vegan cherry jam
1/2 tbs corn starch whisked into 1 tbs of water
1/2 cup vegan white chocolate, chopped

COOKIE INSTRUCTIONS:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the marzipan, sugar, coconut oil and egg substitute. Beat until completely combined. Add the baking soda, xantham gum, and flour substitute. Remove 1/3 of the dough and add an additional 1/2 cup of four substitute using a wooden spoon. Pat into a large, thin rectangle between two layers of plastic wrap. Place in the freezer. To the remaining dough, add the cocoa powder and beat to combine. Pat the chocolate dough into a larger, thin rectangle between two pieces of plastic wrap and freeze. 

While the dough is firming up, combine the dried cherries and jam in the food processor until uniformly mixed. Heat this mixture until boiling. Remove from heat and add corn starch and water mixture, stirring to thicken. Allow mixture to cool. 

Take one patty of dough out of the freezer and, with a rolling pin, roll the dough out as large as you can. I find this much easier with the pistachio dough than the chocolate one. Place the first dough back in the freezer and roll the second. 

When the dough is hard again and the cherry jam is cool. Cut a piece of chocolate dough about 7 inches long and 1 1/2 wide. Spread a tablespoon of jam mixture on top and then top with an equal sized piece of pistachio dough. Repeat and finish with chocolate. No worries if your pieces are not quite the same size, you can always trip these before you slice them. You should be able to create two 7 inch long stacks. Wrap the stacks in plastic wrap and return to the freezer. When they are quite firm (about 1/2 hour) slice into 1/4 inch slice and place on a greased cookie sheet. If there are any globs of cherry poking out of your slices, remove them at this point. Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. 

When the cookies have cooled, in a microwave or double boiler, melt the white chocolate. Carefully dip each cookie in and allow the chocolate to harden up. Help the chocolate along with a knife, as it tends to be thicker than regular chocolate. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Cookie Dough Candy


I love chocolate chips cookies, but it is a well known secret that what I really like is the dough. Usually by the time the cookies are baked, I am so full that I can't enjoy them and shudder every time I pass whatever made it into the oven cooling on the counter. However, in addition to the raw egg, there are several other ingredients in cookie dough that I try to avoid these days - namely, flour and butter. Wheat free and vegan cookies have taken me quite a while to master, and even now I consider it a work in progress; cookie dough, on the other hand, I accomplished quite early.

Now, eating raw cookie dough out of the bowl with a group of friends is completely appropriate and something my college roommates and I did quite often, but for something slightly more dignified I've made these cookie dough candies. These were inspired by an offering at Dylan's Candy Bar in New York City.

The genius of this recipe is that it handily avoids so many of the pitfalls of vegan and wheat free baking. Nothing needs to rise, the dough needs to only barely cling together, and eggs are purposely avoided.

If you are an organized person, or are making a large batch over several days, I have found that chilling the dough makes the flavor of the dough incredible (see NY Times article). You can chill the dough after you've coated the balls in chocolate or before, which will also make them easier to coat. These little candies will last about a week and can be stored at room temperature, though many say they prefer them cold or even frozen especially over ice-cream.

Makes aprox. 30 candies.

COOKIE DOUGH CANDY INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 melted coconut oil
1 cup all purpose flour substitute (or a combination of flour and ground oatmeal)
1/4 tsp baking soda (optional)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips, chopped into smaller pieces (optional)
1 cup chopped good quality vegan chocolate for the coating

COOKIE DOUGH CANDY INSTRUCTIONS:

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda if using, salt, and brown sugar. Add the vanilla and both oils. You may need slightly more or slightly less oil. If you love chocolate, add the chopped chocolate chips. The mixture should be crumbly, but a bit oily so the dough stays moist. Shape the dough into little balls and refrigerate.

To coat the chocolate you need to temper it. This will ensure that your chocolate is shiny and doesn't get all over your hands when you're eating it. Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) tempers her chocolate in the microwave and if you have one, it makes the treat quite easy. Melt half of the chocolate in a microwave bowl at 5 second intervals, stirring in between to make sure the chocolate is melting evenly. When it is all melted, add the remaining chopped chocolate and stir until melted. Alternatively, you can melt the first half of the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. When your chocolate is tempered, drop the balls of cookie dough in and carefully remove to dry on a piece of waxed paper or on top of a drying rack. If your tempering doesn't look quite right, and mine often doesn't especially if I've made several dozen, then a drizzle of melted chocolate will promptly restore the candy's appearance and confidence in yourself.

Small Note: I am not sure about the dietary properties of edible wax but if you want a truly professional look to your candies, this is what professional bakeries often use.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wheat, Yeast, & Dairy Free Vegan Cinnamon Danishes



The recipe I've created here is really a hybrid of a bun, a danish, and a muffin. There are the necessary swirls of cinnamon between pastry, but the treat is baked in a mini-muffin tin. In a nod to sticky buns and a cinnamon danish I had once, there is also a honey glaze. While some might argue that a second vanilla icing is redundant, I think it is decorative, but feel free to omit it. 

I like to serve these warm at a brunch in a small basket. I use a mini muffin tin, but if you rolled the dough thicker a larger tin can easily be used. The tricky part here is keeping the dough from sticking. It is important not to add too much water and that all of the utensils are cold. The shortening should also be cold. When you roll the dough out, do so on a piece of wax paper that has been floured. You can use the paper to help you guide the dough along. 

Makes aprox. 24 mini treats.

INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 cups gluten free flour
1 tsp xantham gum
pinch of salt
2/3 cup cold shortening
1 tbs cold coconut oil
3 tbs ice water

1 cup brown sugar
4 tbs vegan margarine
10 tbs cinnamon

1/4 honey
1/4 corn syrup

4 tbs + 2 tbs soy milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup icing sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, 1 tbs cinnamon, and xantham gum. Using a pastry cutter, break in the coconut oil and shortening. When the dough resembles a course meal, add the ice water and quickly combine all ingredients with a wooden spoon. Add more water if needed to create a dough that barely holds together. With flour on your hands, shape the dough into a ball and place into the refrigerator for 1/2 hour. 

Flour a large piece of wax paper and a rolling pin. Working quickly, roll the cold dough into a large oval. Depending on how thin you would like your pastry, you may need to do this in two batches. Spread the margarine on the flattened dough. Pat the brown sugar and 8 tbs of cinnamon on the buttered dough. Working from the longer end, carefully roll the dough inwards, creating a spiral. Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled dough into pieces just larger than your muffin tin. Plop each roll into your tin. I like to use liners, but it is not imperative. Bake the rolls at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes or until golden brown and the sugar is bubbling. 

While they are baking, make the honey glaze. In a sauce pan over low eat, combine the honey, 1 tbs cinnamon, corn syrup, and 2 tbs soy milk. Stirring constantly, gently warm the glaze and allow the ingredients to combine. When you remove the sweets from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes and, if not using liners, remove from pan. Place a tablespoon of glaze on each roll, encouraging it to pool around the sides and become absorbed by the pastry with a pastry brush. The glaze will give the buns a lovely, shiny look.  

In a small bowl, combine the remaining soy milk, vanilla, and icing sugar with a whisk. Drizzle the glaze onto the buns. These are best enjoyed in the first few days, but can easily be frozen and defrosted. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wheat and Dairy Free Vegan Nanaimo Bars



Nanaimo Bars are as Canadian as Whoopie Pies are American. I don't think I've ever eaten a Nanaimo Bar outside of Canada where, aside from the occasional bake sale they are not even that common. The first time I had one was on the ferry ride to Nanaimo in British Columbia. I would like to say that trip was my first 'research trip' for this blog, but it was really just a trip to visit a friend who lives on Vancouver Island, where Nanaimo is located. My friend's mother-in-law is a fantastic baker and she introduced me to these treats and directed me to this recipe

I was a bit nervous to share the recipe I've posted below because, upon further research, I've discovered that Canadians seem to be quite opinionated in their interpretations of Nanaimo Bars. In one recipe I found, former food editor for the Vancouver Sun, Barbara McQuade, wrote pointedly "Many different versions exist – mocha, mint, etc., but the original is still the favorite." The above link to the Nanaimo government website uses equally strong words to discredit a similar dessert called New York Slice. I haven't adjusted the official recipe too much, but there were some obvious limits to the original for those who are avoiding wheat and dairy. Another adjustment I've made allows these bars to be eaten at room temperature. Most recipes suggest keeping them in the fridge until ready to serve and can be quite messy to handle if they get too warm. 

One final note to those with dietary concerns: Feel free to adjust this recipe, especially the bottom layer, according to your needs. I've kept the original ingredient list (more or less), but if someone feels (and someone has) that a bar with maraschino cherries in the base and the jar's juice in the filling still deserves to be called a Nanaimo bar, then I think anything you omit in order to partake in enjoying these little goodies is fine too. The graham cracker crumbs will likely pose the largest obstacle and I encourage you to try cereals or other plain crackers.

Makes aprox. 12 bars

NANAIMO BAR INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup vegan margarine + 1 tbs margarine (divided)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups gluten free vegan graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (I usually use walnuts)
2 tbs. Bird's Custard Powder
2 cups confectioner's sugar
5-8 tbs soy milk or other milk substitute
4 oz semi sweet chocolate
1 tbs corn syrup

NANAIMO BAR INSTRUCTIONS:

Over medium heat, melt 1/2 cup margarine with the cocoa, sugar, and vanilla. When this mixture has thickened (about ten minutes) turn off the heat and add the crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press this mixture into a 9x9 pan that is lined with tin foil. Pop this layer in the fridge and let it cool. While this is cooling, you can get started on the next layer. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the custard powder with 5 tbs of soy milk. Add the icing sugar a 1/4 cup at a time and add milk as necessary. The mixture will be quite thick. Pat this layer on top of the base making it as smooth as possible. Place the tin in the freezer while you work on the last layer. In the double boiler, melt 1 tbs margarine, corn syrup, and chocolate until a smooth mixture forms. Pour this over the cold layers. Allow the chocolate to firm up for about 1/2 hour before you cut it into squares. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wheat & Dairy Free Vegan Whoopie Pies



The first time I had a whoopie pie was this winter on a trip to New York. We had been walking around trying to find a place to eat for hours because my boyfriend had declared that we needed a slice of New York style pizza. Trying to find a wheat-, yeast-, and dairy-free pizza place in the Lower East Side in the middle of January turned out to be an almost impossible task and, after pleading a bathroom break, I snuck into a small cafe that happened to serve gluten-free snacks. The cafe was changing over to get ready for the dinner crowd, but I managed to grab the last whoopie pie on the counter to tide me over. 

Since that fateful night, I've seen whoopie pies everywhere (see nytimes article ) and have been wanting to recreate one that I could eat without any problems. There is something so jovial about a cookie that is really a cake but calls itself a pie, pressed around a creamy filling called whoopie. I'm fairly certain these are an American invention, given their similarity to Hostess cupcakes and that most of the recipes call for a jarred filling called fluf, a culinary achievement that I have since found a startling number of uses. 

I've added sprinkles because I think they needed a splash of color and these are really a dessert for those who are closest to you and parties that include children. I'm not sure you would want to serve these to a company of distinguished guests; the charm of the moniker 'whoopie' being lost on some. On the other hand, if you prefer a dessert with a sense of irony or come from an aristocratic heritage and have an Aunt visiting who keeps calling North America 'The New World' and leaving her shoes outside her door to be polished by your 'maid,' these treats might be perfect. 

I am truly proud of the texture of these cakes. They are soft, moist, and fluffy and taste especially good the day they are made. Feel free to make the filling your own: a teaspoon of peppermint oil, some melted chocolate, or smooth peanut butter could be added. I've also seen jars of vegan strawberry fluf, which I've yet to try, but could be fabulous!

Makes about 13 whoopie pies. 

PIE INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 cups flour substitute
1/2 tsp xantham gum
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 tbs canola oil
2 tbs prune puree
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg or egg substitute
1 cup soy milk or rice milk
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tbs vanilla

PIE INSTRUCTIONS:

In a small bowl whisk together the flour substitute, cocoa powder, baking soda, xantham gum, and salt. In a stand mixer, beat the shortening, prune puree, and canola oil with the two sugars until fluffy and light. Add the egg or egg substitute (mixed with a tbs. of water) and beat together. In another bowl, combine the milk, vanilla, and vinegar. Sift the flour mixture twice. Working quickly, add the milk mixture alternating with the flour mixture in two batches until combined. Drop large tablespoons of the batter onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Without flattening the dough too much, spread the dollops into even circles. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for about ten minutes, rotating the pans half way through. They should be spongy and spring back when poked. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the pan and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

WHOOPIE INGREDIENTS:

1 cup vegan rice-mellow fluff
1/2 cup vegetable shortening or vegan margarine
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
4 tbs soy milk or rice milk

WHOOPIE INSTRUCTIONS:

In a mixer, blend the fluff and shortening until smooth. Add the vanilla and then the icing sugar a few tablespoons at a time, adding a tablespoon of milk when it becomes too thick until a spreadable consistency has been achieved. Place two tablespoons of the whoopie on one half of a pie and place another pie on top. Repeat with remaining pies and filling.  

Store in an air tight container for two days or in the fridge for five. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wheat and Dairy Free Vegan Shortbread


Since my family is Italian, home-made cookies when I was growing up were generally little, hard, crumbly wafers that exist solely for dipping in espresso. I, on the other hand, have made entire dinners out of chocolate chip cookie dough and prefer cookies large, soft, and undercooked. As I bake more the number of exceptions have increased and these little goodies are one of them. While the essential ingredients of shortbread make up a small list, adapting the recipe for wheat and dairy free eaters while keeping the texture of sandy, buttery biscuits was a bit difficult. This recipe is inspired from the back of a box of corn starch and the Fannie Farmer Baking Book. You could easily replace the chocolate with something else; at Christmas, I'll often melt Toblerone bars or Skor bars, or omit this step entirely. One other note: Some dairy free bakers use butter flavoring in their baking. This is also very common in professional baking. If you find the taste of these not as buttery as you would like, you might try it. 

Makes aprox. 24 cookies

SHORTBREAD INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup + 2 tbs icing sugar
1/4 cup rice flour
3/4 cup wheat free all purpose flour
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
pinch of salt
3/4 cup shortening
2 tbs warm water
2 tbs. sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

SHORTBREAD DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, stir together the corn starch, icing sugar, rice flour, wheat free flour, xanthan gum, and salt. When these ingredients are combined, add the shortening and warm water. Roll the dough on a floured board with a floured rolling pin to 1/4 inch. Cut into shapes and place on an oiled sheet. Sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for fifteen minutes. Its important to cut the shapes cleanly because the crumbs will make your cookies look ragged. 

For the chocolate sides, melt the chips in a double boiled and dip half of the cooled cookies so that the top and sides are covered. Let cool on a silpat so they are easy to remove. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wheat and Dairy Free Vegan Candy Bars


There is something about all the nice weather we have been having that has put me in the mood for picnics and treats that are cut up into portable, sturdy squares. The brownies I made a few days ago are, for me, the ideal and defiantly uni-flavored treat. Some days, however, require a bit more dimension of texture and taste.

This recipe is the result of compiling several recipes together along with my nostalgic, no doubt inaccurate, recollections of bake sale Rice Krispies squares. A key part of this square is the texture: What I remember of Rice Krispies squares were the gooey-ness that came from the marshmallows. A quick caramel syrup mixed with the puffed rice cereal will create a base layer that, when cut, will be the consistency of dust. To keep the bars nice and chewy but still strong enough to support the peanut butter and chocolate layers, I've created a soft caramel to use here. If you would like to up the peanut butter factor and the softness, you can also add in a few tablespoons or so with the corn syrup. If it's more chocolate you're after, melt a few ounces and stir that into the peanut butter middle layer. 

And, just to keep things from becoming monotonous, I've cut these layered goodies into triangles. 

Makes aprox. 12 bars. 

BAR INGREDIENTS:

Base:
2 cups of wheat free puffed rice cereal
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsps corn syrup
2 tbs vegan margarine
2 tbs milk alternative

Peanut Butter Middle:
1 cup smooth peanut butter
3 tbs margarine
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla 
aprox. 2 tbs milk substitute
sprinkle of salt (optional)

Chocolate Topping:
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp corn syrup
aprox. 4 tbs milk substitute 

BAR INSTRUCTIONS:

Line a 9 x 9 pan with tin foil and lightly oil. In a heavy sauce pan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil while stirring. Using a candy thermometer, boil the syrup until it reaches the soft ball stage. If you don't have a candy thermometer, after five minutes drop a dollop of the syrup into a glass of luke warm water. The syrup should become malleable and soft. This recipe isn't too fussy though, just try to avoid burning the caramel. When it is ready, remove from the heat and add the corn syrup, milk substitute, and the margarine. It will boil furiously and then become a lovely caramel. Add the puffed rice and stir to coat. Press the caramel rice into your pan and using your finger press the cereal into an even layer. 

While this is cooling, mix together the peanut butter and margarine until smooth. Add the vanilla and icing sugar and then the milk as you need it to make the mixture spreadable. Cover the rice layer with this mixture and then pop it into the freezer until firm, or about fifteen minutes. 

Melt the chocolate chips and add the corn syrup. Stir until it becomes a paste. Add the milk substitute one tablespoon at a time to create a glossy icing. You may need more or less milk substitute. Take the first two layers out of the freezer and spread the chocolate mixture on top. The cold will make the chocolate firm up quickly. 

Cut into squares (or triangles) using a serrated knife. To keep the caramel soft, wrap the tin tightly. The squares will keep for five days or so. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wheat and Dairy Free Vegan Brownies


These are a classic brownie. Fudgy and moist, they are super rich but sturdy enough to support the frosting that coats the top. I think every baker has a fall-back brownie recipe in her repertoire and these are mine. Like many baked goods, the secret is underbaking them. Since there are no eggs, there is nothing to worry about here. When you pull them out of the oven, they will be a bit puffy, but wait a few minutes and they will suffer a vertigo that would make a souffle maker shudder. If they don't fall they will be good too, but cakey. If it's a dense brownie you're after and they haven't flattened after a few minutes on the counter, then drop the pan of still warm brownies onto a mat on the floor. A college roommate and one time Starbucks employee supplied me with that tip. 

I've included a fudge frosting at the bottom that unlike many vegan and wheat-free baking recipes, which I must say really takes the maxim "baking is a science" to heart, allows for a little more flexibility. 

Makes aprox. 24 brownies

BROWNIE INGREDIENTS:

1 cup wheat-free flour blend
1/4 tsp xantham gum
1 tb. cornstarch
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
5 oz dark chocolate (5 squares) 
1/2  cup plus 2 tbs pureed prunes
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tbs vanilla
1/2 cup hot water (or coffee or water mixed with a shot of espresso)
chocolate chips tossed in cocoa powder

BROWNIE DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, stir, do not whisk, together the flour, cornstarch, xantham gum, baking powder, and soda. Over a double boiler, melt the chocolate and remove from the heat. Add the canola oil and vanilla stirring gently so as not to incorporate any air. Add the prune puree to the flour and then the chocolate mixture. Without over mixing the batter add the hot water until everything is combined. Carefully fold in the chocolate chips and anything else (nuts, caramel bits, left over Easter eggs etc.) that strike your fancy. Pour into a 9 x 13 pan lined in foil and bake at 350 degrees for eight minutes. Rotate pan and bake for 5 more. A cake tester should come out clean. If you need more time, wrap the excess foil over the top so as to prevent the brownie from becoming too dark. Whisk them out of the oven the moment they are done and let them rest, at which point they should fall. The foil will help you take them out of the pan and transport them. Frost if desired and I always do! 

FUDGE FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbs vegan margarine
1 tsp corn syrup
1 tsp Bird's Custard Powder
vanilla 
milk substitute

FUDGE FROSTING DIRECTIONS:

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and margarine until completely smooth and blended. Remove from the heat and add corn syrup and 1/2 tsp. of the Custard Powder and then put the whole pan into the freezer. After about ten minutes, the chocolate should be quite stiff. Stir, so that the stiffer outside blends with the runnier middle. Add a few tablespoons of milk and the remaining custard powder and stir. Add more milk if necessary. The icing should be creamy and very chocolatey. Spread on the cooled brownies. Like fudge frosting made of butter, this will become stiffer as it cools. The more milk you add, the longer you will have to play with it before it becomes rigid.