Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cherry-Almond Muffins

My aunt has been in & out of the hospital recently so I was hoping to contribute a little something to their family. What better to bake Saturday morning than muffins! I decided on Cherry-Almond Muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance. The recipe calls for soy yogurt, sliced almonds & fresh bing cherries. I only had regular yogurt, whole almonds & the choice between frozen or dried cherries. I still fear the use of fresh fruits in certain baked goods, especially after my pear pie muffins became soggy. With my reservations in mind, I decided on dried cherries. I think frozen chopped cherries would work for this...I would probably remove the cherries from the freezer, quickly coarsely chop them & return them to the freezer. I would then mix them into the batter in their frozen state with as few strokes as possible, to reduce reddish messy batter. They may need another minute or so in the oven, not sure. I may try this later, I can imagine the extra moisture being a nice addition to these muffins. But they may need to be consumed sooner than later. These muffins have a very distinct almond flavor, which pair quite well with cherries. I also used almond milk & vanilla yogurt. The muffins were not at all sweet & the cherries added the extra specs of sweetness surprise.
Cherry-Almond Muffins
2 cups AP flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup rice/soy milk (half almond/half rice)
1 (6-ounce) container soy yogurt, plain/vanilla (regular yogurt)
2 tsp almond extract

1 cup sliced almonds (chopped almonds)
3/4 cup fresh bing cherries, halved & pitted (dried cherries, chopped)
  • Preheat oven 350F.
  • Lightly grease a twelve-muffin tin.
  • In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients & stir to combine.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
  • Create a well in the center of dry ingredients & add wet ingredients.
  • Mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Do not over mix.
  • Fold in 1/2 cup almonds & all of cherries.
  • Fill muffin cups three-quarters full; top & press in remaining almonds.
  • Bake 18 - 22 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Easy...No Bake! :)

Nostalgic of childhood snacks...these are chewy, simple & addicting! I got the recipe from Simple Treats. Instead of 6 cups of brown rice crispy, I used 5 & substituted the 6th cup with a mix of coconut flakes, sunflower seeds & dried cranberries. The result was a little too sweet for my taste, so an additional 1 to 1/2 cup of brown rice may have been ok. Plus I used about 3 tablespoons of oil, since that was easier. I don't think I cooked my syrup enough since it didn't end up very thick. As a result, it took a little longer for my treats to harden up, but that was easily remedied by placing them in the fridge. The combo of coco oil & brown rice syrup hardened up quickly. Although I didn't really eat rice crispy treats a lot when I was younger, I still enjoyed this simple no bake snack. I can imagine many variations with additional dried fruits, nuts & chocolate, etc.
Brown Rice Crispy Treats
2 1/2 tblspns oil (coconut oil)
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
2 tblspns maple syrup
2 tblspns malt barley syrup
1/4 tsp salt

6 cups brown rice crispy cereal ( 5 cups brown rice + 1/3 cup flaked coconuts
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (pumpkin seeds)
1/3 cup dried cranberries)
  • Oil/butter an 8X8 pan and put aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat up the coconut/vegetable oil.
  • Turn the heat to low & add the syrups & salt. Allow syrup to thicken and darken in color. Be careful as this may burn easily & is very hot.
  • Pour the syrup into a large oiled bowl.
  • Mix & combine the cereal + filling till thoroughly incorporated.
  • Pour into prepared oiled pan. Press down to compress cereal.
  • Allow to cool until hardened, 15 minutes - 1 hour. Refrigerate if necessary.
  • Make 9 large squares.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cranberry-Pecan Cookies

This is a Vegan Wheat Free Chocolate Chip cookie recipe that I think I got from Cookie Madness. It seems that she has removed the recipe from her blog because I can no longer find it. Instead of using chocolate chips, I used dried cranberries & added a touch of lemon extract. Because of the spelt flour, these cookies taste dense & remind me of a shortbread. I prefer chewy cookies, but variety never hurts.
Cranberry-Pecan Cookies
1 cup whole spelt flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp lemon extract

1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a medium sized bowl, combine & mix the spelt, salt, powder, soda & sugar.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, oil & extracts.
  • Add the wet mixture to dry ingredients & stir till combined.
  • Fold in nuts & dried fruit. If the batter is too dry, add more oil and/or maple syrup.
  • The batter will be crumbly & will require pushing together in order to form a ball.
  • Lay onto cookie sheet and flatten down with fingers.
  • Bake for 11 minutes.
  • Makes 11 - 12 cookies.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pandan Coconut Heaven Cupcakes

While my sister was in town visiting, we wanted to imitate a childhood favorite. This is an asian-inspired variation of VwAV's Coconut Heaven Cupcakes. Instead of dried coconut, we used freshly shredded coconut, which resulted in a slightly moister cupcake. The flavors intensified the following day, which made these so fragrant & delicious! Although simple, these are dense & addicting topped off with whipped up heavy cream.
Pandan Coconut Cupcakes
1 cup AP flour (1/2 AP, 1/2 whole wheat pastry)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup coconut milk (blended 2 pandan leaves & strained)
2/3 cup sugar (reduced)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp coconut extract

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Preheat oven 350F & line 12 muffin tins.
  • In a blender, blend up the 1 cup coconut milk with 2 pandan leaves. Blend completely & strain liquid, removing leaves. Set aside.
  • Sift together & whisk to combine dry ingredients.
  • In a large separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
  • Pour the dry into the wet & mix until smooth.
  • Fold in 1 cup shredded coconut.
  • Fill each tin about two-thirds full.
  • Bake for 20 - 22 minutes; cupcakes should be slightly browned around edges & spring back when touched.
  • Remove from tin & place on cooling rack.
  • Makes 12 cupcakes.
Heavy Cream Frosting
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp coconut extract
  • Whisk heavy cream until slightly thickened.
  • Slowly add in powdered sugar to taste.
  • Fold in extracts & combine.
  • Frost cooled cupcakes.

Fruit & Nut Bread

The original recipe calls for dried dates, but I did not have any on hand & prefer prunes or "dried plums" for the added health reasons. This recipe is originally from Simple Treats by Ellen Abraham. The end result was a very mild bread with nuts & plump plums. I may add a little extra maple syrup & oil next time for added sweetness & moisture. Be careful not to over bake, as barley flour turns quite dark & may dry out easily.
Dried Plum-Walnut Bread
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup soymilk/rice milk, etc
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tblspns sugar
1 3/4 cups barley flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups dried pitted plums, chopped
2 tblspns walnuts, chopped for topping
  • Preheat oven 350F. Oil/butter 8X4 loaf pan & set aside.
  • In a small bowl, mix the oil, syrup, milk, vinegar & vanilla extract.
  • In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cups of chopped walnuts & sugar. Sift in the flour, soda, powder, cinnamon & salt. Stir around to combine.
  • Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
  • Do not overwork the batter. Add some milk if the batter is too stiff.
  • Fold in chopped dried plums.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts.
  • Bake 35 minutes, rotate pan & bake for another 25 - 35 minutes until knife inserted comes out clean.
  • Let cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
  • 12 servings.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Black Bottom Cupcakes

I wanted to use the cream cheese I had leftover from making cream cheese frosting & thought these seemed interesting. I reduced the sugar & the end result wasn't sweet enough, so I think the original amount should be used.
For the filling, if trying to avoid egg whites, give this recipe a try.
Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 tblspn soy yogurt/yogurt
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
  • Beat cream cheese, sugar & yogurt till smooth.
  • Beat in cornstarch and vanilla extract & pinch of salt. Set aside & follow recipe for cake batter.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Vegan Coconut Bars

I've been wanting to try these Vegan Coconut Bars for a few weeks now. They look sooo scrumptious in Karina's picture. Instead of chocolate chips, which have caffeine that we try avoid in the evening, we used carob chips, white chocolate chips & added a whole array of dried fruits & nuts. I agree that these tasted yummy chilled. I want to try this recipe again using slightly less tapioca flour.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chocolate Chip Cookies?!?!?

Anna's brief description of these cookies made them seem very appealing..."crinkly, craggly, dense & soft..These are great". They look yummy too! So I had to whip up a quick batch. What's sort of funny is that my variation of this cookie is a combo of two recipes from her blog. The filling combo I used is from the hazelnut lime-pepper cookies. So I used the Chocolate Chip Cookie base & filled the cookies with white chocolate chips, hazelnut, lime zest & black pepper. The flavor combo has been very popular ever since I first tried it with family, friends, co-workers & myself. For the lime-pepper cookies, I haven't tried the dough batter posted, but I've tried the filling combo multiple times with Cook's Illustrated dough recipe. This recipe never fails to yield a really chewy cookie, which is my personal preferred cookie texture. I was using this recipe as a base for a long time before I decided it was time to graduate & give other recipes a chance.
So instead of chocolate chips & toasted walnuts/pecans, I used:
2 tblspn lime zest (3 -4 limes)
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup hazelnuts, skinned & chopped

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Buttermilk Scones

I've been trying to find recipes to use up the buttermilk that I bought last week to make muffins. So I decided to make buttermilk scones. I really am trying to cut back on the amount of white flour that I consume, but life isn't about following all the rules that I've made up for myself, not all the time anyways. :)
I've never really had a lot of scones before, but these were quite yummy. Not too rich or fattening. To me, a good mix between a dense cake/muffin & a biscuit. I'm sure they taste better slightly warm versus a day old, but I didn't risk waiting a day to find out.
I basically followed the recipe, but increased the amount of sugar & vanilla extract a bit. Instead of dried cherries, I used dried cranberries & added 1 tsp of orange extract. Orange zest would work nicely also. Same goes for lemon extract/zest.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Simple & Basic Chocolate Cupcakes

I have a lot of buttermilk to use up, so decided to bake up two batches of Chocolate Cupcakes from VCTOTW. So instead of soy/rice milk, I used buttermilk. For one batch, I added two tablespoons of instant espresso powder to the wet ingredients & topped with chocolate chips - so I can differentiate. I also omitted the apple cider vinegar in this batch. Honestly, I have no idea what difference this made. For the second batch, I added 1 1/2 tsp orange extract, orange zest would work also. I reduced the amount of sugar in both batches, not such a good idea, because the cupcakes were not sweet enough. My dad will be giving these away to some co-workers, I hope they enjoy! They can eat it for breakfast since it's not very sweet. :)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Brown Rice & Spelt Flour Cookies

This recipe comes from Have Cake, Will Travel (a blog that I visit almost everyday!). Although crispy right out of the oven, these soften after storage. They may fall apart & become a little crumbly, but still are yummy in my tummy.
Brown Rice-Spelt Cookies
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup + 2 tblspn maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup flaked/shredded coconut
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/8 cup carob chips
1/3 cup brazil nuts, chopped
  • Preheat oven 350F. Line cookie sheet w/ parchment paper.
  • Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together wet ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  • Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients & fold in coconut, chips & nuts.
  • Refrigerate dough for about 15 minutes.
  • Scoop dough with a large ice cream scooper and place 2 inches apart. No need to flatten cookies.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes, for soft cookies. Makes 7 large cookies.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Farewell Muffins

Tomorrow is one of my co-worker's last day. :(
To bid her farewell, I wanted to bake up some goodies. The hard part was deciding on what to bake!! It was basically down to muffins, cupcakes or cookies. I finally decided on breakfast, instead of an afternoon snack in case she was leaving early.
So the debate was...what muffins!?!?! I know, I have such a difficult life...such serious dilemmas! My next serious issue was...vegan or "regular" muffins? I was also scared of baking up 24 new muffins with a recipe I haven't tried & have them not turn out. We all have experienced similar set backs. So I decided on regular muffins from Baking Bite's blog. I wanted something simple & easy, yet tasty of course! Finally, after many hardworking hours of searching on the internet, I decided on Cinnamon-Anise Chocolate Chip Muffins & Apple-Walnut Streusel Muffins. I was seriously considering Banana Crumb Muffins too, but decided against it since it's probably similar to banana bread. Deviation from her original muffin recipes, here is what I changed...
Cinnamon- Anise Chocolate Chip Muffins: Added 1 cup of infused anise chocolate chips (This was an accident, I had stored my chips with a whole jar of anise stars & the fragrant smell infused the chocolate!). Made 12 muffins and for some odd reason my muffins didn't turn out as tall & pretty as the one you see in her picture. I think I might have shorted the flour by 1/4 cup, but I can't be sure. I left my muffins in the oven for a few extra minutes.
Apple-Walnut Streusel Muffins: Finely grated two medium-sized
braeburn apples and squeezed out the excess liquid, did not want to have soggy muffins again. Finely chopped 1 cup of walnuts, 1/2 cup for the topping and 1/2 cup was mixed into the wet batter. Made 10 muffins. Again, my muffins did not rise vertically high, but spread out horizontally instead, I think I would split among 12 tins next time so the topping will be contained within the muffin cup. These taste like coffee cake.
From previous muffin sessions, I have learned to not overmix & barely just combine the wet & dry ingredients. I think this key factor definitely contributed to a more cake-like result versus bread-like muffins.

**Co-worker feedback: Nothing but compliments about both muffins. The Chocolate Chip Muffins were first to go, but both were devoured quickly! Yay, that's what we like to hear! :)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Chai Latte Muffins

The original recipe are Chai Latte Cupcakes from VCTOTW. I used whole wheat pastry & quinoa flour, therefore creating a more densely textured muffin. Make sure to not over mix the batter, small lumps are ok. I reduced the amount of sugar and added a little maple syrup. I was meaning to add white chocolate chips, but forgot. Below is the original recipe.
Chai Latte Muffins
1 cup rice milk
2 tblspn loose black tea or 4 black tea bags
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup soy yogurt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups AP flour (2/3 cup whole wheat pastry 2/3 cup quinoa flour)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground pepper
  • Preheat oven 350F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  • Heat rice milk & add tea leaves. Put on low heat & let sit for 10 minutes, or remove from heat. Discard leaves & measure to make sure there is still 1 cup of liquid.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
  • In a medium bowl, sift the dry ingredients & whisk together till thoroughly combined.
  • Pour the dry ingredients into the wet & mix until large lumps disappear; SMALL LUMPS ARE OK, do not overmix.
  • Fill tins full & bake for 20 - 22 minutes, till toothpick comes out clean.
  • Makes 12 cupcakes.
  • Make sure to cool completely if dusting with powdered sugar.