Vegan BROWNIES!

Recently, I have been playing around with Melisser Elliott’s Buccaneer Brownie recipe via Go Max Go Foods. She has been creating dessert recipes to use with their product, via the Go Max Go blog. Now, I have a few of their candy bars stashed away, but I want to eat them by themselves since I don’t get them very often!

Just wanted to pay a visit to my vegan baking blog and let you know about the THE BEST brownie recipe I have ever used. If you don’t have Go Max Go candy bars, you can used chocolate chips or crushed up Newman’s Own sandwich cookies (in mint!). I’ve done both and I’ve been quite pleased with the results.

ImageThis picture does not do my brownies justice! Here’s the thing: I do prefer to under-bake my goodies, as I do not like the toughness of over-baked desserts. And I did over-bake my first batch of these bad boys! I will say that they are quite fudgy, and I think the canned coconut milk I used was too heavy for them. 

I did play with the recipe a little bit. I used the equivalent of one egg using EnerG Egg Replacer instead of flax. I also used unsweetened soy milk instead of water in my first batch, and canned coconut milk in my second batch, pictured above. I loved the ooey-gooeyness of the second batch, but I think the canned coconut milk may have been a little heavy. Next time I’m going to stick with unsweetened soy milk or use coconut yogurt!

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Blueberry Apple Coffee Cake! (Gluten-free Option)

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Vegan Blueberry Apple Coffee Cake:

Ingredients

2 tbsp ground flax
6 tbsp hot water (or 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp)
1 1/3 cup sweetener of your choice.*
Zest of one lemon (optional)**
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups unbleached white flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 granny smith apple, core removed, diced
1 cup blueberries

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 5 x 9 loaf pans.

Next, make your flax seed “eggs” or gel. Mix the ground flax with the hot water, whether boiled or straight from the tap. Whisk together and let sit for a few minutes while you gather the rest of your ingredients.

In a large bowl, add sugar, flax gel, oil, lemon zest and vanilla. Mix together. I whisk these particular ingredients, but once I get to adding the flour, I fold it in with a spatula. I find I get a much fluffier baked good by doing this with all of my cake-like treats.

Next, add baking soda, flour cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir, whisk or fold until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Lightly fold in apples and blueberries. I used frozen blueberries and added them straight from the freezer. No matter fresh or frozen, be very gentle as to not break them. (A little breakage will most likely happen.)

Place batters evenly in two loaf pans, or even in muffin tins if you so desire! Bake for about 50 minutes, but check at the 40 minute mark. You will know if your cake is done if when you insert a toothpick, the pick comes out clean, the sides of the cakes start pulling away from the pan or it springs upward at a light touch of your finger. The toothpick trick is probably your best bet!

Streusel Topping: I don’t think coffee cake or muffins are complete without a sugary streusel top! I like the streusel finish on this particular cake because the cake itself is not very sweet. It makes the cake or muffins a little bit more special! I make mine from instinct, but here is a plethora of recipes for you to choose from! Mine is made with vegetable shortening, brown sugar, flour and cane sugar. When I made a gluten-free version, I omitted flour altogether, even a gluten-free one (though I’m sure the mild tasting rice flour would work great), and it was fine.

Gluten-Free Option: I made a gluten-free version of this cake, which I LOVED, by using 1 1/2 cups garfava flour and 1 1/2 cups Trader Joe’s gluten-free all purpose flour. I also added 3/4 tsp xanthan gum. However, you may not need to add the gum, as Caroline did not and her muffins were fine.

*I like to use brown rice syrup or agave syrup, but cane sugar, maple syrup, or brown sugar will all suffice!

**Lemon brings out the flavor of berries.

This coffee cake recipe is a veganized version of this zucchini bread recipe.

What about eggs in cookies?

When in doubt (or just as a rule), use Egg Replacer in cookies. It’s great and it works.

I imagine the flax seed “egg” would work well too, but the thing is, I don’t like nuts in my cookies so I don’t want the nutty, healthy flavor that flax produces.

Flax seed “egg”, equivalent of one chicken egg:

1 Tbls ground flax
3 Tbls hot water

Whisk and let sit for a couple minutes until a gel forms.

 

Vegan Cornbread!

It’s chili season, and it’s my personal belief that chili is incomplete without cornbread! I was recently emailed by someone asking about vegan cornbread, one that isn’t too sweet or dry. I quite like this recipe — it never fails and is a hit everywhere I take it. When it comes to cornbread, I like using flax seed gel or “eggs”, as it gives the bread a slightly nutty flavor, which pairs well with the corn.

When it comes to flax seed and egg conversion:
One egg = 1 Tablespoon ground flax in 3 Tablespoons hot water. Whisk and let sit for a couple minutes to form a gel.

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Homemade chili atop homemade cornbread; is there a better combination? (Okay, maybe cake and ice cream.)

Baking with Nuts and Fruit!

Cici asks: When adding nuts or fruit (e.g., dried cherries, raisins) or even chocolate morsels to a recipe that doesn’t originally call for it, are there any adjustments that need to be made to account for their additional moisture/oil content?

My short answer is: nope! Add away! Chocolate chips, nuts and dried fruits won’t change the moisture content of your baked goods, so go for it! Just be sure to start out with a small amount, as it’s easy to add more to taste, but difficult to take out if you decide you may have thrown in too much.

Adding chopped fresh fruit on the other hand may change things a little, but I tend to add it without caution. Personally I would rather have desserts on the slightly under-baked and moisture-rich side than dry and/or over-baked. If you are worried about the moisture content of your baked goods, you can lightly coat any fresh fruit you are adding with flour. This is an especially great trick when making fruit pies, to keep the filling from getting too juicy.

When I am making something like a berry or banana cake, in which I want the flavor to be there, but not pieces of fruit necessarily, I will puree my fruit. Then, I will use my puree in place of about 1/2 to 3/4 of the liquid my cake or baked good calls for, which is usually water or some form of non-dairy milk*. Another little trick of the trade is that lemon actually makes berry flavors stand out, so if I’m making something with berries, I’ll be sure to add some lemon zest to the batter!

I hope that answers your question, Cici!

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One of my favorite desserts to make is strawberry cake, covered in frosting, and smothered with ganache — I like to think of it as a baked chocolate covered strawberry! Because fresh fruit as a decoration tends to bleed all over frosting, my secret weapon is dehydrated strawberries as garnish! 

*If you want dessert that is a little less sweet, you can use fruit puree in place of sugar instead of the liquid. You can even add a bit of sugar or agave to the puree.

 

If It’s Vegan, That Means It’s Healthy, Right?

I get this question a lot at work. When customers are looking at the dessert case, they ask if the desserts are healthy. I usually laugh and say “Well, there’s no cholesterol in them, but no”. Yes, my desserts are lacking the cholesterol, even trans fats and nasty preservatives that many of my dairy/egg dessert counterparts contain, but they are not healthy. Sugar is still sugar, fat is still fat, calories are still calories and vegan desserts are usually chock-full of these.

The only vegan desserts I would argue that could be considered healthy are raw desserts. They are usually sweetened with agave and/or dates, with the fats being made of nuts and coconut oil. I also make raw desserts, baby! Personally, I always feel much better after eating, let’s say a raw fruit cheesecake than a vegan cupcake.

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Do not be fooled into thinking this vegan moon pie is health food! It looks and tastes so decadent because it is!