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CINNAMON BUNS (also a sloth baby)

28 Feb

There are cinnamon buns under this sloth.  (They’re only there because the sloth hasn’t seen them yet.)

Source: fuckyeahanimalbabies.tumblr.com

There they are.

Go ahead, guess the best part about these cinnamon buns, besides that they’re cinnamon buns.  Is it the fact that they don’t require overnight preparation?  That they don’t need any special equipment besides a $6 thermometer? All true.  But guess what else?

Surprise!  They’re vegan and whole-wheat with raw sugar (except in the glaze).  Enjoy your cinnamon buns and ethical consumption and a modicum of healthiness.  But they are still cinnamon buns, so let’s not get carried away here.

I’m baking caramelized walnut banana muffins with chocolate ganache right now, so I’ll keep my usual preamble to a minimum and get right to the good stuff.  Because what can you say when there’s cinnamon buns in front of you?  Nothing.  You’re stuffing them in your face.  At least I am, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Click through for the recipe!

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Stout Little Cupcakes

21 Feb

I mean it!  There’s stout in these!    (Fortunately, Guinness Extra Stout, North America is vegan according to Barnivore.)

I was going to do a writeup of some of the more practical and also-delicious things I’ve made lately that are backlogged, but I feel like I don’t make enough pretty things to post here, so I am posting this takeoff of the Chocolate Stout Cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World, which we all know is the only cupcake book for vegans.  Be happy!  Now you have a recipe to impress your coworkers, friends, and other people who need impressing.

The only change I would make is to not whisk the dry and wet ingredients for two minutes, as suggested in the original recipe, because I personally think that’s over-mixing and it resulted in slightly crunchy tops, despite a moderate sugar content, smooth batter texture, and a constant oven temperature, which I watch like a hawk while I am cupcaking (thanks, oven thermometer.)

The original also called for a crumb topping, but I had just made a crumb topping for the ginger snap-apple-peanut butter thing I have in my fridge right now, but I don’t like cupcakes to be smothered in sugar and fatty toppings, so I decided to go a little different.  Chocolate and raspberry go together!  So I made a half-recipe of raspberry buttercream frosting, a little chocolate ganache, and got out some powdered sugar/unsweetened cocoa powder (trust me, you’ll like it!) to make little pink flowers crowned with an eensy ganache truffle rolled in cocoa powder.

They turned out pretty attractively!

Cupcake group photo. See, not too terribly boob-shaped.

They’re a little boob-like, thanks to the lighting that is washing out the color of my icing (because I’m an awful photographer), but if you’re really worried about it, add extra red to the icing and make your rosettes bigger and more floral.  You can also substitute a little piece of fruit for the ganache drop, but personally I like them fine this way, and think their appearance as boobs is questionable enough to serve in settings unrelated to the Vagina Monologues.

In the interest of preventing well-intentioned cupcake disasters (and strudel sadness), I am making a “Challenging” category for this blog–stuff that requires special equipment, assembly, lots of time, or exotic ingredients.  This would probably fit here–both ganache and frosting should be prepared ahead of time, for example.

Click through for this moderately-challenging recipe!

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Back to Basics, Part 2: Oat-Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

18 Feb

I found these in Veganomicon immediately after making the Pasta e Fagioli.  I know it sounds weird!  I’ll be honest, I was not particularly arrested by the title (wheat-free chocolate chip cookies) because I don’t have a wheat sensitivity, but I was excited by the sentence: “These couldn’t be easier to make unless someone made them for you!”

Now, personally, I disagree with that.  I maintain that my peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are the flat-out easiest cookies, ever.  You don’t even need two bowls!  See?  Also, it would have been easier if the original recipe did not turn out a batter the consistency of pancake batter.  But don’t worry, follow my recipe and these will turn out fine!

However, these do have an advantage that mine lack.  They’re made with whole-grain oat flour, flaxseed, and just a little less sugar.  So, if you are feeling guilty about wanting that cookie for some reason (you should never feel guilty about food!) or you have wheat-related health concerns*, here is a recipe to try!  As for texture and taste, they are delicately sweet and mellow, pillowy-soft, with a noticeably nice crumb.

*Note: If you do have a wheat allergy (or if you want to bake cookies for someone with a wheat allergy), be sure that you/they are not, in fact, avoiding oats as well as wheat!  To my knowledge, some celiac patients do avoid oat products.

Recipe and tips after the cut.

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The Home Baking Final Frontier: Donuts. MEGAPOST

12 Feb

I know.  I haven’t posted in forever.  I’m going to be safe and say because schoolwork, though I’m sure I’ve been up to other things in the intervening time, like trying 3-6 types of veggie burgers (none of which are good enough to post here from the original recipe–I am going to have to put much more of a binder in them) and trying to allocate the productive time that I do have in the day (about 6 hours since I cut my Adderall XR dosage.  Well, it’s not quite that bad–I only work out when I’m unmedicated, anyway!  That seems productive.)

In any case, here is the antithesis of working out.  Put away your low-glycemic-index sweeteners and your saturated-fat free plant oils, and get out that Earth Balance and real sugar.  (If you are a strict vegan, by real sugar I mean cane juice, but unbleached cane juice that is not processed through bone char (follow the link for an interesting discussion on sugar and veganism.)  If you’re not a strict vegan, fine–continue burning those cute little animal skeletons for your sugar.

Okay, done scolding.  Behold, 100% homemade donuts!

Half cinnamon-sugar, half chocolate-glaze.  (If you like your donuts covered in that crackly glaze, Krispy-Kreme style, we’ll talk about how to do that, too.  You could even put frosting on these!  Or fruit preserves!  All things that I am planning to do.  You know, once I quit school to become the vegan donut queen.)

Another piece of advice: Get a donut pan!  Seriously.  They are under $15 at a nice cooking store.  I know, Dunkin Donuts only costs $5/dozen, but they aren’t vegan.  (Are they?)  Also, you can make these while you have a pot of something simmering on the stove and have them pre-made for the morning.  (True facts: these donuts keep well, for the single day that they are usually in the house.)  Also, these donuts are objectively great, whether you’re vegan or not.  (The boyfriend especially likes cinnamon sugar.)  And (my favorite) you don’t have to screw around forming them into little amebic donut shapes.  My kitchen is enough of a disaster and there is enough stuff going on in there that I do not need one more thing to do.  The pan I have makes 6.  Which is good, because if it made a dozen I think I would be dead by now.

I found this recipe on VeganYumYum.com originally, where it applied to mini donuts and listed a few topping ideas.   I may or may not have gotten my topping ideas off the back of the paper on the donut pan.  Mini donuts seem too sinister.  You know they’re just waiting for you to devour them like Pringles.  No sir–I won’t be fooled!  Maxi donuts for me, all the way.

Vegan YumYum MAXI DONUTS

Special equipment: Regular-sized donut pan, cooling rack (I have actually been baking for years without one!  But it makes life a lot easier and your baked goods cool and dry much better.)  Also, two small prep bowls will make life a bit easier.

1 cup flour (regular flour)
1/2 cup sugar (granulated and dry)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
scant 1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon

1/2 cup soymilk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar*
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 tbsp margarine (I use Earth Balance)
1 egg replacer (Since it is largely tasteless and very soft/fluffy, 1/4 cup of Mori-nu silken firm tofu is good here, I’ll explain how to use it because it wasn’t instinctive knowledge for me.)

*Why is there vinegar in this recipe?  You are going to chemically curdle (not sour!  Don’t cook with sour milk!) the soymilk.  Essentially, the protein molecules contained in soymilk–like all molecules–produce intermolecular forces between each other that determine various chemical properties.  By adding an acidic substance such as vinegar or lemon juice, the dipoles of the acids (the more-electrically-charged vs. less-electrically-charged ends) change the nature of the intermolecular forces originally generated by the protein molecules.  This process is curdling.  You’re not creating bacteria–you’re just making the milk a little different.  Physically, it results in a nicer/lighter crumb in baked goods and a softer texture.  In any event, it is not an optional step!  Use an equal quantity of lemon juice (1/2 tsp) if vinegar in baked goods squicks you out, and I know a few people for whom this is true.)  ***Note:  If I’m out of my depth with any of this stuff and someone reading knows, please tell me, my science background is more physics than chemistry.

Begin by preheating your oven to 350F.

In one of the small prep bowls, mix together the apple cider vinegar and soymilk.  Set aside for about five minutes, or while you whisk together each of the dry ingredients until well-combined.

With a spoon, carve out about 1/4 cup of the Mori-nu tofu.  To blend/smoothen it without using a food processor (I’m lazy about dishes, sorry): Dribble in a small amount of soymilk and whisk/mash/blend with your whisk until mostly smooth.  A few lumps may remain, which is fine.

Measure out the other wet ingredients (excluding soymilk and curdling agent, as well as the tofu egg, which you already have done) and place in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the tofu and soymilk/vinegar.  Cook this mixture gently until the margarine is melted and whisk to combine.  The liquid ingredients should be moderately warm, but touchable–not hot.

Set out your donut pan and pour the liquid ingredients in with the dry; mix gently until just combined (don’t overwork your dough!)  Do not grease the donut pan.  Fill each donut space almost full; you’ll have enough of this dough for six donuts filled in this way.  Put a paper towel over your cooling rack.

Check your oven temperature and bake for 15 minutes.  (While you’re letting the donuts bake, soap-and-water wash your prep bowls, if you don’t have others to use.  I use paper bowls to make toppings sometimes.)  To ensure done-ness, poke a toothpick into one of the donuts and see how cleanly the pick comes out of the donut.  (If bits of donut come out stuck to it, bake for 1-2 more minutes.)

Once the donuts are done for realsies, remove the pan from the oven and upend over the covered cooling rack.

LET THE DONUTS COOL COMPLETELY BEFORE YOU DECORATE THEM.
I MEAN IT.
Your decorations/toppings will melt and run and stick in weird places, and that’s sad.  Go do whatever it is you do while you’re not making donuts for a little while.

Okay.

Now, return to the donuts.  Clean up the donut holes if they are very narrow (if you feel like it.)  Get out two or three bowls, depending on how many toppings you want to make (you’ll want two bowls for cinnamon-sugar donuts).  I tend to only make two, because there are six donuts and I don’t have all day here.

The Mechanics of Donut Toppings

Two types of basic toppings exist.  Either you are attaching something to the donut (cinnamon-sugar blend, sprinkles) or covering the donut with something (chocolate glaze, frosting, fruit glaze–next time, I mean it, I got distracted this week making tofu cheese.  Vegan lasagna recipe forthcoming, maybe.)

In the first case, you need a “glue” to adhere your topping.  If you just put sprinkles on a donut, it is going to fall off!  For cinnamon-sugar, I just brush with a little Earth Balance and roll it.  For sprinkles, I think it is more advisable to use a glaze.

Basic Glaze

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 tsp nondairy milk

Whisk together.  The end.

If you like a little less sugar, cut it if you want and it’s too sweet.  If you find that it is not thick enough, add a teeny tiny bit of all-purpose flour to thicken without sweetening (cornstarch or arrowroot may make it a little too tacky/gluey, but feel free to experiment.)

Chocolate Glaze (will also adhere sprinkles!  I know what I’m doing next week!)

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips–make sure they’re vegan!
2 tbsp margarine
2 tsp agave syrup or to taste (you want it to be a little sweet)

Place together in a bowl and microwave.  Mix with a spoon until silky and smooth–not too watery, but not thick.

Cinnamon-Sugar Powder

Mix equal parts cinnamon and granulated sugar in a bowl or on a plate.

Other materials: Fruit preserves for a fruit-spread glaze (I haven’t tried this yet, if anyone does, please comment and let me know), melted margarine, sprinkles, or plain powdered sugar.

Cover your cooling rack in freezer paper/parchment paper and set up a mis en place with all your topping materials set up.

To top with glaze: Dip the cooled donut into the bowl of glaze, upside down.  Replace it glaze-side-up on the parchment paper to dry.

Alternatively: Add sprinkles by pressing the glazed donut into a bowl of sprinkles.

Or: Dip the donut wholesale into a deep bowl of glaze using plastic tongs to coat entirely.

To roll in sugar or cinnamon: Brush lightly with melted butter; drip off excess.  Roll in sugar or cinnamon-sugar blend.

Now you have tons of ways to make donuts!  And know more about donut-making than you ever thought possible.  Or maybe more than you want to know.

Whet Your Appetite!

27 Jan

I am still adjusting to trying to be on a new sleep schedule, so I am the worst at posting right now.  Of course, I got a big second wind or something last night and made a bunch of stuff to sate my constant need to eat.  I even remembered to take pictures!

So, without further ado:

Chickpea cutlets, roasted potato slices, and steamed broccoli with fat-free vegan gravy

Oatmeal banana cookies!

This is my companion cube cookie jar! Portal fans will love it. Currently filled with the cookies above.

"Pad Thai" made with natural peanut butter, whole wheat rotini, and veggies. (My high-protein lunch.)

A "gentle lentil" soup, pretty mild and not too thick, and slices of homemade olive oil baguette.

Tomorrow!  I promise!

Spoiler: The chickpea cutlets are insanely protein-rich and I will probably be making sandwiches with them next week.  HOORAY!

One-Bowl Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

22 Jan

Okay, so, for my first post, I guess it makes perfect sense that I upload something sweet and dessert-y.  I love to cook these days, but when I was little, for years, I only baked.  Which makes sense, because I have a sweet tooth as big as lion incisors.  Of course, I kept it when I went vegan.

In any event, my very, very favorite type of cookie when I was eating dairy things still was my mother’s recipe for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  I still remember our companion dog (who was just a puppy then!) licking the paper/foil top of a can of Jif that was just opened, but sticking her tongue to it each time, so that she licked and stamped it all around the kitchen.  Suffice to say, I have been making these since I needed two stepstools to reach the counter.  Now they’re vegan and Jif and egg-free!

Oh, and you can make them in one bowl.  No sifting, no delicately mixing.  These will take you ~15 minutes to get into the oven, and 7-10 once they’re in.

One-Bowl Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Special equipment: Hand mixer

1/2 cup (one stick) of vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 flaxseed egg (see note)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips–look out for chocolate chips with milk solids in them!  Besides obviously not being vegan, there is no reason to have milk solids in semisweet chocolate chips.  If this is the case, they are milk chocolates.

Note about flaxseed eggs: Some people think they taste kind of granola-y, but I honestly don’t taste them in nutty cookies (like this) or oat-based cookies.  You may want to look for other egg substitutes when making, say, a batch of brownies.  Personally, I like flaxseed “eggs” because I have a big bag of golden flaxseed, a spice grinder I got as a present, and access to water.  To make a flaxseed egg: In a spice grinder like this one (always grind coffee in a burr grinder with multiple settings!), combine 1 tablespoon of golden flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water.  Grind until gelatinous.  (You can use pre-ground flaxseed, but I find that whole seeds keep better.)

Preheat the oven to 350F, and set your timer somewhere between 7-10 minutes.  My oven runs hot, so I stick to 8.

Let the margarine sit for a minute to soften.  You can pre-grind the flax egg while you’re doing this–time management, people!  Put it and the 1/2 cup of peanut butter into the bowl, and smash up the margarine with a spoon.  This will make it slightly easier to blend your creamy things.  Use the hand mixer to cream the margarine and peanut butter.

Measure and add sugars–both–and beat with the hand mixer again.  Add the flax egg and vanilla, then beat more.

Now, retire your hand mixer and add all other non-chocolate-chip ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) and mix until integrated with a spoon.  Add the chocolate chips last.

Grease a cookie sheet and drop by spoonful onto the sheet.  Roll these lumps of dough into balls and flatten with your fingers into small disks of moderate thickness.

Again, bake for 7-10 minutes–know your oven!

Let cool briefly on the cookie sheets, then transfer to wire racks to complete the process. Remember, cookies are done when the tops start to crack and turn brown.  They should NOT be hard coming out of the oven–they will set as they cool, even though my boyfriend will not let them.