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IMG_1694Baking awesome vegan cookies should come with a warning – WILL HAVE PEOPLE BEGGING FOR MORE! This is especially true if you send the hubby to the office along with a box of fresh cookies. A few days later you start getting comments like, ‘when are you thinking of testing more cookie recipes?’ or, ‘so and so broke up with his girlfriend and needs a pick me up’ etc etc. Obviously, if you consider yourself a vegan cookie fairy, bringing happiness and peace to the world with decadent cookies, or if you just want to avoid an office revolution; HOW can you resist!  So, off I went, with the excuse of an office-full of hungry men (and a few curious ladies ‘on a diet’), I decided to take the advantage of having ‘mouths to feed’ to try another cookie recipe from my current cookbook craze, Bake and Destroy.

Since they loved last week’s Cowboy cookies so much, I decided to make their chocoholic brothers, aka German’s Chocolate Cookies. Holy Moly! JACKPOT! 

Like my cowboy cookies, I switched up a few ingredients;  replacing the flours with all whole wheatIMG_1691 pastry flour, reducing and replacing the sugar with a mix of brown sugar and maple syrup, and replacing the canola oil with coconut oil. I toasted both the pecans and coconut shreds before folding them in the batter. I also added larger chunks of broken up chocolate instead of chocolate chips. Wow, it made for a pretty darn good cookie! Like suggested on the recipe, I undercooked them a bit and they turned out to be the softest and most decadent chocolate cookies! 

I think tuning down the amount of sugar in chocolate recipes is especially good because I prefer the more bitter chocolates, where the chocolate flavor really pops. And it totally did in these cookies, with the unexpected crunch from pieces of pecans… YUM!!!

I must admit, I did keep a few for myself…!

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Just the other day I was enjoying the sun in my t-shirt and today it is the most miserable and wet day! I hate abrupt weather changes; they always make me feel groggy. I felt like I needed a little pick me up, and the hubby was begging for cookies. So, I decided to revisit an old favourite, the Cowboy Cookie. These were one of the first cookies I made when I became vegan. My ‘newbie vegan’ cookbook collection was basically all of Isa’s books! I love her so much, she really made my shift a painless one!

Check out her awesome site http://www.theppk.com

I have always loved these cookies, but I thought the time had come to make them a little more health friendly. Here is the revisited recipe with some ingredients changed out according to what I prefer to put in my desserts. I replaced the white sugar with maple syrup, as I didn’t think the flavor would bother in this bold cookie (and it doesn’t). I also replaced the canola oil with coconut oil, my favourite for baking. Since there already is some coconut in the recipe, the oil just makes the coconut flavor pop even more. Finally, I also replaced the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour. These cookies are so super good! Keep in mine that they are more of a ‘meal cookie’, not a cookie you would have after lunch with coffee (unless you are SUPER hungry). These guys are power houses! Hubby likes to have one for breakfast. 

This recipe makes many giant cookies! So, share the love!

Ingredients (for 20 large cookies)IMG_1602

– 2 cups rolled oats
– 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 2/3 cup coconut oil
– 2/3 cup maple syrup
– 3/4 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 cup nondairy milk
– 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (I sometimes replace with chia)
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 generous cup shredded coconut
– 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
– 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or cookie sheets.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, sugar, milk, flax seeds, and vanilla. Let sit 5 minutes. If your coconut oil isn’t liquid, you will want to whisk really well to make sure there aren’t any huge clumps of it anywhere.

Fold half the dry mix into the wet and once moist, add in the rest of the flour mix. Once combined add in the coconut shreds, chocolate chips and pecans. 

For each cookie, drop a golfball size of dough on the sheet, keeping 2 inches between each cookie. Gently press down with your fingers to flatten it a bit and give it a nice round shape. This version of the dough is way less sticky to your fingers so this is an easy process.

Bake in the oven for 14-15minutes, as soon as you see a bit of color around the edges, take them out. Be careful not to over-bake them or they will become rock hard! Let rest 5minutes on the baking sheet and then fully cool on the wire rack. 

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I have some awesome news to share! I am going to be attending culinary school in NYC in the fall! YAY! I am super excited because it isn’t just any culinary school, it is the chef program at the Natural Gourmet Institute. Its main focus is healthy eating, which is just perfect for me. In fact, in my application letter I wrote that I was beyond excited to have found a school which won’t make me learn how to cook Foie Gras or live lobster! (without considering the heart disease or heart attack I would get just looking at those dishes) Most of the program is vegan with classes such as: knives and knife skills (yikes), the politics of food (interesting!), cost control and pricing, Ayurveda and cleansing and detoxing with living foods, cooking whole foods, and finally, baking and dessert technics (drool! drool! drool!). The program makes wonderful use of the city with visits to the colorful and abundant farmers’ market, and offers great internships in restaurants like Pure Food and Wine

What is funny is WHERE I found out about this program… Well, it was when I received my shiny new copy of Chloe’s Kitchen. I was reading her biography and I became interested in her NYC education. Right away I wondered if she had gone to a ‘traditional’ culinary school or if she had had some sort of vegan training (I mean, her desserts are INCREDIBLE!). A few google searches and websites later I was emailing the school to see if they had any space left in their october class. Thankfully, the lady of admissions was super kind and I got all my application done in less than one week; and I got in! I am sure it will be a great adventure!

But now, let’s talk Chloe’s Kitchen!

Goodness, I am SO in love with this cookbook. It has everything I look for; mouth watering pictures, simple and fast recipes, and a friendly feel. After a few weeks exploring it, it is now FULL of comments, Post-Its, splashes and even a few ripped pages! I have tried so many recipes I can’t even think clearly.

These are some of the most memorable ones which have become staples in my kitchen.

Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes with(out) Raspberry Sauce: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, soy milk, canola oil, white vinegar, vanilla extract and semisweet chocolate chips

No you are NOT dreaming! This baby is a molten lava cake (p.212 – 213)!!! So EASY and perfectly divine I could’t even believe it! I have been making this once a week since I got the cookbook. It is just perfect for chocoholics like me. I sometimes even just prepare 6 ramekins in the fridge and cook them whenever I feel like a choco fix. You would imagine it would be hard to get the perfectly crunchy and airy crust, with a divine chocolaty melt inside. Well it isn’t! By adding a generous spoonful of chocolate chips to the ‘heart’ of the ramekin, you get that perfect melt without the hassle. SUPER simple. 

What I also love about this recipe is that is doesn’t use margarine. I don’t know what it is about it; but I am not a huge fan of using lots of margarine. So, seeing that the recipe called for canola oil instead was perfect. I feel it is healthier. I am also planning to try and substitute some of the ingredients sometime soon like replacing the soy milk with some coconut milk to see if it adds creaminess, allowing me to maybe reduce the amount of oil needed.

I cannot comment on the raspberry sauce which comes with the recipe because, I must admit, I have been way too busy with my eyes glued to my rising cakes in the oven to be able to concentrate on making a coulis! 

Since we are evidently going by ‘favorites’, the second most memorable recipe were the “Chlostess” Creme-Filled Cupcakes” (p.205) (I totally have some in the oven NOW). BOY are these divine! They are super fun to bake and really make an impression. I enjoyed getting a little creative with the decoration and brought them to a few ‘social events’. They were always very popular. A super bonus, in my mind, is that they taste absolutely fresh even after 3days in the fridge. There is something about the lightness and fluffiness of the cake which is perfect.

“Chlostess” Creme-Filled Cupcakes: chocolate cake, buttercream filling and chocolate ganache topping

Banana Cupcakes with Lemon Icing: banana, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, coconut milk and more!

Since we are in the topic of cupcakes, the Banana Cupcakes with Lemon Icing are to die for! (p. 199 – 200)They are so unbelievably light and tasty. I think they have the perfect balance of spices. The icing is also a blissful balance between sweet and sour. These are definite winners!

Another dessert I baked were the Cinnamon-Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies (p. 221). Something about this recipe didn’t convince me 100%. I think they were just too sweet. The texture was perfect tho because you had a great crunch on the outside with a nice gooey interior. I think I just need to remake them with way less sugar. The recipe calls for 1 cup powdered sugar plus 1/2 cup brown sugar. It might be that the powdered sugar is just way too sweet. However, the mix between the coffee and the chocolate chips was super delicious. I think they would make great “coffee time cookies”!

Cinnamon- Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies: flour, cinnamon, margarine, instant espresso powder, baking powder, salt, powdered sugar, brown sugar, chocolate chips

Those are all the desserts I have tried for now. I tend to get obsessed with awesome desserts and make them over and over again. No worries tho, those Baked Sprinkle Doughnuts on page 197 are calling my name! I will probably test drive them this weekend.

I do think this is one of those cookbooks (like Vegan Table) that you will probably cook from start to finish. So many great recipes!

Okay, so I am prying myself away from sweets to chat about main courses I have tried.  First of all, we should remember the classics.

Avocado Pesto Pasta: fresh basil, pine nuts, avocados, lemon juice, olive oil

Alfredo Sauce: onions, olive oil, raw cashews, water, lemon juice, seasoning

These two have become kitchen staples. Their recipes are shared and talked about in other parts of this blog. However, in the meantime here are few tips and tricks I learned:

  • Always soak the cashews for at least 30mins in water before mixing them. This will give you a much creamier sauce, without the little grainy pieces.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of water to the avocado pesto to make it creamier and less heavy. 
  • Mix in a handful of soaked cashews to the avocado pesto for a creamier finish.
  • Add a tablespoon of nutritional yeast to the Alfredo Sauce for more taste.
  • Add Shiitake mushrooms roasted in soy sauce to the Alfredo sauce to add some different texture and more ‘saltiness’.
  • Use the left over Alfredo sauce to make a vegan ‘Pomodoro e Mascarpone’ sauce the next day. Just add in a few tablespoons tomato puree and you are ready to go! 

Easy Peasy Pasta Salad: potato, peas, tomato sauce, Dijon mustard, capers, oregano, basil, and more

Now for the newly discovered recipes. I really enjoyed the Easy Peasy Pasta Salad (p. 57). We have been having some super hot days recently and this is something which is very much appreciated for a refreshing, yet filling, lunch. The sauce is surprisingly creamy. Since I am not a huge fan of mustard I added a little less than called for, and I think it was just perfect for me. 

Lastly, this is a recipe I made last night and I called my mom up right away because she LOVES this! (I promised I would make it for her next time she visits) It is a soul satisfying Warm Spinach – Artichoke Dip with Tortillas (p. 41). I admit, I was VERY nervous to try this recipe because I was a huge fan of the ones made at CPK or Cheesecake Factory (not the most healthy, I know), when I was not yet vegan. I was afraid it would not live up to my memories and expectations. But it DID!!! It was incredibly tasty, cheesy, and melty! The entire portion was basically my fiancé and myself’s dinner last night. It was too perfect. The only ‘cheesiness’ needed is achieved with some nutritional yeast and soft tofu brings in the creaminess. (sorry, no picture of this recipe yet because we were just too much in cheesy heaven!)

I rarely cook with soft tofu, unless it is to cube it into miso soups. This recipe really opened my eyes on it’s potential for creaminess. I now understand why people love it so much in chocolate mousse desserts. To be explored!

I will be back with more Chloe talk soon as soon as I check out some more recipes!

ENJOY!

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I am back on my mission! 

These cookies were again from Isa’s book,  Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I promise, I will change cookbook next time! I was just too tempted to try making Gingerbread cookies when I found some cookies cutters in my pantry. Again, this was my first time making gingerbread cookies, as they are not too popular here, but I used to eat a lot of them when I lived in NYC.  Needless to say, they had some pretty divine cookies to measure up to.

I was a little skeptical while making the batter that they would taste good. I never actually thought the ginger taste was ACTUALLY ginger! I am not a huge fan of powdered ginger, but I trusted Isa and finished the recipe. I added a little more cinnamon than was called for, because I am a cinnamon junkie. Surprisingly, the smell of the dough wasn’t anything like the smell of the baked cookie. Which is strange. The baked cookies smelled divine and didnt remind me of the powdered ginger.

If you are interested in trying these cookies, which I think you should, it is also good to keep in mind that the dough has to be refrigerated one hour before you can flatten it and make the forms. It is therefore best to start making the dough early so you have enough time, and on a full stomach. I found the dough very easy to work with and to make my forms. There were no gingerbread decapitations or casualties; so all is good.

Yes, you can say that I am part of the minimalistic Gingerbread Man movement. I like them nice and simple. I think they are cuter that way, compared to cluttered with icing.

These cookies are now also part of my top faves. They were nice and crunchy on the outside, but still soft on the inside. The taste was exactly how I remembered my NYC cookies. So it was an absolute success. The only issue I see with these cookies is that you can get tired of eating them, unlike some of the previous, more common cookies. My boyfriend doesn’t seem to agree, I made twelve cookies for 5pm and by 9pm, one was left (I had only one!). So it is safe to say he enjoyed them!

ENJOY!


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