Vegan MoFo Day IX : Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

It’s Vegan MoFo Day IX already!  I am so impressed by all the amazing recipes and formidable camaraderie taking over the blogosphere.  One thing I’ve been particularly enjoying is discovering so many new blogs and bloggers!  Don’t forget to visit the Vegan MoFo Blogroll and spread the love!

Now for the cookies!

These are really like big thumb print cookies, but bigger is better, right?  As far as cookies go, I’m thinking yes!

These are a healthier peanut butter cookie baked with a big ‘ole slob of ganache in the middle – what could be better?  These make a lot, like 3 dozen, so get ready to share!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

3 to 3.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour (milling is very different here, so start with 1 cup and add more as needed.)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

generous pinch salt

1/2 cup brown sugar (plus a little extra for rolling)

1/2 white sugar

2 tbsp canola oil (this might not be necessary, depending on your peanut butter)

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cups natural peanut butter (chunky is fine)

3/4 cups non-dairy milk

1/4 water

about 1/2 cup ganache

A quick note about the ganache.  If you use the recipe here you’ll end up with just enough left for making some Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (recipe coming soon!), but please use any kind your little heart desires, ok?

Like two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.  Stir the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and stir until just mixed (too much mixing makes for gummy cookies).  This is a thickish/dryish dough, so if yours is too liquid to handle, add a little more flour until the right consistency is reached.

Now for the fun part – roll the dough into balls, a bit bigger than a walnut.  (Like two walnuts?) Roll it in the brown sugar (this is optional), then place it on the baking sheet.  Flatten it a little, then move on to the next one.  When all the dough has been rolled, you’ll need to make little holes in each cookie – the easiest way is just to wet your index and poke a hole.  Like so:

Now put them in the fridge for about 45 minutes to an hour.  While they are chilling, you can make your ganache, have a cup of tea and read a few blogs.  When that’s done, you’ll need to fill them with chocolate.  My method is to use one of Guppy’s old aspirin plungers, but you could use a spoon or whatever.  Before you start, pre-heat your oven to 165°c/325°f, then get to work!

Now it’s time to bake!  They’ll bake for about 20 minutes, depending on how thick/flat they are.  When they’re done, leave them to cool on the baking sheets, that way, they’ll brown a little more on the bottoms without burning the chocolate.

Yummah!

 

Vegan MoFo Day VII : Pumpkin Spice Hazelnut Scones

It’s the weekend!  Take a few minutes to make yourself some fragrant, fabulous and fibre-filled scones!  Now that you have your pumpkin and your roasted hazelnuts, nothing is stopping you!

Pumpkin Hazelnut Scones

This recipes makes six jumbo or 12 regular drop scones

Pre-heat your oven to 200°c or 400°f and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper or silplat.

3.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 cup fresh ground, roasted hazelnuts

1 cup pumpkin purée

2/3 cups soy milk

2 tbsp blackstrap molasses

1/4 cup sugar (we don’t like it very sweet, so add more if you do!)

4 tbsp neutral vegetable oil

First a word about the ground hazelnuts : don’t feel like you must grind them into hazelnut butter (though that would be tasty!).  Personally, I like a little crunch, so when grinding I was sure to not grind it too fine.  As you like it, kids!

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix all other ingredients except the hazelnuts.  When well mixed, add the hazelnuts and stir.  Now carefully add the wet to dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon.  Try not to over-mix or you’ll get tough scones.  It’s ok if there are a few floury patches – don’t worry! Be happy, you’re going to have scones!

These are drop scones – my personal favourite – a lovely compromise between a biscuit-y texture and sconey taste.  Decide if you want to make 12 normal scones or 6 jumbo scones, and drop the batter accordingly.

Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, until they are slightly browned on the bottom.

Enjoy!

You can add a little ganache and some chopped hazelnuts to take this from breakfast to sexy brunch or even dessert!

Vegan MoFo Day 3 : Pumpkin Pie Pudding Bread (virtually fat free!)

Who wants some Pumpkin Pie Pudding Bread? I bet you do! It’s easy and delicious! And if my calculations are correct, almost fat free! People like fat free, right?

This isn’t ordinary pumpkin bread, it’s more like a British pudding in both texture and density.  What I was going for was basically a crustless pumpkin pie in a “cake” form (here in France we call anything, savory or sweet, baked in a loaf pan a cake).  It’s almost like a custard bread.  Still haven’t decided on a name.

The impetus of this creation was from talking with my newly vegan Auntie J (I’ll tell you more about her soon. Let’s just say she’s a rock star.) who was shocked at all the fat in the vegan and vegetarian cookbooks she’d seen. I agreed. And we were both craving pumpkin.  This was a few weeks ago, before I actually had pumpkins in my possession.

After giving things some thought, and thinking of ways to replace oil and give a dense, pumpkin custard sort of texture, I opted for apple sauce.  I tried puréed prunes, but they really changed the flavour.  The flaxseeds add some fat I suppose, but it’s pretty low as this makes two “cakes”.

I want to repeat – this is not your typical pumpkin bread!  Please don’t email me telling me that your bread turned out more like pumpkin pie than a loaf of bread. I know.  That’s what it’s so many kinds of awesome.

Now that you’ve got your pumpkin purée, nothing is holding you back, so let’s go!

Pumpkin Pie Pudding Bread

3 tbs ground flaxseeds

1/2 c. water

1/4 c. brown sugar*

1/4 c. sugar*

1 1/2 c. unsweetened apple sauce

1 1/2 c. pumpkin purée (about 400g fresh)

3 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

(*This is plenty sweet for my family, but if you like boost it up to 1/2 cup.)

Pre-heat your oven to 180°c/350°f and spray two loaf pans (I used 20cm)

Mix the flax seeds with the water until frothy, then add the sugars, applesauce and pumpkin and mix well.

In another bowl, simply stir together the remaining ingredients until combined, then combine with the wet ingredients.  Stir until just mixed and don’t fret it there are little floury spots.  Have faith!  It’s going to be fine!

Pour into the prepared pans and bake for about an hour, probably more.  Test for doneness after about 45 minutes with a toothpick just to be sure, though.

Here is the most important part – wait! Do not cut into this right away, in fact, for optimum pumpkin pie deliciousness, I would lightly cover in tinfoil or in a sealable container over night.  I know it’s a long time, but the results are worth it!

Delicious Savory Zucchini Bread (Vegan)

I grew up eating sweet zucchini breads and muffins, but never anything savory coming from the zucchini-infused bread basket. When dear Mihl of Seitan Is My Motor blogged her Savory Zucchini Bread recipe, I couldn’t wait for our heat-wave to break – I just had to try it! Mihl’s got the most delicious recipes on her blog, if you’ve never been you really ought to pay her a visit.

Zucchini Bread (Vegan)

Please don’t blame Mihl’s delicious (and super-easy to follow) recipe for the unsightly nature of this fabulous loaf. If it must be someone’s fault, it’s mine. Well, mine and Mother Nature’s who blessed us with extremely warm temperatures very early in the day.

Thinking I could “beat the heat” I mixed my dough early and let it rise while we prepared for the day. The second rise isn’t very long, and since I only had a few errands to run I thought we’d be safe…well… (if you’ve ever watched the television show I Love Lucy just imagine her saying “well…”) the errands ended up taking longer than planned (bien sûr) and the heat shot up faster than I’d planned, and we returned home to two very over-risen loaves.

Sigh.

But really, who cares? So it’s not as beautiful as I’d hoped (Guppy asked me if I could make it look like an escargot and I said pourquoi pas?). It does look like an escargot, one that had been crushed, perhaps? The important thing is the taste, and it was voted delicious by 3 out of 3 Fish (myself, Guppy and Monsieur). I was going to freeze one of the loaves, but I didn’t even have a chance, Monsieur F. digging into it, topping thick slices with the Raw Ranch Dressing I’d made. That’s ok. Just an excuse to go make more!

I’ll be submitting this lovely loaf to Yeast Spotting, your weekly dose of home-baked goodness over at Wild Yeast (thanks as usual, Susan!).

Dinos, Hedgehogs & Monsters! (It’s ok. They’re herbivores.)

Dino breads

Stegosaurus, Triceratops and Hedgehogs galore!

By now you know that we are crazy about dinosaurs here at the Fish household. We just love reading about them, playing with them, drawing them and now, well, eating them!

Happy Hedgehog
These are some fun little cinnamon & spelt rolls that were as fun to make as they were to eat. The possibilities for shaping them are only limited by your imagination (and by the heat in your kitchen…these were rising so fast I was having a tough time shaping/decorating them fast enough. It occurred to me afterwards I could have retarded them in the fridge while shaping…but hey, I’m still learning here!).

Hedgehogs & Monsters

These creations were 100% inspired by a talented foodblogger named Moira, who blogs at Tertulia de Sabores and makes me so regret I don’t speak Portuguese. However, thanks to her delicious photos, nothing is lost in translation! This amazing woman’s blog and her phenomenal Flickr photostream are more than eye-candy, they are a full-course meal! I can’t urge you enough to visit her photostream, if you’re a bread-baker (or eater), you’ll just love it!

Smiling Hedgehogs

Cinnamon & Sugar Dino-Rolls

(Sorry my metric friends, this one is in Imperial)

2 cups non-dairy milk (I used soy)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup & 1 tsp. sugar, divided (you can use 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you’d like your bread to be.

2 Tablespoons yeast

1/4 cup warm water

6 cups spelt flour

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

Pumpkin seeds, raisins, sunflower seeds, etc. for decorating

Heat the non-dairy milk to scalding and pour it into a bowl with the oil and 1/4 cup sugar. Set aside to cool. Next proof your yeast by adding it, along with the teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 cup of warm water to a large bowl. I know you don’t have to do this, but I’ve wasted time and ingredients when my yeast turned out to be anything but active, so I do. Let it set about 10 minutes or until it’s all bubbly.

When the milk has cooled (as in you can dip your finger into it without screaming), add it to the yeast mixture (because if it’s too hot you’ll kill the yeast, and that’s not cool), and add 2 cups of the flour. Stir this briskly for a few minutes, then let it sponge for about 10 minutes. It should have puffed up a bit. Now add the remaining 4 cups of flour, the salt and the cinnamon, and stir until it begins to form a ball/becomes really difficult to stir. You may need to adjust flour/water here, and that’s ok!

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead about 10 minutes, until it’s tacky but not sticky. Divide your dough into 4 pieces, and then you can either simply shape them into rolls or have way more fun and make some animal shapes!

Now preheat your oven to 375°F and let your animals/rolls rise for about half an hour, then bake them for about 20 minutes. I found that some of the pumpkin seeds were pushed out as the dinos baked in the oven, so be sure and really get them in there – or be prepared to doctor them up a little when the come out of the oven!

Do be sure and drool over all the deliciousness found over at YeastSpotting, hosted this week by Macheesmo – thank you so much for hosting, Nick!

Vegan Frangipan is as easy as pie. Or tart. Or positively scrumptious. Daring Baker’s Time, kids!

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Looking for the Sweet Freedom cookbook giveaway? You have until midnight Paris time today! Just leave a comment.

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800′s in England.

Bakewell Tart (Vegan)

I have 2 confessions to make :

Confession number one = I wasn’t very excited about this challenge.

There. I said it.

When I saw this month’s challenge recipe I found it rather uninspiring and even considered skipping out because I had a multitude of other baking obligations this month…Nearly 200 cookies for Guppy’s school (not at once), 36 savory scones for my school…I’ll stop here. I didn’t think this pudding tart thingy sounded very exciting, and just kept dragging my feet about the whole thing.

Confession number two = Sometimes I am SO wrong about things it’s funny.

My husband, Monsieur Fish, doesn’t read my blog, thankfully, so I can share with you and the monde entier that sometimes I just don’t have any idea what I am talking about (often times to myself, but I digress…).

Wednesday evening, in true last minute style, I thought I should maybe make this month’s challenge. I knew I had yet another work luncheon on Thursday, and my students had requested I bring something sweet. I shrugged my shoulders as I began setting up the kitchen and figured at least I could bring it to my students who just love to see how I transform desserts into Vegan yummies.

Yummy is rather an understatement here.

Blackwell Tart (Vegan)

I don’t know why, but as I printed out the original frangipan recipe from the forums, it dawned on me that I was about to veganize frangipan!! For many, this may seem like small potatoes, but here in France, frangipan shows up in many beloved patisseries that I’d never attempted before. Why, if I could successfully veganize frangipan, I could make a galette des rois this year. Ha!

Reading the Alternative Baking Forums I’d seen that many of my Baking possé had great success veganizing the frangipan using various strategies and ingredients. I decided to throw caution to the wind and follow the recipe as written and just swap in Ener-G egg replacer for the three eggs and to use non-dairy butter.

Oh yeah, can you get a whiff of the sweet smell of success here?

I also changed up the crust and used the Vegan Shortbread Crust from The Joy of Vegan Baking. This is a wonderful and versatile crust that I thought would work well. Rather than pre-baking the crust as per the recipe in JOVB, I put it in the freezer while preparing the frangipan, and then just followed the challenge recipe instructions.

I brought the tart to my French class and it disappeared before my very eyes. The class is made up of students from all over Europe and the world, none of them vegan. They all loved it and just couldn’t believe there were no eggs in the frangipan. Yippie! It was indeed delicious, and I’m really grateful to our hosts for proposing such a wonderful staple recipe to add to my repertoire. I for one know I’ll be making this one again.

Bakewell tartSorry about the wonky pic, we were eating outside and I had to hurry and snap a shot before the tart was all gone!

And because my work is so intertwined with my private life, I used homemade cherry and raspberry jam I’d received earlier in the week from students in my English classes. I love homemade gifts!

Homemade Raspberry Jam, I love you.

Vegan Frangipan

125g non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margerine, softened
125g powdered sugar
The equivalent of 3 Eggs (Ener-G worked perfectly here)
2.5ml almond extract
125g ground almonds
30g AP flour

Whip together the Ener-G and water with beaters, set aside. Cream margarine and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the Ener-G eggs. Beat well. The batter may appear to curdle or separate – it’s all good. Add the almond extract, almonds and flour and mix until well blended. Yum.

Do you like to play with your food? Visit The Daring Kitchen for wonderful food articles, sexy food p*rn and lovely portraits of the Daring Cooks and Bakers. Also, don’t forget to check out the other Daring Bakers and their tarts!

Rosemary Potato Bread or Potato Rosemary Bread or Really Delicious Bread

I often have a difficult time following directions.

There, I said it.

The official BBA (Bread Baker’s Apprentice) group is to work through Reinhart’s bread bible in order. Whatever.

First off, I’m not an official member. And Secondly, “I’d prefer not to.”*

Potato Rosemary Bread (Vegan)

I grew up just loving my mum’s potato rolls. I have the most vivid memories of coming home from school when perhaps 8 or 9 years old, and being greeted by the heavenly aroma of fresh potato rolls just out of the oven. My mother didn’t really bake all that much; she’s a great cook, and when she did bake it was always delicious, but I don’t have memories of her baking up a storm. That’s probably why when she did make bread or homemade rolls it was indeed a memorable treat.

Potato Rosemary Bread (Vegan)

My family eat mashed potatoes very often, but when planning dinner recently it occurred to me that I really wanted to give the Potato Rosemary Bread in BBA a try. As with most of the breads in BBA, this one is naturally vegan (and the non-vegan versions have been a “piece of brioche” to veganize).

This was also my first time baking using a biga, or pre-ferment starter. Didn’t I feel all pioneer womanesque? Oh, yes I did.

The bread was just a delight to make, and baked up just beautifully. It had a lovely, buttery taste and was disappearing so fast I decided to freeze the second loaf (which froze very well, and has also since disappeared). I’ll be submitting these lovely loaves to Susan’s Yeast Spotting, your weekly dose of beautiful breads and more.

I know many of you, my sweet and lovely readers, are Gluten-Free or try to bake GF as often as possible. I’m sorry I’m not much help, but I’d love to refer you to Natalie’s blog, Gluten A Go Go. She’s been running a series baking recipes from the Culinary Institute of America’s Baking & Pastry book Gluten-Free and the results have been extraordinary.

*While not a real fan of Melville (to the gasps and horror of the director of the English department at the University I taught at here in France) “Bartleby the Scriviner : A Story of Wall Street” is one of my preferred short stories.

Vegan Christoposomos! Greek Celebration Bread from Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Christoposomos (Vegan) from Bread Baker's Apprentice.

My explorations into the formulas in Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice continue with this festive little number, the Christoposomos, one of the Greek Celebration bread variations.

This was both exhilarating and challenging for me…nope, I never thought I’d qualify the craft of bread baking as exhilarating, but I’m learning to better appreciate all that I’d taken for granted as being easy or boring or plain in my youth, and yes, this is wild and crazy stuff! No dowdy submissive chica in the kitchen here, kids, just one punk rock veganfish listening to The Dead Milkmen and stripping the animal products from this delicious recipe.

Chopped Walnuts

All the recipes I’ve made so far from Apprentice have been very easily veganizable, and this was no exception. I used agave syrup to sub out the honey and Ener-G for the two large eggs.

About to knead in the walnuts...

I used coconut milk in this recipe because I wanted to be sure to add enough fat to the dough, and the results were just perfect. There was no lasting coconut flavour in the finished bread, but the coconut milk did lend a lovely buttery quality that was just perfect.

Christoposomos (vegan) about to go into the oven...

While this isn’t a recipe I will make often, I will indeed save this one for special occasions or for when we have guests for breakfast or brunch. It’s rather fancy and far more sophisticated than anything I’ve ever made bread-wise before, and I felt like a rock star yet again! Perhaps I’m just too easily amused?

I’d like to dedicate this Celebration Bread to Susan of Wild Yeast as she is celebrating the First Anniversary of Yeast Spotting this week! I think that is indeed reason to celebrate!

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

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Tangerine’s Kitchen is hosting this month’s Bread Baking Day, and the theme is Multigrain Breads. It’s been so long since I’ve participated in & BBD – Nearly a year! Here I am again, with a most delicious Multigrain loaf, appropriately called Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire, from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

This is the bread that almost wasn’t : A lovely, lazy Saturday afternoon and a beautifully shaped boule was proofing in the kitchen, when I heard my daughter crying in her bedroom. A nightmare had woken her up mid-nap so I calmed her down and I snuggled her…and fell asleep! When we woke up 2.5 hours later I found my boule looking more like a multigrain crêpe than anything else!

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire (Vegan)

Determined not to give up I formed a loaf and put it in a bread pan, hoping for the best… and let me tell you, it was indeed the best! The best bread I’ve made to date! I find myself saying that more and more frequently…I might be getting the hang of this bread baking thing, or The Bread Baker’s Apprentice is just brilliant. Or both.

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire (Vegan)

I used amaranth, oats, millet, wheat germ and brown rice, and I also subbed 1 cup Whole Wheat flour for bread flour. The crunchy, slightly-sweet crust and the moist, dense crumb made this an excellent bread for morning toast or sandwiches.

As always, thanks to Zorra for keeping the breads baking around the world! And be sure to check out Susan’s weekly Yeast Spotting for more beautiful baked goodness!

How muffins can save your marriage! Sweet Freedom Saturdays! (I know, it’s Tuesday…)

Anyone out there who has ever been in a relationship that lasted longer than 6 months knows that making them work can be a heap of work. The vast majority of my romantic entanglements had a shelf life rivaling a carton of soy milk – I lived for the thrill of the chase, basked in those magical first few weeks (or days, ahem) but when the cute little things started to lose their luster, I was usually off like a prom dress. So to speak.

What does this have to do with muffins you ask? A fair question. Because I was faster than Speedy Gonzales when it came to ending relationships, I also got to skip out on things like compromise and taking one for the team and shrugging off the really annoying things that seem to rear their ugly heads around the 13-month mark.

Like sleeping in on the weekend. One of Monsieur Fish’s favourite things ever.

I’m all for sleeping in, but I’m talking sleeping for hours longer then Guppy and I, both of us ready to get out and have some fun.

I try to be cool with it, but sometimes it just gets in the way of our day, or perhaps I should say my day…

Gingered Apple Muffins

Gingered Apple Muffins, sorta.

Rather than fight the currents of marital strife, I opted for the more tranquil waters one finds when going with the flow. Thanks to the muffins. These dense and delicious muffins are as delicious as they are good for you. They’re from Sweet Freedom which is full of healthier ways to eat the treats you love. I’m the only ginger fan chez nous so I swapped the candied ginger for diced dehydrated banana bits – and wow! The tender apple bits married just splendidly with the banana.

Mere moments before taking these delicious muffins out of the oven, a groggy Monsieur Fish fumbled into the kitchen declaring, “Ca sent trop bon ici. C’est quoi?”* and there he was, up before 10 a.m., eating muffins and drinking coffee. I was happy because we were together around the breakfast table (rather than finding myself fuming and looking at the clock) and he was happy because he got to eat these delicious apples à volonté. I admit it may be a light exaggeration to say that muffins can save your marriage, but they certainly can make it taste better!

So here’s the deal – I was a recipe tester for Sweet Freedom, but now that I have my copy I am biting at the bit to try all the recipes I didn’t get to test! I’m thinking of running a little series of “Sweet Freedom Saturdays” where I’ll try a new recipe from the book. Anyone want to join me?

*It smells too yummy in here, what is it?