Bananas. I’m not sure I could do with out them. So you’ll understand my feelings when, right after returning home from the grocery store, I dropped my precious four bananas on the ground. The horror! Dropping any fruit is bad, but I feel like bananas take it the worst. The insides turn to banana pulp! Crazy! And the way I dropped them was such that more than half of each banana was horribly bruised by the impact. I tried opening one to eat but couldn’t do it without a spoon, and I was a little put off by the bruising. Feeling sad and defeated, I put them in the fruit basket and tried to forget about the whole incident.

About four days later, the bananas started to get spotty. I was worried; I didn’t want to throw them out but didn’t want to eat them as is. What was I to do? A little voice sounded inside my ear and said things like, “You bake things! Bake banana things! You paid for those bananas! Use them!” I usually eat bananas too quickly to allow them to ripen, which means I don’t get the chance to bake with them. Not this time! So all is not lost, in fact, my love for banana baked goods is found again, especially with these waffles. The banana flavor isn’t pronounced, but you know it’s there, and you’ll love how the banana is complimented by oatmeal, cinnamon, and raisins. I’m going to count the banana dropping as a blessing this morning (but I promise to be more careful next time). Happy bananas for breakfast! Happy Breakfast Tuesday!

Oatmeal Banana Raisin Waffles

(Recipe only slightly adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance)

Yields exactly 4 Belgian waffles or up to 12 regular waffles

Notes: Instead of using both all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, you can use one cup and two tablespoons all-purpose flour. If you decide to use quick cooking oats, you don’t need to soak the oats in liquid mixture before adding to dry ingredients. If you don’t have nondairy milk on hand and/or don’t require waffles to be vegan, substitute whatever milk you have on hand.

Ingredients:

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup rolled, or old-fashioned, oats

1 very ripe banana, mashed well

1 ½ cups nondairy milk

3 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

¾ raisins

Method:

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, mix together oats, banana, milk, syrup, and vegetable oil. Let mixture soak for 10 minutes while you preheat the waffle iron.

3. After ten minutes, pour wet ingredients into dry and mix just until combined. A few lumps will remain. Fold in raisins, taking care not to over mix.

4. Waffle according to manufacturer’s instructions, greasing waffle iron between waffles.

If you would like to keep the waffles warm between taking them off the iron and serving, preheat the oven to 200 degrees while the oatmeal is soaking and keep waffles in the oven, on a baking sheet lined with foil, up to 30 minutes before serving. Waffles will keep, refrigerated, up to a week, and frozen up to a month.

Contrary to my normal Breakfast Tuesday cravings, I really wanted eggs. Usually I wake up on Tuesdays and can only think about pastries, or waffles, or pancakes, or anything with heaping amounts of sugar that could be classified as “breakfast”. Someone once told me that your food cravings have a lot to do with what your body feels it is lacking. According to this theory, my body is sending every signal it can think of to make it very clear that I need to eat better things (at least some of the time) because I very rarely crave eggs. Well, you gotta do what you gotta do. I needed a breakfast baketivity not based on sugar content. In such cases as these I turn to cornmeal based goods.

The biscuits themselves were denser than I predicted, but that might be because I used coarse ground polenta-type cornmeal. Not sure if there is a difference between coarse ground and stone ground, but the cornmeal didn’t bake into the biscuits very well. Otherwise, I really enjoyed their presence at my breakfast table as an accompaniment to my eggs. I also like how you can play around with the amount and type of sugar used in the recipe, depending on your dietary needs or wants on any given morning.

I'm pretty awesome. Look at that SWEET smiley face.

Cornbread Biscuits

(Recipe adapted from Vegan Brunch)

Yields 10 to 11 biscuits using a ¼ cup measure, double that if dropping by the heaping tablespoonful

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal, stone-ground preferred

2 tablespoons brown sugar (recipe calls for ¼ cup granulated sugar)

2 tablespoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup nondairy milk

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease baking sheets.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients.

3. Pour oil, milk, and vinegar into well and gently mix just until all ingredients are moistened. Lumps of flour in batter are a-okay.

4. Drop biscuits with a ¼ cup measure or tablespoon. Biscuits should be dropped about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets, as they will spread.

5. Bake 12 to 14 minutes until tops are dry and firm. Bottoms should be lightly brown.

6. Let biscuits cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving.

Biscuits are best served ten minutes after coming out of the oven, but are still yummy at room temperature. Like most biscuits, these are best the day they are made.

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

January 24, 2011

Always looking for an excuse to get together, my friends and I decided to have a little “conference game party” this past weekend to eat, I mean, watch football. Though I’m not a huge sports fan, I appreciate the ability of these events to bring people together. We decided on a finger food theme, and they consented to my bringing desserts! Yay!

One of the things I wanted to bring was some sort of miniature cookie, one that could be eaten in a bite, because of the ooh-ahh-cute value and the practicality of it at a finger food party. This post inspired me, and I was all ready to start cookie production until reading the yield. I’m still super excited to try out the recipe but I didn’t have the motivation to deal with all that dough. And the recipe would have been hard to halve because it called for just one egg. Hard pressed for time and a solution, I turned to the girl who always saves me in such circumstances, Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Minutes later, I had a recipe and an hour or so later, I had cookies!

I ended up halving to half this particular recipe, yielding 4 dozen teaspoon sized cookies, in order to make them bite sized, and chocolate chip sized. Perfect! And my favorite part about these cookies is their versatility. You could make them and eat them on their own, or you could put candy in the centers after baking, like the ridiculously adored and well-known peanut butter blossom. I’m sure there are at least dozens of other ways to utilize this cookie base, as well, like making a thumbprint and filling them with jam after baking. Hence the reason I tweaked the name, wanting to highlight their adaptability.

Cute, happy cookies in my sad, dark kitchen.

“Multipurpose” Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies (originally called Peanut Butter Crisscrosses)

(Recipe adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar)

Yields 2 dozen cookies, rolling them into generous tablespoon size balls

Ingredients:

½ cup shortening

½ cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth (Isa recommends the natural, no-stir kind of peanut butter, which is what I used, but if you don’t have the no-stir variety, make sure to stir it very well to use it in the recipe)

¾ cup granulated sugar (or brown sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons molasses or honey (if using brown sugar, eliminate this ingredient)

1 ¼ cups flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 to 3 tablespoons (non-dairy) milk

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If you have non-stick baking sheets, there’s no preparation necessary, otherwise grease your cookie sheets or line them with parchment. To get a crispy, brown bottom on these cookies, use dark metal baking sheets.

2. In a mixing bowl large enough to contain all ingredients, cream the shortening, peanut butter, and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes by hand.

3. Mix in vanilla and molasses/honey (if using).

4. Add half the flour, and the rest of the dry ingredients, and stir with a sturdy wooden spoon or using your hands to incorporate the ingredients.

5. Add the rest of the flour and keep combining the dough. If the dough will not stay together when squeezed, add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, mixing in between additions of milk until the dough comes together.

6. Pinch generous tablespoon sized pieces of dough and roll them into balls. From here you could roll them in sugar and bake as is (if you want to add some sort of mix-in on top after baking), or flatten them with the back of a glass and then use a fork to press the crisscross shape into the top of each cookie. These cookies do not spread much at all, so they only need to be an inch or so apart when placed on the baking sheets.

7. Bake each sheet in a preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned.

8. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 6 to 10 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, though after 3 days, like most baked goods, the cookies get a tad stale.

It’s that time of the week again… Breakfast Tuesday! Or “Brunch Tuesday”, if you prefer.

I’ve decided to bake breakfast things every Tuesday because A) breakfast is my favorite meal and B) Tuesdays are my day off. The only things I ever want to do on my days off are make breakfast, eat breakfast, and read in my pajamas. This routine changes ever so slightly in the summer, adding a walk around Jamaica Pond or changing my reading location from my bed to a park. However, the breakfast part never changes.

This Breakfast Tuesday is dedicated to English muffins! I realized last night that we were out of milk (both dairy and non-dairy), which rules out most breakfast baked goods, even the vegan ones. Fortunately my panic abated upon finding a recipe for vegan English muffins. And not only are they vegan, but they are simple to prepare and taste like “real” English muffins! When I bake goods commonly found on super market shelves, the comments are usually something along the line of my products tasting just like the “real thing”. This is in no way sarcastic or condescending, but I think it’s a cute comment/compliment.

Another reason for choosing to make English muffins? They are perfect vehicles for sweet condiments. Nothin’ like watching butter melt into those little air pockets, then smothering the entire thing with jam, or honey, or pumpkin butter.

Vegan English Muffins

(Adapted from Vegan Brunch)

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon active dry yeast (if you are using a packet, they usually have two teaspoons per pouch)

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 cup lukewarm water

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 ¼ teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons margarine (or butter, if you go that route), at room temperature

3 or 4 tablespoons cornmeal

Method:

1. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and cup of lukewarm water. Set aside for five minutes, until the yeast dissolves and the mixture looks milky.

2. In a bowl large enough for all the ingredients, stir together the flour and salt. Make a well in the middle and add the “aged” yeast mixture and the margarine.

3. Stir dough with a sturdy wooden spoon until sticky dough forms. This shouldn’t take more than 2 or 3 minutes.

4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, keeping the bowl out, and knead it for 6 to 10 minutes. I kneaded mine for about 8 minutes, until the dough was smooth and elastic-y feeling.

5. Put the kneaded dough back into the bowl, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm spot for an hour, or until it is just doubled in size.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, placing your baking sheet inside the oven to preheat as well, and if you are using a cast iron skillet, preheat the skillet over medium heat. If you aren’t using cast iron, you can preheat the skillet just before browning the muffins.

7. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is about ½ inch thick. Using a 3 inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut as many rounds as you can. You can roll out the scrap from around the rounds as well, giving you two or three extra muffins.

8. Place one tablespoon margarine in the preheated skillet.

9. Place the cornmeal on a plate, and pat each round in the cornmeal before placing them in the greased skillet. Don’t crowd the muffins, I did four at a time in my 9 inch cast iron skillet.

10. In the skillet, brown both sides of the muffins. This should be 2 minutes on each side. Right after browning, place the muffins on the preheated cookie sheets and slip them into the oven for 6 to 10 minutes.

11. Cool the muffins on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Store room temperature English muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, in the fridge for up to a week, OR in the freezer for up to two months.

 

On our first “date” as friends, this darling girl and I went to Sweet for cupcakes, and it has become a tradition. They switch up their menu with the change of seasons, and have special Valentine’s Day cupcakes (Which is coming up! Rejoice!), which we love because you never tire of the flavors. Conversely, though, you tend to miss the flavors you really enjoy when they are out of season, so to speak. One of those flavors is the chocolate orange cupcake, which I want to reproduce for her so she has a foolproof, easy to make recipe to use year round.

The only thing that I am deliberately changing about the chocolate orange cupcake is the cake itself. The Sweet version is a chocolate cake with orange buttercream frosting, but I would like to up the ante and find a recipe for chocolate orange cake. The first reason is personal, because I love zest in cake, but the second and REAL reason is that, just in case she doesn’t feel like making the frosting, she can simply make the cake and eat it plain. Although I’ll take this opportunity to say that I want to eat this frosting until the sun devours the Earth. Just sayin’.

All in all, I wasn’t particularly pleased with the way the cake turned out. The cupcakes were very, very crumbly, yet not overcooked. I’ve made vegan chocolate cake a few times before this, and was able to manage a moist cupcake, so naturally I was a little disappointed. The flavor was fantastic, even if it was super rich. The next time I make a vegan chocolate orange cake, I’m going to turn to Vegan cupcakes take over the world.

Random excitement, before turning over the recipe over to you, though! These cupcakes gave me a chance to use my cupcake corer!! It’s kind of a dream come true. As hard as it is to admit (because this is a baking blog, after all), I’m a frosting girl. So cupcakes filled with frosting, then topped with frosting? Yes. A thousand times, yes. I suppose you could fill them with anything you wish, but, again, this frosting is amazing.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes (vegan)

(Adapted from momofukufor2)

Yields 12 full-size cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup cocoa powder

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup orange juice

½ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon orange zest

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line your muffin tins with cupcake papers.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.

3. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together all other ingredients.

4. Make a well in the dry ingredients, then pour the liquid into the dry.

5. Mix the batter until everything is just combined.

6. Fill the cupcake liners with about ¼ cup batter, or at least make sure they all have even amounts of batter.

7. Bake tins in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, testing them at 20. When a butter knife or toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out dry, you’re done!

8. Cool the cupcakes in the tin for at least 5 minutes, then let them cool on a cooling rack until they are room temperature.

Orange Frosting (Note: NOT vegan)

(Adapted from All Cakes Considered)

Yields more than enough frosting for 12 cupcakes, if you aren’t doing any crazy piping.

Ingredients:

½ cup, or one stick, unsalted butter, room temperature

3 ½ to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar

¼ cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange extract

(Optional: 3 tablespoons of dried orange peel, or finely grated orange zest)

Method:

1. Using a mixer, cream the butter until it is smooth and fluffy.

2. Add 3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, and while mixing on low, add the evaporated milk.

3. When the sugar is incorporated, beat the frosting at a high speed for at least five minutes (I beat mine for 8 or 9 minutes, which was almost overkill). Add more confectioners’ sugar to get your desired texture.

4. Add the extracts and zest, if using, and beat on high for another minute or two until even distributed through the frosting.

To assemble cupcakes:

Exhibit A. This is what happens when you do not let the cupcakes cool to room temperature, when you don't let the ganache cool to a reasonable temperature, and when you don't even make the ganache properly because you're so intent on eating.

1. Wait until the cupcakes are room temperature!

2. Frost the cupcakes.

3. Keep them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. If kept in the fridge, bring to room temperature or let sit for 10 minutes before eating because the frosting gets a little stiff when it’s cold.

The holidays are over and everyone is fed up with cookies. Everyone, except for me. I wanted badly to make cookies, and decided to do something a little out of the ordinary… maybe I won’t get that sad, satiated look that says, “cookies, again, really?” So, without any further ado, homemade oreos!

hello, my pretties.

The recipe calls for black cocoa powder (1/2 cup regular dutch processed and ¼ cup black cocoa powder), but I didn’t have any floating around the apartment. Or on the shelf in the pantry, for that matter. The cookies made it out of the oven wonderfully, but don’t have the black characteristic color of store-bought oreos.

It’s moments like these that I really wish I had a cookie stamp, to personalize these treats. But one that connects to your brain and molds to the size and pattern of your choosing. A magic cookie stamp!!

PS- There is one more treat I need to make for my co-workers, but I’m waiting until the New Year…

Vegan Oreos

(Adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar)

Ingredients

For the cookie:

¾ cup vegetable shortening, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup nondairy milk

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

For the creme filling:

¼ cup margarine, softened

¼ cup vegetable shortening, room temperature

2 ½ to 3 cups confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

For the cookies:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Cream the shortening and granulated sugar. If using a stand or hand mixer, cream the ingredients on medium speed.

3. After a minute, when the mixture is fluffy, add the vanilla and milk, and then mix.

4. Add the remaining ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, leavening, etc.), and mix until the dough holds together.

5. If you’re not a pro at rolling, I would suggest chilling the dough for 10 or 15 minutes, but this step is not a hundred percent necessary.

Oreo halves before baking... or flying saucers??

6. Divide the dough into four equal balls. Roll the first one between two pieces of parchment paper (This cookie couldn’t really take much more flour.)

7. Using a round cookie cutter, or biscuit cutter (mine was about 1 ½ inches in diameter), cut out as many circles as you can, and place them on your lined baking sheets.

8. Bake each baking sheet in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops look dry.

9. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

10. Rinse and repeat, until all the dough has been used to make circles.

For the filling:

(You can make this while the cookies are baking, or while they are cooling. Choose your own adventure.)

1. Cream the margarine and shortening. If using a hand or stand mixer, cream the ingredients on medium-high speed.

2. Add the confectioners sugar in ½ cup increments, until the creme filling is stiff enough to roll balls without making a huge mess.

3. Mix in the vanilla extract.

Constructing oreos, a visual

To assemble:

1. Roll the filling into little balls. Isa suggests using a grape as a size benchmark.

2. Place the ball onto the flat side of the cookie, and smush it with your hands until it’s flat.

3. Place another cookie on top, to form the classic sandwich, and push it down gently until the filling comes to the edges.

Store these cookies in an air-tight container, and if it’s hot, refrigerate them until ready to serve.

It’s time for the chocolate peanut butter parade, taking place in Colleen’s kitchen, during the weekend before Christmas. Come one, come all. It’s a sight to see.

Why the parade? It seems like a third of the people I work with craved this combination. It’s kind of cool, because I rarely make these kinds of things of my own accord.

Request number four is as follows,

“anything chocolate. anything peanut butter. something with both together?” (Right next to the text is a little arrow drawn to it, and in a different handwriting is the word “magical” with a smiley face.)

Oh! Exciting! I finally whipped out my vegan cookie book from Isa, which I’ve been meaning to attack these last few months. These cookies were too much to pass up, being so cute and pillow-like. I have a thing about cookies with surprises in them; they kind of leave me breathless. I’ll admit, these chocolate peanut butter pillows are best warmed up with a glass of cold milk, but they were still good as a pick-me-up snack at work.

Also, I’m adding these cookies to my list of foods that would be perfect to sleep in or on. Could you imagine curling up inside on of these, surround by warm, soft peanut butter? I just got hit with a new fantasy, just making a suit of these cookies, with a hole for my face, and wheels so I could move around… Will stop now. My apologies. Make, and enjoy, these cookies.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows

(Adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar)

Ingredients:

Chocolate cookie:

½ cup canola oil

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup pure maple syrup (or agave syrup)

3 tablespoons of non-dairy milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups of all purpose flour

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (or two tablespoons black cocoa powder)

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

Peanut butter filling:

¾ cup salted peanut butter (either crunchy or creamy, natural or not)

2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

2-3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment, or use ungreased non-stick baking sheets.

2. To make the chocolate exterior, combine the liquid ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and mix until smooth. Then sift in the dry ingredients, and mix everything together. The dough will be shiny and

moist. Set aside.

The chocolate dough for these cookies reminds me of brownie batter. YUM.

3. In another bowl, beat together all the ingredients, except one of the tablespoon of non-dairy milk, until the dough is moist, but firm. You can use a mixer, but I was able to do it by hand. If your mixture is crumbly, add the extra tablespoon of non-dairy milk.

4. Roll the peanut butter mixture into 24 balls, about a scant tablespoon in size. I put them on a plate to make sure they didn’t get all stuck to each other before putting them in the cookie shell.

5. To form the each cookie, take a generous tablespoon of the chocolate dough, flatten the dough in your hand, making a disk about a half-inch thick. Place a peanut butter ball in the middle of the disk, and roll the chocolate dough around it. Place the ball on the sheet, or flatten it between your palms and then place on the baking sheet (about 2 inches apart).

6. Bake each sheet for 10 minutes, and let the cookies cool on the tray for five minutes after coming out of the oven, before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

These cookies are amazing right out of the oven, but make sure they cool before putting them in a sealed container for storage (like most cookies, really).

 

Don't tell me you wouldn't like to live inside this chocolate pocket (if you're not allergic to peanuts, that is).