Peanut-Ginger-Sesame Cookies

January 30, 2010

I loved these cookies.  They’re pretty and they taste good.  There’s a lot of strong flavors, but I thought they were great.  Think of your usual ginger molasses cookies, but with a twist.  I took a plate of these to a girls’ get-together recently, and they all got eaten!

The original recipe came from Veganomicon.  It called for brown rice syrup, but since I didn’t have any, I substituted it with molasses.  As usual, I made a half recipe, which is what’s posted here.

By the time I got around to taking picture of these, there were two left. This is the prettiest one. :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. plus 2 T. flour.  (I used 1 c. all-purpose whole wheat flour, and 2 T. whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. ground ginger
  • 1/8 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. vegan shortening, softened (Spectrum organic shortening works great)
  • 1/4 c. peanut butter
  • 2 T. molasses
  • 1/2 c. sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1/4 c. soy milk
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t. almond extract (could use more though)
  • 1/3 c. candied ginger, finely diced
  • 1/3 c. sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, and cinnamon, and set aside.

In a small bowl, use electric beaters to cream the shortening until light and fluffy, about 3 mins.  Add the peanut butter, maple syrup, sugar, soy milk, and extracts, and continue to beat until creamy, 4 to 5 mins.  Stir in the flour mixture using a wooden spoon or a spatula, then add the chopped candied ginger and stir until a firm dough forms (mine was much wetter and stickier than I thought it should be, but the cookies turned out fine).

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls, and roll each in sesame seeds, then in sugar.  Place on the prepared cookie sheet, leaving a good amount of room between each cookie.

Bake for 10 to 11 mins. for chewy cookies, and up to 14 mins. for harder, crunchier cookies (The ones I made were chewy).

Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.  Enjoy!  :)

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This is a delicious pasta dish that we came up with all by ourselves.  After a quick trip to Trader Joe’s that involved grabbing a random assortment of veggies, we threw it all together.  It’s kind of a mix between a pasta and a salad.  Overall, it’s super healthy, and tastes great.  The coolest part of the whole thing was finding fresh brussels sprouts sold still on the stalk.  It turned out so good, I had to write it down.  I even took pictures!

Ingredients:

  • approx. 15 brussels sprouts, cut into quarters
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 handfuls sugar plum tomatoes, halved  (cherry tomatoes would be great too)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. pasta
  • approx. 3 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh arugula, about 1 handful per serving
  • balsamic vinegar, to taste

Preparation:

1. Saute garlic and onions on medium heat with about 2 T. olive oil until they begin to get translucent.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

2. Saute brussels sprouts with the other tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned on the edges.  Reduce heat to medium, add salt and pepper, and finish cooking until tender.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente, drain and set aside.

4. When everything is done, combine brussels sprouts with the onions, tomatoes, and pasta.  Stir gently.  Serve with a handful of fresh arugula on top of the pasta, and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar for an extra kick.

Note:  This dish is extra good when served with a piece of crusty Italian bread and a glass of wine.  Drinking wine and nibbling on bread while cooking is definitely encouraged.  Finish the meal with a few pieces of dark chocolate.  : )

Other note: we used some whole-wheat, wide noodles that were found in my cabinet.  I’m sure it’d be just as good with other pasta shapes as well.

This cake is delicious.  It’s incredibly moist, and not too sweet or dense.  In fact, my non-vegan boyfriend said it was the best German Chocolate cake he’s ever had.  He said it’s better than anything he’s had at Sweet Life, a bakery in Eugene that’s known for their amazing vegan cakes.  Then, he said that he’s decided he likes vegan cakes better than normal ones.  Yup, it’s THAT good.  :)

The finished product...

Inside-Out German Chocolate Cake

The ‘cake’ part of this cake is courtesy of One World Café

For the Cake:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (try Nayonaise)
1/2 cup applesauce

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray 3 8-inch round pans with nonstick cooking spray and lay parchment paper on the bottoms.

2. In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the soy milk, vanilla, “mayonnaise,” and applesauce until smooth.

4. Slowly add to the dry mixture and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  After a few minutes, take cakes out of pans and let cook on wire racks.  Cool completely before icing.

The filling recipe originally comes from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen Blog

For the Filling:
1 cup plain soymilk
1/3 cup coconut milk (may use lite coconut milk)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water until smooth
2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (original recipe calls for pecans)

In a medium saucepan, mix the soymilk, coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla together. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Cook for one minute after it boils. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans.

Allow to cool for about 10 minutes (mixture should still be warm) before spreading on cake.
Makes enough for one 3-layer 8-inch cake.

Here's what my cake looked like before I put the ganache on. The frosting layers are almost as thick as the cake layers!

For the ganache topping…
2-1/2 sticks unsalted Earth balance vegan butter (1-1/4 c.)
10 oz. semisweet chocolate (can use vegan chocolate chips)
3 T light corn syrup

To prepare the topping, melt the vegan butter in a sauce pan.  Remove it from the heat and add the chocolate in small pieces, stirring until the chocolate is melted. Stir in the corn syrup.  Reserve 1 cup in a bowl and place it in the fridge to thicken, about 1 hour.  Stir well occasionally until it reaches a spreadable point.  Keep the rest of the chocolate mixture at room temperature.

To Assemble:

1. Place 1 cake on a cake plate and frost the top with half of the coconut filling. It will be thick.  Place another cake on top and frost, then place the last cake on top.

2. Using the ganache that was in the fridge, frost the top and sides of the entire cake.  This will be a pretty thin layer.

3. Carefully pour the rest of the ganache over the top of the cake, and let it drip down the sides.  Be careful!  I didn’t use all of mine.  You don’t want it to overflow down the bottom of the cake and get the plate all gross.  It should be smooth and glossy, with pretty drips down the sides when you’re done.
Makes 8 to 10 BIG servings of cake.
Note: I screwed up on the ganache with the cake I made.  I used unsweetened Baker’s chocolate, and had to then add a bunch more sugar to make it sweet enough.  However, the sugar that I added didn’t quite dissolve, so the ganache was a bit crunchy in the end.  It wasn’t horrible, but don’t make the same mistake I did.  It’s better smooth.

This was the first time I made these, and I think they turned out pretty good.  They could have been a little bit more light and fluffy, but they still tasted good.  The chocolate on top really made a difference.  Overall, it’s super easy to make, and takes a surprisingly short time to make.  I think this recipe originally came from the blog, Hell Yeah, It’s Vegan.  It uses peanut butter instead of marshmallow.  Here it is:
Ingredients:

1 c. light corn syrup

1 c. sugar

1 c. peanut butter (I used crunchy, but either would be good)

6 c. puffed rice cereal (can be found in the healthy section of the grocery store.  I forget which kind I used…  it was something made for kids, but it worked really well)

a good-sized handful of vegan dark chocolate chips (for drizzling on top)

Heat the corn syrup, sugar, and peanut butter in a pan on the stove.

Heat slowly on medium heat until the sugar dissolves—and stir a lot. Remove from heat and stir Rice Krispies in right away.  Spread into a greased pan, and heat up the chocolate chips in the microwave.  Drizzle the chocolate on top, and chill until firm.  That’s it!

I don't think this picture quite does the pie justice... but it was pretty delicious.

I’ve never had Banana Cream Pie before this.  Somehow, there was always just something better to make, something safer to eat.  We got a ton of ripe bananas from Limbo’s recently though, and I decided to give it a try.  It actually turned out pretty good.  The crust was pretty crumbly, but has a good taste.  The filling wasn’t too sweet, and is fairly healthy, considering.  The recipe I used for the crust came from a book called Gluten-Free Baking Classics.  I forget where the filling recipe originally came from… but here it is:

GF Banana Cream Pie

For this recipe, it’s best to use bananas that are ripe but not overripe.

Makes about 6 to 8 servings.

To make the crust (Tart Shell Crust from Gluten-Free Baking Classics):

1 c. Brown Rice Flour Mix*

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1 t. xanthan gum

5 T. cold unsalted butter (I used salted butter, and it was fine)

1 t. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan or tart pan.

Combine flour, sugar, and xanthan gum in a large bowl of an electric mixer or food processor.   Add butter and mix or pulse on low speed until crumbly.  Add vanilla and mix well.  Press into bottom and up sides of pie or tart pan.

Bake in center of oven for about 18 mins or until light golden.  Cool on rack in pan until filling is ready.

Note: I usually like to mix things by hand, but this is a recipe where I did bring out the electric mixer.  I think it made a big difference, and I would definitely recommend it for this recipe.

*Brown Rice Flour Mix is 2 parts brown rice flour, 2/3 parts potato starch (not potato flour), and 1/3 part tapioca flour.  That translates to 6 cups brown rice flour, 2 cups potato starch, and 1 cup tapioca flour.  There’s not really an easy way to break that down into units for just one cup of mixture, so it’s best to just make a batch of it and save it for later.  This mix can also be used for cookies, coffee cakes, etc.

Here's what my crust looked like when it came out of the oven.

To make the filling:

1 1/2 c. plain soy milk

1 1/2 T. maple syrup (you could also use an alternative liquid/syrup sweetener)

4 T. unsweetened shredded coconut

2 t. vanilla extract

3 T. arrowroot powder

3 ripe bananas (lightly speckled with brown)

juice of one-half lemon (about 1 1/2 T.)

Combine the milk, syrup, coconut, vanilla, and arrowroot powder in a blender. Blend for two or three minutes until smooth. Pour this mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly to avoid burning.

As soon as the mixture reaches a boil, lower the heat and cook for three or four minutes, whisking constantly, until thick. Remove from heat and cool for fifteen minutes.

Meanwhile, slice two of the bananas and arrange the slices evenly over the bottom of the baked crust.

Slowly and carefully, pour the cooled creme mixture over the bananas, spreading evenly with a rubber spatula.

Slice the remaining banana into a small bowl. Sprinkle lemon juice on the slices, then toss well to coat all of the slices (this prevents discoloration). Arrange these slices on the top of the creme. Cover loosely and refrigerate for two or three hours before serving.

Variation:

Sprinkle bananas on top of the pie with additional shredded coconut, or with finely chopped almonds or walnuts.  Or make a pretty design on the top with the sliced bananas and some nuts.

Gluten-Free Coffee Cake

January 1, 2010

We have this great little book called You Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free!, and so far, it seems to be just about the only one with decent gluten-free recipes in it.  I’ve been veganizing a few of them, but there’s a few recipes that call for yogurt, and soy yogurt is something we always seem to be out of.  I still can’t find a good one in the stores.  We tried the Nancy’s Soy Yogurt, which is pretty bad, but it worked in this recipe.  The recipe called for 2 eggs, so I tried using one flax seed egg, and one Ener-G Egg Replacer egg.  It worked pretty well.  Due to the potato starch base, it’s a very ‘white’ coffee cake, but it’s definitely good tasting.  It’s very light and fluffy, and perfectly moist.

So, I know it looks a little weird. I think I mis-measured and added a little too much vegan butter to the topping, and that's what made the wholes. It tasted good though. :)

Ingredients:

1/4 c. oil

1/2 c. sugar, 100 grams

1 flax seed egg (whip up 1 T. ground flax seed with 3 T. water until smooth and creamy)

1 Ener-G Egg Replacer egg (1 1/2 t. Ener-G Egg Replacer whipped up with 1 T. water)

1/2 c. plain soy yogurt

1 c. potato starch (we ran out, so I used 3/4 c. potato starch, and 1/4 c. corn starch)

2 t. baking powder

1/4 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

1 1/4 t. vanilla extract

1 t. xanthan gum

Topping:

1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1/4 c. brown sugar

3 T. butter (I think I accidentally used a little more than this)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9-inch round or square baking pan.

Combine the oil with the sugar in a medium-sized bowl.  Make the egg replacers, and add them to the mixture.  Beat with an electric mixer until batter is a little thicker (I just did this by hand).  This will take a minute or two.  Add the other dough ingredients.  Beat well.  The batter will thicken a little.  Pour into the prepared baking pan.

Mix all the topping ingredients together in a bowl, until they crumble.  Sprinkle evenly on top of the dough.

Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle tests cleanly.

Creamy Onion Soup

January 1, 2010

This is an old family recipe that I really enjoyed as a kid, but wasn’t sure how it would turn out veganized.  Surprisingly, it turned out great.  It was super easy to make, and is healthier than I thought it might be.  Thanks to Wendy, we had gluten-free mock rye bread to work with for the croutons.  :)

Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients:

Rye Croutons (recipe follows)

3 medium-size onions

3 T. Earthbalance vegan butter

½ t. caraway seeds

¼ t. thyme leaves

1 T. flour (I used brown rice flour to make it gluten-free)

2 c. vegetable stock

¾ c. soy milk

salt and white pepper

Prepare Rye Croutons; set aside.

Rye Croutons

Start with 6 slices of rye bread.  Cut bread into ½-inch cubes; set aside. Heat 4 T. olive oil in a wide frying pan over medium heat.  Mix in 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed.  Add bread cubes and stir until coated w/ oil mixture.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake in a 325 degree oven for 15 to 20 mins or until crisp and well browned.  Should make about 2 cups.

Gluten-free mock rye croutons with garlic, hot out of the oven.

To make Soup:

Remove stem and root ends from onions; cut in half lengthwise and thinly slice each half length-wise so that it falls into slivers.

Melt butter in a 2 to 3-quart pan over medium heat.  Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned (about 15 mins).

Mix in caraway seeds and thyme, then stir in flour to coat onions.  Stirring constantly, slowly pour in stock and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 mins.

In a blender or food processor, whirl about half of the onions and a little broth until smooth.  Return puree to pan and stir in soy milk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soup is steaming.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Top each serving w/ croutons.  Makes about 4 cups.

Creamy onion soup

Peanut Butter Cups

January 1, 2010

I’ve been wanting to make these for a while now…  but never quite knew how.  In fact, they were surprisingly simple and easy to make, with little preparation, and few ingredients.  This recipe originally came from a blog called Hell Yeah, It’s Vegan.  They turned out delicious.

Peanut Butter Cups
makes 12 pieces of candy
12 oz vegan chocolate
 (I used the dark chocolate chips from Bob’s Red Mill)

1 c peanut butter (I used crunchy, but creamy pb would be closer to the original recipe)

½ c confectioner’s sugar

pinch of salt

12 paper cupcake wrappers

Carefully trim off the top halves of the sides of the cupcake wrappers, so they’re half their height.  This can be done by cutting a stack of wrappers all at once – it goes a lot faster than doing each one individually.  Place in a cupcake pan.

In a double boiler or microwave, melt chocolate (I pretty much always use the microwave).  Place a small dollop of chocolate inside a cupcake wrapper. Using the back of a spoon, carefully spread the chocolate so that it evenly coats the bottom and sides of the wrapper, making sure not to leave any gaps or thin spots. Repeat until all cups have been lined with chocolate.

Refrigerate until chocolate sets.
Meanwhile, mix together the peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, and salt. If you’re making these traditional way, the mixture will be very hard to blend; just keep working it. With your hands, form 12 flat, circular discs of the peanut butter mixture.

Once the chocolate has set, press a peanut butter disc into each chocolate cup. If needed, remelt chocolate briefly. Drop a spoonful of chocolate onto the top of each peanut butter disc, being sure to spread it to reach the edges of the wrappers. Refrigerate to set.

These store pretty well in a refrigerator or freezer.  They can be good served at room temperature, so that the chocolate will be a little melty in your mouth, or just straight from the freezer.