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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Baked!

Cupcakes and cookies, that is!  That's right.  Once again Courtney and I have come up with masterpieces in the kitchen.  Saturday has become my very favorite day.  I look forward to it all week.  I start out my day with hot Power Flow yoga, followed by volunteering at Heartland Farm Sanctuary.  I love all the wonderful farm animals that founder Dana Barre has saved!  Each one has a unique personality and it's such a joy to see them living their lives freely.  Ever see a pig joyfully run about and wiggle it's butt in little bounds like a dog?  It's quite the sight!  After my volunteering I head off to Courtney's to bake all afternoon followed by another hot yoga class.  The double classes are so I don't feel so bad for consuming all the baked goods we just made!  You really can't stop at just one!  This past weekend we made S'mores Cupcakes and Snickerdoodle cookies.  Once again these are Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero creations from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  (Can you tell I love these books?)

First, a little note.  Any vegan knows it's damn near impossible to find vegan graham crackers.  I have never been able to find them.  Apparently Keebler's makes some without honey, but who wants all the processed and hydrogenated crap in their crackers?  Not me!  So just make your own!  I'll include the recipe here.  Also from VCIYCJ.

Graham Crackers
Makes 12 crackers

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
A scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil
2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup nondairy milk

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a light colored baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Make a well in the middle and pour in oil, molasses, and vanilla.  Give the liquid ingredients a quick whisk with a fork and then continue mixing until everything is well combined and crumbly.
Drizzle in the nondairy milk and combine.  Use your hands to knead the dough a few times until it holds together; add and extra tablespoon of nondairy milk if needed.  You should be able to form a pliable ball of dough.
Line a work surface with parchment paper.  Place the dough on the parchment and work into a rectangle.  Flatten it a bit with the palms of your hand and sprinkle with flour.  Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle that is roughly 10 X 14 inches.  The dough should be about 1/8 inch thick.  If the edges look crumbly, that's okay.
Cut the edges off so that you have a relatively even 12 X 8 inch rectangle.  Cut the dough into eight crackers; to do this evenly, use a sharp paring knife to slice the dough in quarters.  Then cut width-wise again on either side of the center width-wise cut.  That probably made it sound confusing; read it slowly.
Use a very thin, flexible spatula to transfer the crackers to a baking sheet.  It helps if you spray the spatula with cooking spray so that it slips off the crackers easily.
Gather up the scraps of dough and form them into a ball, then roll it out into a 4 by 8 inch rectangle or whatever size you can manage.  We were able to get four more crackers out of the deal, but your mileage may vary.  Cut the edges evenly and slice into four crackers, then transfer them to the baking sheet.
Score each cookie with a fork four times in two columns.  You don't need to poke all the way through.  Bake for 12 to 14 minutes - 14 minutes will give you nice crispy crackers, 12 will be better for making ice cream sammiches.
Let the crackers cool completely on the baking sheet.

S'mores Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup soy yogurt
1 1/4 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

For the topping:
Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)
6 graham cracker rectangles, broken in half
Extra graham cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Mix the brown sugar, oil, molasses, yogurt, soy milk, and vanilla in a large bowl.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a separate bowl and mix.  Add the graham cracker crumbs and mix it up.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet in three batches.  Mixing well after each addition.  Fill cupcake liners full.  (They don't rise much.)  Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.  Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before decorating.

Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening 
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance!)
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain soy milk or soy creamer

Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.  Add the vanilla and soy milk, beast for another 5 to 7 minutes until fluffy.

To assemble the cupcakes:

Spread or pipe a thick layer of the vegan fluffy buttercream frosting onto each cupcake.  We like to use a wide decorating tip to create a swirly mountain of yumminess.  Sprinkle the cracker crumbs over the frosting.  Drizzle with ganaches'mores warm chocolate thing or allow to set.  It tastes yummy either way!  We also put Dandie's Vegan Marshmallows on top to make it even more fancy!



City Girl Snickerdoodles 
(slightly modified with almond extract)
Makes 2 dozen cookies

1 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons nondairy milk
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cinnamon sugar for rolling:
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons white decorator sugar, or any large crystal sugar
1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon
A big pinch of nutmeg

In a large bowl cream the margarine and sugar together until light and creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary.  Add the nondairy milk and vanilla and almond extracts and beat until combined.  Sift the flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt and beat mixture until a soft dough forms, about 4 minutes.  Dough will be soft and fluffy.  Chill dough for 30 minutes.  Or, if desired, cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a small shallow bowl, combine the sugar, decorator sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Scoop 1 tablespoon of dough, drop it into Cinnamon Sugar, and gently roll it into a ball.  Place the dough balls on cookie sheets about 3 inches apart.  Sprinkle the top of each cookie with a little additional Cinnamon Sugar.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes.  Cookies will be puffed and will deflate after removing from the oven.  Allow the cookies to cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets before moving to wire racks to complete cooling.  Store in a loosely covered container.

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