Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Being bad tastes soooo sweet!

It has been a dream of mine for quite some time to open a vegan bakery.  Luckily I found another amazing woman who shares this dream of mine.  Courtney and I met at one of the Veg Meetups, the vegan baking meetup to be exact.  Go figure!  ;)  We love to bake and share our creations with everyone.  A lot of people who have never had vegan food before are shocked by my baking.  "I can't even tell it's vegan!" This is the popular response.  I'm not really sure what that means, or what people expect, but I'm pleased as punch when I get positive feedback.  It gets people interested and it gets your foot in the door.  I mean, let's face it, everyone loves sweets.  Everyone.  If you say you don't, you are a dirty, dirty liar and you know it!  You just say you don't, because then you think you can trick yourself into not tasting that sweet, decadent tiramisu cupcake I just made.  Or maybe a peanut butter chocolate pillow?  How about a lazy somoa, toasted coconut cookie dipped and drizzled in chocolate.  No?  Well, you're nuts!  For all of the other sane people, these treats are little pieces of heaven that melt ever so sweetly on your tongue and fill you with warm delight.  Erm.  I'm still talking about the treats people.  Focus! 

Well, Courtney and I are well on our way to making our vegan bakery dream come true.  Every Saturday we've been getting together for an afternoon of baking.  Don't worry, we followed it with Bikram Yoga to offset the amount of sweets we consumed.  ;)  I also make sure to always make food from Appetite for Reduction, so I don't have to feel so guilty.  Anyway, last weekend we decided to make Lazy Samoas from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar here and Tiramisu cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World here, both by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.  The Lazy Somoas are very similar to the Coconut Delight Girl Scout cookies, sans the caramel.  Don't worry, we'll be sure to add the caramel when we make them again.  The toasted cocnut gives these cookies a nice texture.  The tiramisu cupcakes are decadent.  The cream cheese forsting is silky, the cupcake moist, and the flavors meld wonderfully.  They taste better if you let them sit for a couple of hours after assembling, but I must admit, that is literally impossible to do! 
Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone's Favorite TreatsVegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule

Lazy Somoas
Makes 2 dozen cookies

2 cups grated unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup nondairy milk
1 T ground flax seed
1 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

For decorating
1 cup chocolate chips
2 T unrefined coconut oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Pour the coconut into a large heavy skillet and toast over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until the coconut is a light golden brown (about 8 minutes).  Be careful not to burn the coconut.  If it continues to brown after you remove it from the heat, transfer it to another dish and spread it around to help hasten cooling and stop cooking.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut oil, brown sugar, non dairy milk, flax seeds, and vanilla until well blended and smooth.  Sift in the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix to form a thick batter.  Fold in the toasted coconut.

Scoop about 1 tablespoon of dough 2 inches apart onto your baking sheets. Flatten each cookie with the back of a measuring cup and then use your fingertip to make a small hole into each center.  Bake for 8 minutes until the cookies are golden on the edges.  Let the cookies cool and then transfer them to wax paper. 

While the cookies are cooling, melt the chocolate chips using a double boiler (or in the microwave), then stir the coconut oil into the melted chocolate. Allow this chocolate mixture to cool for about 5 minutes so that it can thicken slightly.  Then dip the cookie bottoms into chocolate and return to the wax paper. Next, drizzle the remaining chocolate over the cookies (we did this using a very small pastry tip, but it can also be done using a fork).  Chill the cookies for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Store them in a very cool place (I'm keeping mine in the fridge). 

Tiramisu cupcakes

Makes 12

1 cup soy milk
1 t apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups flour
2 T cornstarch
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t almond extract (or additional vanilla)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pan with cupcake liners.

Whisk the soy milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes until it becomes curdled. 

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the soy milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla, almond extract. Sift in flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix until no large lumps remain. 

Fill the cupcake liners two-thirds of the way and bake for 20-22 minutes.

Let them cool completely before frosting. 

Cream Cheese Frosting (We recommend doubling this recipe.  You will have a little left over, but its delicious on its own by the spoonful--not that we tried that or anything!)

1/4 cup non hydrogenated margarine, softened
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese, softened (we used tofutti brand)
2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 t vanilla extract

Cream together the margarine and cream cheese.  Use a mixer to whip while adding the confectioners sugar in 1/2 cup increments. Mix until smooth and creamy and then add in the vanilla. 

Kahlua Coffee mixture

1/3 cup espresso or strong coffee mixed with 1/3 cup Kahlua (we doubled this also)

To assemble

Use a paring knife and a measuring spoon to carve out a small cone in the center of each cupcake.  This should be approximately 1 inch deep.  Try your best to keep the chunk in tact so that you can use it as a topper. 

Use a spoon to pour the Kahlua and coffee mixture into the cavity of the cut cupcake, making sure that all sides are drenched, using up to 2 tablespoons of the liquid per cupcake. 

Scoop two tablespoons of cream cheese frosting into the cavity and smooth over with the back of a spoon.  (We used a pastry tip to decorate ours).

Dip the bottom of the cutout chunk in the Kahlua coffee mixture, keeping the top part dry, and gently place it on top of the frosting, patting it in place. Dust the cupcakes with cocoa powder and cinnamon. Dollop a small amount of frosting on top and place a chocolate chip or chocolate covered espresso bean on the dollop.

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