Monday, December 17, 2007

Warning! Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies!

The Veganomicon is a cook-book of pure, unadulterated evil. I am now its slave.

I wanted to throw something super-chocolatey into my holiday gifts and these Chocolate Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies sounded good. HA. Good? Talk about understatement.

Nothing out of the ordinary before they go into the oven.
But something wonderfully obscene happens to them after only 10 minutes of baking.
They taste like. . . is "heaven" overused? Well then, how about - these cookies are what brownies aspire to be. And I ADORE brownies.
I made them to be used as gifts, but now have to make another batch because after one taste I knew none of these cookies were leaving here except inside of ME! These are my new favorite cookie of all time.

p.s. There's ground flaxseed in there too - sinfully delicious AND a little healthy. See? Evil.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lace Cookies

These are sometimes called Florentines, but I have always known them as "Lace Cookies". Though I've always loved them, they are not always easy to find and for some reason I never thought to make them myself. I always thought they must be really difficult. Uh. Not so much. I've veganized a recipe I found on the Food Network and let me tell you - not difficult AT ALL. A little time-consuming, but not difficult. Make these, impress the hell outta everyone, and delight in the fact that you made these simple and elegant cookies.

Vegan Lace Cookies
1 3/4 cups sliced, blanched almonds (about 5 ounces)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegan cream (I actually used soy creamer)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
5 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the nuts, flour, zest and salt in a large bowl.

Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, then pour mixture into almond mixture and stir just to combine. Set aside until cool enough to handle, 20-30 minutes. It is easiest to form if it is still warm, but not hot.

Form the dough into small balls (teaspoon size makes a big enough cookie - honestly) and place onto a parchment paper or silpat lined cookie sheet while you preheat the oven to 350. You can only bake one sheet at a time, really I've tried two and they don't bake evenly - so it's easiest to form all the balls at once. You can lay them out on some parchment - it helps save time and aggravation because once the dough cools it gets harder to make the balls (they sort of crumble apart).

You really do need to space them far apart - they spread like crazy. But if you have a mishap, don't worry - it's easy to fix, but you must be quick.
When you take them out of the oven, if you see any that have spread into each other, just grab a knife and push them apart, reforming a nice circular shape. They are still very pliable while hot so you have about a minute to accomplish this. If you wait until they cool you'll just crack them. So be quick!
After a minute, take them off the parchment and cool fully on racks. My advice is not to try to lift them off the cookie sheet with a spatula, they are too thin and it's easy to ruin them this way. Instead simply peel the parchment away from them - they pull right off.
You can leave them as they are - they are awfully nice this way.
OR you can get all crazy with yourself and add some chocolate. Either drizzle some over the tops, dip one end, or my personal favorite: drop a teaspoon of melted chocolate onto one cookie and sandwich it in with another. The chocolate spreads and does a little poke-out from the 'lace'. Very indulgent. Very delish.
You know you want to. Chocolate + almonds = yummy yummy heaven. So go for it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sugar Cookies

VEGAN SUGAR COOKIES
This makes between 3 and 6 dozen cookies - depending on cutter sizes.

1 cup margarine (Earth Balance-YUM!)
1 cup white sugar

2 whole egg replacements (Ener-G)
grated rind of one lemon*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

3-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. (you can wait on preheating the oven until you are ready to start cutting the cookies)

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar. Stir in the egg replacements, lemon rind and extracts until creamy and smooth. Gradually add the flour, baking powder and tofu cream cheese and mix until everything is incorporated.

I have always had trouble with my sugar cookies becoming tough. I found a tip at Kitchen Collectibles that helps avoid that by not having to add additional flour while rolling. FABULOUS!

HINT: Rolling Out Dough Without the Mess -- Rather than wait for your cookie dough to chill, take the freshly made dough and place a glob between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out to the desired thickness then place the dough and paper on a cookie sheet and pop it into the refrigerator. Continue rolling out your dough between sheets of paper until you have used it all. By the time you are finished, the first batch will be completely chilled and ready to cut. Reroll leftover dough and repeat the process! An added bonus is that you are not adding any additional flour to your cookies.


Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters.

Sprinkle the cookies with colored sugar or dust with plain white sugar unless you plan to ice them. Place about 1 inch apart on sheets - they don't spread very much, so you can actually smoosh 'em in closer if you need to.


Bake for 10 to 13 minutes until bottoms and edges just start to get light brown. If you are using dark colored, non-stick cookie sheets, check at 8 minutes to be sure they aren't burning. I hate these cookie sheets of mine. I could sure use some plan ol' non-nonstick cookie sheets. Hint, hint.

Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire racks. Store in an airtight container. Then go make more...


because you'll probably have eaten all of them before you can give them out as gifts. Oh. Is that just me?


*I use dried grated lemon rind that I reconstituted. Very handy stuff to have on hand if you don't feel like grating lemons. You can leave this and the lemon extract out if you don't care for lemon - I have a weakness for those roll and bake sugar cookies but they aren't vegan - adding the lemon rind and extract makes these taste almost like the roll & bake kind.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Holiday Baking for your favorite pooch

I must thank Vicki at Vegan Vice for posting this recipe last July. (Go look and see her wildly cute Jolie enjoying her treats!) I've been meaning to make them since then but I have never been great with rolled cookies and dealing with cookie cutters. How silly. These were SO easy I can't believe it!

Vegan Dog Treats
1/2 c. cornmeal
2 c. whole wheat flour
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2/3 c. vegetable broth

Mix it all together, roll it out about 1/4" thick and cut your cookies. I baked these at 325 for about 30 minutes until they were nice and hard. Note: I put them on parchment and a sil-pat so they wouldn't stick to the cookie sheets, but found that they were not sticking to anything when a couple slid off the parchment and baked directly on the cookie sheet. Talk about easy "cookies"!



At the end there were pieces I just couldn't roll out any more so I just pressed them into flat logs - they seem to be just as appealing to Basil as the cut shapes. He's fussy - but not that fussy!

I only have two cookie cutters - a star and a heart that I picked up 20 minutes before I started making these. The stars are small so I made more of those. My dog would eat treats endlessly so I prefer to give him smaller sized cookies so he'll feel like he's eating more. It's an old dieter's trick. But I did make a couple of hearts because they are so cute. And I do love my doggie!

I really like knowing exactly what is in his treats. And by the way, yes I did taste them. They are yummy! Hard... but yummy.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Seitan

Making seitan at home has got to be one of the easiest things ever. Who knew? One and 1/3 cups of Vital Wheat Gluten plus one cup of veggie broth = a TON of home-made seitan. I don't think I kneaded it quite right, but practice, practice. It tasted great and lord knows there's ENOUGH of it! I was shocked at how much it 'puffs' up - it's pretty amazing stuff. FYI: basic directions for seitan are right on the box of vital wheat gluten.

Here it is in the pot simmering away. Yeah, not the prettiest thing in the world - but give it a chance!


Here it is sliced up on a plate with some mashed potatoes, baked sweet potato and kale steamed with a little garlic.


And a close-up!

If you like seitan and want to save some money, I highly recommend making it at home. You can flavor it however YOU like, it's ridiculously easy, and very satisfying (to make and eat!)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Oatmeal Cookies!



The holidays are cookie time! My biggest fear about going vegan was, in actual fact, baking. Cookies in particular. I love making cookies at this time of year and I've been doing it since I was a kid - so how do you change decades of 'know-how' into HOW do I make cookies without eggs? Without BUTTER?

Well. First you take a look at some great cookbooks and you give it a shot. Just like when you were first baking as a pre-teen. And it's not so different. A little, but not so much. You do have to be really careful about not overbaking - vegan cookies can turn into rocks a lot faster than 'regular' cookies.

These are Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin cookies. The recipe comes from The Veganomicon.



They are amazing. The brown rice syrup seems to be the key. Deeee-licious!