Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Is it bad that I get excited about going to a party just so I can bake something? I was being particularly lazy yesterday and debating between going to my neighbor's Halloween party or sitting on my ass and watching The House of the Devil on repeat for about the 8th time yesterday. As much as I adore THOTD, 8 times was a little excessive..and there would be lots of kids at the party and old people, which might make a lot of people go for a 9th viewing of THOTD, but I enjoy handing out glow sticks to the kids and watching them go batshit insane over them. (Seriously guys, hand out glow sticks for Halloween, not candy.) and I always enjoy listening to old people talk..I've always found it much more substantial than the talk of many people my age.

So what to bake?

Since I just replenished my supply of THE BEST CINNAMON IN THE WORLD, I was kinda excited to bake something where cinnamon was the star. I will gab about this cinnamon for a minute because I love it so much and I think everyone should have some in their pantry. You know how Red Hots have that intense cinnamon-y flavor that's like cinnamon x 10 but without the woody bark taste? So imagine if that was a natural flavor instead of one created in a lab, minus the heat..and that's what this cinnamon tastes like. It's so intense and cinnamon-y..It's almost laughable when I compare it side by side to my 99 cent jar of cheapo cinnamon. You open the bag and you'd swear there is a batch of warm cinnamon rolls hiding somewhere in the bottom.

So cinnamon roll cookies it must be! I have been wanting to try these for a while. I believe there is a recipe in The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, but my copy is buried deep somewhere in the basement, and well...spiders. Which kinda reminds me of one of those tongue-in-cheek e-cards I saw on Pinterest.

Perhaps I should have counted my blessings and foraged the depths of the basement. I will have to do it at some point. But I like my recipe a lot.

Cinnamon roll cookies
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons molasses
1 egg replacer (I used powdered, but use whatever you want.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons almond milk
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon agave nectar (or other liquid sweetener)
2 teaspoons Penzey's Vietnamese cinnamon (or 3 teaspoons regular cinnamon)

powdered sugar
water or non-dairy milk
teeny bit of vanilla extract

Cream the Earth Balance, sugar and molasses together. Add in vanilla, egg replacer and almond milk. Sift in the flour, soda and salt and mix till incorporated. If dough is crumbly, add almond milk by the teaspoon until it becomes manageable. Divide the dough into 2 balls and roll each out in between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a 10-12 inch square. You will probably have to trim the edges to make it square or at least rectangular. I refrigerated the dough for 30 minutes after this, but I do not think it necessary.

Mash the filling ingredients together in a bowl to form a paste and spread on each of the dough squares. (I dyed my dough orange and yellow for Halloween.)

Using the parchment paper, gently roll up each square into a log and freeze at least one hour, preferably until completely frozen. I only froze the first log for an hour and it crumbled a little bit in the next step.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice the logs into 1/4-1/3 inch slices. I got 15 slices from each log. The photo above is the first log that crumbled a tiny bit at the bottom when sliced because it wasn't completely frozen. I just pressed each slice back together with my hands and it was fine.

Arrange the slices on a baking sheet lined with the parchment paper and bake 8-10 minutes. They will spread out a lot and should look like this when done. They will be very soft.

Cool on the pan for 5 minutes then carefully slide the parchment paper and cookies onto the counter or cooling rack and let the cookies continue to cool, at least 10 minutes.

Prepare the glaze by mixing a little bit of water with some powdered sugar. Start with only a few teaspoons of water and add more as needed. Mix in vanilla. I added orange food color for Halloween. (I don't ever measure my glaze ingredients, but I am guessing them to be about 1 cup of powdered sugar, one tablespoon of water and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla.)

Drizzle on glaze. Enjoy!

These were a big hit and I ended up trading the few leftover cookies on my platter to a vegan-curious woman for a big bowl of guacamole. (Guacamole and cookies for breakfast instead of just cookies! Yay!)

watching The House of the Devil for the 8th time...
photo by Johnny Kruger

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chocolate & graham cracker cake

So I was all excited to go see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre last night at the Alabama Theatre since TCM is my favorite movie (or at least tied with Taxi Driver) and The Alabama is an amazing place. The Alabama is one of the few remaining picture palaces from the 1920s. I saw A Nightmare on Elm Street there on Wednesday night, but was most excited about TCM on Thursday night.

Leatherface is not vegan.

And then my cousin called and asked me to come to her last dinner before she moves out of state..

OK Leatherface, you and I will just have to stick to DVD. Someday we will meet in an old theater with your face lit up at 30 feet wide and I can listen to your brother talk about headcheese and how bludgeoning cows provides jobs for people. (TCM is a rather vegan-inducing movie if you haven't seen it.)

So what should I make in about an hour and a half to take for dinner dessert? I wanted to do a recipe I hadn't done before and since vegan graham crackers were BOGO at the store this week, I went with the S'mores cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World but in cake form. 

There's a high liquid to dry ingredient ratio and the batter ended up being superthin. This worried me a bit, but I didn't have time to do make anything else, so I just went with it. The cake took about 35 minutes and still wasn't 100% done in the middle, but I didn't have time to leave it in longer. And underdone cake actually turns out to be a good thing in many cases..that gooey center that slides out as your fork presses into the cake!

I also discovered I only had 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.. So I whipped out one of my favorite chocolate icing recipes from one of those old corporate recipe booklets.

Fudge frosting
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used lite coconut this time)
1/4 cup Earth Balance
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix granulated sugar, cocoa, coconut milk, Earth Balance and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring frequently. Boil 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla.

I added a thin layer of icing to the bottom cake layer, covered it with graham crackers and then another layer of icing.

I did the same for the top layer and topped with graham cracker crumbs and chocolate chips. (The cake was still warm so the chocolate chips got soft and was awesome.) For a true s'mores cake, a tub of Ricemellow Creme would add in well (or Dandies melted with some Earth Balance), but the cake is very rich as is...and I didn't feel like stopping by Whole Foods on the way to dinner. 

The undone center mixed with the icing to make a supergooey rich treat that everyone loved. I recommend serving warm.

photo by Marina Cano

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Vampire teeth cupcakes with dripping blood

These are kinda funny. Usually I like to use spider rings if I do plastic toppers for Halloween cupcakes, but these red vampire teeth just seemed so fun. 

Here are some mini cupcakes I made with the spider rings last year. I swirled chocolate buttercream with orange tinted Biscoff spread for the frosting.

They were a big hit, but I was getting tired of doing spider rings. Originally I wanted to do chocolate buttercream, but then I realized they would look like mouth-full-of-poop cupcakes, so I went with orange buttercream. Only I didn't have any oranges or orange extract...but I did Kool-Aid! 
I added a little bit with some food color to the VCTOTW buttercream recipe to get some surprisingly tangy icing.

And what are vampire teeth without fake blood?? So I made some classic movie blood (corn syrup + food color) and added a pinch of cherry Kool-Aid. (A little goes a long way! Add sparingly a tiny bit at a time.)

I didn't have an icing tip with a large opening so I was lazy and just snipped off the corner of a zipper bag and iced that way. The swirls are a little haphazard, but it just adds to their general weirdness. After topping with the blood, they were covered with plastic wrap for the next day. The blood soaked in a little bit, so these are probably best decorated right before being eaten to keep their cool blood effect. 

I made two batches, one using Chloe Coscarelli's chocolate beer cupcakes (Did you know Chloe's dad is Don Coscarelli, the guy who made Phantasm? If you haven't seen Phantasm, it's a great cult horror movie with a kickass theme song.)

and the other batch using the chocolate stout cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule . I actually didn't use stout at all, but some light beer that had been left from a party a few weeks back. Honestly I picked those recipes just to get rid of the beer. Chloe's recipe was lighter and very cake mix cake-like, but I slightly preferred the VCTOTW recipe. Not a huge difference between the two though. Chloe's recipe filled one cupcake pan with enough left for about 9-10 mini cupcakes.

I decorated the minis with some skull and bones candies I found at the dollar store.

Listen to the Phantasm theme as you make these guys. It always reminds me of Halloween and scary movies.

Bat photo from baturday

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Halloween nanaimo bars with Nerds!

So I've never made nanaimo bars before, but I've always been intrigued by their decadence. The middle layer typically has custard powder which I had none of in my pantry so I searched for a recipe without custard powder.

I found Sarah Kramer's recipe which uses cornstarch instead of custard powder. I made a few mods from her recipe based on what I had.

Since vegan graham crackers are hard to find for me, I like to use these graham pie crusts I buy at the dollar store. I used the whole crust which had a little more than the 1 1/4 cup of crumbs called for. I also didn't have any unsweetened chocolate for the top layer so I used chocolate chips. And of course to make them Halloween themed, I dyed the middle layer orange and topped them with Spooky Nerds.

I picked up the Nerds at Target along with this awesome shirt! I knew instantly when I saw the Nerds that they were destined to be sprinkles. (All of the Halloween sprinkles had confectioner's glaze. Boooo!) 

 My friend sent me a pic of a glow-in-the-dark kid's shirt he saw at Wal-Mart which I was bummed that I could never find.

Luckily I found the Little Miss shirt and I like it even more! Even though it doesn't glow in the dark..It definitely fits better than a kid's shirt would.

Anyways, back to the nanaimo bars...

These didn't take long to prepare. I think I chilled for an hour and let them sit on the counter for a bit before I cut them. In retrospect, I would chill them for an hour, slice them, and put them back in the fridge for a few hours. They kinda melt if left on the counter for several hours since the middle layer is basically buttercream. I also could have done without the almond milk in the middle layer to perhaps make them a tiny bit less squishy. Very yummy! 

Happy Halloween!

Up next: vampie teeth cupcakes!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Halloween slutty brownies

Have you heard about slutty brownies? If you're on Pinterest, there's small chance that you haven't. For the rest of you, these brownies are an incredibly decadent and somewhat ridiculous dessert. The slutty brownie consists of three layers. A chocolate chip cookie dough layer, a layer of Oreos and a brownie layer all baked together into one undeniably rich and inescapable little square. In other words, there is no saying no to these. I brought these to work last week and people are still talking about them.

Searching online for vegan slutty brownies brought me to this picture from Word Vomit Wednesday that perfectly sums up the feeling you get from these brownies.

Yep, that's about the response I got from everyone who ate these. And then there's always the wonderfully guilty pleasure we vegans have of informing people the incredibly decadent mouthgasm they just had was vegan! (And then you get to explain, yes, Oreos are vegan.) I've noticed lately this isn't such a surprise anymore for a lot of people, but that's a topic for another day.

Since it's October and since I've always had a slight obsession with Halloween Oreos, these are Halloween slutty brownies. It's the only appropriate way to use Halloween and slutty in the same sentence. (We'll save the tirade about degrading costume options for women and girls for another time. Or maybe tomorrow.) These can also be palm oil-free if you use the Whole Foods 365 brand chocolate sandwich cookies instead of Oreos. Last time I checked, the filling was made with canola oil instead of palm. Also, these delicious treats use no Earth Balance and are pantry friendly!

Vegan slutty brownies

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 baking dish.

Make one recipe of Isa's chocolate chip cookies and plop the dough into your pan. I dyed half of my dough orange, but it ended up not being too visible. If you don't have tapioca flour, I think it would be ok to use cornstarch in this recipe.

Spread it out and add a layer of Oreos. I didn't have quite enough for an even layer because I ate a few. (Oops.) 24 should have been enough for my 9x13 pan. Feel free to break the Oreos in half to fit though. 

Next make the brownie layer. This recipe is based on the Sweet Pea Bakery brownie recipe published in VegNews a few years back. (FYI, this is the only brownie recipe I ever use and it is simply THE best. Double it if you are just making brownies.)

Brownie layer
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup brewed coffee (I just use instant coffee crystals mixed in water since I don't ever make coffee.)
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt together. Add coffee, flax, water, oil and vanilla and mix. Stir in chocolate chips. (If you think the chocolate chips will be a little over the top, you can leave them out and I won't hold it against you.)

Pour over Oreo layer.

Smooth it out so all of the Oreos are covered.


Bake your slutty brownies for 25-35 minutes. It's ok if they're slightly will just add to the gooey sexiness, but I baked mine for a full 35 minutes, until the top had that signature brownie crust and they were still soft (and perfect) in the middle. Cool for at least 2 hours. (I know! Torture!) Slice into squares as small or as large as you dare. I'm rarely a small slicer, but these are so incredibly rich, I do recommend little pieces! 

Too big!
Just right!

I am also going to end each post with a picture that reminds me why I'm vegan.
Happy Halloween! 

Up next: Halloween nanaimo bars