Raw+Vegan Snickers Bars

I’m not a vegan. I could never be, a vegan. I think people who “GO VEGAN” are beautiful creatures. I mean, seriously, vegans have gorgeous skin, flowing hair and a peaceful way about them that is just so enticing. I’ve tossed around the idea of converting but I’m pretty sure my husband would suffocate me in my sleep with a pillow. He’s already having  insurmountable troubles with what is currently inhabiting our cabinets. I received the coconut oil lecture last night and my response was: “That’s why my immune system is top notch and you currently have strep throat.” The past few months, I have really tried to incorporate some vegan principles into my diet and I have tried to focus on consuming more raw foods. Your diet naturally should be about 60% raw. Our bodies are not made to digest so much processed, cooked foods and once in a while, it’s worth it to give your colon a break. For real. The past week I have bit a little bit lazy in the salad department, eating mostly turkey sandwiches for lunch but generally a generous salad fills my body five days a week at noon with lots of fruits for snacking. Vegan inspired or raw desserts really let you have the best of both worlds, they are typically made with rich items such as raw cocoa, avocado and agave nectar so you get the sweet without all the sugar. This recipe surprised me with its authentic taste. I would have never guessed it wasn’t a snickers bar, outside of the slightly different texture. And the chocolate is so deep that half of one was more than enough for me to feel like I indulged.

A food processor is a must for this recipe as dates are really something to blend. My food processor fought me a little bit initially but in the end, the dates transformed into a rich, amazing “caramel”.  I found Medjool dates on sale at Whole Foods last night so that was a plus, the first time I purchased them I almost fainted when I saw the price. Eating healthy is an investment, I will definitely say that. You have to be ready for that total at check out. You could certainly buy a cheaper kind and truthfully, I’m not sure there would be much of a difference.

I found assembly to be a dream. When my hands got sticky from the “nougat”, I simply washed them and kept them a little moist to help form the bottom later. For the “caramel” I spooned it into a piping bag and piped thin layers on top of the “nougat” layer. It had a beautiful texture that was easy to work with. Then, I sprinkled some raw peanuts on top to add some much needed texture. The amount you use is completely up to you, I just did enough to cover.

The only problem I ran into and I wouldn’t even really call it a problem, was with the chocolate. It came together like a dream, producing this silky product that tasted divine. However, when it came time for spreading the chocolate, I found that it was quite difficult. Patience is a must because it is pretty thick. Basically, you have to make sure your snickers bars (the nougat and the caramel/nuts) are pretty frozen, then one by one you have to carefully smooth this chocolate over the entire thing. Time consuming, a little, but the end result is completely worth it.

The finished product may not be the most perfect looking little guy but it sure was good and to me, that is what matters the most. These can be kept at room temperature but I like them a little on the cold side. I also used the freezer to speed up the hardening of the chocolate. Give these to your kids as a treat and don’t feel bad about it because the ingredients are top notch and good for you.

RAW & VEGAN SNICKERS BARS

NOUGAT LAYER
1/2 cup almond flour
1/3 cup raw agave nectar
1 cup sliced almonds

CARAMEL LAYER
1 cup medjool dates and enough water to cover them
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

FOR THE PEANUT TOPPING
1 cup raw peanuts, divided (3/4 for topping on caramel, 1/4 for crushed on finished product)

FOR THE CHOCOLATE COATING
1/2 cup lite agave nectar
3/4 cup raw cocoa powder
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

DIRECTIONS

To make the nougat: pulse the almond flour, agave nectar and sliced almonds in your food processor until relatively smooth. The almonds will remain a little chunky, that’s perfectly fine. Shape into small logs on parchment paper and put in the freezer.

To make the caramel: pulse all ingredients together in your food processor until creamy and thick, adding the least amount of water you can. Fill a piping bag with the caramel mixture, pipe onto the tops of each nougat log. Top with peanuts and place in the freezer.

To make the chocolate coating: pulse all ingredients together in your food processor until nice and smooth.

Spread chocolate over each one, place in the freezer to harden up and then enjoy!

Hey guy, you want a cookie?

Tonight in my kitchen, after working all day, taking Emma to piano lessons, running 4.20 miles and making dinner, I felt the urge to whip up some cookies for the random guy at Lowe’s who aided in my dishwasher troubles. Why you might ask, would I do such a thing? I don’t know, is my answer. I mean, he was extra nice about me returning not one but three dishwashers. He also put up with my zillion stupid questions, sarcastic response to most of his questions and my complete melt down when he said: “It will be about three weeks for delivery.” Does this entitle him to a batch of my cookies? Maybe not but he’s getting them anyways. It’s an excuse for me to create something without having to eat the calories myself. It’s also a way for all of you to get a new recipe along with visions of me running around the kitchen just to get this dude a cookie or two. I find that these days I am doing a lot of baking for people who don’t live in my house or even have a working knowledge of my life. Bus driver, check. People who already work at bakeries, check. Homeless man on Congress St, check. Just kidding about that last one, although, that’s not too far from where I’m heading I think. I just want to make things but I don’t really want the finished product sitting around my house. Plus, the allure of sugar has been lost on me a little, seeing as though every time I eat it I want to throw up after. I think it’s somehow related to running.

Anyways, the feeling I get when I share is irreplaceable. To see someone’s face when you give them a well packaged, well made, delightful little treat is so completely worth it. It fills me up inside every time I do it. I’m sure my husband thinks I am nuts. I begged him to let me make macarons for this french architect we are working with on our new project but he talked me off the ledge. Maybe it would be a little strange but he’s far from home, I bet they would make his day.

For me, after a day that is often unreliable and not even a bit graceful, the knowledge that baking is consistent saves me. Combine flour, sugar, eggs and some other shit and you usually get something really beautiful. I need that. Because right now my two-year old, is making me question my faith in humanity. So I’m gonna keep plugging away in the kitchen and you are all going to keep eating. When you gain a few pounds, I’ll take you for a run and we will jog it off together. Then we will really be in true bliss.

The cookies I made this evening were soft and complex. The nutmeg adds a hint of something that can’t be explained. I only took one single bite just to check the taste prior to distribution but really, these were yummy. If you love your Lowe’s guy, you should whip him up a batch. for real.

WHITE CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY MACADAMIA NUT COOKIES

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 1½ cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and continue beating on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, continuing to beat each time until well-incorporated. Mix in the vanilla.
  5. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just until the ingredients are incorporated. Stir in the white chocolate chunks, cranberries and the macadamia nuts.
  7. Scoop a generous tablespoonful of the dough and roll into a ball. Repeat.
  8. Bake for about 10 minutes, until edges of cookie begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes on cookie sheet so the cookie can set. Carefully move to wire rack to cool completely.

*Adapted from Kitchen Treaty

French Lemon-Poppy Pound Cake

Today was a shit show in my house. Lots of running around. Miles wouldn’t nap. I couldn’t run, although I had every intention to do so. I cleaned minimally and did just one load of laundry. However, I did embark on the making of this pound cake so I suppose it wasn’t all a wash. Saturdays have become extremely hectic in my household. Where some families are resting, we are always running around. I should have known it would be an adventure today solely based on the behavior Miles displayed at Whole Foods this morning. Anyways, this cake is very straight forward for a pound cake and hard to “f” up really, so it should be an easy to whip up adventure for any day that you have a free hour or two. lemon 2I always beat my eggs first prior to adding the sugar. The trick here is to really whip them into a frenzy. Then when you add the sugar, let them go for five minutes or so. The texture will look almost like whipped cream. That fantastic air is what makes your recipe shine. lemon 3 Once your egg/sugar mixture is whipped properly, add the flour and fold gently. Scoop your spatula around the bottom of the bowl and literally fold it onto the top. Do not mix with a passion here people, you will deflate your product and the end result won’t have that magical fluffiness to it. lemon 4 Then carefully add your butter/cream/lemon/poppy mixture and use the same technique. Careful. Be careful. Slow and steady with that folding. Make sure everything is well mixed. lemon 5 Into the pan it goes. Thump it on the counter a few times to get all the air bubbles out as well as even out the batter on the top. lemon 6 Wow, doesn’t it look beautiful? To answer your question, yes, it tastes as yummy as it looks. Hint of lemon, a little sweet with a nutty finish from the poppy seeds. It is moist, light and great with a nice hot cup of tea.

FRENCH LEMON-POPPY POUND CAKE

INGREDIENTS

2 Cups Cake Flour
¾ tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
½ Cup + 3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled to slightly warm
¼ Cup Heavy Cream
3 Tbsp Lemon Zest
1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp Poppy Seeds
4 Eggs
1 ¼ cups Granulated Sugar



For the Lemon Glaze

½ Cup Confectioners’ Sugar
1-2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice

DIRECTIONS

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds. The mixture should have the consistency of a thick liquid. If the butter hardens into little lumps, heat the mixture gently until the butter melts again. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment beat together the eggs and granulated sugar on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy and lemon colored.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture just until combined. Fold about one-fourth of the egg-flour mixture into the butter-cream mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg-flour mixture just until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and springs back when you press it in the middle. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.

To make the lemon glaze: While the cake is cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and enough of the lemon juice to make an easily spreadable, smooth glaze.

When the cake has cooled for at least 30 minutes, pop it out of the pan and place it on the rack. Spread or spoon the glaze over the top of the still-warm cake, letting the glaze dribble down the sides.

Brown Butter Layer Cake w/ Bourbon Buttercream

Brown Butter Layer Cake w/ Bourbon Buttercream

Today, I wanted to bake a cake. And not just any cake, this beautiful, delicious cake, I saw on “Butter Me Up, Brooklyn’s” site. It’s a blog I have fallen in absolute love with. All of her recipes sound outstanding. However, this one in particular caught my eye. My husband has had this recent obsession with bourbon and this cake has bourbon perfectly infused in the frosting. Everything in the cake making process was relatively easy. And everything, smelled delightful along the way. If you have a free day, take the time to whip this up. I doubt you’ll regret it. Plus, you will make your husband, or boyfriend, or some random stranger, swoon.

blog 2Brown butter + regular butter = love, sweet love.

blog 3Batter is mixed, super easy, wonderful consistency.

blog 4Into the pans you go, boy, am I getting excited.

blog 6Cooling as I wait, ever so impatiently.

blog 7It’s time to make the frosting, I stole some of the fancy stuff. Not the fanciest, but the next notch down.

blog 6Phew, frosting the layers had me on edge.

finished cakeBut then comes the sweet, sweet finish. Yay! It looks as good as I had hoped.

For the full recipe, go visit Butter me up, Brooklyn.

Vegan Low-Fat Chocolate Cake

VEGAN LOW-FAT CHOCOLATE CAKE

(Below is specified as made in a cake pan, however, I sometimes make these as cupcakes, use paper liners or butter & flour individually)

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup raw cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons light or dark molasses
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, butter and flour a 6 inch round cake pan

2. In one bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, in a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Then combine.

3. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the cake springs back a smidge when lightly pressed with a fingertip in the middle.

4. Remove, let cool, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar prior to serving.