Recently I have been thinking a lot about coconut oil. It seems to be everywhere right now! My aunt-in-law sent me an article from the New York Times about coconut oil and it's comeback in the health food world.
I was introduced to coconut oil when I bought the Babycakes cookbook and began baking with it. It became my butter/vegetable oil substitute. I knew it was on my movie theater popcorn, but I didn't really know much about it. When you buy coconut oil it looks like solid lard, but when you heat it, it turns into a clear liquid. If you choose to use coconut oil, be sure to melt it before you measure it. I learned the hard way.
When I started using coconut oil, I only used it in baking because that is how it was introduced to me. It took me a while to get out of my comfort zone and using it in a new way. Now, don't get me wrong, it is amazing for baking, but there are so many other ways to use this amazing product. It has a nice mild sweet flavor that goes nicely with many dishes.
The Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes recipe in the NYT article is vegan and looks amazing! Why not start out your coconut oil journey with this simple, easy recipe.
Fun Baking Tools I know I usually post about a recipe, but I thought this time I'd share with you the fun baking tools I have. These are by no means absolute, must have, I can't make a cake without them, but they sure are fun to have in the kitchen and make baking a little easier and eco friendly in some cases!
My first tool is the offset icing spatula:
This is great for evenly distributing icing all over and throughout the cake. I used to use a regular butter knife before this and I cannot tell you how much this one tool has changed my baking life! My cakes look much prettier now!
The personalized silicone spatula is not for icing like the offset one, but for mixing. These are like any other spatula but with two great features!
One: They are heat resistant and Two: You can put your name on the handle! How cool is that. Mine read "Friedman's Kitchen" (I am getting married soon and that will be my new surname). These ones have Chuck's Kitchen, but you can really put whatever you like on them.
The last is the Silpat silicone mat:
These are great for you, the environment, and your cookies! It is super easy to clean and keep your pans clean too! It is reusable which is good for the earth and will save you money . It also make the bottom of your cookies light and crispy!
Enjoy these wonderful, fun baking tools!
I had the day off yesterday and decided to hang in Brooklyn with my sister, Bubby, and loveable niece! We had an amazing day and to top it off we made Alicia Silvertsone's Nut Butter Cups. This is a super simple recipe that you can re determine how sweet you like these. They can be super sweet or made more rich in flavor of dark chocolate and nuts. I made them a little differently yesterday than I normally do, but they were still yummy!
INGREDIENTS 1⁄2 cup Earth Balance butter 3⁄4 cup crunchy peanut butter or any nut butter (preferably unsweetened and unsalted), we used cashew butter this time 3⁄4 cup graham cracker crumbs or 10 graham cracker squares 1⁄4 cup maple sugar or other granulated sweetener - I usually use maple syrup 1 cup grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate or carob chips 1⁄4 cup soy, rice, or nut milk 1⁄4 cup chopped pecans, almonds, or peanuts - I like to keep the nut's consistent. So if you use peanut butter I use peanuts. STEPS
- Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. (If You Care makes unbleached liners made from recycled paper.) Or I use the silicone cups which I love!
- Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and maple sugar and mix well. Remove the mixture from the heat.
- Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 heaping teaspoons per cup, among the muffin cups.
- Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan.
- Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted.
- Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture, will be about 2 heaping teaspoons.
- Top with chopped nuts.
- Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving.
They are great soft, but even better a little firmer!
I love this recipe! It is great for just you or for when you are entertaining! They will always be asking for seconds!
Chef Chloe is the Ultimate:
Last week I had my good friend Jill’s potluck birthday dinner. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to make, although I knew it had to be delicious and vegan! I was going to make my magic bars, but soon found out some else was making something very similar so It was on to the next idea. And then I had my ah ha moment! A birthday cake! How could I not make a birthday cake for a birthday dinner! (I also wanted to make something healthy, so I made white bean and kale soup, but clearly not as fun as birthday cake!) So in search of a fantastic vegan birthday cake, I of course went to Chef Chloe’s blog. I found an amazing recipe for Chocolate Strawberry cupcakes, it won a food network challenge, Cupcake Wars! HYPERLINK "http://www.chefchloe.com/videos/video/12.html" http://www.chefchloe.com/videos/video/12.html I turned this amazing recipe into a multi layered bundt cake! It was super easy and ridiculously yummy! One of my friend’s had 5 pieces of it!
Here is the recipe (I double it for the cake): Makes 12 cupcakes
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (I didn’t use this ingredient, but they say that coffe brings out the flavor of the choclate)
Frosting, recipe below
1 ½ cups hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners.
Sift or whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and espresso powder until smooth.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix with a fork or small whisk.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners until each cup is 2/3 full. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. – For the bundt cake, just pour the batter into the mold and bake for 50 minutes.
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, slice off the top 1/3 of each cupcake and slather with frosting and sliced strawberries. Place the top of the cupcake back on top and add an additional bit of frosting and sliced strawberries. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. – For the bundt cake, you will be slicing the cake into 3 layers (so two cuts). You want to cut when the cake is cooled. The first cut will be about 2 inchs (a third of the cake) from the bottom (please use either dental floss or a bread knife.) The next cut will be halving the rest of the cake. When assembling the cake it will go as follows:
Cake, frosting (half of the frosting), strawberries (covering the frosting completely), cake, frosting, strawberries, cake, and then confectioners sugar!
4 cups confectioners' sugar, preferably organic
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (refined coconut oil at room temperature OR vegan margarine will also work) – I used earth balance for this
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup water
Combine the confectioners' sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Beat on medium-high speed until combined. With the mixer running, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, until the desired buttercream consistency. NOTE: You probably will not use all the water. Simply add as needed while beating.
Enjoy! It is one of the best cakes I have ever made!
Well at least as far as I'm concerned she is! We both love love LOVE Alicia Silverstone's book (The Kind diet) and blog (The Kind Life). A while back Liza emailed Alicia thanking her for her help and inspiration on her path through veganism and a healthier lifestyle. And....Alicia wrote back and asked to feature her on her blog!!! It was posted last night. Check it out! http://www.thekindlife.com/post/one-kind-lifers-journey-from-flirt-to-vegan And on top of it all, Alicia posted the cutest picture of me and Liza from her engagement party!, Hope you all have a fabulous day. I'll be unpacking boxes with a grin on my face because I'm so proud of her success too!
I know I usually give you a dessert recipe for my blog posts, but recently I haven't been baking so much as to try and get in better shape. Just because I am being more careful with what I am eating and working out more doesn't mean I have lost my sweet tooth cravings. For all of you that get that need for sugar before bedtime, here are a few healthy, sweet alternatives to my usual indulgences.
Make your own yummy fruit salad:
any fruit you have around the house topped with yummy soft coconut flakes or with Chef Chloe's vegan whipped creme (http://chefchloeblog.weebly.com/): 1 14-ounce can of full fat coconut milk, chilled 2/3 cup powdered sugar 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
a whole wheat or gluten-free waffle with any nut spread drizzled with dark chocolate
break of a small piece of your favorite dairy-free chocolate
We dined at Whym on the upper west side and while it is not vegan or even vegetarian, they prepared a fabulous vegan meal for myself, Liza, and Richie. In place of dessert, Liza ordered Babycakes doughnuts which were superyummy. For those of you who don't know, and you all should, and you all will as I'll definitely dedicate another post to them, but Babycakes is a vegan and gluten free bakery.
Anyhow, Babycakes is amazing, the doughnuts were amazing, Liza is amazing! Here are some pictures from the night:
We all went out for a casual Mexican dinner and on the way home we stopped at the pizzeria down the street for some dough.
Liza whipped up the most delicious and easy doughnuts within minutes and none of us could get enough (including Avi...there were a handful of "more more"s).
Here's how we did it (yes, I was sous chef). While I rolled out the dough on a floured board, Liza heated up a jar of coconut oil in a wok. Once the dough was rolled I began cutting out large circles with a round cookie cutter and then cut smaller circles out of those circles to create the holes. Liza began frying the doughnuts and doughnut holes while I finished cutting and as she fried each batch she laid them out to cool on some paper towel. While Liza was frying, she melted some vegan chocolate chips in a sauce pan over medium heat for doughnut dunking. After the doughnuts were semi-cooled we placed them in the chocolate and pressed them in a bit to coat one side. Meanwhile I poured some turbinado sugar and cinnamon in a large plastic baggie (which I'd need to find a substitute for at home as I try to avoid having them around). I put 3-4 of the holes in the baggie at a time and shook them around to get them coated.
And that was it! Voila doughnuts! And holes!
So here I am again thinking of new recipes to share. After a lot of thinking and some experimenting in my parent’s professional style kitchen, I came up with my Berries N’ Cream Pastry. It is easy, delicious and looks fancy for company! So here is the recipe:
One package of puff pastry shells or puff pastry sheets
One 6 oz package of raspberries or any other kind of berries you like
One 6 oz package of blackberries or any other kind of berries you like
½ cup of vegan sour cream
½ cup of vegan cream cheese
earth balance for brushing
½ cup of sugar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Place shells on baking sheet two per row or if you are using the puff sheets cut 3 in diameter circles and place on baking sheet
Brush melted butter on top of pastry so it is coated in butter
Bake for 10 min or until golden brown, while still warm, cut in half widthwise so there is a top and bottom, then let cool
In the meantime, in a saucepan combine 2 tbs of raspberry jam (or any type of berry), 12 oz of berries, and sugar and cook on medium low heat. 5-7 minute or until the mixture becomes syrupy and take off heat
In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and whisk til smooth.
To assemble, plate bottom half of pastry and place a spoonful of berry syrup on bottom half of pastry, then add a dollop of cream mixture, place top half of pastry on cream and drizzle more syrup on top of pastry.
Enjoy this wonderful summer treat!