Posts Tagged 'Sucanat'

Gingerbread

Merry Christmas and happy holidays…

Santa Claus is coming to town…

Let it snow, let is snow, let it snow…

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Etc, etc, etc…

I HEART THE HOLIDAYS!

This really truly is my favorite time of year.  Something about the cheesy joyful Christmas music and festive decorations and anticipation in the air makes me warm and fuzzy and happy inside.  I am proudly a total sucker for it and feel all cozy everyday and everywhere I go.  Even the chilly weather is tolerable!  Ehh…sort of.  I don’t do well with cold.  Unless it’s snowing!  Sigh.  Contentment.

That said, the older I get, the more the season sneaks up on me.  It seems that Thanksgiving dinner dishes are barely washed when I blink and it’s Christmas.  All before I can even get a chance wear my favorite holiday sweater!

Well, this year, I said no more!  I made a vow to go immediately into holiday mode the second Thanksgiving weekend was over.  So my mini-Christmas tree quickly found its way out of the box under my bed and onto the dining table.  Little Santa and Mrs. Claus figurines stand by its side.  A scented candle is lit every night – smelling of cinnamon snap then spiced pear then Christmas cookie as the wick burns down.  Holiday tunes are loaded onto my iPod and played on the daily.  Both work and personal computer background images are now illustrations of Christmas trees.  My Google homepage displays the Winter Village theme – super cute btw! – right above a red and white Christmas countdown.  I even manually changed my Gmail colors to be red and green!

With all of these steps taken to be Miss Holiday Spirit 2009, all that was left to do was bake up a season-inspired treat.  So I decided to try my hand at Gingerbread!  I’ve always been curious about Gingerbread – because it is quite possibly the epitome of holiday baked goods – but have never actually eaten it.  I know, weird, right?  I guess I was always too busy filling up on peanut butter kiss cookies and Grandma’s pumpkin cake roll to bother looking its way.  It was about time.

Here’s my recipe for Gingerbread, adapted from this recipe:

1/2 cup Sucanat

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

3/4 cup molasses

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Spray an 11×7-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix Sucanat, vegetable oil, egg and molasses until well combined.  In a separate bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, brown rice flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just blended.  Stir in hot water.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Now I know I don’t have anything to compare this to, but I thought the Gingerbread tasted delicious!  The spice combination worked wonderfully together and completely captured the flavor of the holidays.  And the brown rice flour gave the bread a bit of texture – sort of like cornbread!  I was a fan.

Is there a holiday treat you’ve always wanted to try, but never have?

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Pumpkin Brownies

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I found myself with a whole lot of of pumpkin to use up the other day – remains from the giant-sized can I was forced to buy when my grocery store ran out of cans for normal-sized people.  What else is a girl to do but purchase enough squash for a small army when pumpkin pancakes are on the mind?  I promised myself I’d bake something with the leftovers.  And so here I am!

There’s obviously LOADS you can do with pumpkin, but I wanted to get creative.  Actually, what I really wanted was a brownie.  But I couldn’t forgo the pumpkin mountain in my fridge to fulfill my chocolate-y desires.  How utterly wasteful that would be.

Then it hit me. Pumpkin. Brownies. Half fudgy brownie.  Half dense, pumpkin-y delight.  I was so very excited about my highly original, super fun, and simply ingenious idea. Then I found out Martha Stewart had already done it.   Of course she had.

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Not to be outdone by the diva homemaker, I set out to put my own twist on the pumpkin brownie idea.  And twist it I did!  Along with performing my standard Sweet + Natural adaptations to Martha’s recipe – whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose, Sucanat for sugar, etc. – I made a bunch of other changes to ensure I got exactly what I was looking for.  Added some extra spice to the pumpkin…used a bigger pan…but most importantly, eliminated the baking powder.  Martha’s brownie pics look too much like cake, right?  Now, I have nothing against cake.  Unless it’s trying to pose for a brownie.  In that case, believe you me, I will not be fooled.  I want fudge, not fluff.  No baking powder = lower rise = density-dense flavor-packed yumminess.  Yes.

Here’s my take on Pumpkin Brownies:

Base mixture:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cup Sucanat

4 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Chocolate mixture:

6 ounces grain sweetened chocolate chips

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Pumpkin mixture:

1 1/4 cup pumpkin

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon ginger

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Spray an 11×7-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  For the base mixture, mix together whole wheat pastry flour and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together Sucanat, eggs and vanilla until well-combined.  Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until blended.  Divide this mixture into two bowls.  For chocolate mixture, melt chocolate chips and oil in a bowl.  Stir into one half of the base mixture.  (Note: If batter feels dry, just steal some base mixture from the remaining half and add it in.  I found the chocolate batter to be drier than the pumpkin batter, so this is totally cool to do.  The pumpkin batter is very generous and will not hold it against you.)  For pumpkin mixture, combine pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in a bowl.  Stir into other half of base mixture.  Spread chocolate batter evenly into prepared pan.  Top with pumpkin batter.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Makes 24 brownies.

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Success!  The no baking soda idea did the trick in making these Pumpkin Brownies brownies and not cakey, chocolate-and-pumpkin flavored squares.  They were indeed the fudgy, dense, pumpkin-y delights I set out to achieve.  They also just so happen to be orange and black – quite fitting for the upcoming Halloween holiday, wouldn’t you say?

What’s the most interesting brownie you’ve ever eaten?

P.S. After mentioning it in my last post, I’ve had a request to share my European vacation with you all. Now I know such a trip is totally unrelated to Sweet + Natural baking, but I’m highly tempted to oblige – mostly because I love reliving it! Would you guys be interested?

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Walnut Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies

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I finally did it.

I jumped on the Dreena Burton bandwagon! And let me just say how happy I am to be here. The woman is a genius I tell you.

It’s not like I was avoiding Dreena and her recipes. She’s ALL over the blog world, and I’ve done my fair share of oohing and ahhing over her creations. But I’m careful with my pennies and always felt I should make more use of the cookbooks I have before purchasing new ones. I guess that belief slipped my mind when I saw eat, drink + be vegan at the bookstore the other day. I knew I had to have it. So into my collection it went!

The first ed+bv recipe I set my sights on was for the infamous Super-Charge Me! Cookies. OMG – they were like little balls of nutritious crack. I would have loved to share them with you all, but since Dreena hadn’t posted the recipe on her site, no dice! So to celebrate my newfound Dreena love, I found another one of her cookie recipes that was on the internet to modify and write about.

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Oh, and wouldn’t you know, Dreena posted the Super-Charge Me! Cookie recipe this week? Go figure!  Or go make them.  You won’t regret it.

Anyway…

Here’s the recipe I followed to make Walnut Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies:

1 cup spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup Sucanat

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350*F. In a large bowl, mix together spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, Sucanat and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together maple syrup, molasses, vanilla extract and canola oil until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Place spoonfuls of batter on cookie sheets and bake for 10-11 minutes. Makes 12 cookies.

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These cookies were YUM! After tasting my Maple Almond Butter Cookies and these, I am convinced that maple syrup = cookie perfection. It really adds a depth of flavor and keeps cookies wonderfully moist and gooey. Seriously, that stuff’s not just for pancakes.

The only thing I’d change about this recipe next time around is leaving the molasses out. I’m not buying that 1/4 teaspoon is making a huge difference when spread throughout 12 cookies. I mean, really, that’s 1/48 teaspoon in 1 cookie. You know? Other than that, A+.

What’s your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe?

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Peanut Butter Apple Muffins

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You know what I realized the other day?  I’ve only made muffins once for this blog.  Jigga what?!  Muffins are one of my favorite things to bake, so that’s just crazy.  They’re super easy.  They’re totally versatile.  And after you’ve made a batch, you get to eat a sweet treat for breakfast until they’re all gone!  Very awesome.

I decided it was time for the return of the muffin.  Obvi.  Then I went looking for muffinlicious inspiration.  I thought back to my Blueberry Coconut Oaties – modeled after my favorite breakfast.  And it hit me – let’s model these muffins after my favorite snack!  You know what I’m talking about.  What better snack is there than an apple with peanut butter?  None, my friends.  None at all.  And that’s how Peanut Butter Apple Muffins were born.

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I started with this recipe and it became this one:

2 cups chopped apples

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/2 cup Sucanat

2 egg whites

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325*F.  Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.  Place chopped apples in a bowl, coat with natural peanut butter and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together Sucanat, egg whites, unsweetened applesauce and vanilla extract until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix white whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just blended. Stir in peanut butter covered apples.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Makes 10 muffins.

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Chunky apples!  PB coat!

Ok, I’m not gonna lie.  These weren’t the best muffins I’ve ever baked.  They were good, but they weren’t the muffins dreams are made of!   I needed more peanut butter flavor.  And maybe a little more sweetness.  But I’m excited about the idea and I’m not giving up.  I think next time I’ll use honey as the sweetener.  And maybe swirl the peanut butter into the batter once it’s already in the tins.  I tried to keep it separate til the very end instead of stirring it right into the mixture, but I think it got lost anyway.  And peanut butter is not a taste that should ever be lost.  Am I right?

What do you guys think?  Any suggestions to help these muffins be all that they can be?

UPDATE: I reattempted these muffins and the results were great!  Check out the new and improved recipe!

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Sucanat

sucanat-1I’m pretty excited about this post.  And since a bunch of you have asked about the ingredient at hand, I hope you’re just as pumped!  Without further ado, let’s get talking about…

SUCANAT!

Sucanat is a type of evaporated cane juice.  The history of evaporated cane juice is interesting to me.  It was only recently that sugar cane processing technology was developed to create the white, refined sugar with which we’re all familiar.  This doesn’t mean people haven’t been enjoying sugar cane.  They have – for centuries!  So back in the day, when white, refined sugar didn’t exist, our fancily named evaporated cane juice was actually the sweetener of choice by any culture that used sugar cane.  Now that unprocessed, all-natural foods are gaining in popularity, evaporated cane juice is back in action.  We’ve come full circle.

Sucanat stands for “Sugar Cane Natural.”  It’s an unrefined sweetener made from the WHOLE sugar cane – every last bit.  It’s sugar in its most natural form.  Like all evaporated cane juices, Sucanat is produced by extracting juice from the sugar cane and boiling it in a large vat to remove the water.  But unlike other evaporated cane juices, such as turbinado sugar, the sweet syrup left over is not spun and crystallized in that vat.  Instead, it’s hand-paddled to cool it and dry it.  This process creates the dry, brown granules that are Sucanat and keeps ALL the sugar cane molasses in those granules.  Turbinado sugar, to compare, holds on to SOME of the sugar cane molasses.

Because Sucanat retains 100% of the sugar cane, and all that molasses, it ranks highest in nutritional value of all the sweeteners that come from the sugar cane.  It also means it has the most distinct and natural flavor.

When I made my Blueberry Coconut Oaties – first time using Sucanat! – I substituted Sucanat one-for-one for refined sugar.  And I plan on doing the same in the future.  Check out Wholesome Sweeteners if you’re looking for a brand of Sucanat to try!

Have you ever baked with Sucanat?  What do you think of it?

Blueberry Coconut Oaties

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I’m a HUGE fan of oats.

I eat them for breakfast nearly every morning.  To me, a big bowl of oats is a blank palate, a warm and fluffy vehicle for yummy mix-ins.  Cinnamon’s always there.  Mashed banana and peanut butter are definitely favorites.  Berries, pumpkin, walnuts – all super tasty.  Mmm…what’s not to love about oats?

And what’s not to love about oatmeal cookies?!  The good ol’ standard version is chock full of raisins.  But I look at oatmeal cookies the same way I look at my big bowl of oats.  Just waiting to live up to their true potential.  The kind of potential that can only be fulfilled by those scrumptious additions.

These Blueberry Coconut Oaties were inspired by my daily oats.  Dried blueberries and coconut were the mix-ins of choice this time around, but feel free to put your own little twist on them.  You can do whatever you like!

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Here’s my recipe, adapted from this recipe:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup Sucanat

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups oats

3/4 cup dried blueberries*

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

* I used dried blueberries sweetened with fruit juice.

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  In a large bowl, mix together canola oil, Sucanat, egg and vanilla extract until well blended.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and oats.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until blended. Stir in blueberries and coconut. Note: Dough will be sticky, so it may be easier to work with if you refrigerate it for 30 minutes or so. Roll heaping tablespoons into balls, flatten to about 1/3 of an inch and place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 6-8 minutes.  Makes 18 cookies.

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Blueberry wrinkles!

These cookies were deliciously oaty!  There’s chewiness from the oats.  There’s juiciness from the blueberries.  And when coconut joins the party, it definitely ups the fun factor.  Throw in some spicy cinnamon and nutmeg and you’ve got yourself a wonderfully wholesome treat.

What’s your favorite oatmeal cookie mix-in?

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