Posts Tagged 'vanilla extract'

Macaroon Muffins

Coconut flour is trickier to work with than I anticipated my friends…

Despite the time lapse between posts, I can assure you that I have not been totally out of the kitchen over the past weeks.  No, I haven’t been in there as much as usual – who can blame me with work piled up to my head and these cute little distractions running around? – but baking attempts have indeed been made!

I tried a couple times to make another all coconut flour treat – as I enthusiastically stated I would.  After such delicious success with my Mini Chocolate Cupcakes, I thought it would be easy peasy.  Hmmm…not so much.  First up was my own attempt at a banana-cocoa-coconut muffin, using banana as an egg replacer.  FAIL.  Too crumbly!  No rise!  Next I tried to play it safe and follow an already tested recipe.  FAIL numero dos.  Too eggy!  Not enough flavor!

Sigh…

Instead of continuing my seemingly futile experiments and denying you all a new recipe even longer, I decided to temporarily put my all-coconut-flour-treat dream on hold and bake up something sure to work – still using coconut flour of course!

So today we have Macaroon Muffins!  What else would you call a goodie made from coconut flour, coconut milk AND shredded coconut?  Yum.

Here’s the recipe:

1 egg

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together egg, coconut milk, applesauce, vanilla extract and maple syrup until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, coconut flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and shredded coconut. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just blended. Spoon into prepared pans (top with extra shredded coconut if you want to have some fun!) and bake for 16-18 minutes. Makes 8 muffins.

These muffins are scrumptious!  Thank goodness, right?! They are packed with coconut flavor thanks to copious use of coconut-y ingredients and pretty light too from using “light” coconut milk and applesauce instead of oil.  And I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: maple syrup makes the BEST sweetener.  If you like coconut, I’m pretty sure you’d be a fan of these.

What’s your favorite coconut recipe?

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes + Chocolate Peppermint Frosting

Hiya blog friends!  Before I get into my latest création délicieuse, I wanted to point out a couple fun blog updates for you all.

1. If you missed my last post, you may not have heard the excitement.  I joined Twitter!  So if you’re interested in what I’m up to between posts or care to get sneak peaks into what my next baking adventure might be, you can now follow me there or keep tabs by checking out the widget along the right side of the blog.

2. You already know that everything I bake is full of whole foods and free of refined flours or sugars.  But I thought I’d take the health factor a step further and label my recipes with specific dietary preferences(V) = vegan; (GF) = gluten-free; (DF) = dairy-free.  So check out my Recipes page if you haven’t been in a while.  Perhaps an oldie but goodie will now catch your eye!

Ok, baking time!

My sister and I had BIG plans for our Christmas dinner desserts this year – an eclectic assortment of seasonal mini cupcakes.  Flavors to please every palate.  All bite-sized to allow for maximum taste bud enjoyment without maximum belly filling.

Well, all did not go according to plan…

We started with five cupcake ideas.  Imagine the spread!  The family would be blown away.  But we then remembered all baking and frosting would have to be done on the same day we were cooking Christmas dinner itself – darn tight travel schedule!  And five quickly narrowed to three.  No worries – three still provided a great variety.  So the ingredients were bought, the holiday arrived, the family opened presents and we got to work.

And two of the three recipes bombed!  One did not rise at all and left us with flat cupcake “discs” as they not so affectionately became known.  The other was a crumbly mess – though we were able to miraculously salvage it by transforming the cupcake scraps into a quite yummy bread – cupcake? – pudding.  Chaos feeds creativity people.

And then there was one…

The sole recipe to survive – or dare I say, thrive! – was for Mini Chocolate Cupcakes + Chocolate Peppermint Frosting.  I found this recipe for chocolate cupcakes and this one for chocolate frosting and basically followed them to a tee.  Just added some vanilla extract to the cupcakes – because I believe no recipe is complete without vanilla – and some peppermint extract to the frosting – because otherwise we wouldn’t have Chocolate Peppermint going on, now would we?

Oh – and these were very fun for me to bake because they contained a new-to-me ingredient – COCONUT FLOUR!  Using coconut flour is not only thrilling for me – it also means the cupcakes are gluten-free!  Whoo!

Here’s the recipe:

Cupcakes:

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup agave nectar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting:

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated butter substitute (I use Earth Balance)

2 cups unrefined powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

2 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk (or almond, rice, etc.)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 375*F.  Spray mini cupcake pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together coconut flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.  In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, oil, agave and vanilla extract until well-combined.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until blended.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 10 minutes.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare frosting by blending together non-hydrogenated butter substitute, unrefined powdered sugar, vanilla extract, peppermint extract, soy milk, cocoa powder and salt with an electric mixer until smooth.  Once cupcakes cool, spread frosting on top.  Makes 16 mini cupcakes.

These cupcakes are SO cute and SO tasty!  I think I have a new addition to the Sweet + Natural favorite recipes list.  The frosting is an absolute dream.  Fluffy but rich.  Chocolately but refreshing.  And I am very excited to have had such success with my first ever coconut flour baking attempt!  That is one ingredient that will definitely be experimented with further in my kitchen.  Yep yep.

Have you ever baked with coconut flour?  Any tips for the newbie?

Sticky Tahini Date Cookies

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So glad you guys are having fun with my European vacation posts!  I love reminiscing on good times, so am happy to share.  However, before I turn into a travel guide, I thought I’d break it up a bit by going back to my roots and giving you a new treat to bake!

I’ve been eating a lot of hummus of late.  I eat it at home.  I eat it at work.  I eat it down the street from my apartment at a restaurant called – yep – Hummus Place – which is excellent and cheap for any fellow New Yorkers out there!  Hummus with carrots.  Hummus with chips.  Did you know that hummus, avocado and tomato sandwiches are the best things ever?  No?  Well, now you do.

With all the hummus eating going on, I thought I’d try to make my own.  All I needed to add to my pantry was a jar of tahini.  Bought that, made the hummus, ate the hummus, ’twas tasty.

Then I had a nearly full jar of tahini to finish.

You may have noticed by now that any leftover ingredients in my apartment are destined to be featured in a baked good – ahem…Pumpkin BrowniesBanana Coconut Bars…ahem.  So obviously I was off to make tahini cookies.  Isn’t that what you would do?  Since I was recently drooling over giant Barcelona dates, it was only fitting that I toss juicy Medjools into the mix as well.

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Here’s my recipe for Sticky Tahini Date Cookies, adapted from this recipe:

1/2 cup tahini

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped Medjool dates

1 1/2 cups oats, coarsely processed

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Grease cookie sheets – don’t forget these are sticky cookies!  In a large bowl, combine tahini, honey, vanilla extract and Medjool dates until smooth.  In a separate bowl, mix together oats, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and walnuts.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until well-blended.  Drop spoonfuls of batter onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheets for a couple minutes before removing to cool completely.  Makes 15 cookies.

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Off topic, but look out the window – isn’t my block cute?

These. are. so. GOOD!  Like surprisingly delicious!  You can definitely taste the sesame seed flavor, and it’s totally enhanced by the cinnamon and vanilla.  I’m already imagining all the things you could add to these cookies – other dried fruits or nuts, flax seed, more spices.  And they’re so nutritious!  Make them now!

Have you ever used tahini when baking something sweet?

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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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Pumpkin Banana Oat Muffins

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Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii.

I’m back!  You’ll have to forgive me for the past couple months.  They were arguably the busiest of my entire life.  But I am baking once again!  Before we get into the details of my latest delicious creation, here’s a brief recap of recent events to give some context for my absence and perhaps entice understanding from my wonderfully patient readers:

  • Moved into my new apartment
  • Unpacked – umm…amidst the busyness, this took several weeks
  • Waited for cable / internet to be installed…twice – thanks for not showing up the first time Time Warner!
  • Travled to Rhode Island for a weekend to attend a wedding
  • Planned and conducted a major brainstorming workshop for clients at work
  • Cheered for the Cardinals at a Mets game – they’re in the playoffs now!
  • Celebrated a good friend’s birthday
  • Drove to CT and back for work meetings – times two
  • Vacationed in Europe with Dan for 10 days – an absolute DREAM!  If this were a travel blog, I could do a billion posts about that trip!
  • Worked 75+ hour weeks for a month straight, including through Labor Day weekend…
  • …while I was in Chicago visiting my sister – and having lunch with Jenn!
  • Traveled across the country for a week to watch market research focus groups
  • Played host to my parents while they were in NYC for a weekend
  • Researched and bought a new bike – wheeee!
  • Brunched with old friends from high school
  • Went to several doctor appointments
  • Plus a whole bunch of other very important stuff that I need to keep secret for now…shhh…

Whew!  A lot of work (sad…) but a lot of fun (happy!) in there too.  With all of the above going on, I haven’t had much time – or kitchen access! – to make my own meals, let alone do any awesome baking.  However, the dust seems to be settling – knock on wood – so I am keeping my fingers crossed that we can now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

To kick it off, let’s play a little game of Train of Thought, shall we?  I’ll show you how I decided to make what I’m sharing with you right now!

Today = October.  October = fall.  Fall =  pumpkin.  Pumpkin = great oatmeal mix-in.  Great oatmeal = pumpkin + mashed banana + flax + …  Ooh – I got it!

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These Pumpkin Banana Oat Muffins both welcome the new season and celebrate my re-found ability to make breakfast in the morning.  Pumpkin, banana, flax and maple syrup are the ingredients that make up my favorite bowl of oatmeal – and they’re now brought to you in muffin form!  Top these off with some peanut butter and you’re good to go.  Yum!

Here’s my recipe for Pumpkin Banana Oat Muffins, adapted from this recipe:

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

3/4 cup flax seed meal

2/3 cup maple syrup

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup oats

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375*F.  Spray muffin tins with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, mashed bananas, vanilla, eggs, flax seed meal and maple syrup until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just blended.  Pour into prepared muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes.  Makes 18 muffins.

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I was quite pleased with these muffins!  Seems like the ole baking skills haven’t gotten too rusty from lack of use.  Dan liked them too – though his enthusiasm might have been more reflective of the fact that I was baking anything at all!  Moist, chewy and filled with healthy ingredients – they’re a perfect way to start the day.

Do you eat oatmeal?  What would your fall + oatmeal muffins look like?

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Chocolate Avocado Mousse

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Guess what?

My oven broke.

Ha! I think this was its way of getting back at me for my negligence these past couple of weeks. I already knew it was temperamental, but this takes sensitivity to a whole new level. You don’t want to use me? Fine, I’ll stop working. A little passive aggressive, no?

So that’s getting fixed. But in the meantime, I couldn’t leave you all hanging with no new recipe! So today I’m sharing a sweet treat that requires no oven. Now I know this is a “baking” blog, but I personally would rather have a no-baked treat than no treat at all. So let’s roll with it.

Last summer, I came across this recipe for chocolate mousse made from avocados, or – in Jason Mraz The Creator’s words – chocomole. Cute name, right? I was instantly intrigued. It was right after a beach vacation where my friends and I made a GINORMOUS bowl of guacamole and proceeded to devour it quicker than I thought humanly possible that we really enjoyed. My friend, Kristen, Co-Guacamole Maker Extraordinaire, spotted the chocomole recipe the same day and forwarded it to me. It was clearly a must-try. So when I thought about making a no-bake sweet, guess what immediately came to mind?

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The recipe is SUPER easy and all you need is a food processor to make it happen. But! It is pretty vague about how much of each ingredient to use. So I got to Googling and found a billion different versions, including one by the lovely Gena. Most of them seemed to suggest the same taste, adjust, taste, adjust process as Mr. Mraz. So that’s what I did – and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out!

You can add some extra sweetness if you’d like – agave nectar or maple syrup would be great and make it nice and smoooooth! – but I just wanted to keep the recipe as simple as possible.  Plus I think it’s really cool that there’s absolutely no added sweetener in this version.  This really is health food my friends.  

Here’s my Chocolate Avocado Mousse:

1 avocado

8 Medjool dates, chopped

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in food processor. Blend, blend, blend – scraping sides when necessary – until smooth. That’s it! Makes 2-3 servings.

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I loooooved this. It was so thick and fudgy. I am amazed at how so few and healthy – and maybe odd? – ingredients can come together to create something so delicious. Will definitley be making this again and again.

Have you ever made a sweet treat from avocado?

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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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