for the happy couple: chocolate cherry wedding cake

Imagine how honored I felt when my good friends asked me to bake their wedding cake! She is a dear friend and also my acupuncturist; he is a prominent local musician (check out their tunes here, please!). The Spicy Cherry Chocolate flavor they chose for their cake was decidedly unconventional, but it fit wonderfully with their unique wedding that involved outrigger canoes, the finest musicians on the island, fire dancing, African dancing, surprise songs, pole-dancing, and heaps of homemade, shared foods. Overall it was very sweet ceremony– and the reception was dangerously fun! And- thank goodness- everyone loved the cake! Click here for the recipe!

the finished cake!

the finished cake!

the liquid and the dry!

the liquid and the dry!

this is how to make cake for 100 people!

this is how to make cake for 100 people!

me working hard in the kitchen

me working hard in the kitchen

the bride with her cake

the bride with her cake

fresh raspberries for the bride

fresh raspberries for the bride

cookies of christmas past

It is no secret that I am not terribly festive, but I can get excited about the holiday thing when it comes to food. I am totally enchanted with the Christmas deliciousness of my favorite chocolate peppermint cookies. This recipe, among two other holiday-themed cookies, were on the menu for last nights vegan cookie cooking class. During our second class I made a happy mistake while making the chocolate cookie recipe, using just half the amount of sugar called for; then my lovely coworker decided to make ball cookies instead of drop cookies (like the recipe actually says to do- following recipes is not really my thing, either!)- and they rocked! Less sugar and just as much holiday spirit as the originals!

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

The following recipe is the adapted version. It’s not healthy by any means, but for those times (of the month, of the year) that you really need to indulge your darkest chocolate cookie fantasies, these are the ones. Originally adapted from the PPK’s chewy chocolate cookies. Makes about 30 cookies.

5 tsp ground flaxseeds
1/2 cup soymilk (or other non-dairy)
3/4 cup organic canola oil
1 cup fine turbinado sugar
2 tsp peppermint extract (alternatively, 10-20 drops peppermint essential oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (or more all-purpose)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine seasalt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the soymilk and flaxseeds in a small bowl and whisk well; set aside.
  3. Warm up the coconut oil to a liquid before measuring, and then mix in a large bowl with the sugar. Whisk until well combined, add the vanilla and peppermint. Add to flax mixture and whisk to combine.
  4. In another bowl sift together the flours, cocoa, soda, salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches, and mix until mostly combined, then add in the chocolate chips (I often have to mix with my hands because the dough gets very stiff).
  5. Roll into 1-inch balls, and flatten on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10-11 minutes, and let cool on the sheet for another five minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool.   These will firm up significantly after a few hours.

quick post: homemade chocolate hints

Some time ago I made some really yummy (and really easy) homemade chocolates… and now that I feel pretty comfortable with it, when I have all the messy ingredients on hand, I will just make a big project out of it and play with a few different flavors at one time.  Recently I made three different flavors… with three very different results. 

Crunchy Pecan Chocolates

these little paper liners come in sooooo handy!

For these candies I used the basic chocolate recipe (see the link above, just subtract the cinnamon and coconut) but omitted the agave, and substituted coconut sugar.  Coconut sugar is very granular (think round sand), not crystalline like sugar.  I was hopeful that adding it to the cacao butter while still heating would melt it a bit, but it never totally dissolved.  But it lent a slightly crunchy texture alongside the pecans that was quite yummy. Now I just need to figure out how to make some caramel to make classic ‘turtles.’

Maca Maple Chocolates

For this *amazing* flavor combination I used the basic chocolate recipe and simply added 2 tbsp maca powder and about 1/2 tsp maple flavoring to the melted cacao butter.  These were delicious, but I smell like pancakes every time I eat them! The maple flavor is subtle as a taste, but the scent clings to your skin for a really long time… like until bedtime, even after a shower!  Delicious, but not ideal…

Peppermint & Spearmint Chocolates

cute, right? but the flavor is just not right!

I used the basic chocolate recipe (cacao butter, cacao, and agave) and added about 10 drops pure peppermint oil, and then about 15 drops pure spearmint oil (because I ran out of peppermint…). The result was a little bit like toothpaste, and the chocolates are sitting in my fridge in the ‘too expensive to throw away, but will only eat as a last resort’ limbo. Not so much…

cooking class: vegan cookies

Though I am supposed to teach weekly cooking classes, I have thrown in quite a few baking classes too.  Everyone seems to enjoy these classes just as much, but I especially love sharing the joy and simplicity of vegan baking with the students.  I’ve encountered many folks think that vegan baking is hard, or just tasteless, and I have made it my personal mission to prove that wrong to anyone that will listen (and taste!).  To usher in the revolution, I taught two of my favorite cookie recipes: ginger molasses cookies and maple-tahini spelt cookies which incorporated different vegan baking techniques and lots of different ingredients.

look how crackly and crunchy!

I found this recipe for ginger molasses cookies on VegWeb, and I’ve been making it for years, including little BakeryManis changes along the way.  The big changes include ground flaxseeds instead of egg replacer (which I think is kinda ewwwwy.  And there is the unnecessary expense of that huge box).  And of course I use coconut oil, because it is so rich and creamy. And lots more spices.  And always use the dipping sugar– the cookies become crackly and infinitely cuter.

Ginger Molasses Cookies

4 tbsp ground flaxseeds
6 tbsp liquid (I like using coffee, but use anything)
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup liquid coconut oil (or organic canola)
¼ cup molasses
1¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2-3 tsp ground ginger (more if like spicy!)
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp sea salt
3 tbsp raw sugar (for dipping)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whip the ground flaxseeds with your liquid of choice, and let sit. It should become very sticky and thick.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the sugar, oil, and molasses.  Whisk the flax mixture again, and add to the sugar/oil.  Sir until all the oil is incorporated.
  4. Add all the dry ingredients to the liquids, except for the raw sugar.  Stir until well-mixed- no dry spots.
  5. Scoop out tablespoon-sized balls and dip in the raw sugar (just one side or both, your choice).  Place on the cookie sheets about 1-2 inches apart.  Bake for 13-15 minutes.  Let cool on the cookie sheet, and then move to a cooling rack.  Yields about two dozen, 2-inch cookies.

mapletahini spelt cookies

These maple-tahini spelt cookies are terribly easy and AMAZINGLY delicious.  And it is one of the most popular posts on BakeryManis, because of a Blisstree shoutout in November.  Try them for yourself and fall in love with the unrefined sweetness and whole-grain deliciousness.

3 tbsp tahini (see note and this post)
3 tbsp maple syrup (see note)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
5 tbsp whole grain spelt flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
pinch sea salt
2 tbsp chocolate cups

  1. Preheat your oven to 375° and line your baking sheets with parchment.
  2. Whisk together tahini, maple syrup, and the vanilla extract.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, baking soda, sea salt, and the chocolate chips.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until well combined.  Divide the dough into two even portions.  Roll gently in your hands, and then squash gently onto the baking sheet to about 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Bake for about 12-14 minutes, until just starting to brown on the edges/bottoms.  Let the cookies cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes to firm up before moving them to a cooling rack. This yields just TWO, 5-inch cookies.  Cause sometimes that’s all you need!

Notes:

  • You can substitute any type of nut butter for this recipe (almond, peanut, etc) but the extra creamy tahini makes a cookie with a cake-like texture, with just a hint of surprising sesame flavor. The peanut butter version makes a wicked peanut butter cookie, though!
  • You can also use agave for this recipe, but the resulting cookies will be much more brown, and a bit drier due to agave’s thicker texture.  The maple works better, but choose what works for you and your baking budget!

    soft, bakery-sized cookies to make everyone happy!

happy birthday cooking class!

I feel like an official grown-up, having to work on my birthday and all… but the super delicious cakes in tonight’s cooking class totally make up for that fact! When I found that my cooking class night fell on my birthday, I decided to build the whole schedule around making cakes for tonight’s class! Next week we are back to savory foods, but tonight it was all about the dessert!

I made my favorite Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Whipped Ganache and an Apple Spice Cake with Carob-Caramel Frosting. The Apple Spice cake is a recipe I got from have cake, will travel, one of my favorite vegan bloggers.  Celine always posts incredible goodies, and this is no exception.  I made a few changes (as seen in the recipe below), and her original can be found here. The frosting was adapted from Veganomicon by Isa Chanda Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.  I swapped the soymilk powder for some carob and was *stunned* with this creative and fun frosting. The Chocolate Pumpkin Cake I wrote about last week, but seeing as how it was part of the cooking class and the insane deliciousness of it all, I will post it again here.  I don’t have any photos now, but there were people with cameras, so perhaps some will arrive soon.  I might have been wearing a birthday hat… and a fake flower lei; we will see if the evidence shows up … enjoy the cakes!

Apple Spice Cake with Carob-Caramel Frosting

1 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup + 2 tbsp organic powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon Ener-g egg replacer powder
1 cup applesauce
1/3 cup safflower oil
1/4 cup apple juice

1.   Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat an 8-inch baking pan with a thin layer of oil.
2.   Sift the flour, salt, spices, sugar, baking powder and egg replacer powder in a large bowl.
3.   In another bowl, whisk applesauce, oil, and apple juice until combined.  Stir wet ingredients into dry, stirring gently until just combined. Do not overmix.
4.   Place into prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
5.   Transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely before topping with Carob-Caramel frosting.

Carob-Caramel Frosting

This frosting recipe is based on the penuche frosting from Veganomicon, but adapted to add more brown sugar goodness and a touch of carob to round it out.

½ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp molasses
1/3 cup soy milk (plus 2 tbsp to taste)
2 tbsp carob powder
pinch salt
3 tbsp Earth Balance vegan margarine
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1.   Whisk together the sugar, molasses, 1/3 cup soy milk, carob powder and salt in a small bowl.  Add to a saucepan with the Earth Balance and warm over medium heat.  Stir and bring to a boil.  Allow the mixture to boil and foam for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
2.   When the mixture has mostly cooled, sift in half the powdered sugar, and beat with a fork until blended well.  Slowly beat in the rest of the sugar until a thick, smooth, fudge-like frosting forms. If necessary, add additional soymilk 1 tbsp at a time to create a smooth and creamy consistency.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Ganache Frosting

This is a decadent, amazingly flavorful cake… Perhaps the best chocolate cake ever, originally found at The Conscious Kitchen, which is sadly not online anymore. It can be made in a square 8×8 pan or a 9” round cake pan.

1 3.2 oz bar dark chocolate, chopped
¾ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup coffee
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
¼ cup liquid coconut oil + 1 tbsp for pan
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp each: nutmeg, allspice, cloves
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

1.    Preheat oven to 350°.  Prepare your cake pan with parchment paper on the bottom and lightly oil the sides.
2.    Break chocolate into small pieces into a glass bowl, and place over a saucepan of boiling water to melt.  Stir the chocolate constantly and remove the bowl from atop the pan when just melted. Set aside.
3.    In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, coffee, vinegar, sugar, vanilla, oil, sea salt and spices.
4.    In another large bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda and baking powder.
5.    Pour liquid into dry mixture while whisking until combined in a smooth batter. Pour in melted chocolate and whisk well to combine. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6.    Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove cake from pan and continue cooling on cooling racks.  Let cool completely before frosting.

Whipped Ganache Frosting

This recipe makes enough to frost two layers of cake; you can either double the cake recipe or just use the extra chocolate frosting on something else!

8 oz good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
¾ cup soymilk
½ cup Earth Balance margarine, room temperature
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla

1.   Place chopped chocolate in the bowl.
2.    In a small saucepan, heat milk until just boiling. Pour over the chocolate and let stand 1 minute, then begin to whisk slowly. When beginning to smooth out, add in the Earth Balance, agave and vanilla. Beat until smooth and thick, but still glossy and light.
3.    Let cool until the ganache thickens.  Spread a thin layer on the cake to just cover, then add a thicker layer to top the cake- using as much ganache as you like.
4.    Save the extra for nibbling straight out of the fridge!