Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chocolate vanilla diamond cookies

'Tis the season for cookies. You can't go anywhere without seeing/smelling/hearing about cookies this time of year. So, I decided to give in to temptation and bake these chocolate and vanilla flavored beauties. The flavor combination is perfect and they just melt in your mouth. And they look so cute! Their unusual shape only adds to their charm. The other thing DH and I loved about them is that they weren't too sweet. Decorated with some powdered sugar on top, they have just the right amount of sweetness. This recipe uses some whole-wheat pastry flour, so all in all, its pretty healthy as far as cookies go!

This recipe is adapted from the sugar cookie recipe in "The Joy of Vegan Baking". It yields 45-50 cookies. You could easily cut the ingredients in half if you don't want to bake that many.

1 cup room temp. vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (If you don't have this, use AP flour. Don't use whole wheat flour)
3 tsp egg-replacer (available at Whole Foods/Sprouts Market)
4 tbsp water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1-2 tbsp non-dairy milk, if needed

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. You could use an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer for this. This should take 4-5 minutes. Once that is done, add the egg-replacer, water and vanilla extract and beat until everything is thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the flours and baking powder together until well-mixed. Now, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, as you continue mixing. Form the dough into a ball and cut it into two equal-sized portions.

Cover one half in plastic wrap/put in a container and refrigerate. To the other half, add the cocoa powder and knead, adding the non-dairy milk if the dough starts to feel dry. Once the cocoa is incorporated, cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate. The dough should be chilled for at least 30 min. and upto an hour.

Once the dough has been chilled, take one portion out and put it onto a lightly floured surface/silpat. Roll the dough out until its about 1/4" thick. Put the rolled out dough in the fridge while you repeat with the other portion. Let the cookie dough chill for another 10-15 min. in the fridge. While the dough chills, preheat the over to 350 F.

Once this is done, lay the vanilla dough out first onto a lightly floured surface. Place the chocolate dough on top.  Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into pretty little diamond shapes or whatever beautiful shapes you prefer.
Place the cookies onto a cookie sheet lined with silpat/parchment paper. Bake for 12-16 min. The cookies are done when the edges start to brown. You can also flip a cookie to to make sure the bottom is browned, which also means the cookie is done. Cool the cookies in the pan for 2-3 min. and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. While they are cooling, dust powdered sugar on half the cookies.
I hope you enjoy baking and sharing these cookies with your loved ones. Happy holidays everyone!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vegan not weird is born

Hello, world! After months of fantasizing about starting a vegan blog, Vegan not weird is born today. Incidentally, it is DH's birthday today. So, I made him a chocolate cake. Let me start by saying that this recipe is foolproof. Its really super easy and quick. I baked the cake in my new Cusinart convection oven and it baked up in 15 min. flat! How fabulous is that!

The recipe for this cake is from "The Joy of Vegan Baking" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Its a great book and a good starting point if you are just venturing into vegan baking.

1 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour (I used a combination of whole-wheat pastry and all-purpose flour)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup cold water
1 tbsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9 "cake pan by greasing it and spreading about a tsp of flour on the bottom and sides of the pan. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, salt) and mix well with a whisk to combine. Make a well in the center. Add the wet ingredients.  Mix until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake for about 30 min. OR until the cake smells done (after baking a few cakes, this part will come easily to you). Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick/fork in the center. If the toothpick is dry, then your cake is done. After cake is done, set aside to cool in pan for 30 min., then transfer to the dish/platter on which you want to serve it.

One of my favorite chocolate frosting recipes is the Maple-chocolate frosting from Robin Robertson's book, "Vegan Planet".

1 16 oz. package silken tofu, drained
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup maple syrup/other liquid sweetener
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender/food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until well-chilled.

However, today, I didn't have silken tofu at home, so I tried this frosting recipe. I have to say, in all honesty, I wasn't pleased. It was way too sweet for my taste and the texture was not to my liking either. Try the maple chocolate frosting. You won't be disappointed.

When ready to frost, pour the frosting on top of the cake and spread with a regular, or even better, a cake icing spatula. Devour!