Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Holidays and Exciting News!

The past couple weeks have been a whirl wind, so I haven't been on here except to quick post the peanut brittle recipe

It is hard to believe, but a couple weeks ago, I was bestowed with some very exciting news. Two of the recipes I submitted to the VegNews holiday cookie contest were in the group of top ten finalists! Winners were to be announced a week later.

On the day the results were promised, I neurotically checked for them more times than I care to admit. It was my husband who first saw the announcement.

I won the VegNews holiday cookie contest! Many happy dances later.........I calmed down enough to see for myself. 

All the recipes sounded absolutely amazing, I was so blown away to be chosen. It was an honor to be a finalist, let alone win. I wish they shared the rest of the finalist recipes as they all sound delicious! 

The winning recipe was my chocolate sugar cookies iced with crushed candy cane topping. Since the VegNews staff are sent all sorts of vegan treats to test, it made the win all the more sweet. 

Still pinching myself that I'll soon be whipping up treats with the Kitchen Aid stand mixer that I won. I've dreamed of having one, but t'was not in the family budget. Thank you, thank you VegNews!

 This momma can hardly wait for the next vegan bake sale to utilize this wonderful prize for a good cause other than making treats for the family.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle

My great aunt Doris gave me this recipe. She was near and dear to my heart. When she passed away this year, the world lost a kind and generous woman. Each time I make one of her recipes, I am transported back to my childhood and nostalgic memories.

If you were looking for a simple, easy to prepare dessert to give as a gift, you've found it. No candy thermometers required here. In just 15 minutes, you'll have peanut brittle cooling on a pan.

This is a recipe you need to prepare for in advance, and by that I mean: have all your ingredients, bowl, measuring spoons and cups at the ready.

You could easily mix this up and use different types of nuts with it. I've used pecan and cashews in it with great success.

Microwave Peanut Brittle

1 cup sugar
1/2 light corn syrup
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts
1 Tbsp. vegan "butter" (I use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda

Combine sugar, corn syrup and salt in a 2 quart glass dish. Microwave ingredients covered with wax paper on high for 5 minutes. Stir in peanuts and microwave for 3 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from microwave using oven mitts and stir in vegan margarine, vanilla, and baking soda until foamy.

Immediately pour onto buttered baking sheet. Spread  1/4 inch thick with a spoon. Let is cool completely and break into pieces. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Third Annual Vegan Cookie Exchange

Each year just seems to get better and better. I love trying new recipes, as well as a few of the classics. This year did not fail to impress. 

Starting at the top going clockwise are: Cherry Cheesecake Cookies, Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls, Snickerdoodle Cinnamon Sugar Cookies, White Chocolate dipped Coconut Cranberry Pistachio Bars, Chocolate Powdered Sugar Coated Cookies, Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies, Almond Toffee Bars, and Chocolate Sugar Cookies Iced with Candy Cane Coating Topping. For a more closer view, feast your eyes below.

Cherry Cheesecake Cookies

White Chocolate dipped Coconut Cranberry Pistachio Bars

Chocolate Powdered Sugar Coated Cookies

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

Almond Toffee Bars

As I am writing this post, I am lamenting the fact that these are all long gone. Quickly devoured by my family, but as the holiday season continues on there will be more holiday goodies to feast upon. Until next year!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Snickerdoodle Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

My snickerdoodles were legendary at the office way back when I was working. If I sent out an email saying that I brought some into share, four dozen cookies disappeared within a couple hours. They are also often requested by family, and vanish just as rapidly.

It is an oldie but goody. I'm not quite sure what took me so long to share it. They are soft and chewy. Depending on how long they are baked, they also can be crunchy just around the edge. Exactly how I prefer my cookies. 

Be careful with the baking time on these. They do not get golden brown on the edges or they'll end up crunchy (unless that is your goal). Once out of the oven they need to cool and set, so have patience. You will be rewarded! 

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 sticks of Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
2 Ener-G egg equivalents
2 tsp. vanilla

Cookie Coating
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream margarine and sugars together. Next add egg equivalent, vanilla, and baking soda, then mix well. Last, add in flour and mix until well combined.

In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping. Pour it out onto a large plate and gently shake to spread an even mixture on the plate. Roll cookie dough into balls sized 1 inch in diameter (about the size of a ping pong ball). Roll the balls in coating until completely covered.

Place onto very lightly greased cookie sheet one inch apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the sides are set. Unlike most cookies you aren't baking until golden brown, as that will make them crunchy and not chewy.

Please allow 6-8 minutes to cool before lifting off of the cookie sheet with a spatula.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Iced Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

My inspiration for this recipe initially came from Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joes. I.cannot.stop.eating.them.

Chocolate, pepermint, and candy canes are a combination made for each other. I adapted my sugar cookie recipe from my Grandma that I veganized awhile back.

Chocolate cut-out sugar cookies are where it's at you have my word. I can always gauge a new recipe by how much dough my hubby continues to steal and gobble down. There was a lot of that going on this time.

Iced Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Peppermint Candy Cane Topping

3 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups margarine (I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
3 tsp baking powder
2 "eggs" using Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 Tbsp. coconut beverage (soy, almond, hemp, or rice work too)
2 tsp. vanilla

Peppermint Icing

1 ½ cups Powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. coconut beverage milk (or other milk alternative)
1 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

Candy Cane Topping

6 Small sized or 2 large candy canes crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the sugar and margarine (I recommend using a non-hydrogenated one). Mix together the Ener-G egg replacer with a whisk until creamy. Add it to the mixture, along with vanilla, baking powder, coconut milk and mix well.

Combine with the flour to make dough. Separate into 3 sections, and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or if you are in a rush about a half hour in the freezer. Roll out dough to 1/3 " thick and cut out shapes. Bake in oven 9-12 minutes or until edges are set. Transfer from pan to cooling rack until completely cooled.

In the meantime, mix together the icing. Whisk together peppermint extract, powdered sugar and coconut milk, alternately adding coconut milk and powdered sugar. Once desired consistency is reached you are ready to decorate your cookies. I shoot for a maple syrup type thickness when you pout the icing.

I recommend using a pastry brush to "paint" the icing onto the cookies. You can also add sprinkles or crushed candy cane pieces onto the cookies after icing, but need to do it immediately after icing a cookie before it starts to dry.
Crushed Candy Cane Topping:
The simplest way to do this is in a food processor/blender, but you can crush them with a rolling pin.