Small Batch Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Small Batch Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy New Year! Now that the first week of January is almost over, does that mean you’ve given up your resolutions yet? No? Good, me either. Believe it or not, this is one of the few recipes on my website that’s not a diet buster. At least, it’s not an “eating everything in moderation” buster, which I’m all about these days. This small batch cookie recipe makes only 5 cookies. Yay for built in portion control! But wait…it get’s even better! *cue Billy Mays*

They’re vegan, and it’s a super simple one bowl recipe. Excited yet? Click on over to Food Fanatic for the recipe.

One Bowl Gingerbread Layer Cake

Gingerbread Cake

I’ve been wanting to post a gingerbread cake on here for years, but never got around to it because every recipe I’ve found looked super complicated, and by this point in the year, I do not feel like doing things like folding egg whites or even washing more than one bowl. This time of year calls of dump, dump, dump, and stir. Dump and stir recipes leave more time for important things like spending time with family, or watching Master of None on Netflix.

Gingerbread Cake

My default cream cheese frosting is a not too sweet swiss meringue buttercream, but I thought that a simple cream cheese/powdered sugar frosting worked better here. Not only is it easy to make, but the sweetness compliments the spicy gingerbread cake.

The topping was supposed to be a snowy white glaze that dripped down the sides to look like icicles, but I think I added too much milk because it looks like the sun came out and the snow is melting. It’s been in the 70s all week here, so I suppose there was no chance of snow, not even on my cake.

Gingerbread Cake

The gingerbread house cake topper is totally optional. I had some leftover dough left from this recipe, which makes a ton. If you want to use it just for a mini gingerbread house, I’d recommend dividing it by 3, and even then you’ll have enough to make at least 8 mini houses. I got my cookie cutters from this store on Etsy. To decorate the house and glue it together, I used this pre-packaged¬†cookie icing

Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread Cake

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Herby Shortbread Two Ways- Rosemary Honey and Raspberry Thyme

Rosemary Shortbread

Have you ever used herbs in cookies? I’ve always found the idea intriguing, so when a friend gave me some rosemary from her garden, I thought about using it in shortbread. I suspected that it would be one of those “cool in theory but kind of weird” recipes that at worst would make my kitchen smell nice and at best would make good Christmas gifts, but I never expected them to blog worthy. I like to keep this space for the best of the best and the favoritest of the favorites, and these cookies definitely made the cut.

Rosemary Shortbread
Rosemary Shortbread

I originally started by adding rosemary to my usual shortbread base, but when I came across this recipe, I decided to add some honey. The honey not only added flavor, but made a more tender cookie. I was such a fan of this dough that I made a second variation on this recipe. For the thyme raspberry cookie, I used the same shortbread base, but replaced the rosemary with 1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme and 2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped freeze dried raspberries.

Rosemary Shortbread

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Vegan Apple Pie Scones

Apple Pie Scones

I’ve always been cold-natured, but now that I’ve lived in Texas for almost 8 years, any time that it drops below 70 degrees is a reason to put on my fuzzy socks and make a big pot of tea. I’ve been having major scone cravings to go along with the gallons of tea that I’ve been drinking lately, but I didn’t have a good go to recipe.

After some scone research, I decided to go with a British style recipe. It’s less sweet than it’s American counterpart and more cakey than biscuity. You don’t have to have cold ingredients, and you don’t have to fret about overworking the dough. There’s nothing I hate worse than tip-toeing around finicky scone dough and still having the end result come out tough. British scone dough starts out by coating the flour in fat so that it’s harder to overwork the gluten. You can knead it and roll it out without being afraid of impending hockey pucks.

Because I planned to stuff these scones with apples and cinnamon sugar, I wanted a scone recipe that would be a not to sweet vehicle to let the apples shine while still being light and fluffy. Oh, and I also wanted them to be vegan. I don’t ask for much, do I? I found that watching this video from America’s test kitchen put me on the right track. Even though I replaced the butter with coconut oil, the milk with coconut milk, and omitted the eggs all together, I used the same basic mixing method. And then I stuffed it with apple pie filing. I’m not sure if the Brits would approve, but I liked the end result.

I don’t normally do step by step instructions, but I thought it would be helpful this time. Scroll past the recipe for the steps.

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Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Blondies

Hazelnut Blondies

Hazelnut Blondies

Happy week after Thanksgiving! Have you recovered from your food coma yet? I hope so, because I have lots of fun holiday recipes coming your way, so don’t put up your stretchy pants just yet. These hazelnut blondies are my first post over at Food Fanatic, where I’ll be contributing vegan dessert recipes. And you know what they say about vegan desserts- they’re practially salad! Ok, maybe I’m they only one that says that, but they are egg and dairy free and full of toasted hazelnut butter. To get the recipe, click here.

Hazelnut Blondies

Pumpkin Biscotti

Pumpkin Biscotti

Pumpkin Biscotti

If you are what you eat, then I am a giant walking talking pumpkin biscotti. I’ve made (and eaten) so many of these in the last couple of weeks that I’m afraid I’m going to start turning orange. I guess eating mass amounts of biscotti is just part of the job, but it’s ok, I’m always happy to take one for the team.

Pumpkin Biscotti

My favorite traditional biscotti recipe uses eggs in the batter, but no oil or butter. It’s perfectly crunchy and you don’t have to chip a tooth to enjoy it. However, since my grandmother was in town and doesn’t eat eggs, I wanted to make an eggless version that I could share with her. Pumpkin makes a great egg substitute, but adds a lot of moisture, so my first couple of batches of biscotti ended up soggy. For the next batch, I tried baking them a little longer. They probably would have been ok after soaking them in coffee but on their own, they were too hard. For the last batch, I added some oil, which I’m normally not a fan of in traditional biscotti. They kept these biscotti from drying out and boosted the flavor, and my teeth were still in tact after biting into them.

Note the low baking temperature here. I found that after several of my biscotti logs split during the first bake, lowering the temperature from 350 to 300 was the best remedy for this. This recipe can easily be made vegan by omitting the white chocolate drizzle or replacing it with a bittersweet chocolate drizzle.

Pumpkin Biscotti

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Marshmallow Madness Cake

Marshmallow Madness Cake

Marshmallow Madness Cake

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Halloween. Sure, there’s candy (I can be bribed with candy most of the time) and fun costumes, but there’s also the blood and guts and gore aspect of it that I hate. I will never ever understand why people like to go to haunted houses or watch movies that will make you sleep with the lights on for weeks. One thing I do understand though, is cake, and like every other holiday, I just turn it into an excuse to make another one. Plus, making googly eyes out of royal icing is way more fun than doing dishes.

My goal was to make a cake that was light and fun but still in the spirit of Halloween. The fact that the ganache looks like dried blood was totally an accident, since I intended for it to be a bright purple drip. Cakes never quite turn out the way I picture them in my head, but I thought this one turned out pretty darn cute anyway.

Marshmallow Madness Cake

The cake itself is a 3 layer 5-inch deep dark chocolate cake made with black onyx cocoa powder. Black onyx cocoa is a super alkalized cocoa powder that is very dark (the kind that they use to make Oreo cookies). Used by itself, it can really dry out baked goods (I learned that the hard way). I took a tip from SugarHero and used it to replace half of the regular Dutch process cocoa. The result was a cake that was naturally black in color and kept it’s moisture. I get my black cocoa online, but if you don’t want to bother, you can use regular Dutch process or even add some black food coloring to your cake.

For the drippy glaze, I used candy melts since I already had some purple ones on hand. If you use them, go easy on the cream at first. I tried to use the same ratio of cream to chocolate as I would with a ganache, but candy melts melt more easily than regular chocolate (hence the term candy melts), so start my mixing in a little bit at a time. I just dumped it all in, which is why my drip turned out runnier than I expected.

I couldn’t find candy eyeballs that were small enough to fit on the mini marshmallows, so I made royal icing, put it into a piping bag, and piped it directly onto the marshmallows. You could also used pre packaged cookie icing. Once it dried, I used an edible pen to draw in the eyeballs.

If you want to make a shorter cake, you can use the same recipe to make a 3 layer 6-inch cake. You’ll need reduce the baking time by about 5 minutes.

Marshmallow Madness Cake

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Spiced Apple Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Apple Layer Cake

Apple Layer Cake

Last week, I found myself wandering around the grocery store and lamenting the price of berries. There were so many berry desserts on my list that didn’t get made over the summer, but when I saw the array of apples in the corner, I got distracted from my sadness. I remembered these apple cupcakes that I made last year, which made my list of favorites for 2014, and I had been wanting to make a layer cake version of it ever since.

This time, I replaced the goat cheese frosting (but isn’t that the best part?) with a brown sugar and maple cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream. As much as I adore goat cheese frosting, cream cheese SMB has a special place in my heart. Especially when it’s made with brown sugar, and even more so when you add maple syrup. In fact, after making this version of cream cheese frosting, it’s really hard for me to go back to the overly sweet powdered sugar variety that is so often paired with red velvet or carrot cake. The apples make the cake pretty sweet in itself, so I thought this frosting made for a better balance.

Apple Layer Cake

Apple Layer Cake

Cream cheese SMB is more time consuming to make than your traditional cream cheese frosting, but so worth it. In the past when I’ve made cream cheese swiss buttercream, I subbed cream cheese for half of the butter and ended up with a soupy, gloopy curdled mess that would not come together no matter how much I whipped it. After reading this post, I figured out why. Here are a few tips and tricks to get smooth and luxurious cream cheese SMB.

1. Finish your SMB like you normally would with only the butter added.
2. Whip the cream cheese separately until it is smooth.
3. Add the finished SMB to the cream cheese (not the other way around) a little bit at a time until it comes together.

Follow these steps and you’ll have a light, fluffy, and not to sweet cream cheese frosting. And because it’s softer than traditional SMB, it tastes great straight out of the fridge. Yay for instant gratification!

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Teeny Tiny Chocolate Cake for One

Tiny Chocolate Cake

Tiny Chocolate Cake

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Las Vegas for Aaron’s birthday. I won’t say which birthday, but it was a big one. Something to do with hills and all that. I wanted to bake him a birthday cake before we left, but he had already had a day of indulgence with his coworkers followed by a pizza dinner with me, and we were about to leave for a gluttonous weekend, so I didn’t know when we were going to squeeze in the time or belly space for a cake. That’s when I decided to whip up the teeniest tiniest cake ever. It was just big enough to satisfy our sweet tooth before we headed off on our trip.

I made the entire batter for the cake in a measuring cup, and both the cake and the frosting without a mixer. I baked this is my trusty little 4-inch cake pan, which I have gotten way more use of out of than I ever expected when I bought it. I used cake strips to prevent the cake from doming up, since I didn’t want to lose any of this already tiny cake.

Tiny Chocolate Cake

I’ve always used an electric mixer or my Kitchen-Aid to make buttercream, but since this was such a small amount of frosting, I used the wooden spoon method. It takes a little bit longer without a mixer, but there’s less clean up involved. I recommend taking your butter out and cutting it into pieces before you even start making the cake. That way it will already be softened by the time the cake has cooled and you won’t have to wait to make the frosting.

Tiny Chocolate Cake

Tiny Chocolate Cake

This cake can easily made vegan. I’ve made it several times and just used whatever milk I have on hand- whole, 2 percent, soy, almond, etc. The butter in the frosting can be replaced with vegan butter, shortening, or a combo of the two. I used a chocolate frosting on this cake, but I’ve listed several flavor variations below.

For Vanilla Frosting- omit the cocoa powder
For Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting- add 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter
For Chocolate Almond Frosting- add 1/4 teaspoon of pure almond extract
For Mint Chocolate Frosting- add a drop or two of mint extract
For Mocha Frosting- add 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water and omit the milk

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