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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Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Chocolate Biscotti

Chocolate Biscotti

If this blog accurately reflected the amount of biscotti that has come out of my kitchen in the last couple of months, I would have to seriously consider changing my blog name to The Biscotti Merchant. A couple of months ago, I made this Vegan Almond Biscotti and have been obsessed with finding a chocolate version that I like just as much. I found a ton of different recipes to try. Some used eggs, others just the whites. Some used oil, some used butter, some used both and others used none. I wasn’t sure how these ingredients affected the final texture, so like an obsessive baking weirdo, I just tested them all. I’m not even kidding, but I’ve literally made about 20 batches of biscotti in the last few months.

The good news is, I found a favorite! By far, the winner was David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Biscotti. It calls for whole eggs but no butter or oil. It’s crunchy enough to be distinguishable as biscotti and not just a biscotti shaped cookie, but it’s not so hard that it will break your teeth. The best part is that these biscotti get better with age. I actually liked them better on day 3 than when they were freshly baked.

I decided to veganize David Lebovitz’s original recipe by replacing the egg with a chia egg, although you can use a regular egg in this if you prefer (you’ll just need to omit the water). I also replaced some of the flour with leftover hazelnut meal from making hazelnut milk, but you could also use almond or pecan meal in its place. This recipe makes a small batch of biscotti, but can easily be doubled.

Oh, and I don’t want to sound like Ina or anything, but use good cocoa powder, The majority of the flavor in these biscotti comes from the cocoa powder. My absolute favorite brand is Valrhona which I’ll splurge on once in a while, but I usually use Cacao Barry, which is a little more reasonable and also excellent quality.

Chocolate Biscotti
Chocolate Biscotti
Chocolate Biscotti

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Matcha Almond Linzer Cookies with Strawberry Jam

Matcha Linzer Cookies

Matcha Linzer Cookies

If you’ve been following by blog for a while, you know that I always make 2 cakes for my birthday. Where is cake number two?, you ask. I know it’s been more than two weeks since my birthday, but it’s still in the process. In the mean time, I’m bringing you these tasty little treats.

I’ve always suspected that St. Patrick’s Day was a holiday made up by the most obnoxious people so they could pinch you and get away with it. As a little kid with immigrant parents who did not understand the importance of making sure I wore something green to school on St. Patty’s day, I got pinched a lot, but this year, I will be armed with green cookies. I’ll carry them around and snack on them all day if I have to. I might even share if you don’t pinch me.

Matcha Linzer Cookies
Matcha Linzer Cookies
Matcha Linzer Cookies

Linzer cookies haven been on my mind since Christmas, when I saw them pop up on so many other food blogs. I can’t resist a pretty dessert and finally got around to making some of my own. ‘Tis the season for all things green, so matcha ended up being the flavor of choice. I ultimately decided to pair it with strawberry jam since I adore the combo and could drink strawberry green tea by the bucket full.

This is a vegan version of the traditional cookie, made with coconut oil rather than butter. I used refined coconut oil since I didn’t want another competing flavor in the mix. If you use unrefined, just know that some coconut flavor may come through. If you’re not a fan of matcha, you can leave it out. This recipe is customizable with both the flavor of the cookie and the jam. Hazelnut or pecan meal can be subbed for the almond meal. If you want a brighter green cookie, omit the vanilla extract and use almond flour instead of almond meal so you don’t see the flecks of almond skin.

Matcha Linzer Cookies

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Double Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie for Two

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

One of my unofficial goals for January was to post recipes more regularly. I was going to blabber more frequently about being vegan and just stay on top of all things blog related. But then life happened, I tested out several cookie recipes and accidentally left some out on the counter, and my dog got a hold of them. A few sleepless nights, several trips to the vet, and a few gallons of carpet cleaner later, I’m happy to report that my dog is okay. Even though I’m failing on the posting regularly goal, at least I’m still vegan (which is the longest I’ve followed any diet ever!) and I came up with a pretty darn good cookie. Word of caution: keep far far away from dogs.

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie
Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I made you a skillet cookie just for two, because nothing says I love you like a gooey chocolate cookie. The texture is actually a cross between a brownie and a cookie that’s and filled with more melty chocolate chips. Essentially, it’s chocolate heaven. If you’re single, no worries. I could easily polish this off in one sitting by myself, and I won’t judge you if you do too.

This recipe is really simple to make – one bowl, dump and stir, and no mixer required! I tested the cookies with both tapioca flour and cornstarch, and liked the texture that the tapioca flour produced. However, I know it’s not as readily available, so you can sub cornstarch. Just know that it will have a slightly crispier exterior as it sets, but these are best served warm out of the oven anyway. Top with Triple Vanilla Ice Cream, grab two spoons, and dig in with your loved one.

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie
Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

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Vegan Almond Biscotti

Vegan Almond Biscotti

Vegan Almond Biscotti

So I’ve just completed my first full week of being vegan, and even though I didn’t think it would be too much of a stretch from my usual pescetarian diet, it’s been a learning experience. I’ve learned that I have to read the labels on errrything and I can no longer spoon Nutella into my mouth and call it dinner. Eating out is tricky and Thai food is my new best friend. Basically, I just have to put a lot more thought into my food and I’m shocked at how many things contain animal products.

I’ve had a few mishaps as well, such as eating honey mustard potato chips because I totally forgot that honey wasn’t vegan. It also occurred to me after I had finished drinking my favorite beer┬áthat milk stout probably isn’t vegan either. But mishaps and all, I’m still plugging along with my month long vegan experiment.

I’ve always believed that vegan baked goods were not lacking in any way, but these biscotti have me convinced. Who says biscotti need eggs? I tested several recipes before coming upon this one, and I knew it was blog worthy when I couldn’t pass by the kitchen without grabbing one. They were also deemed acceptable currency to pay Aaron (who formerly turned up his nose at biscotti) for his hand modeling skillz.

Vegan Almond Biscotti

This recipe makes a small batch, because clearly, I cannot be trusted around biscotti. However, it can easily be doubled. If you like (and why wouldn’t you?), you can drizzle the biscotti with bittersweet chocolate. Can I just say how happy I am that most of my favorite dark chocolate is vegan?

Vegan Almond Biscotti

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2014 Recipe Favorites

Happy (almost) New Year! I hope 2014 was great for you. I say this every year, but I just can’t believe how fast it went by. It’s like time speeds up the older I get. I can’t wait to share more recipes with you this year, but before I do, let’s take a look back at our favorites from 2014.

Your favorite cake: Vegan Vanilla Birthday Cake
This was the winner by a landslide! I’ll definitely be making more vegan cakes in 2015.

Vegan-Vanilla-Cake

My favorite cake: Chocolate Chip Layer Cake
The cake that happened by accident turned out to be my favorite! I love the combo of the chocolate frosting and whipped cream, and mini chocolate chips make everything better.

Chocolate Chip Cake

Your favorite cupcake: Nutella Bomb Cupcakes
What can I say? You have good taste. This one comes in a very very close second for me, too.

Nutella Cupcakes

My favorite cupcake: Spiced Apple Walnut Cupcakes with Goat Cheese Frosting
Because goat cheese frosting always wins.

Apple Walnut Goat Cheese Cupcakes

Your favorite non-cake dessert: Vegan Chocolate Pudding with Peanut Butter Whipped Cream
Peanut butter whipped cream!!!

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

My favorite non-cake dessert: Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cookies with Sea Salt
Another vegan recipe. Just goes to show that you really don’t need eggs or dairy to make a great dessert.

Olive Oil Chocolate Cookies

Before I go, I just want to say thank you to all of you who have read this blog, made a recipe, left a comment, pinned on Pinterest, liked on Facebook, or followed on Instagram. It means the world. Here’s to a great 2015!

Copycat Hilton Garden Inn Cookies and a Cookie Swap!

Hilton Garden Inn Cookies

Hilton Garden Inn Cookies

I participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! I was somewhat hesitant to do so this year since I’ve been traveling so much, but I’m so glad I did. It gave me a chance to share some of my favorite cookies with people, and I got to taste cookies from some amazing bloggers. It also gives me a chance to share a story that I was too embarrassed to share earlier, but now that I’m posting this recipe, I can’t hide my crazy anymore.

A few months before my wedding, I went to check out some hotels near my parents’ house in Indiana that our guests would be staying in. After a trip to the Hilton Garden Inn, the manager offered us some of their cookies, warm and fresh our of the oven. I’m not often impressed by hotel cookies, but these were good. Really good. Essentially, they’re oatmeal cookies with cranberries, blueberries, and white chocolate chips. And apparently crack, because they’re totally addictive (don’t worry people who received my cookies, I left that ingredient out).

When I got back home to Dallas, instead of focusing on my upcoming wedding, I became obsessed with recreating these cookies. I even went to a few local Hilton Garden Inn’s so I could get some cookies to aid in the recreation process. They all refused to sell me any and looked at me like I was crazy.

I did, however, manage to get my hands on a list of ingredients, and I found out that the original recipe uses no butter or eggs. However, I like the flavor of butter in my cookies, so I used a half butter half shortening combo, but feel free to use all shortening to make them more authentic. I didn’t like any of the eggless varieties of these cookies that I tested, so I added an egg to mine. I also made these cookies mini, because when it comes to snacks, I’m a fan of quantity. If you decide to make larger cookies, you’ll need to adjust the baking time.

To keep these cookies from spreading, shape them into squares and freeze them for at least one hour before baking. Alternatively, you can roll out the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper, freeze it, and then cut it into squares. If you don’t care if they look exactly like the original Hilton Garden Inn Cookies, there’s no need to shape the cookies in advance. You can just chill the dough in the fridge for an hour before baking.

Hilton Garden Inn Cookies

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Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies

Dark chocolate almond cookies

Dark chocolate almond cookies

I’ll admit that when I want a cookie, I don’t stray very often from the traditional chocolate chip variety. I have my go to recipe from Demolition Desserts that’s slightly crisp on the outside with perfectly chewy innards, and the only time I’ll mess with it when I’m feeling a little nutty in which case I’ll brown the butter. On occasion, I will try another recipe if it’s really intriguing, but the only time I’ll share it with you is if it’s exceptionally delicious. These cookies are exceptionally delicious.

These started out as Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies from the Flour Bakery Cookbook, and after several transformations, became Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies. There’s almond meal in the batter, yo! Also, I couldn’t decide between chopped bittersweet chocolate that gets all melty and gooey in the cookies or chocolate chips that hold their shape, so I threw in a combination of both.

Dark chocolate almond cookiesDark chocolate Almond CookiesDark chocolate almond cookies

Some cookie dough needs minimal chill time in the fridge (or none at all) and some need a good overnight rest. I can tell you that these fall into the latter category. Since I’m somewhat impatient when it comes to desserts, I “tested” a few cookies early and the texture just wasn’t as good as those that got some shut eye. I would also recommend not making these cookies too large. I used a large cookie scoop for the first batch and ended up with burnt edges and an underdone center, so I ended up going with the small cookie scoop for the second batch and was pleased with the results.

Dark Chocolate Almond Cookies

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (175 grams) toasted almonds
  • 1 1/2 (210 grams) cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar for 1-2 minutes until smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat for an additional minute until combined.
  4. In a food processor, pulse 1/2 cup of the toasted almonds until you reach a fine powder (if you pulse it too long it will become oily).
  5. Coarsely chop the remaining 3/4 cup of almonds.
  6. Combine the ground almonds, chopped almonds, flour, baking soda, salt, chopped chocolate, and chocolate chips in a bowl.
  7. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined (do not over mix).
  8. Use a small cookie scoop to scoop the dough onto the cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  9. Bake for 9-10 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
  10. Cool completely on wire racks.
http://cakemerchant.com/2014/09/11/dark-chocolate-almond-cookies/

Recipe adapted The Flour Bakery Cookbook

Vegan Dark Chocolate, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Cookies

Olive Oil Chocolate Cookies

Olive Oil Chocolate Cookies

I’ve never doubted that vegan cakes could taste as good as their non-vegan counterparts, but I wasn’t quite sold on vegan cookies. There are a number of good substitutes for butter (although recently, I’ve been reading how terrible palm oil is), but replacing an egg can be tricky. I’ve tried the flax egg thing, and maybe I’m doing it wrong, but it just doesn’t taste right to me. However, my opinion of vegan cookies changed when I made these.

The egg is replaced by tapioca flour (also known as tapioca starch), which can just be dumped into your recipe as is- no grinding of flaxseeds necessary! I read about this swap in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and apparently, it works well with other starches like arrowroot and cornstarch, although I’ve never tried them so I can’t say for sure.

Olive Oil Chocolate CookiesOlive Oil Chocolate CookiesOlive Oil Chocolate CookiesOlive Oil Chocolate Cookies

The Texas heat makes me a little sluggish and I wasn’t up for anything elaborate, so this is a total lazy girl’s (or guy’s, no discrimination here) cookie. One bowl, dump and stir, and no chilling time! Instant cookie gratification! However, the food blogger in me did want a little bit of fancy, so I busted out the good olive oil since I thought it paired nicely with the chocolate and topped the cookies with a little bit of flaky sea salt. I like a salty cookie anyway, but dark chocolate practically screams for it. If you’re not a fan of the olive oil in your cookies, this recipe will work just fine with any neutral vegetable oil or even melted coconut oil, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I liked the olive oil/chocolate combo so much, you may see it soon in the form of a cake!

Vegan Dark Chocolate, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Cookies

Yield: about 30 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) organic granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all purpose flour, divided
  • 1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (175 grams) vegan bittersweet chocolate chips
  • flaky sea salt for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the olive oil, non-dairy milk, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and tapioca flour, and vanilla extract with a fork for about 2 minutes until the mixture thickens and looks like caramel.
  3. Add 1 cup of the all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix until combined.
  4. Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of the flour.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Using a cookie scoop, drop balls of the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets one inch apart. The dough will be a little but greasy, so you may need to use your fingers to push the dough together into balls.
  7. Sprinkle the dough with a little bit of sea salt and bake them for about 8 minutes (9-10 minutes for a crisper cookie.
  8. Cool completely on wire racks.
http://cakemerchant.com/2014/05/31/vegan-olive-oil-chocolate-sea-salt-cookies/

For a thicker, puffier cookie, reduce the non-dairy milk to 1/4 cup.
Baking time is based on cookies that I made with a small cookie scoop. If you make larger cookies, you will need to increase the baking time.
Natural cocoa powder will work in this recipe, but you will end up with a lighter colored cookie.