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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I had a super cool Valentine’s day cake planned for you this year. Truly I did. It looked really beautiful in my head, but in real life, it was a fail. Twice. And by fail, I mean it involved me huddled in the corner of my kitchen with flour covered yoga pants and frosting in my hair. So I ended up totally bah-humbugging my V-Day dessert this year because I just needed to few days to regroup before bringing you a new version of this cake and sharing some final thoughts on my month long vegan challenge. And it’s just in time for my birthday!
Even though I completed my vegan month last week, I still find myself eating mostly vegan because I’ve noticed that I just feel better, lighter, and more energetic. I almost wish this weren’t true so I could just go back to eating a crap ton of cheese and butter. While I’m not ready to switch to a completely vegan lifestyle, this challenge has definitely changed the way I think about food in terms of health, environmental impact, and animal welfare issues. Essentially, I’m just trying to sneak more chocolate into my diet while pretending to save the world. But really, I do want to continue to eat mostly vegan, perhaps by way of the “vegan before 6” diet or maybe be a weekday vegan. I’m not sure yet, but I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have tried anything similar.
The funny thing is that I grew up eating mostly vegan food, but I just never noticed it. My parents are from a part of India where meat or eggs just aren’t a part of the menu. The only time I noticed it was when I wanted to bake cakes for friends or relatives and I felt at a loss without eggs.
Since then, I think I’ve tried every recipe for vegan and/or eggless chocolate cake out there, and the one from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is always what I go back to. You can use soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk, and it works equally well with natural or Dutch process cocoa powder. I’ve even tried replacing 1/2 cup of the milk with espresso or coffee and I like it even better. I wish that my teenage self had this recipe when trying to make birthday cakes for my grandmother, because it would have saved my family from eating the glue like substance that came out of the oven and pretending to enjoy it for many years.
This recipe makes a 3 layer 6-inch cake, but if you’re not into tall cakes, the PPK recipe makes a 1 layer 8-inch cake. The frosting is made out of coconut cream, which I found at Trader Joe’s (and is a available at most asian grocery stores). You get twice as much cream as a can of regular coconut milk and don’t have to worry about the cream and the water not separating properly. If you can’t find coconut cream, you can use 2 cans of full fat coconut milk and get about the same amount of hardened cream after you refrigerate it for 24 hours.
I have a way of overcomplicating cakes by adding a lot of stuff (hence the overload), but you can simplify it by spreading the frosting in between the layers and serving it without the ganache, mix-ins, or chocolate curls and it would still be delicious. That was my original plan, but then I went crazy with chocolate because eeets mah birthday!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I will admit that December has pretty much been kicking my ass so far. In the balance of work/blog/life/sleep, blogging has been coming in last place. Not to mention the fact that I’m married to a non-Indian person now so I have to think about Christmas and presents and all that stuff more than I normally would. I did, however, have a few minutes to throw together this little cake. And by throw together, I mean I had 2 failed attempts because I tried to rush and ended up leaving out some important ingredients (like eggs) the first couple of times. Remember that whole post about having a relaxed holiday? Yeah, that totally didn’t work. But enough grumbling, let’s talk cake!
The cake recipe is from The Brown Betty Cookbook, which has been sitting unused on my bookshelf for entirely too long. The Chocolate Buttermilk Cake requires 2 egg yolks, which had me wondering what to do with the leftover egg whites. In hindsight, I probably should have used them in the frosting, but that would have been too simple. Plus, I have been stalking Katherine Sabbath’s instagram profile lately, and I love the idea of using meringues as cute little cake toppers.
Aaron loves mint chocolate cake, but he requires that it be paired with mini chocolate chips, so I threw some of those in between the layers. I also had a few Peppermint Jo Jos on hand so I crushed them up and threw some of those in along with some crushed meringue cookies because, why not? It’s a total smorgasbord of minty chocolate chippy cookie crunchy goodness. I didn’t measure how much of each topping I used, but after I tasted the finished product, I wish I had added more. You can add anything you want- crushed candy canes, peppermint bark, etc. And don’t be afraid to use a heavy hand. Texture = good.
If you don’t have 7-inch cake pans, you can get 3 shorter 8-inch layers out of this recipe or 2 9-inch layers. Keep in mind that if you use different sized baking pans, you will need to adjust the baking time.
One of the best things about being married and having family close by is hosting Thanksgiving, because even though I don’t eat turkey, I’ve always really loved the holiday. Aaron makes the turkey and I make everything else and get to indulge in foods that my mom always deemed to bland for consumption when I was a kid. When your in-laws aren’t Indian, they don’t feel the need to douse the mashed potatoes in Tobasco and add chili paste to the green beans.
After hosting our first Thanksgiving last year, it was clear that oven space is prime, so not only is a raw pie healthier, it’s more practical. Plus, it is so so easy, and this is the one time of year when easier always wins for me. God knows I cannot be trusted to roll out a pie crust under pressure. I swear pie crust can smell fear, and after the pumpkin pie disaster of 2011, give me a press in pie crust recipe any day.
This recipe has been a long time coming, mostly because the first time I made this cheesecake and removed it from the pan, the filling completely oozed out the sides and onto the floor. I’ve often said that I have no shame when it comes to desserts, but even I won’t lick cheesecake remains off the ground.
Gloopy cheesecake didn’t keep me down for long, though. I’ve tweaked this recipe a couple of times since then, so not only will it hold it’s shape now, but it will taste so good that even your pumpkin hating hubby will eat it and enjoy it! Ok, I can’t guarantee that, but mine certainly did. If you’re not concerned about the pie being raw, you can roast the pumpkin and use the puree instead of the raw shredded pumpkin. I plan to try it that way for my own Thanksgiving table.
As for the soy lecithin being raw, I’ve done some research and I’m still not 100 percent sure. Apparently sunflower lecithin is raw and a good alternative for those with soy allergies. I’ve never tried it, but I would love to hear your results if you do.