Matcha Almond Linzer Cookies with Strawberry Jam

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

Matcha Almond Linzer Cookies with Strawberry Jam

Ingredients

    For the Matcha Almond Cookies:
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) refined coconut oil, melted but not hot
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) unbleached granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) non-dairy milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup (68 grams) almond meal or almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons (215 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons organic cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon matcha powder
  • Strawberry Jam for filling
  • For the Matcha Powdered Sugar:
  • 2 tablespoons powdered/confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder

Instructions

    For the Matcha Almond Cookies:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut oil and sugar for about 1-2 minutes until smooth.
  2. Add the almond milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract and whisk to combine. If your almond milk is cold, the coconut milk will start to solidify.
  3. Stir in the almond meal.
  4. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and matcha powder (I put the sifter directly over the bowl and sifted into the wet ingredients).
  5. Stir the wet and dry ingredients until just combined. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If it's sticky, gently knead in some flour a little bit at a time.
  6. Divide the dough in half and place each half in two gallon sized storage bags.
  7. Place the bags on a flat surface and roll the dough out inside the bags (you can leave the top of the bag open). The dough should be about 1/8 of and inch thick.
  8. Transfer both bags into the refrigerator to chill. Since the dough will be flimsy, slide each bag onto a cookie sheet, cutting board, or another flat surface to help transfer them to the fridge.
  9. Chill the dough until it's firm for (at least 1/2 hour in the fridge, about 10 minutes in the freezer).
  10. Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  11. Take the dough out of the refrigerator, cut open the plastic bag, and use a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. Use a smaller cookie cutter to cut out the middle of 1/2 of the cookies (I used a star shape).
  12. Place the cookies onto the prepared cookie sheets. If the dough has softened, place the cookie sheets in the freezer for a couple of minutes to firm up the dough. This will keep it from spreading when it bakes.
  13. Bake the cookies for about 9-10 minutes until lightly browned on the edges and cool the cookies on wire racks before assembling.
  14. To make the Matcha Powdered Sugar:
  15. Sift together the matcha powder and powdered sugar and whisk to combine.
  16. To Assemble the Cookies:
  17. Place the cut out cookies on a sheet of parchment paper and dust the tops of the cookies with the matcha powdered sugar using a fine mesh sieve.
  18. Spread a layer jam on the bottoms of the cookies and put the cut out cookies on top to sandwich them together.
  19. Fill the cut out with more jam using a small spoon.
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-Assembled Cookies will stay in an airtight container in the fridge for several days. However, they do soften a bit after they are assembled, so if you like a crisper cookie, assemble them the day you want to serve them.
-You can reuse the scraps, but if the dough is cold, it will need to soften before you roll it out again.
-I used the smallest of these to cut out the cookies.
-The mini star cookie cutter is from this set.
-For the cookies in the last picture, I used a 2-inch round cookie cutter and the heart shaped mini cutter from this set. I baked those cookies for about 7 minutes since they were smaller.

Chocolate Overload Cake

Chocolate Overload Cake

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!

Chocolate Overload Cake
Chocolate Overload Cake
Chocolate Overload Cake
Chocolate Overload Cake

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!

Chocolate Overload Cake

Yield: One 3 layer 6-inch cake

Ingredients

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup (200 grams) unbleached granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil, grape seed oil, or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) cocoa powder (regular or Dutch process)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the Chocolate Frosting:
  • 1 14 ounce can coconut cream, refrigerated overnight
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch process (or natural) cocoa powder
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • Optional mix-ins: 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips and/or cacao nibs
  • For the Chocolate Glaze:
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup, 120 ml)) coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
  • For the Chocolate Curls:
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil or vegetable shortening

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Grease and line 3 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk and vinegar and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.
  4. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract and whisk until foamy.
  5. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda baking powder, and salt.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  7. Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes.
  9. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and cool completely before frosting.
  10. For the Chocolate Frosting:
  11. Open the can of coconut cream and pour off any water that has separated from the cream.
  12. Put the hardened coconut cream in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
  13. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and beat to combine.
  14. Add the melted chocolate and beat until combined (don't over mix).
  15. For the Chocolate Glaze:
  16. Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  17. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk until it is just about to boil.
  18. Pour the heated coconut milk over the chopped chocolate and let stand for a few minutes.
  19. Add the maple syrup and whisk until smooth.
  20. You can omit the maple syrup. It just gives the ganache a shiny look (which you can't tell from the picture because the cake was just taken out of the fridge).
  21. For the Chocolate Curls:
  22. In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave in 30 second intervals on 50 percent power.
  23. Stir in between each interval until smooth.
  24. Using an offset spatula, spread the mixture into a thin, even layer onto a cookie sheet.
  25. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes until the chocolate has set.
  26. Remove the cookie sheet from the refrigerator and use the end of a spatula and push the chocolate away from you to form the curls. If the chocolate flakes, it's too hard and will need to sit at room temperature for a minute or two before you start curling. If it comes off the cookie sheet easily and doesn't curl, it's too soft and will need to set in the fridge longer.
  27. Refrigerate the curls until you are ready to use them.
  28. To Assemble the Cake:
  29. If you plan to frost the outside of the cake, set aside about 1/4 of the frosting for the outside of the cake and mix the chocolate chips and cacao nibs into the remainder of the frosting.
  30. Place the one layer of the cake on a 6-inch cake board.
  31. Spread 1/2 of the frosting onto the first layer.
  32. Do the same with the second layer.
  33. Place the 3rd layer on top and use the frosting that you set aside to lightly frost the top and sides of the cake.
  34. Let the chocolate glaze cool slightly and pour in slowly over the top of the cake until it starts to drip down the sides. You may not use all of it depending on how much coverage you want.
  35. Place the chocolate curls on top of the cake.
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Chocolate cake recipe adapted from ppk.com and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Double Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie for Two

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

Double Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie for Two

Yield: One 5-inch skillet cookie

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, grape seed oil, or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons tapioca flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 (85 grams) cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup (55 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and spray a 5-inch cast iron skillet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, non-dairy milk, both sugars, tapioca flour, and vanilla extract with a fork.
  3. Continue beating the mixture with a for for 1-2 minutes until it thickens and resembles a smooth caramel.
  4. Add 1/3 cup of the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and gently stir until combined.
  5. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of flour and cocoa powder and stir until just combined.
  6. Gently fold in the chocolate chips, being careful not to over mix.
  7. Spread the dough into the cast iron skillet and bake for 9-11 minutes.
  8. Serve warm and top with ice cream.
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