Sunday, September 26, 2010

Moo-less Chocolate Pie

I want to start off this post by admitting that I had kind of a baking fail in preparation for this recipe. I was planning on making this chocolate pie, but I thought it would be cute to make little individual pies using a muffin tin to create mini graham cracker crusts. Everything was going well until I took the crusts out of my muffin tin and found that the lining of my muffin tin had come out on my crusts. Boo. Poor little inedible pie crusts. And now I have to buy a new muffin tin.

I had already purchased my ingredients for this recipe and was really in the mood to make it. So, I had to break down and purchase a pre-made crust.

Elves to the rescue!

Now that I had my crust situation figured out, I could start making my "moo-less" (as Alton Brown calls it) chocolate pie. I wanted to try this recipe because I don't drink milk products (I think I'm lactose intolerant) and wanted to see what baking with tofu would be like since I eat so much of it, ah the life of a vegetarian.

Why is it "moo-less" you ask? Well for starters, it uses tofu instead of milk or egg to thicken it. And two, instead of using semi-sweet chocolate chips that contain milk products, I used carob chips. For those of you that don't know what carob chips are, here is your Wiki definition:
Carob is an evergreen plant native to the Mediterranean region, but it now grows in other locations, like California, as well. The names comes from the Arabic term for "pod," due to the plant's flat and brown pods. The beans insides the pod are dried, roasted and ground to produce carob powder.

Carob chips are an edible product, similar to chocolate chips, made from carob. They are used in baking and in trail mixes, often serving as a substitute for chocolate chips. The color is the same as that of dark chocolate, although the taste is markedly different, with slightly nutty and bitter overtones. Carob chips are a safe chocolate alternative to use in treats and baked goods for dogs.
I know I didn't bake anything in this recipe, but I still figured I could use this pie for the blog. It was sort of baking, well I did bake, but it backfired on me. The process for making this pie was fairly easy. Melt chocolate and then blend.

Then poor into pie crust.

I would suggest making sure you drain the tofu really well. Otherwise it will get runny and now pudding like. I haven't gotten to taste it yet because it needs to set for 2 hours. But look for an update on the taste. However, I did lick the inside of the blender jar and it was delicious! Rich, chocolaty, with just a hit of my favorite ingredient...Kahlua!

Now all I need is some ice, vodka, and soy milk and we can have Sarah-style white Russians!
Moo-Less (Dairy-free) Chocolate Pie

2 cups semi sweetened carob chips (aka vegan chocolate chips)
1/3 cup Kahlua
1 block silken tofu
1 tsp. vanilla
1 prepared chocolate cookie crust

1. Drain tofu thoroughly. Place tofu between 2 layers of paper towels and press down gently. Repeat if necessary.
2. Create a double boiler by placing a small saucepan with 2 inches of water in it over a low flame until simmering. Place a metal or glass bowl over top of saucepan, making sure bottom of bowl does not touch the water.
3. Melt carob chops and Kahlua in double boiler. Stir in vanilla once carob is melted. Take off of the heat.
4. In a blender, combine carob mixture and tofu. Blend until creamy and consistent color (should be a light chocolate brown).
5. Pour filling into prepared crust. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before enjoying.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lavender Teacakes

There is a great farmers' market on Sundays near where I live. A few weeks ago, I went and found something that I have been wanting to test baking with.


I was gone on a roadtrip to visit friends in North Carolina so I didn't get to bake last week. I was determined this week to find something to bake with my lavender. I scoured the blogosphere to find a yummy recipe to try out using lavender that I would enjoy.

After narrowing the field down, I landed on a recipe for lavender madeleines. I thought making madeleines would be something different since you don't see them very often and I have never made them. Of course, since this was my first time making madeleines, I needed to purchase a madeleine mold. I walked over to my local Sur La Table to get a madeleine mold but the only one they had was $26. I was not ready to make that kind of investment in a pan that I may or may not use again. The woman working there suggested that I use mini-muffin tins since they were about the same size. Plus it was only $10, my kind of price. And I knew that I would probably use it again. I love muffins!

I figured the recipe would work no matter what mold I used. To start, I had to melt the butter and the lavender and let it steep for 10 minutes.

The aroma that wafted from that sauce pan was to die for. Smelled like a lavender field in my kitchen. The rest of the method was fairly easy. Cream wet ingredients, fold in dry. Easy peasy.

Yummy lavender batter

The combination of the lavender, honey, and lemon smelled (and tasted) wonderful. I couldn't wait to get those babied in the oven. The original recipe called for putting the batter in the fridge for at least 2 hours to help the madeleines set better. I wasn't using traditional madeleine tins, but I figured I should refrigerate it for at least a little bit.

Finally it was time to go into the over. And 12 minutes later, voila!

These little guys were so unique tasting. The lavender, honey, and lemon were each identifyable, but also were in harmony together. I could seeing having these with a nice cup of black tea. Definitely want to eat these babies warmed.

Lavender Teacakes
(adapted from Technicolor Kitchen)

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. dried edible lavender
3/4 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup sugar
grated zest of a lemon
2 large eggs (I used Eggbeaters=1/2 cup=2 large eggs)
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Melt the butter with the lavender in a small sauce pot. Let the butter and lavender sit for 10 min. Strain if desired. (I left the lavender in because I thought it would make the cakes look pretty)
2. Sieve together the dry ingredients. (Flour, baking powder, salt)
3. Beat the eggs, sugar and zest with a stand mixer for 3 minutes until pale and thick.
4. Add the honey and vanilla and beat for a minute more.
5. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients on a low setting, mixing until just combined.
6. Fold in the cooled butter and lavender.
7. Refrigerate the batter for 30 minutes. (If using madeleine tins, refrigerate at least 2 hours.
8. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
9. Spray and flour mini muffin tins. (Or whatever kind of mold you are using)
10. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

German Chocolate Cake Cookies

For this week's baking adventure I had a specific task at hand. My best friend's dad (sort of my 2nd dad) has his 50th birthday this week and I was put in charge of bringing a celebration dessert. Normally, we make him and his family German sweet chocolate cake or our Hejma chocolate chip cookies. For example, for their 25th wedding anniversary, we made them this:

Yes, that's right. It's a German sweet chocolate wedding cake. It was awesome. Anyways, back to the task at hand.

I didn't want to make him the usual two options, so how about combine them! Voila, we have German chocolate cake cookies! After scouring the Internet for a recipe I found a few that I kind of melded together. However, and please don't be mad, but the recipes I found use...(gasp)...boxed cake mix!

I know it might be considered "cheating," but it really does the trick. You add so many other special ingredients to the batter that the fact that you are using boxed cake mix doesn't really show. One of those special ingredients is toasted pecans. I loved toasted nuts. The way they perfume your whole kitchen with that nutty, delicious aroma reminds me of a cool fall day. Plus on told of that you add more chocolate, and who doesn't like that?!

Rolling these puppies was very hard. The batter is very gooey and I found it worked best to use a spoon and make a small round ball and then just drop it in the coconut and roll it around. That way I couldn't handle the batter at the very least and get the job done. That way I could limit the amount of sticky batter and coconut that stuck to my hand and then proceeded to get all over my kitchen on whatever I touched. Good thing I needed to clean anyways.

All ready for the oven!

It was really hard to tell when these cookies were done. The coconut was getting nice and toasty, but the cookies were very soft. After 10 minutes, I just took them out and they seemed to be okay. They are supposed to have a cakey texture, so don't worry if they feel really soft.

Almost as pretty as the cake. Almost.

These cookies are good...I don't want to say over the top amazing, but I would say if you can't choose between cake or cookies, these are a perfect combo. You get the size and convenience of a cookie with the flavors and moistness of a cake.

German Chocolate Cake Cookies

1 box German chocolate cake mix
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine all ingredients except coconut until thoroughly combined and the pecans and chocolate chips are evenly distributed.
3. Chill batter in fridge until solid enough to handle. (I put mine in the fridge for about 30 min)
4. Roll into ping-pong ball size balls and roll in coconut. Place cookies on cookie sheet spread about 2 inch apart.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes until centers are cooked but still soft.