Fudgy Vegan Gluten-free Brownies – VeganMofo

Nutty Fudgy Teff Flour Brownies

Apparently, chocoholism is genetic. My son loves chocolate about as much as I do. I promise, we don’t eat sweets as much as it may seem, but when we allow ourselves a special treat, chocolate is definitely our absolute favorite. There is quite a different response that follows when I ask “Would you like a cookie?” than when I ask “Would you like a brownie?”

Nutty Fudgy Teff Flour Brownies - Vegan & Gluten-free via ransomcakes.com

I’m going to be quite honest with you here for a minute, these brownies are pretty damn good. They are fudgy, sweet and chocolaty; outstanding with a glass of cold almond milk. They’re gluten-free, vegan and soy-free, made with healthy coconut oil and teff flour. They’d be a fabulous addition to your Halloween sweets table. If you make them for someone who is skeptical on vegan or gluten-free food, these may just convince them.

Fudgy Brownies – recipe by RansomCakes.com
yield: 16 servings

1/4 cup vegan chocolate hazelnut spread (I used Justin’s)
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup organic coconut oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/3 cup almond meal
1/4 cup teff flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper (use two sheets of parchment, cut to fit the pan, and overlap the sheets so that the sides of the pan are also covered).

In a glass bowl, add the chocolate hazelnut butter and the chopped chocolate, melt in the microwave or a double-boiler, stirring often. Add the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and almond extracts: combine well before adding the sugar and continue to stir until mixture is very smooth and creamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, almond meal and teff flour. To this add the baking powder, xanthan gum and salt and stir to combine. Slowly incorporate the dry mixture into the wet, stirring gently, before batter comes together completely, add in the chopped walnuts.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, and use a spatula to spread the batter to the corners and edges of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Nutty Fudgy Teff Flour Brownies - Vegan & Gluten-free via ransomcakes.comveganmofo2013

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Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce (V, GF, SF)

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce

I’m happy to be participating in the third ever Virtual Vegan Potluck. This is my second time participating, and suprise – I made a dessert. Last potluck, I brought a delicious Vegan French Silk Pie, which has actually become my most visited recipe on my blog. In the last six months I have ditched gluten and soy, so this time around I’m bringing a wonderfully rich, decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce topped with fleur de sel – completely vegan, gluten and soy free.

CHocolate Hazelnut Tart

This dessert is best serve chilled, and removed from the fridge right before serving. When it comes to room temperature, it becomes a little bit soft and crumbly, but is still quite tasty. The filling is almost raw, and although I did not test it, I believe the crust could be made raw by skipping the baking altogether, and freezing before filling. If you try this, let me know! I don’t have a tart pan, so I made it in an 8×8-inch cake pan, which worked great. If you have a tart pan, then yours will turn out even better. I did also make this as 12 mini tarts. If you do this, just cut the baking time by about 10 minutes.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce
Vegan, Gluten-free, Soy-free
makes 1 8 X 8″ square tart, or 12 mini tartlets

Crust Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup hazelnut flour*
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, dutch processed  – sifted
1 tablespoon organic maple sugar {or vegan cane sugar}, (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil (or vegan, soy-free butter), at room temperature

Filling Ingredients:
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, dutch processed – sifted
1/4 cup pure cacao butter, melted
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon alcohol-free pure vanilla extract

Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce:
2 tablespoons organic maple sugar
1 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon soy-free, vegan butter {or coconut oil}
1/4 cup hazelnut butter*
3 tablespoons almond milk
1 teaspoon alcohol-free pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

*To make hazelnut flour and hazelnut butter, I explain it in this post. You can substitute almond flour and almond butter.

To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Line an 8×8-inch cake pan with parchment paper so that all sides are covered and crust will be easy to lift out. Sift together the hazelnut flour, almond flour, cocoa, maple sugar and salt until well combined. Add the coconut oil and mix well. Press the dough into the pan so that it covers the bottom and about an inch up the sides. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes, rotate pan, and bake another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool, then cover and place in the fridge until ready to fill.

To make the filling: Cacao butter is solid at room temperature, so I like to melt it before adding it to recipes. To do this, cut or break off a few chunks of cacao butter and place in a clean glass mason jar. Place the jar in a cup half-full of boiling water. The cacao butter will start to melt slowly. When liquified, measure it out into 1/4 cup (or 4 tablespoons). In a bowl, whisk the warm cacao butter into the sifted cocoa powder until a nice chocolate paste forms, then add the maple syrup and vanilla. Whisk until silky smooth. Pour the chocolate filling immediately into the prepared crust that has been cooled. Spread the filling till it reaches the sides of the crust using a rubber spatula. Cover tart and refrigerate until seconds before serving. Slice the tart into 12 equal squares.

To make the caramel: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the maple sugar, maple syrup and vegan butter until it comes to a slight bubble. Add the hazelnut butter and almond milk and use a rubber spatula to combine. Allow mixture to return to a slow boil and let cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and salt. Slowly stir with the rubber spatula until creamy. Let cool for a few minutes and pour into a squeeze bottle. Top slices of the tart with the caramel sauce right before serving. Sprinkle some coarse sea salt on top of caramel if you’d like.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce

Serve with tea or wine, well after a nice vegan potluck dinner.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart w/ Hazelnut Butter Caramel Sauce

To go on to the next recipe in the potluck, click here. To return to the recipe before mine, click here. To start from the beginning of the potluck, click here.

Vegan Chocolate Frozen Custard

Vegan Chocolate Frozen Custard

Yesterday was one of the first days where it felt like summer was on its way. It’s been a chilly start to spring in Chicagoland, that’s for sure. But yesterday was pushing 70, the sun felt warm, and it was good to be outside (here’s hoping today is just as nice). If you follow my blog, you know I love to bake and make sweet treats. When it’s too hot outside to bake, that’s when it’s time to plug-in the old ice cream maker and get churning.

Vegan Soy-free Frozen Chocolate Custard

This is my go-to ice cream recipe. It’s easy enough,with only a few ingredients, and you don’t need to cook the base before adding it to your ice cream maker. I call it frozen custard because it’s very rich, thick and creamy (like it’s dairy-based namesake).

VEGAN SOY-FREE FROZEN CHOCOLATE CUSTARD

Chocolate Frozen Custard
makes about 1 1/2 pints

1 2/3 cup chilled coconut cream*
1/4 cup natural/Dutched cocoa blend (such as SACO)
1/4 cup organic raw agave nectar
2 tablespoons almond butter (I used Justin’s vanilla almond butter)
1 teaspoon alcohol-free pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

* To get coconut cream, chill 2 cans of regular, full-fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight. When ready to make the frozen custard, open the cans (be careful not to disturb the contents) and gently scoop off the hardened coconut cream on top. The water from the coconut milk will have settled to the bottom. You can use the leftover coconut milk water for another recipe (or smoothie) within the next few days after opening.

In a stand-mixer, or with an electric beater, mix on medium speed the coconut cream and cocoa until fluffy. Add the agave, almond butter, vanilla and salt and mix until well combined. Pour the mixture into the basin of your ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturers instructions.

Vegan Chocolate Frozen Custard

I use a Cuisinart ice cream maker, and it took about 20 minutes to have thick and rich ice cream. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can still enjoy this dessert as a mousse or chilled pudding. Just follow the directions up until the ice cream maker step. Keep the mousse in the fridge until ready to serve. As always, I hope you enjoy (and if you do, let me know)!

Virtual Vegan Potluck: French Silk Pie

For this years Virtual Vegan Potluck, I’m bringing dessert: a rich, creamy, and oh-so-decadent French Silk Pie. I hope you saved some room for a slice!

This is one of those recipes where the statement “they won’t even know it’s vegan” will actually be true. This pie is rich, delectable, both heavenly and sinful – an absolute indulgent dessert. It’s so chocolatey. It’s so dreamy, creamy… the crust is flaky and crispy… mmmm…

This pie would be a wonderful dessert to bring to a holiday party. It’s the perfect “pie and coffee” dessert. Or pie and soynog… oh.. yes.  I’m just going to let the photos do most of the talking for me on this one…

Vegan French Silk Pie
makes 1 standard size pie

Ingredients:
Crust:
1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chilled vegetable shortening (I used Earth Balance shortening sticks)
2 tablespoons chilled canola oil
4-6 tablespoons ice water

Filling:
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews (soaked in water overnight)
1 cup vanilla hemp milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 – 8 ounce container vegan cream cheese (I used Trader Joe’s brand), at room temperature
8 ounces semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
3/4 cup vegan natural cane sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
dash of salt

Directions:
In a bowl, prepare the crust by sifting together the flour and the salt. Cut the shortening into chunks and cut it into the flour using a pastry cutter or strong wire whisk until the mixture is crumbly. Cut in the chilled canola oil. Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. Form dough into a ball, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes while you prepare the filling.

Drain the water from the cashews. In a blender or food processor, blend the cashews and the hemp milk until very smooth and creamy. Add all the other ingredients, except the chocolate chips, to the blender and blend well to combine. In a double-boiler (or carefully in the microwave) melt the chocolate chips. Once melted, add the chocolate to the blender and blend to combine. Set aside.

Remove the pastry dough from the fridge. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. On a clean, floured surface, use a rolling-pin to roll out the dough in the shape of a large, flat disk the size of your pie pan. Carefully place crust into the pie pan; press to the sides and bottom of the pie pan. Using a knife, or pastry scissors if you have them (I don’t) trim the edges of the pie crust. With a fork, poke 5 or 6 times in the bottom of the crust. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and pour in the chocolate pie filling. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before serving and topping with coconut whipped cream (recipe follows).

Coconut Whipped Cream
Makes enough whipped cream for one pie

1 – 14 ounce can full-fat coconut milk (I used Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream), chilled overnight in refrigerator
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Scoop off the top of the coconut cream from the can (it will be very firm and you will be left with coconut water) and place in a bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Using an electric beater or stand-mixer, whip the coconut cream until it is fluffy. Add the coconut flour and vanilla and whip until stiff peaks form. If your whipped cream is too stiff, add a bit of the leftover coconut water. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

When the pie is completely cool, spoon coconut whipped cream into a pastry bag, and pipe on top of the pie. Garnish the top of the whipped cream with chocolate shavings (optional).

Thanks Virtual Vegan Potluck! I can’t wait to see what everyone is bringing to the table!

To visit the blog that precedes mine in the Potluck, click here.
You’ve reached the end of the potluck!

Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups

Speculoos spread is a dangerous, dangerous thing. I think it’s a pretty new to thing to Americans too. We just recently discovered it at Trader Joe’s, and I’ve also seen it as Biscoff spread in other grocery stores. Try explaining what Speculoos spread is to people who don’t know what it is, and you sound a bit crazy. A peanut-butter-like (in consistency only, not taste) spread that tastes like sweet, creamy gingerbread cookies. I think the days are numbered though that Speculoos remains on the down-low. It’s fastly replacing Nutella as the trendy spread of choice (just ask Pinterest). And, unlike Nutella, Speculoos spread is vegan (yay).

So what do you DO with Speculoos spread anyway? Well, the first jar that we had in our house, we basically just ate it as is, on a spoon, or spread it on toast. I kept trying to think what else I could do with it; cupcakes, frosting, cookies… sure all those things would be delicious. Since tasting it, I knew I wanted to make Speculoos-filled chocolate candy cups ala Reese’s peanut butter cups. And now, being so close to Halloween, it seemed to me to be the perfect time to make them.

There are many recipes out there for nut-butter candy cups that call for mixing in humongous amounts of powdered sugar and margarine for the filling. This is to achieve that Reeses-like texture. While this is of course delicious, I didn’t really think it was necessary to add any more sugar  or fat to the Speculoos spread for my filling (which makes my recipe even easier). The Speculoos spread is delicious as is, and leaving it in its natural state for the filling makes it divine when you bite into the chocolate and experience the smooth, creamy texture of the Speculoos.

I used 72% cacao for the chocolate in this recipe. If you like your chocolate a bit sweeter, go for a 50% or 60% cacao dark chocolate. The higher the cacao content, the more intense and bittersweet the chocolate will taste because less sugar has been added to it.

Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups
makes 24 mini-cupcake sized candy cups

Ingredients:
16 ounces of vegan dark chocolate, broken or chopped
2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted

about 24 teaspoons (1/2 cup) of Speculoos spread

First, line a 24-count mini-cupcake pan with paper liners. In a double-boiler, temper the chocolate. When the chocolate is melted, add the coconut oil to the chocolate and stir with a rubber spatula. Then, carefully pour the chocolate into a clean plastic squeeze bottle. Squirt some of the melted chocolate, about 1 teaspoon or so, into the bottom of the paper liners. Use the end of a spoon to push the melted chocolate up on the sides of the liners. Repeat. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of Speculoos spread into the center of the chocolate cups. Then, top the Speculoos with some more chocolate until the top of the Speculoos spread is covered in chocolate. Repeat for all cups. Chill the tray in the fridge for about an hour before eating or packaging. Store covered in the fridge until ready to consume (the chocolate will become a little bit melty at room temperature).

My Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups are a perfect treat for your vegan Halloween! They’re easy to make, and while not completely healthy, they’re much better for you than traditional candies and chocolates that are passed out to trick or treaters.

(Classic) Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve found the best, softest, chewiest and most-reminiscent-of-childhood chocolate chip cookie ever. I just made them and they are so good!  There are so many chocolate chip cookie recipes out there, why make my recipe? Because they are amazing, that’s why, and I don’t know how else to put it. Besides, who doesn’t need another chocolate chip cookie recipe to add to their arsenal of recipes? These are the kind of cookies you make and give to a friend to cheer them up, or to a neighbor to say “thank you,” or to bring to work to show your co-workers how badass of a baker you are. They are perfect milk-n-cookies-kind-of-cookies, too.

It’s a blessing and a curse that these cookies are no longer in my kitchen. Oh well, I can always still look at the pictures.

How about that recipe?

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 3 dozen small-size cookies

Ingredients:
3/4 cup vegan butter (I used earth balance buttery sticks), softened
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup granulated natural cane sugar
1 flax “egg” (1 Tablespoon flaxmeal mixed with 3 Tbsp. vanilla soymilk)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegan mini chocolate chips (Ghirardelli semi-sweet mini chocolate chips are vegan)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Line 3 baking pans with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, cream together the vegan butter and sugars. Add the flax “egg” and vanilla extract and whip until fluffy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Gently combine the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, use a rubber spatula to fold together. It will appear that the mixture is too dry, but after a few stirs, it will magically start to come together. At this point, add the chocolate chips. I used my hands to gently knead the chocolate chips into the dough – and it worked well – otherwise, use a rubber spatula.

Use a tablespoon (or a cookie scoop if you have one – I don’t) to scoop out the dough. Roll the tablespoons of dough into little balls. Place them on a baking sheet/parchment paper about 2 inches apart. Repeat until dough is finished. Wet your fingers with a little cool water, and gently pat down the tops of the dough balls just a little (not completely flat). Bake cookies for 10 minutes and not a minute longer! If your oven only fits 2 baking pans, put the 3rd in the fridge -or- in a cool spot until you’re ready for it. After baking, let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes or as long as needed to cool before storing or packing for gift-giving.

These really are spectacular cookies. I should say that the making of this recipe was inspired by my sister’s chocolate chip cookies. She’s also a fantastic baker. These cookies would be perfect for tying up into pretty bags and giving as gifts. I know I would love to receive a gift of cookies!

Yum.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Ah, biscotti… how I love you. I usually make biscotti cookies for gift giving, because if someone was going to give me a gift of baked goodies, I would want biscotti cookies. They are perfect to wrap up in a festive bag, tie up with some yarn or twine, and they look great. I think people assume that making biscotti is difficult or labor intensive. Well, I’d like to keep that mystery going, but I have to be honest… they’re so easy to make! For me, it’s one of the best and greatest recipes to make when you’re the mama of a little one. Much like yeasted bread, you can start the biscotti, walk away and come back to it when you have the time. Let’s face it, I have to do this a lot with my cooking and baking because I have a (almost) one year old who is basically attached to my hip (and I wouldn’t have it any other way).

For these cookies, I premixed the dry ingredients and the wet the night before (which is a great tip if you’re looking to save time on baking day). The next morning while Baby Hawk was napping, I pulled out the wet mixture from the fridge, and let it come to room temperature while I preheated the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit and lined my baking pan with parchment paper. I gave the wet mixture a quick stir before very gently folding in the dry ingredients and then the chocolate chips. Then, I formed the dough into a long rectangle and patted it down very lightly with clean, damp hands. Pop it in the oven and bake it for 30 minutes. The dough should be slightly puffed up, with a few little cracks in it. Turn off the oven, remove from oven and let cool for about one hour. When you come back, preheat the oven to 300 degrees Farenheit. Carefully slice into long slices about 1/2 inch to an inch thick, and turn the biscotti’s on their sides. Bake for another 20-25 minutes until crisp but not too browned. Allow the biscotti to cool before eating for best flavor and crunch. I love to eat these cookies with strong [decaf] espresso.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Biscotti
makes about 16 biscotti cookies

Ingredients
1/3 c. + 2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. organic, non-gmo canola oil
2/3 c. natural sugar
2 Tbsp. molasses
2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. powdered lemon peel (or fresh lemon zest)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (Ghirardelli semi-sweet mini-chips are vegan!)

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit and line a large baking pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, use a wire whisk to beat together the pumpkin, oil, molasses, sugar, flaxseed meal, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients: flour, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, lemon peel, baking powder, and salt. Very gently fold in the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture. When the dough just starts to come together, add the chocolate chips. Form the dough  into a long rectangle and pat it down very lightly with clean, damp hands. Bake it for 30 minutes. The dough should be slightly puffed up, with a few little cracks in it. Turn off the oven, remove from oven and let cool for about one hour. Then, preheat the oven again to 300 degrees Farenheit. Carefully slice the baked dough into long slices about 1/2 inch to an inch thick, and turn the biscotti’s on their sides. Bake for another 20-25 minutes until crisp. Allow the biscotti to cool at least 10 minutes.

I have to give props to my biscotti-making teachers, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, from their cookbook Veganomicon. They made biscotti making easy, fun and a tradition of mine for the last 5 years at least. Definitely buy their cookbooks! And, if you’re thinking, “How many pumpkin recipes can this blog handle?” The answer is, a lot. Obviously. It’s no secret that I love pumpkin, and especially pumpkin desserts. This is yet another gem to add to the pumpkin recipe archive of mine. I’m quite proud of these! They really are the perfect biscotti, and extremely delicious. Make them as a festive fall treat; package two or three in a bag and deliver them with a hot latte to brighten someone’s day. I know I’d love that!

I’d also like to thank my little Baby Hawk for napping for most of this blog post! We’re practicing and preparing for our first ever time participating in VeganMoFo next month. I’m excited, I have a whole list of new and great recipes to share!