Saturday, January 23, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake

Vegan Avacado Cake

Sometimes, a girl really needs some chocolate cake.

Sometimes, the girl is out of some of the integral chocolate cake ingredients, like eggs and butter. But don't worry, she has....avocados?

Wait a minute, please. Don't stop reading. I know it sounds a bit strange. I had the same thoughts when I randomly saw this on
Joy the Baker's recipe index. But I was intrigued. And out of eggs.

Maybe what you need to do to accept this combination is reimagine your idea of an avocado. Yes, the first thing you might think of when you see an avocado is guacamole, but take a step back. The avocado is a fruit. Strawberries, raspberries, oranges, bananas...they all get to hang out with chocolate all the time. They never invite the avocado. The avocado feels left out. It's sad. But it doesn't need to be. One bite of this cake and you will agree with me. Really, I promise.

And yes, that is also avocado frosting. It is not bad. It does taste like avocados, but also like sugar. Lots of sugar. It's probably not a combination you've ever tasted before and if you don't like something about this cake, it would probably be the frosting. It's probably not for everyone, but I like it. The cake, however, is delicious and you cannot taste the avocado at all. Feel free to swap the avocado frosting for chocolate or vanilla or whatever your frosting of choice may be. But if you ever find yourself sans eggs, plus avocado, don't be afraid! Let the avocado have some fun for once.

Vegan Avocado Cake

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake
Adapted from Joy the Baker

3 cups white whole wheat flour (you can use all-purpose or whole wheat pastry if you would prefer)
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/t tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup walnut oil (you can also use vegetable oil)
1 medium mashed avocado (use the ripest avocado possible)
2 cups water
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract

2 medium, very soft avocados, mashed
2 tsp lemon juice
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two round cake pans (8 or 9 inches).

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together the mashed avocado, water, oil, and vinegar. Then add the sugar. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients all at once and beat with a whisk until smooth.

Pour batter into the cake pans and bake for 30-40 minutes. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes, then remove and let cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

While the cake is in the oven, put the mashed avocados for the frosting into a bowl with the lemon juice. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Then add the powdered sugar a little at a time and mix until incorporated.

Vegan Avocado Cake

Friday, January 22, 2010

S'mores Brownies

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I made my own vanilla extract! I've seen it on a few of my favorite food blogs and have been itching to try it myself. It was ridiculously easy. It took about 60 seconds (well, minus the part where it sits for two months). Slice 3 vanilla beans lengthwise, put in a jar with 1 cup alcohol (at least 80 proof vodka, rum, or bourbon), shake. Store in a cool dry place for 2 months. Shake it a few times when you remember. I made this batch with rum. I ordered some more vanilla beans online (way cheaper!) and am planning on making another batch with bourbon.

I also made brownies for my little sister, because I am really super nice. Not just any brownies: S'mores brownies. I marked this recipe a few weeks ago and decided it would be the perfect way to get rid of the graham crackers I brought home from my desk at my old job. I did, of course, try one before I sent them away. They were very cakey and also, HUGE, but who can really complain about the giantness of a chocolate baked good? The only thing I would change next time is add more graham crackers. They rose so much the cracker bits were a bit too sparse. I definitely cannot complain about the crisp and melty marshmallows on top though.

S'mores Brownies
Adapted from Joy the Baker

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (you can also use all-purpose)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
6 oz unsweetened chocolate
5 eggs
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup roughly crushed graham crackers (I would maybe double this)
Large marshmallows

  • Chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13in baking pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Chop the chocolate into small pieces.
Put the chocolate in the melted butter and microwave until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 1-1 1/2 minutes.

S'mores Brownies

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla, and sugars. Add in the chocolate mixture and then mix in the dry ingredients until well incorporated. Fold in the graham crackers.

S'mores Brownies

Pour batter into pan and top with marshmallows (I used 15). Bake for 30-40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes before cutting and removing from pan.

S'mores Brownies

Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Frosting


So, I live with this boy. And this boy thinks cupcakes. are. stupid.

Yes, I know. There are no words. He is clearly insane.

I was determined to bake a cupcake he would like, and since he also is not a big fan of chocolate or any type of dessert (like I said, INSANE), but LOVES meat, we have meatloaf cupcakes. I think it was my friend Alex who first read about such a thing, so we decided to make some for Mr. I Hate Everything that is Good last weekend.

Also, I should probably mention that this was not just my first time making any sort of meatloaf, but it was also my first time eating meatloaf (at least that I can remember). So, I might sort of be insane too...

Meatloaf Cupcakes

Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato "Frosting"
Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 diced onion
1 finely chopped celery rib (I never knew they were called ribs)
1 finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp salt
1 1/3 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp Worscestershire sauce
2/3 cup ketchup
2 lbs. ground beef*
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (I think we forgot these...oops)

*You can use a mix of ground beef and ground pork or ground pork sausage, but we stuck to ground beef

For the frosting:
About 3 potatoes
Cream or milk
Salt and pepper

Meatloaf Cupcakes

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a large skillet, then add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and scallions. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat while stirring. Cover the skillet and stir occasionally. Cook for 5 more minutes or until carrots are tender. Add the salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and half the ketchup. Cook for one more minute.

In a large bowl, combine the meats, eggs, vegetables, bread crumbs, and parsley (but if you happen to forget the parsley, they will still be tasty). Grease a muffin tin or line with baking foils. Fill each cup with the meatloaf mixture and form into a cupcake shape (the mixture will not rise). We had enough mixture for about 14 cupcakes, but only had one tin, so used the extra meat to make 2 mini meatloaves on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes or until done.

Meatloaf Cupcakes

Meanwhile, peel and boil the potatoes until done. Drain the water and mash, adding butter, cream or milk, salt and pepper to taste.

When the meatloaves are done, spread the mashed potatoes on top to look like frosting. If you want to get fancy, put in a ziploc bag and cut a hole in the corner to make a piping bag. Feel free to decorate with ketchup, mustard, green onions, or anything else you desire.

Serve warm. Any extras taste great reheated in the microwave.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Spinach-Tofu Burgers

My family has developed a somewhat strange Christmas tradition. It was started by my father several years ago. He would be handed a present and read the label aloud "To Dad, From Santa" and then say "Oh, I wonder what this could be...oh my gosh, look at THIS! This is GREAT! How did Santa know?" while my mother, sister, and I would look at each other trying to figure out who had gotten this gift. We'd then realized none of us had, and that he had, in fact, purchased the item for himself. In the years since, we have all given into this gag (except for my little sister). I remember the first time I indulged. It was a black lacy Free People skirt that I found while buying a purse for my sister. I couldn't resist.

The same thing happened this year. I should've known it was dangerous to enter the cookbook section at Barnes and Noble to find something for my sister. I saw the Moosewood Restaurant's
Cooking for Health. I barely even looked through it, just picked it up in some sort of cookbook trance. I brought it home, wrapped it up, and snuck it under the tree.

It was definitely a good decision. Everything I have made from it so far as been absolutley amazing. Well...I've only made 3 recipes, but I am
deeply in love with them all and plan to make them over and over for the rest of my life. The Banana Maple Oatlmeal I made this morning? I don't think I can ever make any other type of oatmeal again. Tempeh-Quinoa burgers with Sweet Potatoes? Perfection.

And here, I give you the Spinach Tofu Burgers. The recipe makes 6 and I froze the rest. They are great reheated, between two slices of whole wheat toast, and drenched in ketchup (I loooooove my ketchup). I used leeks instead of scallions because the scallions I had in the fridge had been there a lot longer than I realized...oops. Also, make sure you have precooked brown rice on hand, or else you will have to take a 45 minute intermission...not that I did that or anything. No, I am always incredibly prepared. Mmmhmm...

Spinach Tofu Burger

Moosewood Restaurant's Spinach-Tofu Burgers
(Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant's Cooking for Health)

10 oz fresh spinach (frozen chopped spinach works too)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped scallions (or leeks)
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 tsp dried oregano (or 1 1/2 tsp fresh)
1-2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
16oz firm tofu (1 cake)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp light miso
Dash of ground black pepper
2 tbsp copped fresh dill or basil (I used dill)

Ingredients for Spinach Tofu Burgers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Steam the spinach and drain it well. Set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat and cook the scallions (or leeks), carrots, oregano, and garlic until soft (about 3-4 minutes).

Pulse the walnuts and brown rice in a food processor until crumbly. Set aside in a mixing bowl. Pulse half the tofu and half the spinach until well combined. Add this mixture to the bowl. Pulse the rest of the tofu and spinach and add the mustard, miso, black pepper, and dill (or basil) until well blended. Add the scallion/carrot/garlic mixture and mix well. Feel free to add some more miso or soy sauce to taste (I added a bit of soy sauce).

Spinach Tofu Burgers

Shape the mixture into 6 burgers (about 1/2 cup each) and arrange on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for about 35 minutes until puffed and browned (I would recommend flipping them at some point. The bottoms of mine weren't brown and fell apart a bit when I lifted then off the pan).

Spinach Tofu Burgers

PS- They are completely vegan!