VeganYumYum » baked goods Yup, I'm back. Thu, 08 Nov 2012 23:25:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Plum Kuchen Thu, 30 Jul 2009 02:46:50 +0000 Lolo Plum Kuchen

Kuchen means cake in German. There are as many different kinds of kuchen as there are kinds of cake.

I saw this recipe for upside-down plum kuchen in the latest issue of Gourmet Magazine, and I just had veganize it. I’m glad I did, because the cake base of this kuchen might now be my favorite coffee cake base ever. It’s light and fluffy, and like my Slow Rise Pancakes, it uses yeast instead of baking powder or baking soda for leavening. I really love the clean, rich flavor of yeast-raised goods, so when I looked at this particular recipe I knew I had to make an animal-friendly version.

They used plums in the Gourmet version, so when I found tiny, sweet organic plums at the Copley Farmers Market here in Boston, it was kismet. However, I’m not sure I’d recommend you use plums in yours.

Organic Plums

Here’s the thing. The plums themselves are very sweet, but I noticed a mild bitterness in the skins, even when I ate them fresh. After baking, the bitterness intensified. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s similar to the bitterness of marmalade. If you really love the combination of sweet and bitter in a fruit, then go for the plums. If you’re not sure, choose another stone fruit; peaches or cherries would be completely divine in this. On second thought, I think nearly any bake-able fruit would be great.

Because this is a yeast-risen cake, it does take a while. Two hours for the first rise and ninety minutes for the second rise means this isn’t a fast dessert. If you’re looking for a quick coffee cake, try this crumb cake instead. But the flavor and texture of this kuchen really make all the time worthwhile.

Plum Kuchen (adapted from Gourmet Magazine, Aug 2009)
Makes One 9×9 Cake

1 Packet Active-Dry Yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1/4 Cup Warm Water (105-110º F)
2 Cups plus 2 Tbs All-Purpose Flour, divided
1 Cup Sugar, divided
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup plus 1 Tbs Tofutti Sour Cream (or plain vegan yogurt)
2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer Powder mixed with 3 Tbs Hot Water
1 1/2 tsp Fresh Lemon Zest
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs Earth Balance Margarine, divided
3/4 lbs Firm-Ripe Plums or other Stone Fruit, halved and pitted

Combine the yeast with the warm water and set aside to proof until foamy.

In a mixing bowl (one that fits in a stand mixer, if you have one), combine the yeast with 2 cups flour, 2/3 cup sugar, salt, sour cream, egg replacer, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.

Lemon Zest

Beat at low speed to combine the ingredients, then mix at medium speed for 5 minutes while adding in 1/2 cup of Earth Balance, one tablespoon at a time. Beat the batter for five minutes at medium speed until smooth and shiny, and very sticky.


After five minutes, remove the bowl from the mixer and top with the remaining 2 Tbs of flour. Do not mix it in. Cover the bowl with a non-terry cloth kitchen towel and set aside to rise for 90 minutes to 2 hours.

After the first rise, mix the the dough to combine the flour on the top.

With the remaining 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance, grease a 9×9 cake pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in the bottom of the pan.

Halve and pit the plums. It may be easier to cut around the pits, rather than to pull them out, if your fruit is very ripe.

Organic Plums

Slice the pitted plum halves into five or six slices. I left mine whole because they were very small. Place cut-side down into the sugar, covering the bottom of the pan.

Plum Kuchen, plums

Pour the dough over the plums and let raise for another 90 minutes, covered with oiled plastic wrap.

Plum Kuchen, batter

Preheat oven to 375º F.

Bake the kuchen for 35 minutes, until evenly golden and slightly cracked.

Plum Kuchen

Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Loosen edges with a knife and turn out onto a rack to cool completely before serving.

Plum Kuchen

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Perfect Cinnamon Buns Fri, 08 May 2009 19:41:48 +0000 Lolo Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting

I adore this recipe.

When I went vegan a little over five years ago, I had a minor panic attack when I realized I’d never eat another Cinnabon again. I remember I used to ask my dad to bring them home from the airport for me when I was little, whenever he had a business trip. The fluffy swirls of dough, the sugary syrup, the cream cheese frosting… I needed to recreate them perfectly, vegan style. And let me tell you, these are a dead ringer for our mall and airport favorites.

Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese FrostingBut it comes at a price. If you’re looking for a healthy, low-fat, calorie conscious treat, I can’t help you today. If you’re looking for a recipe that is guaranteed to win over any vegan doubter, guaranteed to please any Cinnabon lover, guaranteed to send any child into a permanent sugar high; these buns are for you.

There is a lot of sugar and Earth Balance margarine in these. But hey, the recipe makes a ton of rolls, and it takes four hours to make, so they’re really special occasion buns. Embrace the cups (and cups) of sugar and fat, and you will definitely be rewarded with the most perfect cinnamon bun you’ve ever had. Isn’t it worth it, at least once?

I think so.

For those of you who haven’t yet overcome your apprehension about yeast breads, I encourage you to give these a try. I’ve included tons of photos and a video to clarify the process and give you an idea how the dough is supposed to look at every step. They might seem intimidating, but they’re easier than you think!

I think these would be an amazing way to wake up Mom on Sunday, paired with a nice hot cup of coffee. You can make these ahead of time, refrigerating over night before the second rise and popping them in the oven in the morning, or you can freeze them for later. More info on that at the end of the recipe.

Perfect Cinnamon Buns
Makes 12 Large Buns

Yeast Mixture
4 tsp Active Dry Yeast (a little less than 2 packets)
1 tsp Sugar
1 Cup Water, 110º F

1 Cup Soymilk
2/3 Cup Sugar
2/3 Cup Earth Balance Margarine
2 tsp Salt
2 Ener-g Egg Replacer Eggs, prepared, optional
Yeast Mixture, from above
6 Cups All Purpose Flour, more for kneading

Dough Filling
1/2 Cup Earth Balance Margarine, melted
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
3 Tbs Cinnamon

Pan Sauce
1/2 Cup Earth Balance Margarine, melted
1/3 Cup Sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 Cup Earth Balance
1/3 Cup Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Powdered Sugar

Combine yeast mixture and set aside to proof.

From the dough ingredients, combine the soymilk, sugar, earth balance, salt, and ener-g eggs in a small sauce pan. Heat until earth balance is melted and all the ingredients are well combined, but do not let the mixture get too hot. You should be able to put a finger in it without burning yourself.

The yeast should now be nice and foamy (proofed). Combine it with the warmed liquid you just made; make sure it’s not too hot, or you will kill your yeast.

Proofed Yeast and Liquid Ingredients

Place 4 cups of all purpose flour in a large bowl. Add the warmed wet ingredients.

Mixing the Dough

Beat the batter well with a wooden spoon. The dough will be very wet and liquid, much more like a batter than a dough.

Mixing the Dough

Add 2 more cups of flour and mix in partially. It’ll look like a wreck. That’s fine! Turn out the dough onto a large table/kneading surface, scraping out everything in the bowl.


Begin kneading, gently at first. It’s going to take about 8 minutes to get the dough where it needs to be. Add more flour only if the dough starts sticking to the table and there is no more dry flour to be worked into the dough. You want the dough to end up smooth and elastic, and slightly tacky, but not sticky. You should be able to knead it on a bare table without it sticking.

Here is a video of the kneading and cutting process, so you can see the stages the dough goes through.

Cinnamon Buns

Once the dough is ready, place it in an oiled bowl, covered with oiled plastic wrap, to rise for 90 minutes in a warm spot. If you’re lacking a warm spot, turn your oven on low for 1 minute, then turn it off and place the dough in the oven to rise with the door closed. Remember to turn the oven off after one minute, and remember the dough is in there — no preheating for other things! (I’ve made that mistake more than once, it’s never good.)

Once the dough has risen completely, it’ll leave a little dent when you poke it. If it springs back, it needs more time.

Risen Dough

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and press it down (this is part is in the video above). You want it press or roll it out into a 15 x 20 inch rectangle. You can use a roller if you want, but it’s not necessary.

Pour the 1/2 cup of melted earth balance on the dough. Brush it so the dough is covered completely. It’s okay if it pools in some locations.

Mix together the cinnamon and sugar from the dough filling above. Sprinkle it evenly over the dough.

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

Prepare a large baking dish, like a lasagna dish, by pouring in the melted earth balance from the pan sauce ingredients above. Brush the sides of the pan so they are greased.

Melted Earth Balance

Add the sugar, spreading evenly over the bottom of pan. The pan is now ready for the buns.

The following steps are shown in detail in the video above: Roll the dough up gently, starting from one of the short sides. Let it rest on the seem once it’s rolled up completely. Cut 12 rolls with dental floss or sewing thread. Place the rolls in the pan. (Ignore the fact that they are practically floating in earth balance and sugar.)

Cinnamon Buns, pre-baked

Cover the buns and let rise for 45 minutes if you will be baking these immediately. If baking the next day, cover the buns and let rise in the refrigerator overnight. Bake in the morning with no need for more rising. If making the buns for a date in the future, cover the buns and freeze immediately. The day before you are ready to use them, defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then let warm up on the counter the next morning for an hour. In any case, when ready to bake, follow the directions below.

Preheat the oven to 350º F, remembering to remove the rising buns if they are in there!

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes.

Cinnamon Buns, baked

Stir together the frosting ingredients. It takes a bit of elbow grease to mix it together, but resist the urge to add liquid. It will come together, I promise. Whisk until there are no lumps.

Serve the buns warm with frosting. I like to microwave completely cooled buns for 45-60 seconds before eating.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Graham Crackers (and Dandies!) Wed, 15 Apr 2009 21:32:03 +0000 Lolo S'mores with Homemade Graham Crackers and Dandies

I always have trouble finding vegan graham crackers at the store. Nearly every single brand has honey in them. The one version that doesn’t is full of icky ingredients.

When I got my Dandies in the mail, I knew I had to make my own graham crackers once and for all. The recipe turned out really good. I’d like to perfect the texture a little (ideally, I’d actually like them to be more crumbly than they are), but the flavor is nice and mellow, and it really highlights the sweet, nutty taste of whole wheat without being overly sugary. If you like your graham crackers really sweet, add a bit more sugar than I call for.

Graham CrackersGraham crackers are traditionally made with graham flour, named after Sylvester Graham, a really interesting (if slightly crazy) health nut from the 19th century. He promoted the vegetarian diet (yay!) to cure, among other things, sexual desires (I did say he was slightly crazy).

Graham flour is whole wheat flour. What makes it different from standard whole wheat is the ratio of endosperm to bran to germ. Sylvester Graham ground these parts of the wheat berry separately to preserve texture and then re-combined them in a specific proportion. You can find graham flour in some stores and online, or you can make your own. Wikipedia says “one cup of graham flour is approximately equivalent to 84 g (~2/3 cup) white flour, 15 g (slightly less than 1/3 cup) wheat bran, and 2.5 g (1.5 teaspoons) wheat germ.”

Or you can do what I did and just use stoneground flour and call it a day.

Stoneground Whole Wheat FlourActually, you can use whatever flour you like for these. I used stoneground flour because it has little flecks of bran in it, which adds some lovely texture to the crackers. I really recommend using at least some form of whole wheat, because it gives the graham crackers their traditional nutty flavor. Oh yeah, and it’s healthier. And rest assured it won’t mess with your libido. Sorry Sylvester.

Graham crackers are tasty, but they aren’t the sexiest food in the world. S’mores, on the other hand? Sexy. I made these with Chicago Soydairy’s latest vegan treat, Dandies vegan marshmallows. They are awesome! It’s my understanding that they’re being sold online, but sell out FAST. So if you see them available, scoop them up! They taste great, and they’re gelatin free, and they roast up just like the non-vegan version. Perfect for s’mores.

How about a little video before the recipe? Don’t forget all my videos are HD, so you can watch them full-screen!

Making Graham Crackers on Vimeo.

Graham Crackers
Makes at least 24 3×3″ Crackers

2 1/2 Cups Graham Flour or Stoneground Flour or Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Earth Balance Margarine
1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Agave Nectar (or a little more sugar mixed with water)
3/4 Cup Water

Mix the all the dry ingredients together. Cream together Earth Balance and sugar. Add vanilla and agave and beat with a whisk until smooth. Add a little of the flour and a little of the water to the earth balance/sugar mixture and combine. Continue adding in flour and water, a little at a time, until all flour and water is added. Work the dough with your hands until everything is evenly combined.

Divide dough in half and cover. Let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 325º F. Roll out the dough into a rectangle that measures approximately 11″x15″. Trim edges. Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into squares or rectangles (I cut mine into 3′x3′ squares). Prick the squares with a fork.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 325º F or until the crackers are turning golden brown around the edges. You can sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top of the crackers during the last 10 minutes of baking if you like.

Remove from the baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack. See the video above for visual directions.

For S’mores

S'mores with Homemade Graham Crackers and Dandies

Place the crackers in multiples of two on a baking sheet and preheat the oven to broil. Add chocolate to one cracker and vegan marshmallows to another until all the crackers are topped. Broil for less than 1 minute, watching constantly, until the marshmallows are golden and melty and the chocolate has softened.

Chicago Soydairy's Dandies Marshmallows

Remove from oven, assemble the s’more, and eat! The graham crackers are also great plain, or topped with cream cheese frosting.

Graham Crackers

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Apple Pie Coffee Cake Wed, 08 Apr 2009 16:23:04 +0000 Lolo Apple Pie Coffee Cake

I have a knack for inventing things that have already been invented. I made my husband an apple pie for his birthday, and was reminded how annoying it is to peel, core, and chop a lot of apples. But I really like pies made with fresh fruit, so it’s not a process I’m planning on giving up anytime soon.

Apple Pie Coffee CakeI went ahead and bought a jar of apple pie filling anyway, just in case I wanted to make a quicker pie with it, or do something else. I thought it might be really brilliant to use the filling in a coffee cake, and hey! It turns out there are lots of other brilliant people out there who have thought the same exact thing.

But my coffee cake is vegan, so nanner nanner boo boo! It’s also really quick and easy to put together, so it’s perfect for that lazy Sunday morning-turned-afternoon baking project.

Let this cake cool for a bit before cutting and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to serve; the cake holds up really well and doesn’t fall apart when slicing. It would be really nice served with a little scoop of vegan ice cream.

Apple Pie Coffee Cake
Makes 1 Cake

2 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 tsp Salt*
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
2/3 Cup Canola Oil, or 2/3 Cup Earth Balance Margarine, softened
2/3 Cup Soymilk + 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar (or lemon juice)
2 Tbs Cornstarch mixed with 1/2 Cup Water
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 20 to 25 oz Jar Apple Pie Filling
1 Tbs Sugar mixed with 1 tsp Cinnamon, for topping.

*Reduce salt to 1/2 tsp if using Earth Balance.

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Combine all the dry ingredients of the cake and mix well. Add all of the liquid ingredients and fold the batter until just combined. The batter should be thick and nearly dough-like, as this will prevent the filling from sinking to the bottom of the pan.

Spread 1/2 of the batter in the bottom of a 9×11″ (or whatever) greased baking dish.


Add apple pie filling evenly over the top.


Spoon the rest of the batter over the top in clumps, leaving some of the apple filling showing through.


Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

Bake for 80 to 90 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Be sure not to under bake. You may wish to cover the coffee cake with aluminum foil for the last 20-30 minutes to prevent over-browning.

Remove coffee cake from oven and let cool before serving. It’s just as good or better the next day.

Gab Gab Gab

Stephen Metcalf endorses VeganYumYum on his podcast, Slate’s Culture Gabfest! Listen to it here, or subscribe via iTunes. It’s a fabulous podcast and I’m thrilled to get mention. Thanks Stephen!

Apple Pie Coffee Cake

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Candied Clementine Cake Mon, 09 Feb 2009 20:49:37 +0000 Lolo Candied Clementine Cake

For those of you that want to try out the candied clementines but maybe don’t want to eat them whole (yes, you can eat the peel!), I offer you this lovely clementine bundt cake. It’s a more traditional dessert for sure, but I think more broadly appealing than the candied clementines.

I blended up the candied clementines I had leftover from the last post, and it became this gorgeous, thick, marmalade-like spread. I thought it would be absolutely perfect to flavor a bundt cake with, and I was right. I think I prefer the cake to the clementines alone!

This cake was so perfectly moist and fluffy, I nearly teared up when I had the first bite. It’s a wonderful combination of sweet, citrusy, and slightly bitter (in a good way) from the peel. The clementine flavored poured fondant is really the ideal topping. But don’t get scared off at the mention of poured fondant. It’s super easy. And it’s bakery quality icing. You have to try it!

Candied Clementine Cake

You see, I like icing glazes, but it can be tricky to get the thickness right when you’re mixing powdered sugar with liquid. Too thin and it just soaks into the cake a disappears, too thick and it doesn’t pour at all. And there’s always that vague grainy mouth feel it leaves behind, thanks to the cornstarch in the powdered sugar. I thought if I cooked it a little bit the powdered sugar would dissolve and help thicken the sugar (same idea for your basic stir-fry sauce thickened with cornstarch!). But then I also remembered poured fondant.

I discovered poured fondant when I made petits fours. It’s a sugar-based icing that is heated until the “soft ball” stage, or 235-240º F. If you have a candy thermometer handy, use it, but it’s NOT necessary. Since we’re only making a small amount of icing, I can pretty much guarantee you that boiling the icing for 10-20 seconds will bring you to the soft ball stage. Easy.

Candied Clementine CakeThe cool part about fondant? It sets, hard and glossy, when it cools. So once you’ve heated it enough, you whisk it off the heat until it starts to thicken and pour it over your cake. And like magic, it’ll harden and you’ll have totally perfect, totally professional-looking icing on your cake. The icing in the photos? Completely dry and set, even though it looks like it was just poured. And if it cools too much before you’re ready to ice, just re-heat it to thin.

Plus, it tastes amazing because I use fresh clementine juice for the liquid as opposed to water. Give it a try, I’m sure you’ll love it.

Candied Clementine Cake
Makes One Bundt Cake

1 1/2 Cup Candied Clementine Puree, around 5-8 clementines
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/4 Cup Soymilk, or other non-dairy milk
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Fresh Clementines, for garnish

Clementine Poured Fondant
1 1/4 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
3 Tbs Fresh Clementine Juice, or other citrus (about 3 clementines)

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Puree the clementines in a food processor until fairly smooth, but small bits of peel are desirable in my opinion!

Candied Clementine Puree

Combine the clementine puree with the oil, soymilk, and sugar. Whisk until smooth.

Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in another bowl.

Grease a bundt pan with spray oil, vegan margarine like Earth Balance, or vegetable shortening. Scoop a few spoonfuls of the dry mixture into the greased bundt pan and turn the pan to coat the sides and center spike. Rap the pan against the counter to loosen any extra flour and pour it back into the dry mixture.

Fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture until combined. Pour the batter into prepared bundt pan. It’s okay if it’s a little thick.

Candied Clementine CakeI Batter

Bake at 350º F for 45-50 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool upside-down on a large plate. After a few minutes the cake should drop out of the pan onto the plate in one piece, assuming you didn’t miss any spots when greasing and dusting with flour. Let cake cool completely before icing.

Candied Clementine Cake

Clementine Poured Fondant

Whisk powdered sugar with 3 Tbs of clementine juice. Add to a small sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil for 10-20 seconds, or until it reaches the soft-ball stage (235-240º F).

Remove from heat and whisk constantly until it starts to thicken. At first, the icing will be a glossy yellow (similar to egg yolks), and it will gradually thicken and become lighter as it cools. You want to pour it over the cake when it’s very clearly thickened, but not too cool (i.e. thick) to pour. If the icing becomes too thick, simply reheat and start again.

Dust the cake with powdered sugar to finish, and garnish with fresh clementine segments.

Candied Clementine Cake

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Winter Pine Tree Cakes Fri, 12 Dec 2008 22:04:36 +0000 Lolo Winter Pine Tree Cakes

This is a super cute dessert idea for winter-themed parties, and it isn’t much harder than making and frosting cupcakes. If you have a sharp knife, some toothpicks, a piping bag and a star tip, you’re good to go. It’s even more fun to make than it is to look at, or eat!

All I did was bake some cupcakes, cut them into cone shapes, stack them (secured with toothpicks) and then frosted them in such a way so that they looked like pine trees. Powdered sugar adds a little snow. At first I was bummed that my powdered sugar had so many HUGE lumps in it, until I realized they looked like little snow boulders. Score! You could get really creative and make little marzipan pine cones, or birds, or squirrels… you get the idea. Why not make a sweet little forest for your friends and family to devour?

Oh man, I just realized I could have built an igloo out of sugar cubes. Next time, I guess!

Winter Pine Tree Cakes

I used gel food coloring, both green and blue mixed together to get the shade right. Using only green was too light and minty for what I was going for – so make sure you have some blue on hand to darken it up. But there’s no reason your trees need to be green. White trees would be stunning on a darker plate, or other non-standard colors like pink or brown to play up their cutesy, cartoony look.

Winter Pine Tree Cakes

Basic Sponge Cake
Makes 15 cupcakes (a few extra for practicing)

1 1/3 Cups Soymilk mixed with 1 tsp Apple Cider vinegar
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 Tbs Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Almond Extract

Preheat oven to 375º F.

Mix soymilk and vinegar. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch and salt and mix well. Add oil and extracts to soymilk mixture and whisk. Add wet to dry and fold until just combined. Fill each lined, sprayed cupcake mold with 1/4 cup batter. Bake cupcakes at 375º F for 20 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely.

Enough for 5-7 trees

1/2 Cup Earth Balance Margarine
1/2 Cup Non-hydrogenated Shortening
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
About 3 Cups Powered Sugar, sifted, more if needed
Food Coloring (green and blue for standard trees)

In a stand mixer, whip margarine and shortening until light and fluffy. Whip in extract. Slowly whip in powdered sugar until icing is fairly stiff. Add coloring bit-by-bit until desired color is reached. Transfer icing to a piping bag fitted it a small/standard sized star tip

Creating the Trees

Bake the cupcakes!


Unwrap the cupcakes and turn them upside-down. With a knife, carve the cupcake into a cone. If needed, flatten the base so the cupcake cone sits without wobbling.

Carving Cake

Stack the cupcakes to make basic tree shapes. Three high for tall trees, two high for short trees. Secure with toothpicks. You may want t make the base of your trees squatty so that they help the tree stand.

Basic Tree Shape

Create your forest!

Cupcake Forest

Begin icing your trees. If you don’t have a revolving cake platter to ice on, use a small cutting board that you can easily turn as you work. Start from the bottom and ice around and around up towards the top. Use long-ish strokes that end in an upward sweep to create branches. You can go back and fill in holes or weird spots later.

Icing Pine Tree Cakes

Finish off with shorter, horizontal or upward pointing branches, and then one directly on top pointing straight up. Take a look at your tree and add branches where needed.

Winter Pine Tree Cakes

Use a spatula to gently and carefully transfer the trees to your serving plate. Add lumps of powdered sugar if you have them, and anything else to finish up the forest scene. Sprinkle with powdered sugar to add snow to the trees.

Happy winter!

Winter Pine Tree Cakes

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Snickerdoodles Wed, 03 Dec 2008 04:25:37 +0000 Lolo Snickerdoodles

I love snickerdoodles. Plain sugar cookies just don’t do it for me, but roll them in a little cinnamon-sugar and I’m sold. (Roll nearly anything in cinnamon sugar and I’m sold.)

This is a cookie that preforms beautifully when veganized. If you have a family recipe you use, I can almost guarantee you that all you need to do is sub Earth Balance Margarine for butter and Ener-g G Egg Replacer for eggs and you’ll be set. Here is a recipe I made after checking out several different snickerdoodle recipes. It’s fast, easy, and pretty near failproof. In fact, stick some ribbon on them and you have an instant holiday gift!


SnickerdoodlesOne thing you should know, that I just found out today. The temperature of the cookie dough as it goes in the oven determines the shape and overall look of the cookies. If you want cookies that are pillowy and show a lot of cracks and texture, the dough needs to be pretty cold as it goes into the oven. If you like thinner, more even-looking cookies, let the dough warm up a little before baking.

If the dough is cold, the cookies don’t have much time to warm up and flatten out before the outside of the cookie bakes and prevents further expansion. If it’s already a little warm, the cookies will expand and spread (and flatten) in the first few minutes of cooking. The pictures above are cookies baked when the dough was cold. The photo to the left was made with warmer-dough.

These cookies are a snap if you make them in a stand-mixer, but only take slightly more elbow grease if you’re doing them by hand. And they ship beautifully.

Makes about 18 Cookies

1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Earth Balance
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Prepared Ener-g Egg-Replacer Egg
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/4 tsp Baking Soda

Cinnamon Sugar, for rolling

Cream sugar, Earth Balance, and vanilla extract together. Prepare the Ener-G Egg by following the package instructions (1 1/2 tsp powder whisked with 2 Tbs hot water until foamy), and add it to the Earth Balance and sugar mixture. Whip (or whisk) it all up until it’s light a fluffy, like so:

Creaming Earth Balance and Sugar

Whisk the dry ingredients together. Add 2/3 of the dry ingredients to the whipped mixture and whip until combined. Add in the remaining flour and mix by hand. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375º F.

When the dough is chilled, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a #40 ice cream scoop, make balls of dough (each ball will be made with 2 Tbs of dough, if you don’t have a #40 scoop). Roll each ball in cinnamon sugar.

Making Snickerdoodles

Now time to squish them! Using a fork (or whatever you want), squish the dough out into cookie shapes.

Making Snickerdoodles

Bake at 375º F for 10 minutes for chewy cookies, 12 minutes for crunchy. Remove from oven and let sit for 30 seconds. They’ll be very soft when they come out of the oven, but that’s just fine! Gently remove cookies from the baking sheet and let cool for a few minutes on a wire rack before serving.

These are especially good with soy nog. Just saying.


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Asparagus and White Bean Pesto Tart Mon, 29 Sep 2008 20:34:34 +0000 Lolo Asparagus and White Bean Pesto Tart

I can’t believe it, but the holidays are coming. And when there are holidays, there are parties, and the ever growing need for easy, tasty, fancy seeming food that you can serve your guests. Here’s a beautiful, ridiculously delicious, and easy-to-make asparagus tart that is so freakin’ awesome you’ll want to make it even when you’re not expecting guests.

Now, there are a few trade-offs that make this recipe as easy as it is. The first Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, because it’s a pain the butt to make it from scratch. This stuff is miraculously vegan. The trade-off is that while it might be vegan, the ingredients list is pretty long and contains things like high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil. This doesn’t bother me much, especially since I don’t eat things like this a lot. But I know some of my readers are uncomfortable eating products containing these ingredients at all. For those who aren’t, or don’t mind occasionally consuming something like this, head to the freezer section of your grocery store and pick up the Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets.  They’re easy to use and only require 40 minutes of defrosting before using.

Asparagus and White Bean Pesto Tart

If you’re interested in making your own vegan puff pastry, there is hope! VeganDad made some beautiful vegan puff pastry simply subbing Earth Balance margarine for butter and following FoodBeam’s thoughtful recipe.  Definitely check out both blogs.  One day I’m sure I’ll try to make my own puff pastry, but that day is not today. Props to VeganDad for giving me hope that it’s even possible! You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar.

The other time-saving tips include using canned beans (which I always do anyway, because I’m lazy?) and a pesto concentrate that you can find at Whole Foods (and many other grocery stores) in the pasta/tomato aisle.  It’s called Amore Pesto Paste, and the only ingredients are basil, sunflower oil, olive oil, salt, pine nuts, garlic, and citric acid.  It’s wonderful to use in all sorts of stuff, so pick up a tube and try it out.

Asparagus Tart with White Bean Pesto
Serves 8 as an appetizer

1 15 oz Can Navy Beans
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 Heaping Cup Raw Cashews
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbs Amore Pesto Paste
2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Tbs Soy or Rice Milk, or water

1 lb Fresh Asparagus
1 Puff Pastry Sheet
Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil

Remove 1 puff pastry sheet from the freezer and let it defrost on the counter for 40 minutes on top of parchment paper.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400º F and make the filling.

Drain and rinse the beans, and add them to the work bowl of a food processor.  Add of the remaining ingredients except the soymilk (salt through lemon juice). Pulse the food processor, stopping ever few pulses to scrape down the sides and pulse again.  You want to break up the beans and the cashews.  Once it’s as smooth as you can get it, dribble in the soymilk while the machine is running, as this should help further smooth the mixture.

After 40 minutes of defrosting, carefully unwrap the puff pastry on top of your parchment paper:

Raw puff pastry

Roll the puff pastry out slightly into a rectangle. Then add the white bean pesto mixture, leaving a 1 to 1 1/2 inch border on all sides:

White Bean Pesto

Trim your asparagus so that it fits the tart width-wise. Press the spears into the white bean pesto, alternating their direction so that there are tips and bases next to each other; this one everyone is guaranteed every part of the asparagus after cutting:

Placing the asparagus

With a sharp knife, trim all the edges to they are neat and square. Trim away as little as possible.

Trimming the edges

Brush the spears with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper:

Ready to Bake

Using the parchment paper, slide the tart onto a baking sheet (don’t remove the tart from the paper). Bake at 400ºF for 25-30 minutes until the tart is puffed and golden brown and the spears are tender. Serve while just warm.

Asparagus and White Bean Pesto Tart

You can reheat this tart in the oven for a few minutes if you have leftovers, but it’s also good at room temperature. Fresh basil is a nice garnish. If you’ve never worked with puff pastry before, this is a great recipe to get your feet wet. It really is easy to use, just as delicious as phyllo dough with none of the stress.  And it’s fun to watch it puff!

Asparagus and White Bean Pesto Tart

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Ground Cherry Cupcake Pies Wed, 03 Sep 2008 16:44:04 +0000 Lolo Ground Cherries

Ground cherries. I had absolutely no idea what they were until I saw them at a farmers market here in Boston. When I walked by them I said, “Aww, baby tomatillos!” The sign said “ground cherries” so I asked the woman more about them.  She carefully unwrapped one from it’s papery husk and handed it to me.

Wow, so weird. And so good.

They’re the size of cherry tomatoes. The ripe ones are a pale golden yellow. They have a hint (just a hint) of tomato, but are much sweeter. They smell like fresh strawberries, have the sweetness of grapes, and have a vaguely pineapple flavor. And a little vanilla, too. Weird. But good.

I picked up two little cartons and then let them sit on my counter for four days. I couldn’t figure out what to do with them, and I thought the point would be moot since they were probably spoiled. But nope! They store extremely well in the fridge, and as it turns out, pretty well on your counter top, too.

Ground Cherries

The most traditional way to use them is in pie. I been thinking about a way to make miniature pies in cupcake tins, so here was my chance to try it out. The upshot is that you can use the technique with whatever fruit you can find, should ground cherries not be available.

Ground Cherry Cupcake Pies

Ground Cherry Cupcake Pies
Makes Six

Pate Brisee (pie dough)
1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 Cup Cubed, Chilled Earth Balance Margarine
2 Tbs – 1/4 Cup Ice Water

1 1/3 Cup Ground Cherries, de-husked and washed
1/4 Cup Sugar + 1/2 tsp Flour

Begin by making the pie dough. For a step-by-step, see this recipe.

Line a cupcake tin with cupcake papers. Spray lightly with oil. Place a scant tablespoon of dough into the bottom of each cup. Using a small glass dipped in water (one that has the same diameter of the bottom of the cupcake cup), press the dough to form a bottom crust.

Cupcake Pie Shells

Take small pieces of dough and build up the sides of the cup with dough, making sure the walls aren’t too thick.

Cupcake Pie Shells

At this point, you can use the glass again, dipped in water so it won’t stick, to neaten everything up if you want.

Cupcake Pie Shells

Your finished pie shells should look something like this. Place the shells in the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm up.

Cupcake Pie Shells

Preheat the oven to 400º F. Remove the shells from the fridge and fill to the top, slightly overflowing, with ground cherries (or whatever fruit you’re using).

Ground Cherry Cupcake Pies

Add 1/2 to 1 tsp of the sugar/flour mixture to each cup, depending on how sweet you want your pies. 1/2 tsp was sweet enough for me, allowing the flavor of the fruit to show through.  If you’re using something tangier or less sweet, you’ll want more sugar.

Cover the back of a cookie sheet with a sheet of plastic wrap. Add the rest of the pie dough, and cover with a second sheet. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/4-1/8″ thick. Using a glass that has a slightly larger diameter than the openings of the cupcake cups, stamp out six pie crust tops. Place this in the freezer for a few minutes, or into the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.

Pie Tops

Once chilled, you should be able to easily peel out the tops and place them over your pies. Pinch the edges down, slash a X in the top with a sharp knife, and sprinkle with sugar. You can do other types of tops, such as lattice work, if desired.

Ground Cherry Cupcake Pies

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for several minutes before gently removing them from the cupcake tin to cook completely.

Ground Cherry Cupcake Pie

Ground cherry cupcake pies!

Again, you can use any fruit you like, but if you ever see ground cherries, definitely try them. They’re also sometimes called cape gooseberries (though some people say it’s a different fruit in the same family), husk tomatoes (which usually refer to tomatillos…), goldenberries, and a host of other names. Whatever they’re called, they should be small, sweet, and surprising. Make a jam, dip them in chocolate, add them to salsa, or eat them raw.


Okay!  Seems like a lot of people find these growing nearby their homes. PLEASE don’t eat them unless you’re SURE they are okay to eat.  Wikipedia lists over 35 different plants in the Physalis genus.  That’s a lot!  So there’s no guarantee the species that is growing near you is this same species I’ve written about.  Please be careful!!  Even if they are safe to eat, they might not taste the same.

If the people that live around you don’t tend to eat the fruits of the bushes you see, there might be a very good reason why.  Wild foraging can be dangerous, so please eat only ground cherries that you find at markets that have a reputation for, well, selling non-poisonous food.  Ha!

Ground Cherries

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Individual Blueberry Grunts Fri, 01 Aug 2008 01:22:00 +0000 Lolo Individual Blueberry Grunt

Yeah, I’d never heard of a blueberry grunt, either. Until I became friends with Sandy. Every since we became friends, I couldn’t use the word “blueberry” without her saying “Mmmm, blueberry grunt…” eyes half-closed and smiling. I knew it was one of her favorite desserts, but I couldn’t bring myself to make something called a grunt.

Until, that is, I had four cups freshly picked blueberries.

A grunt is in the cobbler family, and it’s a traditional East Coast maritime dessert. It’s perfect for people who might want something like a pie, but are too lazy make an actual pie. So that means it’s perfect for me!

Grunts out of the oven

Blueberry is a popular flavor for grunts, but I imagine you can use pretty much any berry or fruit. They’re a great way to use up bountiful–but fleeting–summer fruit. The most common way to make a grunt is to boil berries with water, sugar, and lemon juice, then add biscuit dough to the top, cover with a tight lid, and steam. It’s a one-pan, stove-top operation. I chose to bake mine because I had these ridiculously cute gratin dishes that I’d been dying to use for a blog post. I’ll give directions for both methods of cooking.

Recipes for grunts are all pretty standard, I adapted and veganized this simple recipe.

Individual Blueberry Grunts

Blueberry Grunts
Makes four individual grunts, or one large

Blueberry Filling
Four Cups Fresh Blueberries (or frozen)
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Tbs Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 tsp Each Cinnamon and Nutmeg, optional (I left them out)

Simple Biscuits
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
3 Tbs Earth Balance Margarine, or veg. shortening
3/4-1 Cup Soymilk

Add all of the ingredients for the blueberry filling into a large skillet.  If you’re going to be making one large grunt and steaming the biscuits, make sure this skillet has a tight fitting lid. If you’re going to be baking the grunt, preheat the oven to 400º F.

Blueberry Filling

Boil the berries for 10-15 minutes until the mixture has thickened a little.

Blueberry Filling

Meanwhile, combine all the dry ingredients for the biscuits. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the margarine/shortening into the dry ingredients. If you’re berries aren’t done yet, go ahead and stick the dry mixture in the fridge or freezer to keep the margarine cold until you’re ready for it.

When the berries are ready, add the soymilk to the dry mixture to form a soft biscuit dough. The consistency is pretty forgiving, a slightly too-soft or too-firm dough won’t make a difference in the final product. As long as it holds together, but is soft enough to break apart into clumps, you’re good to go. Don’t over-mix the dough, or the biscuits will be tough. But you knew that!

Grunt Biscuit Dough

For one large, steamed grunt:
Break the biscuit dough up into small, bite-sized pieces.  Place the pieces on top of the hot, still-cooking berries, spread evenly across the top.  Cover the skillet with a tight fitting lid, reduce the heat slightly, and steam for 15 minutes without peeking.  The biscuits should be puffed up and cooked all the way through.  Serve warm.

For one large baked grunt:
Follow the instructions for a steamed grunt, but place in the oven to bake at 400º F (without a lid) for 20 minutes.  You can sand the biscuits sugar before baking if you like! Serve warm.

For individual baked grunts:
Transfer berry mixture to individual ramekins or gratin dishes, filling only half-full.  Add biscuit mixture on top.  Sand with sugar and place all the grunts on a baking sheet (this will help you take them out of the oven with burning yourself).  Bake for 20 minutes, serve warm.

Here’s what my individual grunts looked like before baking:

Grunts before baking

These are great just as they are, but you can also serve them with some ice cream if you want. I invited Sandy over to try them, and she said that not only were they delicious, but they “taste exactly like a non-vegan grunt.” So if you’re looking for a simple, but elegant dessert to use up summer berries, I highly recommend this one.

I won’t blame you if you call it a cobbler, though.

Individual Blueberry Grunts

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