Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Vegan Ding Dong Cupcakes

I love my neighbor Mary.  Seven years ago I was in my new kitchen getting unpacked, the house full of three moving men, three children, three pets and Willie. The door bell rang and I didn't even try to answer it. I knew someone else would, so I kept to my futile attempts at organizing chaos. A few minutes later I turned to my right and there appeared a bag of cookies marked Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies and a lovely note welcoming our family to the neighborhood. I thought, "how lovely, how special, how amazing that my new neighbor would go to the time and expense of making us an organic treat!" As I would come to know over the years, that's just Mary. Lovely, special, and amazing! 

I've been trying to find something that Mary would find special and I think these fit the bill. Whether you are a Ding Dong fan (like me) or not, whether you are a vegan (like Mary) or not, you will find these delicious. Make them for yourself, make them for your friends, make them for a new neighbor, but definitely make them!


Vegan Ding Dong Cupcakes
by Sandra

Chocolate Cupcakes:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold coffee
1/2 cup canola oil
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

"Cream" Filling:
1 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Up to 5 Tablespoons almond milk (or soy or rice milk)

Chocolate Ganache:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (non-dairy)
1/4 cup canned coconut milk, mixed well before meausuring
1 Tablespoon canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare the cupcake pan(s) with liners.* Yield: 12-14 cupcakes.

Mix all dry ingredients together in one bowl and wet ingredients in another. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined. Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

In a clean bowl, beat the shortening until there are no lumps. Scrape down the sides and then add the sugar and vanilla and mix at increasing speeds until combined. Reduce speed to low and add almond milk 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is light and sort of marshmallow-y. Prepare a piping bag with a long narrow tip, like a Bismarck tip, and fill it with the "cream". Insert the tip into the center of each cupcake and press in the cream. The cakes are light and airy so there is no need to scoop out any of the cake.

Place the chocolate chips and the coconut milk in a Pyrex bowl and stir. Put in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until all chocolate is melted and smooth. Quickly whisk in the canola oil. Dip your "cream" filled cupcakes upside down into the chocolate ganache and then let set. 

These cupcakes can be made the day before serving and refrigerated or frozen if you need to make them further ahead of time. Let them come to room temperature before serving for the "cream" filling to be at it's best consistency. They will taste just as delicious as the day you made them.

*If you want to make Ding Dongs instead of cupcakes, instead of baking in a cupcake pan, use two 9-inch cake pans lined with parchment paper. Prepare as indicated, but divide
the chocolate cake batter between the two pans and bake for 16-20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, remove cake from pans and cool completely. Cut cake with biscuit cutters. Place one cake on top of another cake so that all of your Ding Dongs are two cake high. Yield: 8 Ding Dongs. Mine were not pretty, as you can see from this photo. But they were delicious! And they were eaten within an hour!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Dumplings with Toasted Walnut Dipping Sauce



These dumplings are a perfect first course or served on a tray at a party.  They are good warm, but are also delicious served at room temperature.  The sauce also doubles as a great salad dressing.  

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Dumplings with Toasted Walnut Dipping Sauce
By Tracy

Sauce:
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 Tablespoons shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup orange juice
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt 
Pepper
1 Tablespoon green onion chopped
1 Tablespoon orange zest

In a food processor, combine the first 6 ingredients and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, top with the chopped green onion and orange zest.

Filling:
1 (4-ounce) package goat cheese
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
4 ounces red beets (about 2 medium), roasted (I used this method)
1 teaspoon basil olive oil  (or 1 teaspoon of olive oil mixed with 1/4 teaspoon dried basil)

In a small bowl, mix together the goat cheese and basil. Add the walnuts and combine.  Set aside.
  
In a food processor , pulse beets with the olive oil until they are finely chopped.  Set aside.

Dumplings:
1 3/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour 
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons beet juice or water (if you use water, the dumplings will not be colored) 

In a stand up mixer, combine flour and beet juice until dough is smooth. Let rest for 10 minutes. Divide dough into 16 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Roll, out each dough ball into a 2 1/2 to 3-inch circle. Fill each center with 1 teaspoon of the goat cheese mixture and 1 teaspoon of the roasted beets. Fold each dumpling in half and pinch closed.  When all of the dumplings are assembled, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the dumplings in batches, about 3 minutes each or until they float. Remove with a slotted spoon and finish the remaining dumplings. Serve with the walnut dipping sauce.  

Make Extra - They Won't Last Long!

These tasty hors d’oeuvres are the perfect addition to any party. Whether it be upscale or a small gathering with friends, they won’t last long! I like to serve them with apple slices, they are a nice accompaniment to the richness of the cheese. These savory shortbread are good all by themselves. They are simple to make, but do take some time chilling. I recommend making them at least one day in advance so that all you need to do is slice and pop them in the oven when you need them.   

Chili Cheese Wafers with Honey-Bacon Cream Cheese and Chives 

by Tracy
Inspired by a recipe in the All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook 

Makes about 60 wafers

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Flour

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour 
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 sticks butter, softened
16-ounce block of extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Topping: 

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
12 slices of thick bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 Tablespoons honey
Chopped fresh chives for garnish

In a large bowl, sift together flours, salt, pepper, cumin, Ancho chili powder, Mexican oregano, mustard and garlic powder. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the cheddar cheese and butter. Slowly add the dry ingredients and beat until blended. Form dough into a ball, cover and chill for at least 2 hours.  



Remove the chilled dough from the bowl and shape into 4 logs (approximately 8 inches each). Chill for at least 8 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice logs into wafers about 1/4-inch thick. Place onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake wafers in batches for about 15 minutes each. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a minute or two and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  

To make the topping, pulse cream cheese, bacon and honey in a food processor until smooth. Place the mixture into a piping bag with a large star tip and pipe stars on each wafer. Sprinkle on the chipped chives. Alternatively, you can spoon a heaping teaspoonful of the cream cheese mixture onto the wafers. Serve.  


Notes:  

1. Dough logs can be frozen, then sliced and baked. Just add a few minutes to the baking time.  

2. You may use all Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour  instead of half white and half wheat. If you do, eliminate one stick of butter.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Animal Cracker Cookies


I remember loving animal crackers when I was a kid, and the box with the string was an added bonus. I could carry it around like a little purse.

Maybe it was my fascination with animal crackers that fueled my adult love for cookie cutters, and my giddy joy at finding these adorable animal-shaped cutters.

These critters aren't exactly the same as the ones sold as animal crackers, but I think they might even be better looking. And they were perfect for a challenge featuring flours from Bob's Red Mill.

The recipe here is perfect for cookie cutter creations, since the cookies don't rise or spread much at all, so you don't lose the shape or the embossed design.

Shortbread Cookies with a Little Whole Wheat
by Donna
Makes 2-3 dozen very small cookies

1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Organic-Whole Wheat Flour

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, sugar and salt. Add the vanilla extract and continue beating until combined.

Add the flours and mix until combined. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten to a disk, and refrigerate until chilled – or for several days, if desired.

Preheat the oven to 350°F, lightly flour your work surface, and have baking sheets standing by.

Working with portions of the dough at a time, roll the dough to about 1/4 inch and cut with cookie cutters as desired. Right out of the refrigerator, this dough tends to be a little brittle and tends to crack apart, but as it warms slightly, it's easier to roll. If it does break apart, you can just gather up the pieces and mash them together.

Place the cookies on a cookie sheet. Parchment paper is fine, but you don't need a greased cookie sheet.

You can re-roll the dough scraps and cut more cookies, but if the dough gets too soft, it can be hard to work with as it sticks to your work surface and flops about when you try to pick up a cookie. If that's the case, just refrigerate it for 10 minutes or so, to let it firm up, then continue rolling and cutting.

Bake the cookies at 350°F until lightly browned on the edges, about 14 minutes.

Let the cookies cool on the pan for a while before you transfer them to racks to cool completely. They're a little fragile when warm, but they'll firm up as they cool. These are still slightly delicate when completely cool, so don't plan on putting them in a box and shipping them across the country.

Warning: Don't store your predator cookies with the prey cookies.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cherry Pie Bars

Pie may be more celebrated, but bars are handheld! Try these Cherry Pie Bars at your next potluck and watch them disappear. In a bar recipe like this, however, the thicker crust plays a big part in the overall flavor, so make sure to use high quality flour. I've long preferred certified-organic Bob's Red Mill.

Cherry Pie Bars
by Kate
Adapted from Joy the Baker

For the crust:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups quality flour, such as Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of one lemon
1/4 cup oats, old-fashioned, not quick-cook

For the "pie" filling:
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup quality flour, such as Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour
2 Tablespoons lemon juice, fresh
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups cherries (either fresh, pitted and halved; or if frozen, thawed, drained and halved)

Preheat the oven to 350°F with its rack in the top third. Grease a 9-by-9-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper (one strip each direction of the pan, overlapping). Then grease the parchment paper.

Start with the crust. Combine the butter, powdered sugar, flour, salt and zest in a medium to large bowl. Use a pastry cutter, a big fork or your fingers to work the ingredients into a shaggy dough. Don't worry if it's not super smooth or incorporated.

Take 1/2 cup of the dough, put it in a separate smaller bowl and add the oats, stirring to combine and create a crumble. Set that bowl aside for later.

Back to the rest of the dough, stir again until it's relatively smooth and soft, and can form a ball. Then break that ball into smaller chunks, which you'll press into the bottom of your greased pan. Use extra flour if it's sticky, and press until it's even.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the dough is browned around its edges. Meanwhile, start the filling.

Whisk the eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice, sour cream and salt together until incorporated in a medium bowl (even the same bowl, if you'd like).

Place the cherries on the baked crust. If using frozen cherries, make sure they're well-drained before adding. Pour the filling over the cherries, then sprinkle with the reserved oat crumble.

Bake the bars for about 30 minutes or until set. A little jiggle in the center is OK, but the bars should be relatively set. Cool the pan to room temperature and then chill for at least 60 minutes before slicing. Serve chilled or at room temp -- and add ice cream for an a la mode version, if you're feeling fancy.

The bars keep well in the fridge for up to four days.

Lazy (Wheat) Pizza Dough

Lesson No. 1 of making pizza at home: It's not hard to make pizza dough.

Lesson No. 2 of making pizza at home: The hard part is finding your perfect dough recipe.

And after years of experimenting with different ratios and methods — including pizza dough in the bread machine, which I now think silly — I have found my dough with Smitten Kitchen's Lazy Pizza Dough! It's excellent if making traditional-crust pizza, meaning made with white flour, but it holds up well when you mix in some wheat flour for heft and health. Note: With these measurements, DO NOT PACK YOUR FLOUR. These are "fluff and level" cups, which should weigh about 125 grams if you have a kitchen scale.

The "lazy" part of the recipe comes from its flexibility. There are three yeast options depending on when you plan to eat your pizza. For the overnight option, start the dough after dinner to serve the next night for dinner (about 22 hours.) For the all-day option, start in the morning before the planned pizza dinner (about 12 hours.) For the part-day option, start your dough at noon for dinner that night (about 6 hours.) Whichever way works for you, the recipe yields enough for two thinner-crust pizzas, perfect for two 9-by-11-inch cookie sheets.

Oh, but I almost forgot. Lesson No. 3 of making pizza at home: Use a quality flour. You pay attention to the quality of your sauce, cheese and other toppings; pay as much attention to your flour's quality by using a top-notch product like Bob's Red Mill.

Lazy (Wheat) Pizza Dough
by Kate
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Jim Lahey's "My Pizza"

1 1/3 cups warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour, such as Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour
1 cup wheat flour, such as Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Flour
Either 1/8 teaspoon (for overnight option), 1/4 teaspoon (for all-day option) or 1/2 teaspoon (for part-day option) active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

For the pizza:
Sauce, cheese and your choice of toppings

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl using a spoon. The dough will be very rough and craggy usually, but add a spoonful of water if it seems too much so. Cover your still-craggy dough with plastic wrap and keep at room temp for the 22/12/6 hours of your dough schedule. See above.

Thirty minutes before the dough is ready, grease your pizza pans. Preheat your oven to HOT (450°F or even 500°F if you live dangerously.)

Scrape the dough out onto a floured counter top. It should now be loose, soft and stretchy. Divide the dough in half and form into two balls. One by one, stretch the ball by letting it fall from your hands a few times before placing it on the prepared baking sheet. Only then use your floured fingers to stretch it further to fit.

Note: If the dough is getting unmanageable, walk away for 10 minutes. The gluten in the dough will rest and become more pliable again.

Add your sauce, cheese and toppings. Bake the pizza for 10-15 minutes, rotating halfway through if cooking both at once. The top should be blistered and the crust golden.

Allow the pizza to rest for about three minutes, then slice and enjoy!