When I first became enamored with baking cakes and cupcakes, I struggled to match them with a good icing recipe. Even as a non-vegan hobby baker, I had a pretty strong dislike for most icing that I could make.
The standard American buttercream (usually a mixture between shortening and/or butter and powdered sugar with some milk and vanilla added) always seemed too sweet for me. Also, what a pain it is to make! So much of each ingredient needed to go into the recipe in order to do anything with it. I usually use a ratio of equal parts powdered sugar and shortening/butter (or Earth Balance) divided, so it would be for example:
1 cup shortening
1 cup butter/non-dairy substitute
2 cups powdered sugar
This is a lot of each ingredient to yield enough icing to ice a cake or some cupcakes...Also, look at the amount of fat and sugar goes into it! A bit much, I think. I prefer things to be slightly sweet and more rounded in flavor when it comes to desserts...I've mentioned this many times in my posts! But, when it comes to icing, it seems almost impossible to balance flavor in an icing that has a stable texture for decorating...well, until now!! ;)
With the amazing discovery of aquafaba, I have learned how to create amazing Swiss Meringue-style buttercream that is free of eggs or dairy! I have worked with this type of buttercream for years now at my job and I love working with it because it is always smooth and easy to work with for decorating cakes. It also hardens when it's cold so your cakes are more stable once they have set in the fridge for a while. The only issue with it is that it is an egg white-based recipe.
I learned to make this type of buttercream by cooking granulated sugar and egg whites, whipping them and then adding a ton of butter to them until the entire mixture emulsifies and becomes soft, smooth buttercream. The process is quite long, especially if you are making a large batch.
This batch that I've created is a small one, ideal for a 6 inch round cake or 12 cupcakes. It is ideal for the home kitchen because it is quick, does not require any cooking, and is only reliant on 1 cup of non-dairy butter substitute. The amount of sugar is dependent on your taste, as well! I believe that you might be able to substitute the sweetener if you choose, but make sure you are ready to experiment a little with the ratios of the other ingredients as it may change the texture. The goal is for this buttercream to firm up enough to pipe and ice, so make sure there is still some structure there.
I love that I managed to make this buttercream work! I like the way it looks compared to other vegan icings I've used. A veganized American buttercream can sometimes be bubbly if it is over-whipped. This buttercream is always smooth and silky, ideal for piping roses/flowers, borders, etc. on your cake or cupcakes! I'm so happy I've found a way to make this recipe and I'm so excited to share it with all of you! Feel free to sub the non-dairy butter with coconut oi. I've tried this and it works beautifully. As long as you refrigerate your cake prior to serving, the icing will stay in its proper place! Leaving it out of the fridge, as long as it is in a cool environment for a couple hours is fine, too.
Here are a couple of cakes I've used this buttercream for (one was for yesterday's VeganMoFo post!) I hope they inspire you to do your own homemade cakes or cupcakes! =) Happy icing!
Vegan Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Yeild: About 4 cups, finished
Enough to ice: 1-6" cake/12 cupcakes
Free of: Gluten, Soy*, Nuts
*Depending on your non-dairy butter
If President Obama came over for a meal, I'd like to think I'd keep it real. (Sorry, didn't mean to rhyme!)
I voted for the guy twice, I think he's a rad dude, and he seems pretty down to Earth. I also think he has a cool family and some cute dogs. =P
Political opinions aside, you have to see what I'm talking about right? I don't think President Obama would be one to expect some fancy five-course meal from me. Well, if he did, he would have to say so. ;)
I came up with a dish that the adults and kids would enjoy. I also wanted to create a flavorful dish that was also healthy, since Michelle seems to promote healthy eating awareness. I thought a nice jackfruit dish would be nice...it's something not a whole lot of people have heard of/eaten in this country and it would be nice to introduce to such an influential family something different yet fairly accessible.
I had never heard of jackfruit being used in vegan cooking until I saw the Seabirds food truck on the Food Network a few years ago. They were serving jackfruit in tacos at the time and I was thinking, "Fruit?! WHAT?".
Then, I finally found out how jackfruit can be prepared to be used as a pulled meat substitute when I attended cooking school. The jackfruit itself is best used from a can, as it is already soft and easy to work with. I found some at my local Asian market, and I'm sure you would be able to purchase it online.
Right out of the can, jackfruit seems pretty bland. However, once you chop it up, season it with spices and cook it, it's pretty delicious! The result is a somewhat light but meaty texture that resembles pulled meat. I like that it isn't very heavy like tempeh or seitan. That way, you can garnish it with all the veggies, non-dairy cheese or beans you want and it isn't overwhelmingly filling! Well, unless you want it to be. ;)
Look out, Mr. President! I've got some jacked up tacos for you! ^_^'
Pulled Jackfruit Tacos
Yield: 2 large soft tacos
Surprise! My favorite cookbook is NOT vegan!
I absolutely love love love my mom's Better Homes & Gardens cookbook from the late 80's-early 90's. It's the cookbook that I grew up using for all my baked goods, especially around the holidays.
This cookbook has a chapter for everything and separates foods by categories that make sense (cake, pies, candy, etc.). I've used this cookbook for my foundations for baking just about anything. They have recipes for everything you could want (or not want!) to bake. I love that they take a from-scratch approach to most of their recipes. Some recipes are simplified for the busy cook, but most are left as complicated or uncomplicated as they should be.
The recipe that I used for my shortbread cookies came from this book! It's such a simple, foolproof recipe! Ever since I've gone vegan, I've managed to get frustrated with this book because of recipes that are not easy to veganize. On the flip side of that, however, I love the challenge! Making any of the cookies in this book is nostalgic for me and brings me right back to my childhood. My favorite recipe from here is the snickerdoodle recipe. I've attempted to recreate them here in my first ever blog post.
There's also that other post from last year that features another BHG recipe: ranger cookies! I remade them to be semi-healthy for Father's Day. I absolutely love the recipes in this cookbook. They are all meant to share with your favorite people...that's the entire reason that I love food! (Well, eating it is pretty rad, too...but I wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much if I had to eat it alone!) =)
For this cookbook celebration, I made one of the easiest and most simple recipes of all: muffins! These muffins come out more like a cross between a scone and muffin rather than a breakfast cake like most would eat nowadays. These muffins are dry and crunchy on top, which is quite satisfying. They are less sweet than commercial muffins and I made them with raspberries studded on top for tartness.
I never underestimate our power as cooks to be able to transform any recipe into whatever we want to. I don't like to confine myself to just vegan cookbooks or vegan recipes. Vegan is a parameter for cooking that should be factored in just as dietary restrictions should. Sometimes, I still want a simple baked good from my childhood and this cookbook still holds solid recipes for me to use. With a few tweaks, I can still enjoy food that I love, just in a different way. ;)
Basic Raspberry Muffins
Yield: 6 Muffins
Free of: Gluten, Nuts
Adapted from: Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook
Preheat oven 400 F.
Okay, so furikake is Japanese rice seasoning! (pronounced fu-ree-kah-kay)
The MoFo prompt for today is to focus on a specific nutrient.
I decided to go with one that not many people think about on a daily basis:
Iodine is an essential nutrient found in seaweed, fish, potato and iodized salts. It is essential for proper thyroid function. I always take vitamin supplements, but I also try to consume nutrients from natural sources as much as possible. Seaweed is not only delicious, but rich in iodine so you will never have to worry!
Furikake is a mixture of dried food that you sprinkle over rice or anything bland to give it flavor. When I was a kid, I used to eat a fish flavored furikake. Most conventional seasoning blends have fish or egg in them. I've found a flavor blend that is vegan and it's great, but I've always wanted to make my own with ingredients that I prefer.
Making furikake was way more simple than I thought. All I had to do was blend all the dry ingredients that I wanted together in my Vitamix. I think a food processor would have worked well too. I tried to make my seasoning blend a little more unique and healthful by adding dehydrated raw kale and raw hemp seeds, among other tasty things!
Essential ingredients for furikake are generally: salt, sugar, sesame seed (black and/or white), and nori (toasted seaweed). This alone is quite delicious, but I like to complicate things! ;)
Here is my recipe for furikake. It will last quite a while. Add a sprinkle a day on your rice, salad, sandwich, pasta, or whatever you like to give yourself a daily dose of iodine and other tasty nutrients! Also, enjoy the fact that this doesn't contain any MSG, animal products, or preservatives. <3
Homemade Vegan Furikake
Yield: about 3.5 oz
Free of: Nuts, Gluten, Refined Sugar
Today's prompt is "something blue"!
What a perfect day for blue shortbread cookies...it's been raining all day by me!
I knew I wanted to use blue cornmeal again for this recipe. I made some cornbread with it last year and loved it. There's something fun about the color blue when it comes to natural cooking, because blue is so rare in fruits and vegetables.
I took the only other accessible blue food I could get, blueberries, and paired them with both my cornbread and my cookies. I love berries and corn together, so it really works out! Blueberries are also a nice fruit to bake with. I almost prefer them baked or cooked sometimes. Their flavor develops nicely and they create a wonderful syrup all by themselves. They're also very healthy for you!
If yesterday's cookie post was oil-free, this one is its antithesis. This recipe makes only about 12-15 round shortbread cookies and it has an entire cup of oil in it!
Before you shake your head though, give me some credit for using only unrefined coconut oil! I actually love that the coconut oil gives a very subtle flavor to these cookies because I didn't want to overwhelm them with butter flavor from a vegan butter substitute.
Don't get me wrong, I still use Earth Balance and Melt sometimes, but I like to use them sparingly. For certain things, butter flavor isn't necessary. I think these cookies really have a wonderful flavor. If you change up your sweetener, you will be able to taste the different facets of flavor each one has to offer. I used Bee Free Honee in mine because it has a mild apple flavor that I love. The consistency of the vegan honee also helps to keep these shortbreads moist but not overly oily.
The recipe is very easy and you can use only one bowl for it! You don't have to roll out the dough if you don't want to get all messy. You can always do hand-rolled cookies (roll the dough into about 1 Tb amounts between your palms and flatten onto your cookie sheet).
Have fun with this recipe! Change up the berry you put on top, use jam instead, add citrus zest to the dough, make an icing for them, add nuts, whatever you feel!
For a serving tip: pair with a nice fruity black coffee. I did just that and it was sublime!
Blue Corn Sandies
Yield: about 12-15 round cookies
Free of: gluten, nuts, refined sugar
Preheat oven 325 F.
This retro recipe is inspired by a few things for me. I wanted to pick a recipe that reminded me of my grandparents. I picked halva because it is one of my grandpa's favorite treats and I always thought it was weird as a kid (and it's also a totally ancient recipe...now that's retro!). The only memory I have of it is seeing it in the Joyva package while thinking, "What is that?". Only till I became vegan and discovered all the wonderful things you could do with tahini did I realize that sweetening it was genius.
Tahini is just the sesame seed version of peanut butter, right? ;)
So, deciding that I wanted to make a tahini confection, I decided on grain-free cookies. I took inspiration from a traditional pignoli cookie recipe which is just almond meal, egg and sugar. When she first started eating a gluten-free diet, my mom requested these cookies at Christmas time. She isn't a big fan of sweets, so this came as a surprise to me. Pignoli cookies have a different character than a regular cookie, though. They are crispy, chewy, light but full of flavor. They're moist too! Moisture without butter or oil...what a wonder!
I decided that in order for my cookie to taste like tahini first and foremost, it must be grain-free. I added some things to the cookie dough for texture and sweetness, but not overly so. I think this cookie is wonderful as a snack because it satisfies a sweet craving but also offers some nutrition without a ton of processed fats included. The only fats in this recipe are from seeds (flax and sesame), so it is suitable for those who are allergic to nuts!
I added in a pop of acidity and flavor with chopped dried apricots and apricot jam in the icing. There's also a candied apricot on top because, why not? ;D
Apricot Halva Cookies
Yield: Approx 15 cookies
Free of: Nuts, Gluten, Refined Sugar (excluding icing)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
I'm not a huge fan of sandwiches.
I always like the idea of sandwiches, of course, but I find that I get really full from the bread before I can enjoy any of the goodies on the inside. Sometimes I like to take all the stuff out of the sandwich, eat it, and then have dessert to fill my stomach. That method has worked for me countless times. ;)
However, I went to college in New Brunswick, NJ and I did have a brief affair with sandwiches at that time. Eating as a vegetarian in college left me with few options for food that wasn't salad or pretzels. I always had something to eat at the dining hall, but it was rarely healthy. Did that stop me? Of course not.
One of the foods that my friends and I would grab routinely after every semester as a celebration would be the infamous fat sandwiches from the grease trucks. These bad boys are sandwiches with everything you could ever want (or not want) to eat on them. Protein? Yes. Veggies? Yes. Sauce? Of course. French fries? Duh.
I always got one of three sandwiches there. One had a veggie burger on it, one had some mozzarella sticks and the other had falafel. The last one I ever ate had falafel on it. ::drool::
I decided that if I was going to make a vegan sandwich for Vegan MoFo this year I had to go all-out. So, I went the extra mile and made from-scratch rolls and fried up some cauliflower. This sandwich is going to be the most complete sandwich experience of your life. And you won't need to eat another. Ever.
Makes 3 large sandwiches. You can always make less and save the fillings for salads or snacking later!
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Today's prompt is totally awesome, I must say! A weird food combo that you love!
I actually had a tough time thinking of what to make for this. Then, it hit me. I love kombucha.
Liking kombucha as a vegan/healthy eater isn't that weird, but I love it as a replacement for soda.
I like to take it to the movies. Kombucha and popcorn? Oh yes. Or, anything salty and kombucha is my jam. I had yet to use it in a dessert dish...until now! =D
I was perusing the bulk section at my favorite natural foods store one day with my mom and I gave one particular product some more attention than I normally would: chocolate covered ginger.
I like ginger. I'm not the biggest fan of sweetened ginger, but I love it in savory cooking. I usually think of East Asian and Indian cuisine when I think of ginger. The chocolate and ginger struck me as slightly out of the ordinary, but possibly delicious. I moved on.
Then, it dawned on me. If I use kombucha for a soda replacement and I am ginger dessert-curious, shouldn't I just figure out how to combine the two into a wonderful treat? Well, yes...and I did!
Thus, the kombucha float was created. I'm sure I'm not the first one to think of this idea, but I certainly hope I'm the first one to make this flavor combo: ginger kombucha (I used G.T. Dave's...it's my favorite brand!), homemade salted caramel ice cream (made with coconut milk!), and topped with tasty chocolate ginger nuggets. What a concept. When I assembled the whole drink, my mind was blown. I was never a fan of floats until now. Although, I still like everything inside of a float separately just fine. I don't think a float is something I ever crave on its own. But, I must say, this is pretty damn good. ;)
I hope this isn't too weird for you all. Try different flavor combos...I'm sure the possibilities are endless!
Salted Caramel Ginger Kombucha Floats
Yield: about 2 large floats (16 oz each)
Adapted from Chocolate Mousse Ice Cream
Ice Cream Ingredients
Stuffed french toast may sound fancy, but it really isn't if you have some basic things on hand.
This is MoFo Day 2: Quick, Easy & Delicious!!!
I wouldn't dupe you, I promise.
You may recall ::erhem:: from what I posted yesterday that I recently baked some gluten-free bread. I posted the recipe here!
But, for those of you who either do not require homemade gluten-free bread or would rather not be bothered (usually me), store-bought vegan bread will do! I always splurge on bread because I don't buy it very often. I like to get a mostly whole grain loaf that was made from scratch somewhere. For making french toast the way I like it, I like to have a dense and firm slice of bread to work with. There's nothing that I dislike more than a soggy slice of french toast. =(
If you have a loaf of bread, I recommend leaving it out overnight or leaving a couple slices out overnight. The slices will hold up better to frying if they are a tad stale.
I got this idea from a recipe made by the amazing food blogger Richa of Vegan Richa. I absolutely love her blog. She seems to never run out of ideas for new recipes. Her dishes are usually very accessible but infused with different flavors than what you would expect. She made this samosa stuffed french toast that I had to try one day and "my goodness gracious" is all I have to say.
It was outrageous.
I love to make savory breakfasts and brunches when I don't feel like eating anything sweet. However, I felt that today I wanted a touch of sweetness and I looked around my kitchen to find some friends to help me on my quest.
All you need for this recipe is a small banana, 2 slices of bread, jam/jelly/compote/another fruit of choice, and a simple chickpea batter. You can always make a different batter if you don't have chickpea flour on hand, but I really love how smooth and crispy it turns the outside of the french toast. It also has a lovely flavor.
Also, you can make this french toast when you are absolutely starving because it only takes about 10-15 minutes to prepare. Not too shabby. ;)
Fry away, friends!
Banana Stuffed French Toast For One
Yield: 1 serving (1 double french toast)
Inspiration: Vegan Richa's Samosa Stuffed French Toast
* I recommend either making your own powdered sugar in a blender or buying a good quality brand like Wholesome Sweeteners. They make awesome products that you can feel good about buying. I don't use powdered sugar often, but when I do I like to make sure it's vegan and non-GMO.
Go ahead and dig in. It's all yours!
MoFo Day 2: recreate a meal from childhood
So, this prompt was pretty easy for me to figure out. I was a very picky eater as a kid, which I'm sure many people can sympathize with. I was very wary of new flavors and new foods. I had a huge sweet tooth. I also loved carbs.
The two things that haven't changed about my tastes from childhood are my love for carbs and my distaste/indifference towards meat. I was never a big meat-eater. I merely ate meat because it was served to me. It was the only real option for a sit-down meal.
I always preferred carb-heavy options, however. I loved baked goods, rice, pasta, crackers, pretzels, etc. I also loved cinnamon on everything. Okay, so that hasn't changed either... Put cinnamon on it, and I'll probably approve.
The one thing that my grandma would make for my dad, his siblings, and my sister and I for breakfast was something she called "Ichiban Cinnamon Toast". My grandma is from Japan, and she never really ate bread growing up. Bread in Japan is very rich, buttery, and flaky like a pastry. Japanese bread, like most of their baked goods, has an abundance of egg and dairy in it to give it a very airy texture with a rich, buttery flavor that is pretty much to-die-for.
My grandma would take a slice of white bread, toast it lightly, and spread some butter on top while it was still warm. Then, she would lightly sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over the toast. This is a very common thing to do, I'm sure...but, when she made it, it was so much better than anything I'd ever had! The bread was crispy, light, savory and lightly sweet with a hint of warmth from the cinnamon. It's the most amazing breakfast I've ever had. I make it to this day when I'm feeling under the weather or down in the dumps. It's wonderful with hot tea or coffee.
Ever since I pretty much stopped buying bread on a regular basis due to my growing bread snobbery, I haven't eaten cinnamon toast often at all. I reserve the pleasures of cinnamon toast for times when I have an excellent bread to toast. I decided, since I made my very first successful gluten-free and vegan bread last year, that I would make a loaf of bread and make an excellent slice of cinnamon toast from it. So, I've revisited the bread recipe that I used from Cara Reed's blog Fork & Beans and I've altered it to be more buttery and airy than my last loaf. I used the same ratios from Cara's recipe, but changed some ingredients around a bit. I snuck in some aquafaba, non-dairy butter, and Ener-G egg replacement powder among other things to yield a gluten-free bread that rises like a champ and is tough enough to knead like regular gluten-filled dough. Thanks to Cara, this bread recipe is gum-free for anyone who doesn't like to use xanthan or guar gums. I usually don't mind using these products, but it's nice for those who don't feel like buying them for just one recipe or who cannot eat them for dietary or health reasons.
Here is my bread recipe and below that are instructions for my favorite cinnamon toast! Have fun! B)
Gluten-Free Vegan Bread
Yield: 1- 8x4 loaf
Gluten & Gum-free/Can be: Soy & Nut-free
Source/Adapted from: Fork & Beans
All you need for this (it isn't really a recipe) is some non-dairy buttery spread (like Earth Balance or Melt) or coconut oil + sea salt for a less processed option. If you use coconut oil and salt, I'll suggest on adding a sprinkle of nutritional yeast on your toast as well. I find this combination together gives a slight buttery taste. It's pretty delicious!
After you spread as much of your "butter" of choice as you would like on your sliced, toasted homemade bread (OMG I'm hungry!), sprinkle on some dry sweetener of choice. I used coconut sugar because I'm obsessed with it and I love its flavor. You can always substitute sugar with stevia or any other natural vegan sweetener you like.
Then, the kicker: add a dash of organic cinnamon on top. I always try to buy organic spices and dried herbs so I can control the quality of my dishes. I also like to get the best quality that I can for ingredients that will last me a long time.
Enjoy your ichiban cinnamon toast with a piping hot cup of something and relax. You've earned it after all that effort it took to bake bread from scratch. ;)
This is my very first food blog! I post revised conventional recipes of foods that I hold near and dear to my heart. My cooking here is all gluten-free and cruelty-free, but full of flavor and comfort.