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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Marching Through

So...before our big 24,24,24 dinner, we had managed to be somewhat consistent writing posts. After a week of hogging the computer before finals, and now starting to write final papers, I realize that if I don't post now, half the month will go by without a word from either of us. As I've mentioned before, while I'm busy and stressed I take a lot of baking breaks. So, given the chance we wont be doing much posting or commenting for the week, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of what I would be and have already been doing.

With the cultural rise in interest in vegetarian, vegan, organic, and local lifestyles, there are now a lot more alternative recipes for sweets that are more 'friendly' to some of these different groups. When I was sorting through the pantry, I found a can of pumpkin I had reserved in anticipation of a Thanksgiving pumpkin shortage. It slowly migrated to the back behind cans of tomatoes, but was rescued to make a fudgy dark chocolate, vegan friendly cookies. For some time, as I spotted vegan bakeries popping up around Columbus, I was quite skeptical as to how, without butter, or eggs, a cookie could be a cookie, a brownie a brownie, etc etc. Then, I was fortunate enough to try half a cookie here, a brownie there, and even a piece of cake. Although my attempt with these cookies is nowhere near as good as any of those yet, and I would perhaps rethink the whole wheat flour choice in favor of whole wheat pastry flour or a whole wheat and oat flour combination, they were very rich, chewy fudgy chocolate cookies, perfect for a 3 am pick-me-up.

Double Dark Chocolate Cookies
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 oz dark chocolate chunks (about 1/2 of a 3.5 oz bar chopped)
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp pumpkin
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp dark cocoa powder
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar to coat.
1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and maple syrup until smooth.
2. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Combine well.
3. Add dry mixture to wet mixture. Add chocolate chunks, fold to combine.
4. Scoop rounded tablespoons. Roll into balls, and dip in sugar to coat top. Place dough onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper and slightly flatten (these don't spread hardly at all). Cook 10-12 minutes.
5. Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack. Enjoy when cooled completely.

Moving away from the vegan friendly cookies, I've been using flax seed as an egg substitute quite frequently lately.  This somewhat middle ground bar cookie works well as a nice good morning breakfast treat. I think after a disappointing purchase of a bland, tasteless, cardboard like oat bar  from a campus coffee shop, I'm trying to make up with my own renditions. The fact that I don't spend much time rolling out the cookies, and they bake 30 instead of 8 minutes, is a plus too! The orange zest gives the bars a unique taste to compliment the incredible chewy but crumbly texture of the oat bar and bursts of tart sweetness from the cranberries. This was my second attempt at these (the first were gone too quick to get pictures), so I hope you can maybe find some use for them.

Cranberry Orange Oat Bars (Adapted from Quaker's Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Recipe)
1/2 Cup Butter, softened
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 tbsp ground flax seed dissolved in 3 tbsp water
1/2 tsp Orange Extract
1-1/2 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp fresh grated Orange Zest
1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine butter, sugars until creamy and pale brown in color. Add flax seed dissolved in water and orange zest. Mix well.
2. In different bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, and orange zest. Mix well.
3. Add dry mixture into wet mixture. Add cranberries and mix well.
4. Spread mixture in square 9x9 ungreased baking dish.
5. Bake about 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

The last in my series of baking so far has been these guys:

Look pretty boring, I know. Looks more or less like the same recipe for the cranberry orange ones, huh? Wrong. Suffice to say, unlike the chocolate cookies, these are most definitely not vegan, or vegetarian friendly cookies. Besides the butter, and eggs in these, the nice pieces you see are not some dried fruit. Nor are they some nice toasted nuts. Nope, instead, what you see my friends, is some nice, sweet, smokey and salty, candied bacon. Yup, this is when you realize you've gone perhaps too far. Suffice to say, once I pulled these out of the oven, I quickly decided that was enough baking for a little while. Now off to find some hungry stressed colleagues to feed all these to!

Maple Bacon Oat Bars
Use recipe for Cranberry Orange Oat Bars (above)
Substitute1 egg for flax seed dissolved in water
Substitute maple flavoring for orange extract
Substitute 1 cup (about 5 slices) of candied bacon for 1/2 cup dried cranberries
*Optional, once spread in pan, top with 1/4 cup pecan pieces.

For the candied bacon, you can do a Google search for more precise directions from a number of bloggers, but basically, coat thick slices with brown sugar or maple syrup, and place on some sort of non stick surface or roasting rack for 20-30 in 350 oven.



denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

Are you guys trying to give me a heart attack??!! LOL Everything looks scrumptious, especially the double dark chocolate cookies *swoon*

Cocina Savant said...

@ denise, hahaha, luckily the double dark cookies are the only thing that wont give you a heart attack :)

Shelley said...

Yay for breaking out the vegan goodies!!! Now I want to know, where's my sample? ;-) But I totally agree, I bake (bread especially) when I'm sad, depressed or stressed. Totally distracts and calms me. Hope it did the same for you.

Fresh Local and Best said...

These desserts look great, especially the chocolate cookies. Baking / cooking too was my favorite stress reliever when I was in school.

Cinnamon-Girl said...

The cookies look so yummy! A chocoholic dream! And I love oat bars! Maple bacon sounds excellent. I just heard about substituting flax for egg - can't wait to try it. Look like you had good results.

Cocina Savant said...

@Shelley, I'm sure they wouldn't compare to any of your amazing vegan goodies :)
@Fresh Local and Best & Cinnamon Girl, Thanks!! The flax substitute works well, it gives it a slightly denser texture, but in a good way!

Chef Aimee said...

I love how the double dark cookies have pumpkin and maple in them! I have to try this - fantastic!

Sook said...

Oh I want those! The dark chocolate cookies sound really yummy.

My Little Space said...

OMG...those cranberry orange oat bars and maple bacon oat bars are stunning! I'm saving them up for later use. You're such a fantastic baker!

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