I’ve tried various vegan brownie recipes that I haven’t been thrilled with… I know, how do you mess up brownies? But the texture would always be off, or they were crispy and I couldn’t get them out of the pan. I had a chocolate craving the other night though, and I finally found a recipe that actually came out pretty well.
I might tweak it next time by using a bit less oil. I ended up adding a little extra cocoa powder because they seemed too wet from oil, but otherwise they turned out well. They were easy to get out of the pan, and they were fudgy and soft like a brownie should be. The recipe came from All Recipes. They were so yummy I didn’t wait to get a photo of the whole pan as you can see. We just dug right in! If you have a favorite vegan brownie recipe, share it in the comments!
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups vegan white sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil (I’d cut this to about 3/4 cup next time – maybe even 1/2 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 cup nuts (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Then add the water, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir until the batter is completely combined.
- Add the chocolate chips and nuts if desired. I just used chocolate chips in this batch, but I like walnuts in brownies too.
- Pour the batter into a 9×13 inch baking pan and smooth it out.
- Bake the brownies for 25-30 minutes until a knife poked in the center comes out clean. Let them cool down a little before cutting them up or they’ll fall apart. Enjoy!
After having one of the spinach phyllo pies from the Cinnamon Snail, I was inspired to try making a vegan version of spanakopita. I’d never worked with phyllo dough before so it was a learning experience. The filling made enough for one large pan plus a smaller pan. I made a large pan first and the smaller pan the next day so that I could learn from any mistakes in my first attempt.
I did learn a few things, such as not to skimp on vegan butter or olive oil between the layers of phyllo. For my first attempt, I tried to go really light on the olive oil in an effort to make it healthier. I sprayed it on and didn’t get the layer very even. Unfortunately the oil seems to be what holds the phyllo dough together, so it turned out very, very flaky. It was still tasty though.
On the second attempt, I used vegan butter. I put more between the layers and made sure there was an even coat across the phyllo. This seemed to work a lot better. The phyllo held together more and turned out how I expected it to. Looks like this is one dish I’ll have to accept isn’t so healthy, but is very yummy! I’m including photos of both, so you can see the difference in how they turned out. The first attempt that turned out flaky is actually more photogenic than the second, but the texture on the second is much better.
I had a little leftover phyllo, so I decided to try experimenting with a dessert pastry just to see how it turned out. I didn’t even measure, but mixed together some raspberry jam, chopped walnuts, vanilla, cinnamon, a dash of ginger, a dash of nutmeg, and some chocolate chunks. I layered the phyllo with butter the same way I did for the spanakopita and spread the filling in the middle. It was a tasty way to use up the leftover phyllo!
Second Attempt – better texture
Second Attempt – layers are stuck together more
First Attempt – pretty, but too flaky
First Attempt – too flaky
First Attempt – layers aren’t sticking together like they should be.
1 pound pack of vegan phyllo dough (I used Fillo Factory)
20 oz. frozen spinach (thawed)
3 green onion stalks
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill leaves
olive oil or vegan butter
1/2 lb of firm tofu (about 1/2 a block)
salt and pepper
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- Follow the directions on the phyllo dough package for thawing. The kind I used was frozen. (The Fillo Factory has some tips and recipes.) I moved it from the freezer to the fridge overnight and then took it out 2 hours before using it so it could warm to room temperature. Once it’s out of the packaging, you need to keep a damp towel or paper towel on top to keep it from drying out. Leave your spinach in the fridge to thaw overnight.
- Chop the onion, shallot, green onion, and the parsley and dill leaves. Press or finely mince the garlic. Saute all of the these in olive oil or vegan butter for a few minutes over medium high heat.
- Drain and crumble the tofu. Thoroughly drain the spinach. Add the spinach and tofu to the pan and continue sauteing for a few more minutes. Add a dash of paprika and nutmeg and the nutritional yeast. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
- Preheat your oven to 350° F.
- Lightly grease the bottom of a baking dish. Cut the phyllo in half (or whatever size will fit your baking dish). Layer the phyllo dough one sheet at a time. In between each sheet, use a pastry brush to coat the dough with olive oil or vegan butter. It should be a thin, but even coating. Continue layering phyllo and melted vegan butter until you’ve layered 10 sheets of dough.
- Spread your spinach filling on top of the phyllo dough in an even layer.
- Layer 10 more sheets of phyllo dough on top of the spinach, spreading melted vegan butter in between each layer. Put a light coating of melted vegan butter on top of the last layer and sprinkle paprika on top.
- Bake the spanakopita for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Let it cool a few minutes, slice it into squares, and enjoy!
This has been such a busy month for me, and it’s only going to get busier. That’s why I’ve been posting less frequently than I usually do. This will probably be my last post for January, but in February I’ll be back with some tasty recipes. February is “National Hot Breakfast Month“. Yes, it seems there is a month for everything! So I’ll be dedicating the month to vegan breakfast recipes. Keep an eye out!
In the meantime, here is a recipe for vegan rugelach. The original recipe is by Lora Brody and is included in the book “Rose’s Christmas Cookies” by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I adapted the recipe to be vegan and they came out really well. I made them over the holidays, but they are good any time of year!
1 (8-ounce) package vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti)
1 cup vegan butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup (firmly packed) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup golden raisins, chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup apricot preserves
- You can use either an electric mixer or a food processor for this recipe. Cream the vegan cream cheese and vegan butter together until well blended and smooth.
- Mix in the sugar and vanilla extract.
- On a lower speed, mix in the flour and salt until incorporated.
- Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and press it together to form a ball. Divide the dough into 4 portions and cover each with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
- While your dough is chilling, you can make your filling. In a medium bowl, combine the sugars, cinnamon, raisins, walnuts, and apricot preserves and stir with a spatula or fork until well mixed. I also made a second filling with chopped chocolate chips, blackberry jam and chopped walnuts, which turned out really well. Feel free to experiment with your own filling ideas.
- After a couple hours, remove the dough one portion at a time from the refrigerator and allow it to sit on the counter for a couple minutes or until it is malleable enough to roll. Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Using a floured rolling pin, on a lightly floured board, roll out each dough portion, one at a time, into a 9-inch circle to about 1/8-inch thickness. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough circle into 12 triangles or pieces like pie wedges.
- Use a thin knife, if necessary, to loosen the triangles from the board. Starting at the wide end, roll up the triangle and bend the ends around to form a slight crescent shape. Place the rugelach, point underneath, about 1 1/2 inches apart on greased baking sheets.
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking period. Use a small, angled metal spatula or pancake turner to transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
Maybe you’ve noticed that I like cranberry orange as a flavor combo. There’s something about these flavors together that just tastes like fall and Thanksgiving. Add chocolate into that mix and it’s even better! If you’re looking for a vegan dessert to make for Thanksgiving this year, try out these Cranberry Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Sure, apple, pecan, or pumpkin pie might be more traditional, but if you have to travel to your Thanksgiving destination, pies aren’t the easiest thing to transport. These cookies are easy to pack up and take with you. You can even make them a couple days ahead of time so you have less to prepare on Thanksgiving day. They’ll keep well if you can keep yourself from snacking on them, which I must say is pretty difficult.
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup of vegan butter (softened)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 brown sugar
1 Tbsp EnerG egg replacer powder mixed with 4 Tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange extract
zest of one orange
3/4 cup of dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips
- Preheat your oven to 375°.
- In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Zest the orange into a small bowl and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened vegan butter with the sugar and brown sugar until creamy. Use a whisk if by hand or medium speed if using an electric mixer.
- Mix 1 tbsp of egg replacer powder with 4 tbsp of water and stir well until there aren’t lumps.
- Add the vanilla, orange extract, orange zest and egg replacer mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Stir until well combined. Use low speed if using an electric mixer.
- Blend in the dry ingredients adding a little at a time and stirring in between. Once all of the dry ingredients are combined with the wet ingredients, stir in the chocolate chips and cranberries with a wooden spoon.
- Drop evenly sized balls of dough (about 1-2 tbsp per cookie) onto ungreased nonstick cookie sheets. Bake for 9-10 minutes and check. Bake longer if needed. Mine needed to be in for about 15 minutes, but all ovens vary.
Every now and then I peruse the Whole Foods shelves to see if any new vegan products have appeared, and this weekend I found a vegan brownie mix. Yum! I don’t know if it’s new or I just haven’t noticed it before, but of course I had to buy it and try it out. I also bought a vegan pancake mix by the same brand, but haven’t tried it yet.
The mixes are made by Cherrybrook Kitchen. They specialize in allergy free cake, cookie, brownie, and pancake mixes. In addition to being vegan, some of their mixes are peanut free for people with allergies and they also offer gluten free mixes.
It’s not like I can’t make brownies from scratch, but sometimes you want a quick treat that only requires a few ingredients. The brownies came out pretty well, though they are a bit cakier than I think brownies should be. I had to cook them longer than the directions specified. They called for 16-18 minutes, but the middle was still pretty liquid after that long. I left them in for about 5-6 more minutes before they seemed firm enough to take out. Interestingly enough, after a couple days in the fridge, they have a more browny-ish texture and I like them better. (I know, I’m surprised they lasted that long too!)
Today’s my mom’s birthday. Happy Birthday Mom! Over the weekend I made her a cake using a recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY. This has become one of my family’s favorite vegan cake recipes.
You can find the recipe on the Vegetarian Times website, but I’ll post it here too. The chocolate peanut butter icing really is the biggest selling point of this recipe for me. I could eat that just by itself. I also like that the recipe calls for coffee in the cake. Coffee, chocolate, AND peanut butter? So good!
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup cold water or chilled brewed coffee
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 Tbs. cider vinegar
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting Ingredients
- 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 3 to 4 Tbs. water
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously oil 8-inch square or round baking pan. Dust with sifted cocoa, or line bottom of baking pan with parchment paper.
To make Chocolate Cake:
2. Sift flour, cocoa, soda, salt and sugar. In another bowl, combine oil, water or coffee and vanilla. Pour liquid into dry, and mix until smooth.
3. Add vinegar and stir briefly; baking soda will begin to react with vinegar, leaving pale swirls in batter. Without wasting time, pour batter into prepared pan.
4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve cake from pan, or, when cool, transfer to plate.
To make Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting:
5. In heavy saucepan, melt chocolate over medium heat. Beat together peanut butter, water and vanilla until smooth. Beat in confectioners’ sugar, and add melted chocolate, mixing until blended. Spread frosting on cooled cake.
Though there are a lot of good vegan ice cream flavors you can buy at Whole Foods and other stores, I don’t think I’ve ever seen vegan coffee ice cream. Coffee was always one of my favorites, so I wanted to try making my own.
Previous attempts didn’t turn out very well. Most of the recipes call for brewed coffee, which makes the texture too icy because of the water. Also, it didn’t have a strong coffee flavor despite brewing the coffee really strong. I decided to come up with my own recipe and it turned out really well. It’s not icy at all since it doesn’t contain any water and it has a very strong coffee taste…almost too strong! I may tone it down just a little bit next time. Also, I threw in chocolate chips, because chocolate makes everything better.
Vegan Coffee Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
2 cups soy creamer
1 cup soy milk divided
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
5-6 tablespoons of coffee
1/2-3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
- Mix 1/4 cup of soy milk with 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder and set aside.
- Heat up the remaining soy milk and soy creamer over medium heat until boiling.
- Using a french press, put 5-6 tablespoons of coffee in the glass. I used 6 tablespoons of Peet’s Major Dickinson’s Blend (so good!) and the ice cream had a very strong coffee flavor, so 5 tablespoons would tone it back a bit.
- Pour the boiling soy milk/creamer over the grounds and let brew for about 5 minutes before pressing the strainer down. If you don’t have a french press you can just use a bowl and a fine strainer to strain out the grounds after it’s done brewing. The mixture comes out pretty dark, and almost looks like chocolate.
- Once the mixture is strained, return it to the pot on the stove. Add 1/2 – 3/4 cups of sugar. If you use vanilla soymilk and/or vanilla creamer, you may want to use 1/2 cup of sugar since the milk and creamer already have added sugar. Heat the mixture over medium heat until boiling.
- Remove from heat and add the soy milk and arrowroot powder mixture. The liquid will thicken because of the arrowroot powder.
- Put the mixture in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours to fully cool. Freeze according to your ice cream maker directions. Note, the bowl for the ice cream maker usually has to freeze over night.
- In the last few minutes of churning, add about a 1/2 cup of vegan chocolate chips. Place the mixture in the freezer to firm up.