baking

Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate Banana Bread >> Life In Limbo

On my original 25 before 25 list, I’d challenged myself to bake 4 new types of bread. I love the idea of a bread challenge for so many reasons: because by the end, I’ll be more comfortable baking, because bread is so wonderful, and because it means that everyday life will be that much more delicious and cozy.

A few days ago, I decided to up my challenge, considering that I’d made 3 out of 4 breads in a span of only a couple weeks. In honour of the 25 list, the new challenge is to make 25! They can be anything from a naan to a cinnamon bun, the only qualifications being that it’s some kind of bread-like product, and that it’s a recipe I’ve never tried before. I’ll be trying to document all of them here on the blog, so stay tuned!

Bread #4: Adapted from Chocolate Banana Bread by Smitten Kitchen

Chocolate Banana Bread >> Life In Limbo

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium bananas (I used plantains accidentally but it still turned out great!)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • Optional: 1 cup chocolate chips (I tragically didn’t have any)

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a loaf pan with butter.

Chocolate Banana Bread >> Life In Limbo

Mash your bananas (or in my case, plantains!) in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter, sugar, egg and vanilla, and stir together. Put your dry ingredients into a fine sieve and sift it all into the bowl. If you have chocolate chips, add them and stir everything together until it’s blended well.

Put the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Bake for 55 minutes, then check that a cake tester comes out clean. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then use a knife to loosen the loaf from the pan (mine came out very easily) and turn it out onto a cooling rack. Enjoy!!

Chocolate Banana Bread >> Life In Limbo

Notes: Next time, I’d definitely add the chocolate chips. Although the bread wasn’t too dry, it would have been improved with the extra chocolate. I’d also love to try this bread with bananas instead of plantains. We ate the majority of the loaf in a single afternoon. This one was easy, delicious and will definitely be made again. That crack in the top! Beautiful.

Chocolate Banana Bread >> Life In Limbo

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

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I’m still eating vegan and still going strong! It’s been nice to get so much support from friends & family, but it’s also been (truly) not that big of a deal. Which is awesome! It’s a good feeling.

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I’ve also really enjoyed making vegan versions of things, including those yummy peanut butter balls. Funnily enough, Angela of Oh She Glows made her own recipe for those that looks a whole lot healthier than mine but seems just as tasty! I wish she’d posted it just a week earlier…oh well, at the rate they’re disappearing in my house, I’ll probably have to make another batch soon enough, and maybe I’ll give her recipe a try.

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In the meantime, I tried my hand at another old classic, the jam thumbprint cookie. I found the recipe on Keepin’ It Kind, a vegan website that actually hosts a virtual Christmas cookie swap every year! How cool is that? These are raspberry almond thumbprint cookies by Ketty of Luminous Vegans.

These cookies taste different than the non-vegan version, but since I haven’t had a regular jam thumbprint in a very long time, I can’t tell you exactly how they differ (helpfulness is my specialty, obviously). These are chewier, and taste deliciously of almonds, that much I know.

Ingredients

Makes 24 cookies

  • 4 tbsp of solid coconut oil (don’t melt it!)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup packed ground almonds (the original recipe doesn’t state if the ground almonds should be packed into the measuring cup, but I did and they turned out great. I ground my almonds whole and raw in the food processor.)
  • 2-3 tbsp almond milk (I found I needed a bit more almond milk than the recipe called for to hold the dough together)
  • ~2 tbsp jam of your choice (I used a summer fruit jam)

Set your oven to 350F. Mix together the oil, sugar and extracts until you get a consistency similar to creamed butter and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and ground almonds.

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Incorporate the dry ingredients into the sugar and oil mixture. It will probably not seem to come together very well, but after you add the almond milk it should form a dough that holds together when it’s squeezed. Knead the dough and shape it so it forms a ball.

Roll the dough into approximately 1 inch balls. Now for the fun part! Use your thumb to press indentations into the cookies. If they crack a little it’s okay, that’s part of their rustic charm don’t cha know.

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Bake for 6 minutes in the preheated oven. Then remove the cookies and use the back of a teaspoon to press the indentations in again, as they might have flattened out during baking. Then spoon about a 1/4 tsp of jam into each one. Bake for another 6-10 minutes (mine took around 10 more) until they are slightly browned around the edges. Sprinkle with powdered sugar!

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My house is slowly becoming dangerously full of delicious vegan treats. Yikes! Happily, they’re so tasty that even the non-vegans who live here are eating them too.

Peanut Butter Balls

pbbThe holiday baking is officially in full swing! These little guys have always been a favourite, but for my first vegan holiday season, they’re looking even better since they are so easy to veganize.

Our family always makes big trays of assorted holiday sweets, full of our favourite recipes that we’ve accumulated over the years. There are always peanut butter balls, butter tart squares, shortbread cookies, raspberry-coconut bars, “secrets” bars and decorated sugar cookies. This year I plan to make a few switcharoos to some of our favourite sweet treats to make them vegan-friendly, and hopefully nobody will be able to tell the difference!

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Ingredients:

Makes 24 balls

  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons “buttery” spread (I used Becel’s Vegan margarine)
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk (I used plain almond milk)
  • 3-4 oz vegan chocolate (I used Enjoy Life chocolate)

Mix together the peanut butter, buttery spread, icing sugar and non-dairy milk. You’re looking for it to be fully incorporated with no lumps, in a consistency that holds together if you squeeze it.

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Form the mix into small balls, about a teaspoon each, rolling them between your palms. Place on wax paper on a cookie sheet and put them in the refrigerator to harden for at least an hour.

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Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water or in the microwave. If you want the chocolate to be glossier, you can add about a teaspoon of vegetable shortening. I chose not to and am happy with my results.

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Roll the balls in the melted chocolate until fully coated. This works well with a fork. Shake off the excess a little and replace them on the cookie sheet. Let the chocolate harden, then enjoy!

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Stay tuned for more vegan adventures this holiday season. I’m already on the lookout for more sweet things I can make vegan-friendly!

Salted Caramel Brownies

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What the what?

What is happening?

Can we just say that February is a confusing time? Can we just chalk it up to that? Can we just all admit that it’s been too long since last summer and we still have a little too long to go before this summer? Can we just say that salted caramel brownies are among the only remedies for the Winter Blues?

Yes we can, I just did.

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I made a version of salted caramel brownies in December, but they didn’t quite work out. I messed up the caramel slightly, so it never really set even after hours in the freezer. The brownies themselves were meant to be taken out of the oven 5 minutes early, but I’m afraid it might have been more like 1o minutes because those were a bit soft too. Anyways, moral of the story: womp, womp (although they were still totally 100% delicious..)

But as soon as I saw this recipe I knew I was so ready to try my hand at them again. And this recipe is perfect! It really and truly is. The brownie recipe and the caramel recipe are tailor-made for each other, and the idea of putting caramel chunks INSIDE the brownie batter? Well, that’s just genius.

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The brownies are fudgey and caramel-y and honestly, this is my new favourite dessert recipe. It’s been about a week since I’ve made them, and one by one each day I’ve had a ready-made, bite-sized treat to enjoy in my fridge. I’m one of those people who prefers chocolate chip cookie dough to the baked thing, and in a similar vein, I think I prefer cold brownies to warm gooey ones. Blasphemous, I know.

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My only issue in making this recipe was not letting the caramel set *quite* enough. I was very close, but I also had class in an hour so I couldn’t keep waiting around for the freezer to work its magic. I had no real problems taking it out of the freezer a touch early, I was still able to cut the caramel into pieces and work it into the batter. The caramel “squares” on top ended up being more like caramel blobs, but once baked it made no difference.

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I think a new batch of these is warranted in the immediate future. I have friends visiting soon! I have Girls nights to attend! These might just be my be-all-and-end-all dessert. Go! Get your nom on!

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