Banana Ice Cream

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I love bananas.  They’re fabulous in baking applications, in savory dishes, or simply as a snack.  One of my absolute favorite uses for bananas is to make a tasty frozen dessert.  Somehow, I think that bananas become even more delicious when they’re frozen, and turning them into a healthy, vegan ice cream is almost too easy!
I don’t have an ice cream maker at my apartment, so I was super excited when I read that blending frozen bananas in a food processor creates a smooth, ice cream-like dessert. There’s no real recipe for this ice cream, but I usually use a few bananas, a bit of agave nectar, and whatever flavor additions I happen to be in the mood for.  My favorite is just to add a little bit of cocoa powder (if you use cacao powder instead, the ice cream will be totally raw!), but I also frequently add shredded coconut, chopped nuts, cinnamon and maple syrup, or some frozen fruit.
If you have a hankering for some vegan ice cream that’s quick, delicious and even good for you, I strongly recommend putting the frozen bananas in your freezer to good use by making yourself some ice cream!

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February 25, 2009. Frozen Desserts, Raw. 1 comment.

Midnight Brownies

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The name for these brownies is based on the fact that I first tried to make a different brownie recipe late at night, only to discover that I was out of several ingredients (including all-purpose flour and granulated sugar), but that it was too late to go to the store.  The name also works on the level that the brownies end up a delightfully dark color, due my apprehensive substitutions of Dutch-processed cocoa and brown sugar.  The recipe I was originally attempting to prepare was the “Chocolate Brownies” in The Joy or Vegan Baking, by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (in which she says that her recipe is based on the brownies from Sinfully Vegan).  I ended up trying the original recipe when I finally had all of the required ingredients, but I was surprised to discover that I preferred my unintended variation.
I’ve mentioned before that I like cake-y brownies, and I had read online that the “Chocolate Brownies” fell into this category, but I increased the baking time and upped the amount of flour (I had actually mis-read the recipe during my first baking attempt — being half-asleep is no deterrent when I have a sudden craving for brownies!) to make them even less fudge-y.  I also decreased the amount of vanilla extract (it’s so expensive that 2 teaspoons seemed excessive) and left out the nuts and chocolate chips because I like my brownies to be nice and simple (you can always add some in at the end if that’s your cup of tea).  I’m also pretty sure that my ground flaxseed meal is not fine enough to really work properly as an egg replacer, but I always add it anyways since I figure that it can’t hurt anything, and since flax is so good for you.  This recipe ends up making more batter than I had originally expected, so if you want your brownies to be more petite, then you could try making 2/3 of the recipe and decreasing the time in the oven.  Finally, if you’ve never done it before, I strongly recommend that you try freezing a few of the finished brownies to enjoy as a deliciously decadent treat!

Midnight Brownies
Yield: 9 large brownies

1 1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons ground flaxseed meal
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup whole white wheat flour
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, applesauce, flaxseed meal, water, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl (I use my 8×8-inch baking pan to avoid extra dishes), whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and stir to combine.

Pour batter into 8×8-inch baking pan and smooth to distribute evenly.

Bake for about 50 minutes and allow the brownies to cool substantially before cutting.

February 15, 2009. Brownies. 3 comments.

Pears

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Pear season is pretty much over now, but I wanted to do a post about pears before the season officially ends.  Pears are by far my favorite winter fruit.  On occasion, I have even seriously considered whether it would be worth moving to Oregon just because they have the best pears.  My favorite pear variety is definitely the Comice, and I whole-heartedly believe that there is virtually nothing better than a perfectly ripe pear.

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I read an article once a few years ago which instructed that, in order to ensure that your pear ripens properly, you must “watch it like a treasured pet.”  At the time, I thought this seemed like a humorous amount of devotion to show to a piece of fruit, and I definitely don’t given the pears I buy that level of attention, but if you feel compelled to do so, the results will probably be worth it.  In my opinion, the perfect pear is soft (but never mealy), and is absolutely dripping with juice.  I know that there are an endless amount of fancy desserts that include pears as ingredients, but I think the best form of pear consumption is simply to eat a chilled pear on its own.  Grocery store pears are almost always a disappointment to me and they can never seem to recreate the awesomeness of winter pears, so I usually end up going without pears until their season resumes in the fall.  At least I have yellow nectarines and strawberries to look forward to during the summer months!

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February 5, 2009. Raw, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.