Chocolate-Orange Cake

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One of my favorite cooking blogs is Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen, since I’m a huge fan of the healthy, oil-free desserts.  One recipe in particular that my family and I have completely fallen in love with is the Chocolate-Orange Cake!
My father described this cake with the words “supreme,” “phenomenal,” and “heavenly.”  High praise indeed, but taking into account the fact that the compliments were said about a fat-free, vegan cake by my omnivorous father (who drinks his coffee with heavy whipping cream), this positive feedback is off the charts.  My parents loved the cake so much that they  asked me to make it multiple times during my visit, and even took one of the cakes with them as a gift to their new neighbor’s housewarming party.
I made almost no changes to the original recipe, except that I used all-purpose flour for all three cups of flour because that was what I had on hand.  I also used store-bought orange juice instead of fresh-squeezed, but I used the zest from three actual oranges.  I’ve tried making the cake with soy yogurt and with coconut milk yogurt, and it has always turned out fabulously either way.  I’m not big on glazes, so I just dust the cooled cake with some powdered sugar if I want to make the presentation fancier, or just enjoy it plain.
Chocolate-Orange Cake is healthy, easy to make, and absolutely delicious, and I highly recommend trying it out!

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March 25, 2009. Cakes. 2 comments.

Turtle Mountain

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I must admit that I was something of an ice cream fanatic in my pre-vegan days.  Ice cream was always my favorite dessert by far, and I even worked at an ice cream parlor for three years during high school.  I used to eat several pints of ice cream a week, and after going vegan I experimented with a variety of non-dairy frozen desserts to find a replacement for my ice cream indulgences. Turtle Mountain’s Purely Decadent line of soy ice creams is very popular among vegans and non-vegans alike, but I have never enjoyed soy-based frozen desserts, so my ice cream void remained unfilled for years.
That is why I was absolutely ecstatic when I discovered Turtle Mountain’s line of coconut milk-based products, and I can definitively say that Purely Decadent made with Coconut Milk products are by far the best non-dairy ice creams that I have ever tried! The taste and texture are fantastic, and the ingredient lists are reassuringly short.  The coconut milk ice cream is more expensive than other options, but I think that the extra cost is well worth it.  I’ve tried every flavor of coconut milk Purely Decadent ice creams (with the exception of Mint Chip, since I don’t like anything mint-flavored), and here is my personal ranking of the flavors:

  • Mocha Almond FudgePurely Decadent made with Coconut Milk
  • Coconut
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl
  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla Bean
  • Cookie Dough
  • Passionate Mango

The Mocha Almond Fudge flavor is seriously my non-dairy ice cream dream come true!  My family and I used to go to Baskin-Robbins all the time when I was young, and I would always order a double scoop of the Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream — and Turtle Mountain’s coconut milk ice cream is like an even better (and vegan!) version of my childhood favorite.  Purely Decadent made with Coconut Milk is by far my favorite non-dairy ice cream on the market, and I have been trying to use it to wean my family members off of dairy-based desserts.  I recommend giving it to anyone who has a craving for some great vegan ice cream!

March 15, 2009. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Throughout my entire childhood, I maintained the fact that I hated peanut butter.  I wouldn’t eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I avoided peanut butter cups like the plague, and I wouldn’t go near peanut butter cookies.  I did, however, like peanuts themselves, so as a teenager I reformed my standpoint to be that I only liked peanut butter in savory applications.
After I went vegan, I was often drawn to cookie recipes that contained nut butter, and one night when I had a sweet tooth but was out of almond butter, I reluctantly decided to use peanut butter instead.
It was something of a revelation.  I didn’t hate peanut butter in desserts at all!  I couldn’t believe how many years I had spent missing out on something so delicious.  So, I was naturally intrigued when I came across a recipe for “Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies,” on the Desserts Magazine website.  Since I had all of the ingredients on hand to make a slightly-modified, vegan version of the cookies, I decided to give the recipe a try despite my initial hesitation.  The consistency was not like any cookies I had eaten before, but my general impression was that the cookies were surprisingly good!

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Here are some of my thoughts after having made numerous batches:
The kind of peanut butter you use will make a big difference in the final texture of your cookies.  Smooth or chunky peanut butter should be fine, but if the base of the butter isn’t creamy then the cookies may end up being gritty.
It’s better to make smaller-sized cookies.  Maybe because I use ground flaxseed as a binder (it’s my favorite egg replacer), the cookies end up being somewhat breakable.  If you make them too large, they tend to crack and fall apart.
Not all nut butters will work the same way!  I made a batch of the cookies with hazelnut butter once when I was visiting my family, and the cookies turned out completely different.  The dough spread so much that the cookies were completely flat, and they ended up looking like lacy cookies instead of standard chocolate chip cookies.  On the bright side, the cookies were still absolutely delicious, and after reducing the baking time to prevent burning, they were a huge hit!  The Hazelnut Lacy Cookies were even more fragile than their peanut butter counterparts, but that just meant that they made an incredible addition when crumbled into some homemade vegan ice cream.
These cookies are quick, easy, and they’re even gluten-free!  After all my years of adamant refusal to partake of peanut butter desserts, I’ve been doing my best to make up for lost time by eating these cookies whenever I get a chance!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 2 dozen

1 cup unsalted peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, sugar, flax mixture, baking soda, and salt, then fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop teaspoons of the dough onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-14 minutes and enjoy!

March 5, 2009. Cookies. 3 comments.