Alternative Baking Company

ABC Cookie Logo

Alternative Baking Company cookies are by far my favorite store-bought vegan cookies!  I used to only ever eat homemade baked goods, but these delicious cookies changed my whole perspective on store-bought desserts!
Here is a ranking of my favorite ABC cookie flavors:

  • Peanut Butter Persuasion
  • Phenomenal Pumpkin Spice
  • Snickerdoodle
  • Luscious Lemon Poppyseed
  • Outrageous Oatmeal Raisin

The pumpkin spice cookie was my favorite for several years, but I’ve recently begun to favor the peanut butter flavor.  Maybe it’s because ABC uses grain-sweetened chocolate chips, but for some reason the cookies with chocolate always tastes slightly off to me, and so I always go for the chocolate-free varieties.  Also, the cookies can sometimes be hit-or-miss in regards to freshness.  For example, the snickerdoodle flavor is wonderful when it’s fresh, but it’s also the flavor which I have found to be hard and stale most often (possibly due to the fact that it’s wheat-free).  The cookies aren’t health-food by any stretch of the imagination (especially since one cookie is supposedly two servings), but they’re definitely delicious enough to be worth it!
I wholeheartedly recommend ABC cookies as a fabulous option to satisfy your sweet-tooth when you aren’t up to baking cookies from scratch!

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August 25, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Young Thai Coconuts

Young Thai Coconuts

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I spent years wondering what young Thai coconuts were.  I would see them in other people’s carts at the grocery store or would notice them from a distance in the produce aisle and had no idea what they could be.  My curiosity finally got the better of me, and I’m so glad that it did, because after learning about young Thai coconuts and trying them for the first time, I am definitely hooked for life!

Young Thai Coconut

There’s a lot of great information about young Thai coconuts online (including instructional videos about how to open them), but it’s certainly not necessary to do extensive research before trying one.  Basically, look for a coconut that is white (without any pink or moldy spots), heavy, and that doesn’t make a sloshing sound when you shake it.  To open the coconut, turn it on its side and use a big knife to shave off the pointed top until you reach the coconut shell (as seen in the photo above).  My favorite method is to then use the heel of the knife to carefully but forcefully whack into the coconut shell, and then wiggle the knife until the shell lifts off like a lid.  Unlike mature coconuts, young Thai coconuts are easy to open with just a knife (I use my biggest chef’s knife), but you should be careful to make sure you don’t slip and cut your hand.
You can make tons of awesome raw desserts with young Thai coconuts, but I absolutely love to simply eat the coconut flesh and water with a spoon, especially on hot days after the coconut has been thoroughly chilled in the refrigerator.  A young Thai coconut is also a perfect way to start the day, or it makes a delightful and healthy snack, since coconuts are very good for you, in addition to being incredibly delicious.  After years of wondering, young Thai coconuts have quickly become one of my favorite foods, and I think anyone who’s curious should give them a try!

Young Thai Coconut

August 15, 2009. Raw. Leave a comment.

Homemade Bread

Ciabatta Buns

I realize that bread doesn’t fall under the category of something that will satisfy a sweet tooth, but this post is about baking, so I figure it’s still relevant!  I’m the kind of person who can eat an entire baguette in one sitting, and there are few foods I love more than fresh bread that’s still warm from the oven.  My mother has always had a major aversion to baking anything that requires yeast, so my family bought all of our bread from the grocery store’s bakery instead of making it ourselves. Even though I didn’t inherit my mother’s fear or yeasted doughs, I always thought that making bread from scratch was a labor-intensive and lengthy process, and rarely baked any homemade loaves.  Learning about no-knead bread recipes was something of a revelation, and now making bread from scratch is quick, easy, and virtually foolproof!

Garlic Bread Dough

My go-to bread recipe is “The Master Recipe: Boule” from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  Although there are many other recipes and variations in the book, I just use the master recipe as a base to create my own variations.  The herb variation (with rosemary and thyme) mentioned in the book is great, and I’ve also tried making interesting loaves by adding roasted garlic cloves, curry powder, crushed garlic, kalamata olives, or whatever else I stumble upon while foraging in my pantry or refrigerator for ingredients that seems like a good match.  The recipe is very forgiving and I’ve never had any real problems with the finished bread regardless of my experimentation.  I’ve also reduced the baking time and made sandwich rolls out of the master recipe, and they turned out great!
There is also an easily-veganized recipe for “100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread” which I made once with whole white wheat flour and agave instead of honey.  I also added a little bit of cinnamon to the dough, and if my family and I hadn’t eaten the entire loaf while it was still warm from the oven, I’m certain that it could have been used to make some of the most delicious French toast ever!  I’ve also used whole white wheat flour in the master recipe (or a mixture of all-purpose flour and whole white wheat flour) and it’s always been a success.  The bagels I made from the recipe in the book didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, but I’m not all that discouraged because bagels are tough to get right.  Honestly, I’m quite proud that I even tried to make bagels from scratch!
The directions for the no-knead bread dough are very straightforward and are easy to modify.  I almost always half or quarter the recipe since I live alone, which also works out well in case my flavor experimentation ends up being less delicious than I anticipated.  I also never have cornmeal on hand, so I just use flour instead.  After forming the loaf, I let the dough rest on a piece of parchment paper, which I then set directly on my baking stone.  Baking with steam helps make a wonderful crust for the bread, and aside from a disastrous occasion when I used a glass bowl instead of a broiler tray (which resulted in the glass shattering all over the bottom of my oven), I’ve never had any problems even if I don’t close the oven door as quickly as I probably should.  The master recipe seems virtually impossible to mess up, so even if you’ve had bad experiences with yeasted doughs in the past, it should definitely be worth giving no-knead bread recipes a try.

Garlic Bread

I absolutely recommend trying the no-knead bread recipes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but you can also preview the book on Amazon to check out “The Master Recipe” and read about the preparation methods if you’re not yet convinced!

August 5, 2009. Uncategorized. 1 comment.